Tag: Coach Corsetti

Position Spotlight – Goalie Play

Now that the Fall Lacrosse Season has come to an end and College Football is coming to it’s crescendo,  I thought it would be a good idea to highlight each position before the start of the Spring season.

This weeks Spotlight is – Goalie Play

Now there are many different ways to coach goalies and to actually play the position.  Understand that this is the toughest position to play in our beloved-ed game.  It takes a special athlete to play this position and it is this coaches belief “that your best athlete should be in the cage” or as I like to call it the RACK.  Goalies are different.  Some are cerebral, some are high strung and some are on another planet.  No matter who you have in goal you should always respect anyone that plays or at lease gives it a try.

Former World Team Goalie Brian “Doc” Dougherty recently was interviewed by Lacrosse Magazine.  I had the pleasure of introducing Coach Dougherty at the 2012 US Lacrosse Convention as well we served on a panel discussion together regarding college recruiting.  Coach Doc is a great teacher of the position as well as is no non sense approach.  He takes it all very seriously.

Below is the interview:

“I can talk; you take notes,” Doc says.

I’ve lost control of the interview.

“You’re doing a lot of [things] in a short amount of time,” he later says. “But if I break it down and you think about it, it’s not that difficult. If I threw nuclear physics out there, and you never studied it before, you’d say `Oh my God.’ [Goalie play] sounds really overwhelming, but it’s not.”

Dougherty, the 2006 MLL Goalie of the Year for the champion Philadelphia Barrage, breaks down into 10 movements the secrets to his shot-stopping success. Take a deep breath.

1. Locate the ball.
Facing the shooter, find the ball in his stick as early as you can in his shooting motion.

2. Choose your arc.
Doc defines three types of arcs you can choose, based on the shooter’s position.

A flat arc is a three-step arc, and is the one most commonly used by Dougherty. Draw an imaginary line from pipe to pipe with your stick and plant your feet at the midpoint, fashioning a semicircle in between you and the outer fringes of the crease. From this position, you can step at 45-, 90- and 135-degree angles to approach the shooter.

“The advantage of a flat arc is you have the most time to react to a shot. The disadvantage is you’re giving up most the angles,” Doc says, adding that it’s best to use a flat arc when shooters are forced down the alleys or behind the cage. “The farther it goes down the alleys or the sides, that’s where I’m going to get creative. That’s where the shooter has less of an angle and I kind of become on the offensive.”

A five-step arc gives you more options, and is useful when shooters are in point-blank range. Again, your feet are set at the midpoint of the imaginary semicircle you’ve drawn, but your stepping points have expanded to include five angles of 30, 60, 90, 120 and 150 degrees.

“Picture a three-point shootout in basketball, where the stacks of balls are, and take five steps in those directions from the center of goal line extended. That’s how you establish a regular, five-step arc,” Dougherty says. “When the shooter is directly in front of me, that’s when I’m playing a regular arc, when the ball’s in that paint and the shooter has the advantage.”

A high arc is high risk. You have to be convinced the shooter is going to shoot. It’s an aggressive angle-cutting stride that has just one step, and that’s squarely in the direction of the shooter. While it can be useful in stopping bounce shots, Doc says, “I don’t play a high arc anymore. Any fake or side-to-side movement and you’re left completely out of position.”

3. Position your body and stick.
Your feet are in place and you’ve determined the angle of your step. Now you need to minimize the exposure, specifically if you’ve got a shooter in the alley. At this point, Dougherty says: “I take away the near side of the goal by putting my leg, shoulder and hip on the post. It’s stupid for you to shoot to that side of the goal. Now I know where you’re gonna shoot; now I’m on the offense. If you bait me, you might score every once in a while. But one time I won’t bait, and you’ll shoot right into my stick. Then one time I will bait.

“As soon as I get you thinking while running full speed as a middie cross checks your arms, I win. You shoot 20 yards above the goal.”

You get the point.

4. Draw a line to the shooter.
For practice purposes, put a lacrosse ball on the ground in front of you to mimic the shot’s path. It should be in your peripheral view as you spot the ball in the shooter’s stick. Draw an imaginary line from the ball to the shooter.

5. Step wide with your lead foot.
If the ball is released to the left of that line, step with your left foot. If released to the right of that line, step with your right foot. While practicing this movement, step wide of the ball placed on the ground. When a real-time shot hits that spot, you’ll be in position to intercept it in motion.

6. Drag your trail foot.
As when a pitcher drags his hind leg, this movement offers stability and balance. (Notice that movements 2 through 5 all pertain to your feet. Practice these so that they are second nature. If possible, set up cones at the various points on your chosen arc, and practice rapid stepping and recovery.)

7. Punch your top hand.
Whether you are a lefty or a righty, your top hand should move in accordance with your lead foot, a simultaneous motion. “They take me to the shot,” Dougherty says.

8. Lift your bottom hand.
As a goalie, you want to catch every ball, minimizing the opportunities for a rebound or put-back. By lifting your bottom hand as you punch your top hand, you’re creating a basket for the ball to land in, with your stick parallel to the ground.

Dougherty suggests the “Doc Drill” to practice this movement. It’s a 20-minute wall-ball variation in which you use a short stick. Throw the ball low, so it ricochets off the wall and the ground, and returns like a shot. The focus is catching the ball as you would with a goalie stick, lifting your bottom hand. It’ll be easier to do, then, with a larger goalie pocket.

9. See the ball into your stick.
“I over-exaggerate it and watch it completely into my stick,” Dougherty says. “That’s called being in my zone. I can see the little lines on the lacrosse ball moving in slow motion.”

10. Sweep both hands away from your body.
Practicing this last movement, while trite, will do for goalies what Huggies do for infants – it will help insure against any embarrassing trickles.

As I stated above there are so many different ways to teach and play the Goalie Position but anytime you can learn from a master it will help you’re overall play.

See ya on the field!

Coach Lou

This one is for you Dad

Last night I had the honor and pleasure of watching my father, Lou Corsetti, be inducted into the Georgia Lacrosse Hall of Fame Class of 2011. Aristotle once said that “dignity does not consist in possessing honors, but in deserving them.” I always felt my dad deserved every award he received because he never concerned himself with collecting them but in earning them. I often joke with players and parents that Coach Corsetti is a great man on the lacrosse field, but that I live with him twenty-four seven. That puts me in an interesting position that will hopefully illuminate some of my father’s character to those who only get to see it an hour or two at a time.

As with many memories the difficult and challenging ones stand out the most often. My first challenging lacrosse memory came in the sixth grade at Murphy Candler Park at the original Atlanta Youth Lacrosse. I made a mistake and my coach pulled me off the field. Needless to say I did not find that fair at all. I stomped to the end of the bench, threw my stick onto the ground and parked my rear end on the ground and sulked. For the rest of the game I held my head in my hands until the final horn blew. After the game I stuffed my gear into my bag tossed it into the back seat of the car and sulked once again in the front seat. Then my coach sat down in the driver’s seat and quietly told me, “Gordon, when I pulled you off the field I was going to put you back in again but because you sulked and did not support your team on the bench I decided that you did not deserve the right to step back onto the field. You have to remember that if you play hard you have to support your team hard even if you are pissed off and angry. Do not ever let me see you sulk on the bench again. You can sulk at home but when you are on that field you have a duty to your teammates and this game. Remember that.” Then my coach drove me to get ice cream.

Dancing Coach Lou
Dancing Coach Lou

If you have not caught on my coach in sixth grade was my dad. I call him coach in that story because at that time he was not my father. He was my coach. Even when I was very young my dad created a clear line between dad and coach. A coach will be mean and uncompromising, but a father can also be mean and uncompromising – but he loves you. All jesting aside, when my dad coached me I thought of him as a coach who happened to be my father not the other way around. Still, when he rightfully chastised my behavior I got a double whammy because both my coach and my father were disappointed in me.

After his little talk my dad never mentioned it again. He waited to see what I would do and did not remind me about how to behave for my next game. I was going to either learn the lesson or not. I am pleased to say that I learned how to be a good teammate in trying times. In fact, I focused on becoming the best teammate all of the time. Ever since that verbal dress down in his truck I never once sulked on the sideline no matter how angry I got. I yelled and screamed from the sidelines but I was always positive, always moving, and always urging my team on.

I recount that story because it highlights the best qualities in my father as coach and a dad. He never lost his temper. He thought carefully about how to teach a player and son a necessary lesson. He did not pressure me to change immediately but probably hoped I would. He put the focus on the team and away from my individual problems. Finally, he taught me that a player must act in a manner that reflects the integrity of the game and behave with excellent sportsmanship at all times.

Dad, I know you are proud of me as your son and I hope you will always be proud of the way I respect the game you taught me. Every good thing that lacrosse gave to me came as a result of that lesson you taught me so many years ago. I became a better player, a better teammate, and a better man because of you.

With Pride and Love.

Your Son,
Gordon James Corsetti

Principles of Coaching

I believe that if you take a few team Principles and leverage them around a program of creating responsibility, self-motivation, attitude and respect within each player, you will have a formula for individual and team growth and accomplishment.

Principle 1:  Have Fun

Every moment both practices and games should be fun.  Eliminate as much down time in practice as possible,   keep your drills as up tempo drills (no drill should last more then 8-12 minutes) (some drills can be as little as 3-5 minutes).  Don’t over coach.  Demonstrate the skill then get out of the way.

Principle 2: Have a Plan

Practice plans can be the coaches best friend.  Don’t have a practice if you don’t have a plan.  You can always improvise i.e. your plan is modeled for 22 players and only 8 players can make practice.  I cannot emphasize how important a practice plan is for your teams success.

Principle 3: Everyone should play (Youth Lacrosse)

Youth sports should be a positive fun experience.  The statistics are staggering.  Almost 75% of all youth sports participants stop playing at the age of 13.  Most of this can be attributed to, warming the bench without equal playing time, practices that are disorganized or boring, no improvement of individual and team skills.  I am a firm believer that kids learn from their peers (good and bad) and if you only play your better players the other players will never improve.  Plus it is a great opportunity to have your better players become mentors

Principle 4: Teach every position

It is very important to teach every player each position on the lacrosse field.  This is especially true when coaching grades K-4.  Most 5-6 graders and 7-8 graders tend to gravitate to a specific position.  My rallying cry as a middle school coach is to “find a way to get on the field”.  Many of my players move on to the Varsity as 9th graders and because they can play multiple positions they find more playing time at the JV and Varsity level and the tend to contribute right away.

Principle 5: Emphasize the Fundamentals

All to often coaches skip over the most basic skills in the game of lacrosse.  I have the philosophy that everyone knows “NOTHING”.  While this seems harsh we re-introduce the fundamentals to all of our players like…how to hold a stick,  Build a foundation that will never break by teaching the basics properly.  Learning the fundamentals and perfecting the basics at every level are paramount for future success.

Principle 6: Skill Progression

When planning your season incorporate skills that will allow players to grasp fundamentals and concepts that build on daily accomplishments.  Start small and build to more aggressive skills.  Players will be able to piece together each component of the drills in practice and eventually to game situations.  It is no secret that when kids experience improvement, no matter their athletic ability, they will continue to participate and return to learn more.

Principle 7: Set Goals & Rules

Define goals that you have for them right away, especially with individuals. Let each player know what things you expect of him, what roles you would like to see him fill. A leader needs to use his system of beliefs to create the kind of character on the team that expresses who you are. This is how you, the coach will be happiest. You will naturally reinforce the things that they do that display the signature you put on the team.

Give your team a few rules about their behavior or what you expect of them. Make it gospel and build your team from there. If you don’t give them a few rules, then it is just recess. Don’t give them too many rules or they will lose focus. Sit down and decide what three rules you want. This will put a stamp of your character on this group.

Principle 8: Be POSITIVE

Being positive in my opinion is the most important Principle.  Kids get very frustrated when a coach is constantly brow beating them and yelling and screaming.  Bud Grant “Hall of Fame Football Coach” very rarely raised his voice.  His approach was to tell the player not what he was doing wrong but by asking him to try doing something a different way…as an example:  “hey John that was a pretty good play the way you hustled, next try try getting your hips turned up field and you will have better success taking away the top side”.  By giving a complement and then another solution the player will be more willing to try and improve.