The following interview is from alllacrossemichigan.com (a great source for info on mitten lax):
Lacrosse goalies are a rare breed. Standing tall when guys and girls are bringing it 100 MPH takes some courage and then some. Educating and training goaltenders is becoming an important aspect of the game and coaches and players are taking advantage of top shelf instructors.
One of the best in the state is Brad Gigliotti. "Gigs" owns and operates 6 x 6 Goalie Academy and has been a goalie guru for years. I had a chance to talk to him about his Academy and his upcoming presentation in Baltimore at the US Lacrosse National Convention.
Talk about the 6 x 6 Goalie Academy - How long have you been doing this, What are the goals, How can you specialize for the individual?
I started the academy 6 years ago working with goalies that were looking to improve their game. Every student I have come into contact has had a different goal in mind ranging from wanting to play in college or to simply improve their skill set for team succession. Every student has specific objectives, so during the initial lesson we discuss their long and short term goals and decide what’s realistic. The 6x6 philosophy is to achieve long term success by mastering a series of short term goals. The key element to accomplishing goals is to make goals that are attainable and measureable. My objective with any element of the position is to train for retention or muscle memory. In a game situation there is no time to think but rather simply react. A simple short term goal that seems to be very common among all my students is making off-stick saves.
Every lesson is tailored to each student’s needs. As a former HS physical educator I refer back to my teaching days and compile a checklist/rubric as I conduct my initial observation of the student. I can pretty much tell what areas need improving and what areas I can move past. Each goalie has a profile which helps me track their progress during the time at the academy. I will have a list of areas I would like to work on with each student, but before we begin any training I always ask the student if there are any areas of concern that we need to work out before we move forward. I had one student ask to work on angle play, which can be a grueling area, but an area of concern considering these days’ goalies are facing more shots from the alleys then from in front of the crease.
What's your background in lacrosse and why the keen interest between the pipes?
I have been playing since the 7th grade which was a long time ago, but to be more specific I’ve played between the pipes competitively for 13 years and recreationally for fun on and off for the last 10 years. I played my high school ball for Brother Rice (1992-1996) and college for NCAA Div. 3 Alfred University in Alfred, NY (1996-2000).
Once I graduated I started coaching at Troy High School for 2 years before I moved on to coaching goalies at the collegiate level for the University of Michigan (MCLA Div.1) from 2002-2009. Once I got married and ready to start a family, commuting back and forth to Ann Arbor became tiresome. I started coaching goalies at my alma mater, Brother Rice HS (2007-2011).
I have also spent a lot time working at All American developing not only goalies but also field players at all skill levels. This past year (2015) I spent a good portion of my time working with the Rockford Lady Rams and their goalies. I was also recently asked to help this year (2016) as a volunteer goalie coach for NCAA Div. 3 Calvin College.
Once I worked with a golf pro who told me this, "There are professional golfers who KNOW how to play the game well and they make a ton of money. Then there are golf professionals who may not be good enough to be on the tour but they know how to TEACH the game.” I was never an All American or a collegiate standout, but I was a great student of the game and position. Everything I ever learned I wanted to pass on to future goalies and teaching goalies was my way of giving back to the game.
What are the biggest areas of concern with dealing with younger goalies?
There are many areas of concern which I will go into further detail later; however the greatest challenge is frustration. When you’re a youth player the expectations are to learn the fundamentals of the game and the rules of the game. The emphasis on winning and losing is degraded in order to maintain the focus on learning and having fun. That being said, as a goalie learning the position frustrations tend to outweigh the learning experience and can either deter a goalie from ever playing the position again or making them a hero.
As fundamentals are the main focus, basic team play concepts are sacrificed. Those who are learning to play defense tend to struggle with basic concepts of playing man to man, slides, and poor communication resulting in a number of 1 on 1’s with the goalie. When goalies are trained to make saves and play proper position they don’t expect to face 1 on1’s every day however the chances of 1 on 1’s diminish as the level of play increases from high school to college.
Specific area of concern that younger goalies struggle with is proper position also known as the ARC. I will spend almost an entire lesson teaching and practicing the basics of the ARC for retention. The next area of concern is proper stepping technique. Younger players have a harder time understanding the concept of shifting their weight and stepping with the proper foot. Those are probably the two most important areas of concern outside of learning basic save technique fundamentals. The last are of concern which I struggle with all goalies is communication. Goalies either do not want to speak up or they may not know what to say, so for younger goalies I keep the communication vocabulary simple.
Any difference in how you work with a female goalie?
Funny how you ask that question because this year my female clientele has increased and I am receiving more requests to work with female goalies than male goalies. The best part of the goalie position is that it’s a universal position Teaching females is not much different than teaching male students. The main difference is in the rules arena, I simply approach the game strategy a little different than I would with the guys’ game. I have been working with the Rockford girls program this year and their goalie coach and I have learned a great deal from observing how the girls shoot and what the goalies should expect. Girls shoot a little different than guys do and therefore I have changed up HOW I teach specific saves and how to make playing goalie easier.
You're presenting in Baltimore in a couple of weeks at the US Lacrosse national convention - talk about how you are preparing?
Well this will be my second time presenting, last time I presented it was back in 2006 when I was coaching at U of M and was “voluntold” to present. This time it feels more like an obligation to inform coaches about the importance of a well prepared goalie for both practices and games. I have two fellow goalie coaches who will be assisting me with the presentation. The first gentleman is the Rockford Girls goalie coach, Rom Elwell. He and I have already had a pre-meeting to discuss how to simplify the details of the topic.
The second individual and former student of mine is Danny Kransberger, who played at Forest Hills Central High School, The University of Detroit Mercy and Grand Valley State University. Rom and Danny will be coordinating most of the on-field demos while I present, however Rom will have the privilege to present on the importance of how to properly warm up your goalie. The three of us had met over the holiday break to do a rehearsal of the presentation and work out any last minute tweaking.
You're based out of Grand Rapids - how do Detroit area or Lansing area goalies work with you?
It’s simple but takes some coordination. Those clients will have a variety of options the academy offers. I have former students who play for UDM and Alma College and will help give lessons as needed. If I get enough interest I will conduct clinics, which is probably the easiest way to reach out to those students on the east side of the state. Since I still have family that lives on the east side, logistically it allows me to set up a number of lessons and/or clinics over a weekend; and while I am giving lessons it allows my family to visit with grandparents making it a WIN - WIN situation. I am starting to receive more requests for clinics which means there will be more opportunity to receive expert goalie instruction in the future.
Outside of your presentation, what are you looking forward to most at the convention?
When I was coaching at U of M we had it highly suggested that we find as many takeaways as possible to share with our fellow staff or to add to your knowledge of the game. I am looking forward to networking with other goalie coaches and other coaches in general to learn and share strategies and techniques. I would also really like to catch as many Female goalie presentations as I can. I am really interested to see how they approach the position and what they do to help with retention. There are always more ways to skin a cat and I am curious to see how others approach it.
What did you think of Blaze Riordan's end to end goal in last year's NCAA tourney? You ever do anything like that?
I always love seeing goalies take the ball up the field and he is not your typical midfielder, but getting the ball up the field and making a couple moves only to find him in a position to shoot and score is nothing short of miraculous.
I’ve never done anything like that personally, but I will say this and I was told this to me a number of times by former coaches and even those that I worked with at goalies camps….if you find yourself needing to take it down field and you get the opportunity to shoot, either score or miss but if you miss make sure it goes off the end line. If you let the other team get the ball, it’s a looong run back to the goal.
Any other items you want to add - please feel free. Contact info would be great, too!
Goalies are a rare breed but they play an important role. Coaches cannot neglect that aspect of the game. I was speaking to someone about the girls game and they told me that as long as you have a goalie that can make some saves you are going to win a championship. What the individual was inferring to is that many goals are getting scored in the girls game and it comes down to who has the ball last, but if you have a good goalie you will win more games. I saw their point, but at the end of the day it takes a full team to win a championship and having a good goalie who knows how to play the position increases your chances.
The 6x6 Goalie Academy doesn’t just offer up lessons and clinics we offer close personal attention to every goalies needs and goals for lacrosse. We will not only provide expert instruction we will also prepare them for college life as well, if they choose that path. We will sit down and discuss recruiting options and will even provide a letter of recommendation to help them in their quest for lacrosse after high school. Some of the services 6x6 offers and is not limited to is video analysis, game observations, small group private instruction, 3-day clinics, and coming soon the first 6x6 Goalie Camp.
Those interested in lessons or area clinics may contact us:
- email at 6x6goalieacdemy[at]gmail[dot]com
- call (248) 705-0920 for more information.
We can be followed on social media on Facebook and on twitter @6x6goalieacademy.