November 24, 2008

Nov. 24, 2008

This article appears in the November issue of Lacrosse Magazine, a US Lacrosse publication available exclusively to its members. Join today to start your monthly subscription to LM.

by Matt DaSilva, Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

Have you ever wondered why draw controls are awarded to those who surface with the ball rather than the specialists who whip it into play?

Sure, some taller centers with long reach find the means to win the draw on their own, but most rely on their teammates' reactions outside the circle. Syracuse, for instance, corralled 15.42 draw controls per game in 2008, ranking third amongst all NCAA Division I women's lacrosse teams, but without a single individual ranking among the top 25.

LM's stable of former college All-Americans -- Lindsey Biles (Princeton), Katie Chrest (Duke), Kelly Coppedge (Maryland), Michi Ellers (Georgetown) and Mary Key (Johns Hopkins) -- returns to demonstrate four ways to win a draw without the ball.

Box, Seal and Deliver

Photos by John Strohsacker/

There's more than one way to box out an opponent.

Here, Lindsey Biles takes Mary Key out of the play by taking her first step with her inside foot to create a seal. This requires swift reaction to the whistle and dexterity to get your hips aligned with your feet in front of your opponent. Once you feel her on your hip, mirror her movement laterally to avoid her getting around you.

"This is good for both keeping your opponent out of the circle so your teammate can get it, and for high balls that come outside," Biles says.

If you have a strong inside foot, you can also use it as a spring point for momentum.

In this instance, use a wider first step on the box-out, again so the opponent rushing forward does not circumvent the seal.

Photos by John Strohsacker/

In the second sequence, Biles' first step is with her outside foot.

"Like a sprinter, or like a free position [attempt], really push off," she says. The first step is for momentum; the second step is to box out. Use both your feet and your stick side shoulder to seal off your opponent.

"The key is to keep your momentum going fast and forward, so you're in front of your opponent, and extend yourself fully upward. Jump if you have to," Biles says. "By running through the ball, you leave your opponent on your back. When you grab the ball, bring it quickly between your shoulders to protect."

Hit the Ground Running

Another way to edge your opponent from the circle is to get a running start. There's a timing element here. As the centers get set, back off your opponent. In the same way you might make a backdoor cut for the cage, time your move for when your opponent's focus shifts to the ball, and then break behind her.

Time your move to crash the circle as the whistle blows. A good way to do this is to observe the administering official's cadence and how she uses her hand signals.

Staggering Success

This is another off-ball, offensive maneuver for draw controls. It requires communication with both the draw center and a teammate on the circle. Set up in layers, staggering with a teammate between opponents.

When the center sends the ball your way, you or your teammate will crash the circle with a running start, as described above, but as a decoy.

As one teammate draws the opponents' attention by crashing the circle, the other slips behind and, depending on where it is sent, snares it for herself.

Give Her a Break

Photos by John Strohsacker/

If you're lucky enough to have a center who can win it to herself, don't leave her hanging. This works especially well if you line up on the defensive side of the circle.

Align yourself with your opponent outside the circle as you would normally. Try to get topside. Sell it to her that you're going to try to crash the circle by jockeying for position. But when the whistle blows, break for an outlet up field, as does Mary Key in the sequence illustrated.

It's a risky investment, but the dividend could be a fast break. Let your center -- Katie Chrest, in this instance -- know that you're going to try to catch the opponent napping this way. Once she has drawn to herself, she should turn to the outside and hit you with an outlet.

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