January 28, 2009

Classroom: Dana Dobbie's Draw Breakers

This player tips article appears in the December 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

Before she lines up for the draw, Dana Dobbie pinches the strings along her sidewall, punches in her pocket and presents the backside of her stick to the official.

© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

Dana Dobbie is not sure she wants to do this.

"I think we can do it, or at least talk about it," she says, "leaving out minor details."

"It," in this case, concerns the ritual that Dobbie rode to an NCAA-record 334 career draw controls at Ohio and Maryland. A supporting nod from Jen Adams, her former coach with the Terps and now her boss at Loyola, assures Dobbie.

"Who cares if they know? Just stop us," Adams says of copycats that might employ Dobbie's draw against the Greyhounds this year. "I'll give you my scouting report. Just stop us."

That confidence bodes well for Loyola, just as it did for Maryland when Dobbie, a Guelph, Ontario, native, prowled the center circle.

"It's just a lot of tricks," Dobbie says, "using what your opponent's giving you to your advantage."

Want to be your team's "it" factor next spring? Take these eight tips for draw controls to the bank.

1. Treat it like a foul shot.

"First thing, I like to compare the preparation to a foul shot," Dobbie says. "Go in already knowing you're going to get the ball before you even take it. It's more of a mental thing than anything."

2. Give her an offer she can't refuse.
Says Dobbie: "When you set up, punch your pocket in, lay your strings out along your sidewall, and turn your stick facedown, so that when the referee comes in, she's going to place the ball in your stick before both sticks match up.

Right away, you already have control of the ball, because the referee has already set the ball in your stick. If you give it to them, they'll use it. If you don't, they'll just put the ball in between your sticks. But if you give them a pocket, it's easier them to put it in your stick, and then put both of your sticks together."

3. Push, don't pull.

This could be a matter of preference, but Dobbie always draws from the pushing position, facing the offensive end of the field. The other option, pulling with your back to the offensive end, makes it more difficult to draw to yourself.

4. Get up close and personal.

Have all your strength and all your weight as close to the ball as possible. Set your strong foot as close to the ball as you can and underneath your stick head, with your head overlooking the plane. "From here," Dobbie says, "I can feel the ball. I can feel whether I have control of it. If I'm far away, all I can feel is my stick, as opposed to where the ball is in my stick."

5. Position your feet on an angle.

Set up with your strong foot in front and your other foot behind, about shoulder width apart, to maintain balance. Then angle your feet away from your opponent. "When I get this ball in the air," Dobbie explains, "my back has already boxed out the person I'm going against. I don't have to turn to box her out."

Do this right, and the only way your opponent can get at your stick is over your back. "I draw fouls over the back a lot," Dobbie says, "at least once a game."

6. Watch the umpire for a "tell."

"This is one thing a lot of my opponents don't do," Dobbie says. "They don't watch the umpire as she's walking away. A lot of times the umpire will maybe take five steps before she blows the whistle, or she puts her hand on her hip. There's always something an umpire does before she blows the whistle."

So don't look at the ball; look at the umpire. Catch onto her "tell," and you can anticipate the whistle.

7. No "tell?" No problem. Watch his or her cheeks.

Another common-sense reason to keep your eye on the umpire -- his or her cheeks will puff up prior to whistling the start of play. "As soon as I see them grab that air in their mouth, I'm ready to adjust, as opposed to hearing [the whistle] and then going," Dobbie says. "It's really all about reaction."

8. Buckle under pressure.

You read that right. Whereas some specialists might try to win the draw off power, and therefore apply pressure to the stick, Dobbie likes to give a little, and react to the ball instead. "As soon as I put pressure on my opponent, I'm pushing the ball into her stick, which most people do," she says. "Instead, I allow them to put the pressure on my stick and put the ball in my stick. Then I'm just reacting straight up, as opposed to pushing the ball at them, using their force to draw the ball upward."

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