Sept. 11, 2007
Note: This article appeared in the "Lacrosse Classroom" section of Lacrosse magazine in August/September 2006. If there's a topic you'd like to see covered in the "Classroom," e-mail section editor Matt DaSilva at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Natasha Fuchs, Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online
Usually, the team that wins the most draw controls wins the game.
Thus, learning how to win the draw control is an essential part of lacrosse. Gaining possession of the draw not only requires determination and aggressiveness, but also skill and manipulation. Possessing the skills to manipulate the draw control in the favor of your team is important for both the center and midfielders on the circle.
Learn how to gain control of the draw with the five techniques described below.
Footwork and Balance
Before the umpire blows the whistle, players on the outside of the circle must get in the proper position to enhance reaction time. Stand on the balls of the feet, with your non-dominant foot forward. Standing up straight throws you off balance and reduces the speed of the first step.
For centers, taking the draw left handed -- even if you're right-hand dominant -- increases the chances of pulling the ball to the attacking side. Centers taking the draw right-handed have a more difficult time pushing the ball to the desired position.
Waiting for the Whistle
Patience also is a key factor when taking the draw, for both centers and midfielders. Some centers attempt to cheat and take the draw right before the umpire blows the whistle. Or, people on the outside of the circle will run in to gain the advantage. In both cases, the umpire will most likely notice and award possession to the opposing team. When taking the draw, pay attention to the umpire's hand, and take the draw on the first indication of downward movement. Players on the circle also should watch the umpire's hand.
Directing the Ball
Directing the ball is not a skill acquired overnight. Being able to place the ball to specific players takes a lot of practice. But, being able to turn your stick so that the ball sits on the back of your stick is the secret to directing the ball on the draw control. When taking the draw left-handed, pull your stick over your left shoulder to win the draw to your attacking side.
Boxing Out on the Circle
Boxing out on the circle is the most important skill a player needs to win the draw control. To box out, step in front of the player next to you, shielding her from the ball. Use your body to block her path of motion. Even the tiniest player can win the draw from a bigger player by boxing out correctly.
Just like most talents, winning draw controls requires practice. The best method of practicing boxing out involves lining two players up next to each other and throwing balls near them at different heights. Players should also practice catching high balls with one hand. And of course, practice taking draws. The more often you practice, the more comfortable you'll feel in a game.
Throughout the years, I've learned a variety of draw control methods. At first, taking the draw did not come easy. But through years of practice I've finally gotten the skill down. If you practice these techniques and incorporate them little by little into each game, soon you'll win more draw controls and give your team a better chance of winning.
Natasha Fuchs is an All-American midfielder at James Madison. She'll be a senior in 2008.