May 1, 2007
by Matt DaSilva, Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff
Whether it's Kadie Stamper doing her best Statue of Liberty pose as she pops the ball to herself and snatches it midair, or Kirby Houck firing a draw right down the 50-yard line or into the attack zone, Hopkins has a knack for finding the right people in the right places off the draw.
Hint to opponents: It's often Mary Key.
"When I am up there and I know where it's going to go, I can look at Mary and say, 'Mary, it's coming to you.' It kind of messes with [my opponent's] head a little bit," says Stamper, a 2006 Mid-Atlantic Regional All-American. "That's why it's key to utilize different styles - if you keep pulling it to one spot, a good team is going to convert on that. It's good to have a change-up, the best analogy being a pitcher in baseball."
Stamper, at 5-foot-10, became a center draw specialist in high school, "basically because I was the tallest kid on the team."
Houck, who's six inches shorter than Stamper, had an ulterior motive. "A lot of us were the best players on our high school teams," she says, "and the best players want the ball."
With the help of Houck, Stamper and Blue Jays coach Janine Tucker, the Classroom breaks down the mechanics of the draw into three types: draw for distance, draw to self and draw down the line.
Pushing vs. Pulling
Houck and Stamper both prefer "pulling" off the draw, which means the specialist's back is to her goal, with the back of her stick facing her. In each of the draws demonstrated here, they start out in pulling position.
But the option is there for a center draw specialist to reverse her position, so that the she is facing her own goal, with the open face of the stick facing her. This is called "pushing."
It's up to you to decide which position you prefer -- probably the one which helps you get under the ball quicker for control -- but be proficient at both.
Most center draw specialists hold their sticks high on the neck and as close to the head as possible, for more strength and control. A rule recently adopted by the NCAA and US Lacrosse, however, prohibits draw specialists from touching the sidewall or pocket.
Tucker provides this option: With your bottom hand, curl your pinkie finger under the butt end and cock your wrist as far backward as possible. "I like to call it the 'motorcycle,' when I teach it," Houck says. At the same time, curl your right wrist forward, to the point of discomfort.
This likewise generates strength and control.
Draw for Distance
If you have better athletes on the circle, sometimes it's better to place the ball as far out as possible, and let them do the dirty work. Drawing for distance means using the rotation of your hips and shoulders to work the ball up, out and away.
If you're pulling, you're powering the ball into your defensive end; if you're pushing, it's the offensive end. Let's assume you're pulling. This is your stance: Your right foot is toeing the line and your left foot pivots back at a 45- to 90-degree angle, with knees bent.
Maintaining the grip mentioned above, try to get under the ball and pull for height and distance over your left shoulder.
Draw to Self
Coco Stanwick of Georgetown, arguably the best draw specialist in the country, is known for her ability to draw to herself. Says Stamper: "Coco on the draw, she does that sneaky over-the-shoulder, so you can't beat her, because she blocks the ball with her body."
Stamper, because of her height advantage, also likes the draw-to-self technique. It's the surest means of gaining possession, because only you and the opposing specialist are allowed in the circle.
Consider the following, if you're pulling:
Alter your stance so that both your right and left feet toe the line. Your knees are bent with and your hips are square.
Maintain your grip at the start of the draw, but treat your top hand as a guide. When the whistle blows, draw along with your opponent's stick as she attempts to pull up and out. When your sticks and the ball are above your head, release your top hand and slide it straight up, trying to guide the ball above your right shoulder. Extend your left arm into the air, and the ball should pop out above your head. Then box out your opponent, and take the ball out of the air by snapping your wrist.
Draw Down the Line
Whether you're pushing or pulling, another option is to draw the ball directly down the 50-yard line, presuming you have a teammate placed there.
Assuming a pulling position, your stance is opposite that of the draw for distance. Toe the line with your left foot, with your right foot trailing at a 45- to 90-degree angle, with knees bent.
With your left hand, curl your stick under the ball so that it is resting in your pocket as you pull out of the draw. As the ball reaches that same zenith point above your head, push it down the 50-yard line to a teammate.
Got a topic you'd like to see covered in the Classroom? E-mail Matt DaSilva at firstname.lastname@example.org.