Your Edge: Berger's Keys for Better Draw Controls
What I Do
Being able to react as quickly as possible is key to
securing draw controls and starting fast breaks.
Make My Breaks
Center draw people focus so hard on the moment when the whistle blows, and that focus has to go around the draw circle as well. Being able to react as quickly as possible is super important. I grew up watching men's lacrosse, and they have the wing players coming in when the faceoff happens. And that's how I contribute to a draw — the people on the circle, we're responsible for getting the ball when it comes out of that draw. I like starting fast breaks.
Read Between the Lines
If I'm with another player on my team, we usually talk about one of us covering the territory in front of the circle and one covering behind. We call "up" or "back." (If you're going backward for the long ball, you might choose to be a step back off the circle when you line up.) And I try to read the signal of my teammate who's taking the draw. In the U.S. system, we have outstanding people who can direct the ball where they want it to go. (I do not know how they do it!) If you play with someone who can direct the ball, you always have to be aware of what's coming. Stay focused, and read what they're doing.
Live to Tape
I have two stops on the middle of my stick, with three little tapes running across. The top stop tells me where my hands are when I'm cradling, and the bottom one tells me where my hands are when I'm shooting. At the bottom end, I have a good amount of tape around the butt, so when I pull down hard on a shot, there's a little extra support so my hand doesn't slip away. I wear gloves so I need more of a rigid feel to the stick to tell where I am.
I started wearing gloves in high school but I really picked it up in college, because I learned people could really check hard in college and it hurt badly. There aren't a lot of us on Team USA that wear them, and they make fun of me, but I'm the biggest wimp about checks to the hand. I've torn both my ACLs, but the most pain I've ever felt is when I've had my hands checked. I can't concentrate for about five minutes because it hurts so badly. I got rid of the fear by wearing gloves.
My team always asks about my eyeliner, which I wear all the time. It's black Maybelline waterproof and it literally stays on through anything. It's almost hard to take off.
My Favorite Teammates
Lindsey Munday on attack. When I don't know what to do, she's the attacker who can push us through. She sees things differently — I really appreciate that. On [defense], Holly McGarvie. When I'm tired and can't go any further, I see Holly get after it and it sparks me. I hadn't been able to play with or against either of them prior to U.S., and it taught me a lot to work with them. I also love playing with Danielle Spencer. Because I'm not tall, I love to play with tall people, because I can throw the ball anywhere and they can grab it anyway. She's coming back from an injury, and I can't wait to play with her. She makes you look so good. She'll bail you out, catching the ball and then finishing with an awesome shot. It's like, "That was a horrible pass and you made it look awesome."
My Go-To Workout
To be explosive, it's lot of agility work, just getting those fast-twitch muscle fibers in your legs. It's all about reaction, even if you're not reacting to a whistle. Use a ladder, use cones or use lines on the ground.
A version of this article appears in the November issue of Lacrosse Magazine, the flagship publication of US Lacrosse. Don't get the mag? Join US Lacrosse and its 400,000-plus members today to start your subscription.