Shoot for the Stars!

You’ve gotta score goals to win the game, right? Great shooters take atleast 200 shots every single day! We want to reinforce great habits in our players and develop them into snipers, so here are a few tips on perfecting technique and working shooting into your practices!

Technique

Power Shot/Time and Room Shot

No defenders close by – all the time in the world to wind up and get maximum power on the shot. These don’t happen as often but are great opportunities for attackers!

Feet/Trunk

  • Lead with opposite foot to top hand
  • Step into it
  • Rotate torso to generate more power

Arms/Hands

  • Slide top hand down
  • Hands AWAY from the body
  • Elbows up
  • Push with top hand, pull with bottom hand
  • Drive bottom hand past same hip (left hand past left hip). Think about bringing that elbow around your body toward the ponytail

Here are two great example from Team STX!

Finesse Shot

Finesse shots are the most common type in women’s lacrosse. They happen anytime a shot is contested. There is often a lot of traffic inside the 8 so it is imperative that our attackers learn to look around the goalie and develop the ability to quickly snap the ball around the keeper, while keeping the stick protected.

Protection

  • always try to have your body between defender and stick
  • use the frame of the shoulders as a guide and keep the stick head inside there

Hands

  • more spread out than on a Power Shot
  • must get hands AWAY from your body (the video below will show you what this looks like)
  • Shot is still a “push/pull” motion – top hand pushes, bottom hand pulls – there is just much less follow through than in the Power Shot
  • there is no wind up for this shot as stick must stay inside shoulders, away from the defender

Feet

  • never ever stop moving inside the 8!
  • this shot is taken on the move

Faking

  • The key to scoring on finesse shots is to put the ball where the goalie isn’t – sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?
  • An exaggerated cradle, or a simple hitch (in videos below) is a great way to move the goalie before the shot
  • Encourage your players to break down this skill and be comfortable faking at all levels
  • The key to faking is having a LOOSE GRIP on the stick – have a look at your players’ hands – are their knuckles white? If so, work on loosening them up!

Deliberate Practice

K. Anders Ericcson, a Psychogist at Florida State University, has done a ton of research on expert performance in sport, and he believes that the way an athlete practices greatly impacts their ability. Repetition is key, but how we repeat a skill always plays an important piece to how this practice will translate on the field. Ericcson advocates for Deliberate Practice – continually practicing a skill at more challenging levels. A shooter practicing deliberately might take 100 shots but instead of just standing and firing 100 sidearms, the player will be fed balls at all different levels and shoot accordingly. This player will catch the ball on off angles etc (to stimulate real game situations) and will look at the cage and finish to a target. The trick is having players practice what they will ACTUALLY do in a game once they have the basic body mechanics down.

Competitive Success

How then, will we work deliberate practice into our next shooting drill?

Have a look at your offenses, and break down your motions or your plays. Rather than taking any random, elaborate shooting drill and doing it for the sake of getting reps, working deliberately within your offense. Take the last 2 or 3 steps of your motion or play and cone the spots out – there is your drill! As proficiency includes, you can add in other challenges – on ball defenders, crashing weakside defenders etc. Prepare them for what they will see and work on perfecting that. You should still focus on their technique, but ensure they are practicing as they will do it in the game!

Don’t forget to ensure your players are doing everything EQUALLY with both hands! If you expect Sally to finish that shot righty in a game, have her work on it every single day in practice!

What’s your favourite shooting drill?

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Recruiting

Normally, we post tactical x’s and o’s for our readers, but today I stumbled across this article and thought it was very relevant to share in light of the new buzzwords heard at every lacrosse field – “recruiting” “scholarship””elite”. Sound familiar? Here are some facts and thoughts by Trevor Tierney to consider. 

http://www.tierlacrosse.com/blog/2012/6/26/the-college-lacrosse-recruiting-system-is-broken.html

 

Have thoughts? Share em! It’s an important topic as the summer recruiting scene gets more and more popular. Be a smart consumer!

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Drilling Pressure in Practice

Drilling Pressure in Practice

We’re all in agreement that handling and applying pressure can win lacrosse games, but how will we drill our athletes to practice it? This is a skill set that should be incorporated into every single practice to really elevate the level of your players.

Here are 3 drills to work into your next practice to get your players ready!

  • 1 v 1 in the box

Set up a box (using lines or cones) and have your players set up 1 v 1. This drill can be done for time (:30 possessions etc) OR for distance – (the offensive player must travel from one side of the box to the other without losing possession). If you want an offensive advantage make the box larger, and if you want a defensive advantage, make the box smaller. You can also add in an extra defender to increase the challenge on the attacker. Encourage attackers to NEVER stop moving their feet, and always keep their eyes up so they can see the space, and read what the defender is giving them. Be sure to emphasize good positioning and communication from the defenders.

  • Endline Double Drill

Image

  • Keep Away

Split your squad into two teams and create a box. You can manipulate the size depending on your emphasis. If you want your players to apply extreme pressure (and thus make it more difficult for the ball handlers) make the box smaller. If you’d prefer to challenge your defenders, make the box larger so the slides must come from a greater distance. This will also force the players to communicate more effectively.

Have 5-7 players on each team enter the box. Set a timer for two minutes, and have the players play “keep away” for the duration of the time. If there is a turnover, reward the ball to the opposite team (fouls, out of bounds etc.). Whichever team does not possess the ball at the end of the game can run a suicide etc to increase the intensity of the challenge.

Emphasize spreading out on offense, and handling single pressure. Offensive players should never stand still under pressure and must make good decisions by finding the 2 v 1 on the weak side. Defensively, encourage your players to bump to double team and lock off their adjacents. This requires great communication, quick slides, and discipline. The last thing we want is for our players to foul when they have a player in a double team with adjacents locked off. Their presence alone puts the ball carrier in a bad situation, and presents a great opportunity to get the ball back.

You can vary the length of the game, or play for points (1 pt for a GB, 1 pt for a successful pass, 2 pts for a caused turnover, 1 pt for a locked off adjacent etc.) Feel free to manipulate the rules to reinforce the behaviours you want to see in your players and reward them for it!

 

Whatever high pressure drill you run, be sure to BREAK DOWN the skill for the players – they will know they’re getting beat defensively, or getting stripped offensively, but are you giving them the tools to FIX their errors, or just stating the obvious? Help them succeed!

Are you working enough high pressure into your practice plan? What is your favourite drill? Please share your ideas with the rest of our readers!

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Under Pressure

Teams that can apply pressure, and teams that can handle pressure win lacrosse games. It’s as simple as that….or is it?

We’ve all seen coaches yell for their defenders to “go out and pressure!” and seen the hesitation on the defender’s face as they approach out on the ball. Within seconds the ball carrier has utilized the space and poor approach of the defender to dip around her causing the defensive unit to slide to an attacker coming in at full speed. More often than not, this scenario results in a goal for the attack, and some grumpy defenders. How can we help our defenders play in a high pressure defense without throwing them to the wolves like this?
Teach the fundamentals!

  • Approach – if we are going to travel out to get this player, we are at a disadvantage because the ball carrier can take a run at a defender travelling in the opposite direction. It is important to have players travel big (stick in the air), but break down their steps early so that they can make contact and not over run the player. By the time she completes her approach, your defender should be in a good defensive position and shuffling – not standing up straight and running
  • Contact -  we want our defenders to approach in a “J-Like” fashion so that they make contact with one hip, and force her to one side. It is important that our defender maintain good body position, and keeps her stick up for a potential block down/checking opportunity. We do not want to square up this attacker and let her go left or right – instead, we must dictate what way she will travel so we can force her to our help. The direction you force may vary with your defensive philosophy, but most coaches tend to force out, and deny the middle. We want our defenders to avoid fouling in this situation, but it is far less dangerous than if they were to foul inside the fan – we still have room to recover out this far.
  • Adjacents – we must shut off the shortest passes or this ball carrier will never be in any real distress. The adjacents (player to the immediate left, and the immediate right) of the ball carrier must be tightly marked so they are not options for the ball carrier. This will force a long pass (easier to intercept, and a higher chance of an offensive error) and will force the ball carrier to handle the ball a little longer under the pressure
  • Slides – our slides must be ready to go in the event that the ball carrier beats the pressure. Our adjacents defenders (help left/help right) are also out pressuring, so they will most likely not be available to slide to stop the ball. In this case, we must “slide through” our adjacents, and have our NEXT defenders (2 passes away) ready to help the on-ball defender if she is beat. Forcing the ball to one side will significantly help this situation. These defenders should be in on the arc seeing their girl and the ball 
  • Double? – you may decide you’d rather send a double team to the ball, rather than just single pressure. If that is your preference, all of the above principles hold true, but the defense must rotate to send two players to the ball. The adjacents must still be locked off, and the player furthest from the ball should have 2 players to defender. Do not leave an open player adjacent to the ball, or your double team will never work! Encourage your players to NEVER foul in a double team! You have the ball carrier in a bad situation if you’re doubling and locking off the adjacents – fouling her gives her a way out. Discipline!
  • Recovery – if the ball is passed out and you are staying in high pressure, your players must approach and shift WHILE the ball is in the air. If you wait until the ball carrier catches it, you will be too late and will likely get beat off the next 1 v 1 drive. If you decide to drop off into a sagged defense, everyone should SPRINT back to the fan (note: sprint, not jog) as you may have open players in there. If ever your players lose their mark or drop off of a double team, encourage them to recover to the middle of the 8 (11 in International Rules). 

You may decide to try and run this type of defense in every spot, or you may plan to double the ball when it gets to certain “hot spots” on the field. It’s entirely up to you, and what your players can handle. Just remember that this is very tiring and difficult to do well for long periods of time.

On the other side of the ball, what do you do when they come out and pressure you?

Spread out – make the slides come from as far away as possible to give your players more time to read and react. You may elect to put a player or two inside the fan to work opposite the ball to spread the slides even further on the perimeter. 

Go at them – going straight at a defender at full speed (sounds strange) causes the defender to rock back on her heels, or back off which can open up a gap for your ball carrier to shoot through. Running away from them while they’re forcing you to help often plays into their plan which can be dangerous

Back out – as the pressure approaches, take an angle and run out of the pressure (diagonally). This should create enough of a gap for your ball carrier to find an outlet who is working for her. It is important that your ball carrier lays her stick back (so her body is between her and the defender(s)) but keeps her eyes and chin forward so she can see the field, and find her help

Pick on one defender – after backing out diagonally, one defender may lose her footing or position so a gap may open that can be exploited by attacking one of the defenders. Be conservative on when to do this. The point is not to fight through a double team regularly, but to understand when there is an opening that can be used. Fighting with a double team often ends up in a turnover if not done at the correct times

Go Backwards – A ball carrier should always have support behind them, particularly in transition so encourage your players to go backwards and switch the field. If your defenders are under big pressure, they can always go back to the goalie and the ball can be outlet to the other side of the field where there are fewer people

When all else fails, just keep running and PROTECT the stick. Feet can get you out of a lot of trouble, but if your player stops to pass or stops out of panic, she’s likely dead in the water. RUN!

What drills do you use to prepare your team for pressure? How much can they apply and how much can they handle?

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Winning the Battles

When you summarize the identity of a winning team one theme is omnipresent – hustle. In women’s lacrosse, the most obvious (and arguably the most important) hustle stat is the Ground Ball. How can you make your squad into a pack of relentless groundballers?

Technique!

Hands – One hand should be at the VERY top of the stick (for protection) and the other hand should be at the bottom of the shaft. It is important to get BOTH hands down to the ground (“skirt to the dirt”, “ass to the grass”). One common error you can look for is the positioning of the bottom hand. Many players mistakenly keep their back hand up in the air, which makes a clean scoop very difficult (they end up pushing the ball along the grass or turf). Both hands should get down to the ground to get the ball into the stick as quickly as possible

Feet - If a player is right handed, their right foot should be beside the ball to aid in stick protection (“boxing out”). This will enable the player to get their body overtop of the ball while they run through the scoop. Encourage your athletes to never slow down or stop when picking up a ground ball – the faster they can run through it, the better!

Knees - Your players need to get LOW to scoop. Be sure they they are bending at the knees not the waist to keep their balance. This knee bend will enable them to get their back hand down on the ground, and will aid in stick protection

Protection/Outlet - Players should angle their upper body over their stick once the ball is in to protect through the scoop (on the run). It is important to run out of trouble while cradling inside of the shoulders (without trapping the ball against the chest illegally). The best teams also secure an outlet for the ground baller to get the ball out of a congested and potentially troublesome situation as quickly as possible

Here are a few drills to work on these skills:

Move It

Red Cross Drill

Bermuda Triangle

The 50/50 battles win lacrosse games – what are you doing to get your athletes ready for them?

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How Do I Turn 17 Individuals Into 1?

“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” Henry Ford

You’ve picked your team, and if you’re like most of us, you have a list a mile long of things you need to accomplish strategically. X’s and O’s are important but if your team doesn’t have a united front, and can’t work together you will under perform. Relationships are important, especially to females. According to Susan Vail, a researcher for the Canadian Government,  inclusion in athletic teams has a number of positive benefits such as

  • Higher self esteem
  • Better academic performance
  • Fewer reports of troublesome behaviours (drugs, smoking, drinking, criminal activity)
  • Positive adjustment rates later in life
  • Fewer mental health problems, dietary problems, eating disorder problems
We, as coaches, have the ability to create a positive environment for our female athletes. Part of that responsibility is making each individual feel respected, included and important. Team Building is a great way to help each individual on the team come together as one.

Here are some team building activities to incorporate into your practice, or play at a party/tailgate to get the kids laughing, and getting to know one another:

  • 2 Truths and a Liehave players sit in a circle. Every player must tell the circle two truths and a lie about themselves, without revealing which is which. The group will attempt to guess what the lie is
  • Prom Datehave players partner up and sit with their legs crossed in a circle with one partner behind the other. One player should be the “odd man out” and will not have a partner (coaches you can jump in to make the odd number!). The partner in the back must close her eyes and look down at the ground – the partner in the front should have her eyes up and should be looking at the “odd man out”. The premise of the game is that the “odd man out” got dumped on prom night. Each pairing are on a date to prom, but the odd man out is trying to steal one of the dates away! If she makes eye contact with one of the front players (eyes up) she can wink at them and steal them away. That selected player must crawl away as quietly as possible to ditch her date without being caught. If she makes it to the odd man out without being pinned, the partner she ditched becomes the new “odd man out”. If her old date hears her, she can open her eyes and try to catch her date and keep her! The chaser must pin the escaper down for 5 seconds to keep that date. If the 5 count is reached, both partners return to their old space in the circle, but switch spots (front to back, back to front) and the odd man out must attempt to steal another date. All players should remove shoes and jewellery for this game, and all crawling players must stay on all fours when attempting to escape/pursue
  • And I’ve Never Ever……have all of your players stand in a circle with one player in the middle. The middle player will announce her name, and something she has never done (i.e. “My name is Suzy and I have never ever been outside of North America!) any player that has been outside of the continent must run into the middle and switch spots. The middle person should fill one of those vacated spots, too. Whoever does not find a spot is the new middle person, and will repeat with their own name, and Never Ever
  • Categorieshave players stand in a group. The objective is to organize in a category as quickly as possible. The coach will call out a different category after each set is completed. For example, if the coach says “6 elbows” the players must find a way to create that (i.e. 3 players with both elbows in, or six players with 1 arm pointing to the center). You can use any category – pony tails, shoes, T-Shirt colours – use your imagination! Eventually, you can make it “elimination” where players are eliminated if they do not get into a group
  • Birdie on A Perch/Perch on a Birdiehave players partner up – one partner is “perch” one partner is “birdie”. Have all players walk or run in a big circle – perch going clockwise, birdie going counter clockwise. At any point, you can yell “birdie on a perch” where the birdie player must get on top of their perch (no body parts touching the ground) until you say stop. If you yell “perch on a birdie” the opposite player must get ontop of her partner, and avoid touching the ground. If the player on top slips, or is dropped, that group is eliminated. The last group to assume the position is out.
  • Icebreakerevery day, have your players play one simple icebreaker game. You can script any questions you want like: what is your favourite number? who is your hero? what is your biggest fear? what is your greatest accomplishment? what is your goal for our next practice? You can also spice it up by having players write down suggestions and pick a “question of the day”. This is a great exercise to complete during the static stretching/cool down portion of your practice, provided your athletes do a good job multitasking

Your players are special – if they weren’t, you wouldn’t have selected them to your team. Take a little time to make them feel special and appreciated and you will watch their confidence, and output explode! Help every member of the team feel comfortable, and supported by assisting them in getting to know one another!

What are you doing to bond your players?

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Defensive Drills for Success!

Are you looking for some new defensive skills to develop individual skills? Here are three great drills you can incorporate into practice to get your team protecting the backside!

Defensive Drill 1 – Quick Feet

Defensive Drill 2 – Box Drill

Defensive Drill 3 – Transition

What’s your favourite defensive drill?

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Preseason Planning

Alright rookie coaches – we’re getting close to tryouts, and it’s important to set goals for your team to foster development over the season. To keep organized, lay out what you hope for your team to master by the end of the season. You can even break it down week by week if that will help you stay on task. One mistake newer coaches often make is failing to prepare. As coaches we must always know our direction, and know why we do every drill every single day. If you know what your end goal is, you can solicite more information on the concepts to ensure you’re keeping your kids on track and building up so they peak at the right time.

Many clubs and programs implement development plans to prepare athletes for the next level and ensure the players are up to speed on their conceptual and tactical knowledge and execution. Here is a Sample of what a U-15 team might want to master by the end of the year:

Attack

  • Understand a basic motion offense (pass and cut through to make room for the driver)
  • Know and execute one “last minute” play
  • Swing the ball with outside hand (understand the idea of keeping the ball as far away from the defender as possible)

Transition (Offense)

  • Understand to go until the defense picks you up, but look to distribute as the defense slides
  • Know a basic clear pattern (balancing the field with options wide, high, and support down low)
  • Know how to move in a basic 3 v 2

Transition (Defense)

  • Mark up in “man to man” defense immediately after the opposition recovers the ball in the offensive end
  • Ride to the far restraining line – recognize that if the ball is AHEAD, you should be sprinting to double the ball

Defense

  • Successfully and consistently step up to take care of the ball first
  • Understand and apply the correct terminology. Defense should communicate at all times (ball, help left/right, slide left/right etc)
  • “Crash” when ball is in the 11m arc
  • Understand how to double team, and slide to first adjacent
Goalie
  • Know and repeat arc traveling post to post
  • Consistently square up to shooter’s back shoulder and step to the ball
  • Call out ball positions and CRASH
  • Execute proper fundamentals when completing Line Drills
  • Clear to a moving target outside of the critical scoring area

Skills

  • Proper technique passing and catching with BOTH hands on the move
  • Ability to execute atleast 2 dodges
  • Cradling at all levels with a focus on stick protection
  • Basic defensive footwork and body positioning (running with, proper stick position)
  • Proper ground ball form
  • Ability to deliver a clean check (and the knowledge of when to check and when to just body up)
  • Ability to execute overhand and sidearm shot on the move

Knowledge

  • Knowledge of all rules and the difference between a major and a minor

Do you think this is realistic for your players? What will you add or subtract?

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Goal Keepers and the Ball

While many goalies start out with their feet glued to the goal circle, a well rounded goalie should consider them self a contributing member of the defense. This means being comfortable with not only clearing the ball, but also with picking up ground balls outside of their crease, and handling the ball under pressure. More advanced goal tenders can become even more active members of their defenses by causing turnovers through interceptions, and also by directing their defenses vocally (we will get more into this in weeks to come).

In my experience, one of the biggest mistakes we make as coaches is to limit goal tenders opportunities to work with their sticks. Goalies are often removed from shuttles in order to complete their own warm up, or pulled from a drill where players are passing under pressure because it doesn’t seem necessary, or coaches think that goalies can’t handle it. I have played on many teams where the only stick work I participated in was clearing the ball from the goal circle, or partner passing with another keeper. This is NOT enough. In order for a goalie to be able to make that first step from the goal circle to the defense they must have confidence in their ability to handle the ball.

What does this mean? Goalies need to be involved in as much stick work as possible. If your team does shuttles make sure your goalie is also stepping in, even if it is only a few times a week. If you do drills with pressure on the ball, or play keep away, make sure your goalie is also getting reps. when the team practices fighting for ground balls your goal keeper should be out there with them.  In many cases goalies have the opportunity to lead their team in ground balls, but only if they have the skills and confidence to do so.  (One important thing to think about if your team has multiple goalies: make sure that your goalies are not always competing against one another or throwing with one another. A goalie will never compete for a ground ball with another goalie, or throw the ball to another goalie, so having them practice doing so does not necessarily provide them with the most realistic game experience).

One drill that provides many variations is one that combines ground balls with clearing. Here’s how it works:

1)      The goalie sets up in the net for a shot. A shot is taken and as the save is made a second ball is rolled outside of the crease. The goalie runs out of the crease to pick up the ground ball and clears to a player cutting along the sideline (cuts can vary depending on the clear your team runs). Once the ball is thrown the goalie turns and picks up a second ground ball rolled behind the net, the goalie then clears this ground ball out to the other side. Reset and repeat as needed.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Clears should be made both on the run and standing still
  • It is rarely necessary for a goalie to switch hands to throw
  • When picking up a ground ball with a goalie stick it is important for the goalie to get their bodies low over the stick, rather than reaching out for the groundball, in order to protect their big stick from an opponent’s check.
  • Keep feet moving and run through the ground ball

Variations:

1)      Once a goalie is comfortable picking up a ground ball, pressure can be added in the form of a player also competing for the ball and applying pressure on the clear. Encourage your goalie to use their crease when under pressure. A goalie can return their ball to the crease, if it was retrieved outside of the crease, or if the ball was possessed by another player before returning to the goalies possession. Another way to use the crease is for the goalie to run close to the edge of the crease cutting off their defender and creating space for their throw.

2)      Rather than rolling out a second ball, use this drill to practice switching the field. After the goalie passes the ball, she receives the ball back from the defender, changes directions and when at a comfortable distance clears the ball out the other side to another player.

What issues are your goalies having? What do they need to succeed this spring?

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Winning the Draw

In men’s lacrosse, a keen focus is placed on the faceoff. It is common for teams to designate a “FOGO” (Face Off Get Off) to win the draw, set up a fast break, and get off the field. Why do we not put the same importance on the draw in the women’s game?

If your team struggles defensively, extra possessions could be the difference between your team winning or losing. Games can be won and lost in the circle, so how can you make your team as strong as possible on the circle?

Center

It’s not uncommon to see teams put their tallest player on the circle, and while height is certainly an asset in the circle, there are a number of different tactics that can be used to win the draw

  • Push – the open face of the stick must face your own goalie, therefore all push draws must be taken right handed. It is called a push because the motion of the body pushes the ball up and forward
  • Pull – in line with the rules about the way the stick must face, a left handed draw is referred to as a “pull ” because of the pulling movement used to win the ball
  • Self Draw – many centers elect to draw the ball up to themselves. This can be done with either a pushing or pulling set up

Hand Placement

  • Top hand at the top of the shaft (right where the plastic starts – hand cannot actually touch the plastic) with palm up. Top hand should have the same orientation it would if cradling
  • Bottom hand at bottom of shaft

Body Positioning

  • Push – Right foot under the ball in a line with right arm, left foot back a little to keep a good balanced stance.Wrist should be parallel to the ground. Knees should be bent (think about getting hips lower than the ball), and the position should feel fairly comfortable. Players should have a fair amount of distance between the stick and the body. When the whistle blows, a Pusher will try to roll their wrist under (thus putting the ball in her stick), then she will push forward (similar to the motion of a pass) to control the direction of the ball. To self draw, the center will attempt to push the ball directly above her own left shoulder, and will box out the other team’s center.
  • Pull – Right foot on the line, left foot back and open slightly. Arms should be parallel to the ground, and there should be space between the stick and the center’s body. Knees should be bent (hips lower than the ball) and the stance should be very balanced. To win the ball, a pusher will roll her wrist under and twist her body back and away (toward her left shoulder) to pull the ball. Some players prefer to rev their bottom hand (similar to revving a motor cycle) to get the ball on the back of their stick, but it is quicker to use the hand closest to the ball. It is imperative that players rotate their trunk counterclockwise to harness all of their power into the pull. A player can control this power and simply pop the ball over her back to herself, boxing out the other center, to self draw.
What’s the difference?
A pull is a great way to counteract a stronger or more powerful opponent. Because the entire body is involved in the pull, the ball tends to go much further than with a push. You are more limited in terms of where you can place the ball, however. The push is more controlled and gives more options in terms of placement. It is a quicker process and relies primarily on the quickness of the right wrist as opposed to the strength of the entire body.

On the Circle

The key for players on the circle is to attack the ball, and box out the opponent. Players can be in movement when the whistle blows – they just cannot cross into the circle ahead of the whistle. You can have players back off and run onto the circle so they are in motion as the ball goes up – this will enable them to get a head start on their opponent, and run through the ball. If you prefer to have your circle players stationary, then work on the skill of boxing out. Have your athletes put their foot that’s closest to their opponent back so their first step is directly across their opponent. They should always fight to box the opponent out (“get them on your butt”) so they can be first to the ball.

Strategy

Pay attention to where the ball is going and stack up there! There are certain areas the ball almost never goes – don’t waste bodies by placing them in those positions.

Sometimes, it is advantageous for a center to lose the draw on purpose. If your center has pulled 6 or 7 draws to the same area consecutively, it is likely that the opposition will send extra players to that location. Send one player to the other side, and purposely lose, thus giving your circle player an uncontested draw control. It is imperative that your centers learn the strengths and weaknesses of her teammates, and read the situation on the circle for every draw. There should always be a strategy behind the placement!

What if  one player on the other team is winning all the draws?

We have to make a change and take this player out of the equation! If it is a player on the circle you can “book end” her (have a player from your team on either side of her body, and work together to box her out). If this is unsuccessful, you could attempt to face guard her (have one player attempt to block/deny this player without ever looking at the ball themselves – a faceguarder’s ONLY job is to deny their mark from getting the ball), but this tactic also removes your player as a threat to win the draw control, so it has its’ cons.

If the center is winning it to herself, position a player directly in line with that player on the outside of the circle and have her run straight in to double team the ball carrier with your own center. It is important that both of your players are composed. The outside player must break down her feet, and the center must body up and force her to the incoming help. Be sure your players do not swing! We want to emphasize good body position and a clean double team here. If done correctly, this is a great opportunity for your team to win the ball back, and it may cause the center to change her strategy and vary the placement of the ball.

Here are two great videos that illustrate some draw tips and tricks you can implement into your next practice:

How do you run draws on your team? Do you develop this skill?

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