Skip to main content
Lynn Bowers sets up draw

Game Ready: The Art of the Draw

March 16, 2023
Beth Ann Mayer
John Strohsacker

This article appears in the March edition of USA Lacrosse Magazine. Join our momentum.

Possession is everything in women’s lacrosse. It’s why players and coaches focus heavily on the draw — and officials do, too.

“When we are setting up a draw, it’s our job as an official to make sure it’s set up efficiently and fair so that both teams and players have the opportunity,” said Lynn Bowers, an official for more than 27 years and former national champion at Penn State.

When Bowers started, there wasn’t much direction on the draw.

“It had previously been, ‘Go in there and set up the draw,’” Bowers said. “But the game has evolved, and these players continue to be so dynamic with their stick work.”

Officials want to avoid mistakes that award the wrong team possession. If a player doesn’t cause an illegal draw, they revert to alternating possession (AP). Like in basketball, it awards the draw to one team. If it happens again, the other team gets it.

Bowers says officials do their best to avoid the AP, but it requires attention to detail and a keen eye.


Players taking the draw should be in the center circle, toeing the line and waiting for the official to approach. Player height varies, so Bowers suggests officials put their hands out as if they are feeding a horse, using their bottom hand as a guide. “Make sure if you are looking at this, even from an aerial view, the sticks are contained in a vertical plane and parallel to one another,” she said. “If you are looking behind a player, that stick should be parallel and straight.”


The animal visuals don’t end with horses.

“Envision opening them like a clam with two sticks together,” Bowers said. “The ball should be placed in the upper third of the stick near the widest part. Once we are sure that the ball is placed in the upper third, we close it to secure the clam.”


The rules state that a player’s top hand cannot touch the sidewall or pocket of the stick. Most players won’t have a whole hand touching either. Focus on the fingers.

“If you are holding the stick, you are looking to make sure that the thumb or pointer finger has not slid up on the sidewall of the stick,” Bowers said.


Varying stick sizes and player heights can complicate the draw. Little things, like fingers touching the sidewall, can get missed at first glance. Before backing away, Bowers advises officials to double and triple-check everything.

“Before we do anything else, we make sure there are no other adjustments needed which goes back to making sure the shaft is in a vertical plane and contained,” Bowers said.


An illegal draw occurs when:

  • Either player draws too soon.

  • No attempt is made to draw up and away.

  • The movement of the stick is not up and away from the starting position.

  • A player moves after the official says “ready” and before the whistle.

“The above violations would result in the non-offending team getting awarded possession and a free position at the spot of the ball,” Bowers said. “However, if an official cannot determine which player drew illegally, based on the four violations, the call is AP.”

For example, if the ball didn’t go up and above both players’ heads or dropped from both sticks, and it can’t be attributed to a foul, “it’s time to call AP,” Bowers said.