There are different things about lacrosse that make this sport unique and engaging. One of those things is how possession is established from the get-go, formally known as a face-off. Since it sets the tone of every game, face-off is one of the most important pieces of the sport.
If you are a beginner or a player wanting to try out for face-off this season, I will walk you through everything you have to know about faceoff including drills and tips to conquer the X every time.
For women’s players, click here to learn everything you’d know about taking a draw.
Shop for the best faceoff head available on the market today.
From a fan’s perspective, faceoff is the most confusing and least entertaining part of the game. Because you can hardly see the ball as the two faceoff players collide with one another. Yet, to players, faceoff is a crucial part of the game they have to spend lots of time crafting.
Faceoff player position
Before the official blows the whistle, the faceoff players line up at the center field facing the opposite teams. Lacrosse sticks must be parallel to the midline and your scoop must line up with the opponent’s ball stop. Keep the feet behind the center line and don’t let them touch your shaft. Lastly, all your fingers must be wrapped around the shaft, not touching the ground or pocket.
Non-face off player position
The faceoff process also dictates players’ positions. There can only be 10 players on each respective team. Their positionings are as follows:
- 1 face-off player at face-off X
- 2 middies situated on opposite wings in the midfield area
- 3 attackmen situated in the offensive area
- 4 defenders(1 goalie) situated in the defensive area
One key rule to remember is attackers and defenders cannot move until the possession is obtained by either team or the ball crosses the restraining line.
Blowing the whistle
Once players are in their positions, the official will first say “down”; faceoff players drop down and position their sticks legally at the center of the X. Then the official says “set” in the meanwhile faceoff players must remain motionless until the whistle is blown. At this point, the heads are set on the side where pockets are pushed inward to make room for the lacrosse ball.
Fighting for possession
As soon as the official blows the whistle, faceoff players clamp their heads and fight to gain possession. There are typically two scenarios that could happen: one is faceoff players will try to sweep the ball toward a secure area so that it becomes a ground ball opportunity. Or one faceoff player simply obtains the ball in the back of his pocket and immediately starts sprinting toward the opposite team’s offensive zone.
Check out how the best faceoff player does the craft:
Faceoff is one of the most regulated portions of lacrosse, which means you must make sure not to violate any rules. If a team gets 3 or more pre-whistle and post-whistle face off violations in a half, a player will receive a technical foul. To avoid finding yourself in the penalty box, be sure to study and familiarize the procedure.
I also included several rules below that highlight the dos and donts to remember:
- Between “set” and the whistle blow, faceoff players must remain still
- You can’t intentionally press down on or shove the opponent’s stick. In other words, you can’t block the opponent from fighting for the ball in any way
- It’s also not allowed to hold the ball in the back of your pocket for more than 5 seconds without passing or getting out of the situation
- A single-wrap of tape must be applied to the shaft. It starts without touching the plastic at the throat and extends 6 inches down the handle. The color must be contrasting with the color of the shaft
Lacrosse faceoff techniques/drills to start doing today
To be great at faceoff, the player must have a fast reaction time, quick hands and great strength to outmaneuver your opponent. There are different styles and techniques players use in their toolkits to gain an edge over their opponents. The most common and popular ones include rake, clamp and plunger.
Rake: A rake utilizes the bottom sidewall to pinch the ball and quickly pull the stick towards ourselves to pick up the ball.
Clamp: A clamp uses the back of the lacrosse stick to secure the ball during a faceoff. Specifically, there are reverse clamps and quick clamps.
Plunger: A plunger is achieved by pushing the butt end out to trap the ball and quickly pulling the ball back toward the butt end.
Now, let’s move on to the everyday drills to hone in your techniques.
- Quick chops – The goal is to improve your response and hand movements. Get in the faceoff position and go back and forth over the ball as fast as you can without touching it for 10-15 seconds every set
- Fast hands – A very simple hand practice where you grab the ball as fast as you can. Set a timer for every 6 or 8 seconds and when the timer is up grab the ball and put it back as quickly as possible. Then wait for the next alarm
- Rake, clamp and plunger – practice all these techniques as they will prove to be very effective. By learning them all together, you build a bigger arsenal of moves to be more competitive
- Faceoff alone – practice doing a normal faceoff in a real game without a teammate. Use a timer and try to utilize different techniques at every set
- Faceoff 1v1 – imitate the real game faceoff by facing off against a teammate. Instead of using an alarm system, be sure to get familiar with the “down, set, go” cadence
Best lacrosse faceoff heads in 2022
To conclude this faceoff detailed breakdown, I want to leave you with many great faceoff options to consider for this season.
|Faceoff Brand / Model||Type||Buying Link|
|STX Duel 3||Suitable for FOSO and FOGO||Lacrosse Monkey|
|StringKing Mark 2F||Suitable for FOSO and FOGO||Amazon|
|Nike CEO 2||Suitable for FOGO||Lacrosse Monkey (Unstrung)|
Lacrosse Monkey (Strung)
|Warrior Burn FO||Suitable for FOSO and FOGO||Lacrosse Monkey|
Click here to see the full list of the best faceoff heads in 2022