A lacrosse face off is the method of starting play after a goal is scored and at the start of each quarter of a lacrosse game. The lacrosse face off is a physical contest between two players who attempt to gain possession of the ball after it is placed between their sticks on the ground. Faceoff specialists use face off lacrosse heads that provide better flex and strength when battling at the face off X. At the whistle, both players try to scoop the ball up and pass it to a teammate for an offensive possession. The face off is a critical piece of the game, as the team that wins the face off can gain a significant advantage in scoring opportunities.
Lacrosse Face Off Rules
In men’s lacrosse, a faceoff takes place a the center midfield line at the beginning of each period and after every goal.
Lacrosse Faceoff Procedure
- The official will place the ball on the midfield line at the spot on which the faceoff will take place and instruct the players to prepare for the faceoff by saying “down.”
- Once the players are down, they are to move into their faceoff position as quickly as possible. Players shall stand for the faceoff and must remain standing until the whistle sounds to start play.
- The crosses and gloves shall rest on the ground along the centerline, parallel to each other up to, but not touching, the centerline.
- The official shall make certain that the reverse surfaces of the crosses match evenly and are perpendicular to the ground. Each player must have both hands on the handle of his own crosse, touching the ground. The hand closer to the throat of the head shall be in a palm up position and may not touch any part of the head of the crosse. The player’s feet may not touch his crosse. Both hands and both feet of each player must be to the left of the throat of his crosse and behind the midline at the start of the face-off.
- Once the players are in the proper position, the official shall ensure the ball is in the middle of the head of each crosse.
- Once the official is satisfied with the placement of the ball and the positioning of the players, he shall call “set”, step back clear of the area and initiate the face-off with a whistle. The whistle cadence will vary every face-off. For hard-of-hearing players, a reasonable accommodation for the “set” command and whistle sound will be discusses and agreed upon with each team’s head coach before the start of the game.
- Upon the whistle starting play, each faceoff player must attempt to play the ball before body checking their opponent.
Lacrosse Faceoff Violations
A violation will occur if a player commits a foul before or during a faceoff. In all cases, the offended team will be awarded the ball on the side of the field they are attacking, unless otherwise noted.
The following are faceoff violations:
- A player may not pick up and carry the ball on the back of his stick. It is still legal to clamp the ball with the back of the stick, but it must be moved, raked, or directed within one step.
- A player may not trap the ball with his crosse longer than necessary for him to control the ball and pick it up with one continuous motion. A player may not withhold the ball from play in any other manner.
- A player may not kick, step on, or place any other body part to his crosse on the crosse of the opponent. It is illegal for a faceoff player to use his crosse to hold or pin down the opponent’s crosse.
- A player may not use his hand or fingers to play the ball. This shall be enforced immediately as an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Inadvertent touching of the ball when the hand is grasping the stick should not be called as an unsportsmanlike conduct foul.
- A player may not grab an opponent’s crosse with the open hand or fingers. This shall be enforced immediately as an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
- If the ball becomes stuck in a player’s crosse after the faceoff, play shall stop immediately with possession of the ball awarded to the opposing team.
Positioning Of Other Players Before Faceoff
When a team has all of its players on the field, it shall confine its goalkeeper and three other players behind the defensive-area restraining line. Three players must also be behind the offensive-area restraining line, and one player in each of the wing areas.
When the whistle sounds to start play, the players in the wing areas are released but must avoid body checking the faceoff players battling, while down in a defenseless position, for control of the ball in the initial faceoff spot. All other players are confined to their areas until someone gains possession of the ball, the ball goes out of bounds, the ball crosses the defensive-area line, a whistle stops play for a time-serving foul, or the whistle restarts play after a non-time-serving foul. When any of the above events occur, the face- off has ended.
In all man-down faceoff situations, there must be four players in the defensive area and three players in the offensive area. When a team has three players in the penalty area, a player may come out of his defensive area to take the faceoff but must remain onside.
Lacrosse Face Off Technique
In men’s lacrosse, the proper face off technique varies depending on the player’s athleticism and personal style. However, there are some general principles that all face off specialists and FOGOs (faceoff get off specialists) should follow.
First, players should position their body so that they are balanced and ready to move in any direction. This usually means that they should have a wide stance with their feet about shoulder-width apart and their weight evenly distributed.
Next, players should grip their stick firmly, with their top hand placed near the head of the stick and their bottom hand near the butt end. This will give them maximum control and leverage when trying to win the face off.
When the ball is placed between the two players, they should use their stick to try to scoop it up and pass it to a teammate or shoot it at the goal. To do this effectively, they should use a combination of quickness, strength, and finesse. Some players prefer to use a “clamp” technique, where they clamp their stick down on the ball and try to pull it back towards their body. Others prefer to use a “rake” technique, where they rake their stick along the ground and try to flick the ball away from their opponent.
Ultimately, the key to winning a face off in men’s lacrosse is to have a combination of physical ability and mental toughness. Players who can out-think and out-muscle their opponents are often the ones who come out on top in this crucial part of the game.
Lacrosse Face Off Drills
There are many lacrosse face off drills that players can practice to improve their skills and techniques. Some examples include:
- The “Door Knob” Drill: In this drill, you get down into a standard neutral grip faceoff position and practice rotating your top hand to the right and to the left like you are quickly turning a door knob. This warms up your wrist mobility and flexibility, while reinforcing muscle memory for when you clamp down on the ball.
- The “Hand Punch” Drill: In this drill, you get down in the same faceoff position and practice punching forward with your top hand. In a live faceoff, you’ll be quickly punching forward and clamping after the whistle. Practicing your top hand punch helps develop muscle memory for lightning quick reactions in a game-time faceoff.
- The “Rip Cord” Drill: With your faceoff head clamped down on the ball, you will repetitively pull your bottom hand out and away from your body. Because this often happens very quickly in a live faceoff, the rip cord drill helps you isolate and practice the important back hand mechanics.
- “Chops” drill: In this drill, you will get down in a standard neutral grip faceoff position. Next, you will keep your bottom hand knuckles to the ground, while repetitively chopping back and forth over the ball with your top hand – as fast as you can. This helps players develop hand speed, control, wrist strength, and muscle memory.
These are just a few examples of the many lacrosse face off drills that players can practice to improve their skills. By regularly practicing these drills, players can develop the quickness, strength, and finesse needed to win face offs and gain a competitive advantage in games.
Girl’s Lacrosse Face Off
There are some differences between the face offs in men’s and women’s lacrosse, however. For example, in women’s lacrosse, players are not allowed to body check or use excessive force to win the ball. This means that the draw in women’s lacrosse is often more finesse-based, with players using quickness and skill to gain control of the ball.