Properly executing a lacrosse face-off is a combination of skills – both physical and mental. Using the proper tools, mind-set, and body placements are a deadly combination that will increase your possessions off the X.
Middies who participate in the face-off are the make-it-or-break-it players on the field. To gain an advantage at the face-off there are certain drills that need to be incorporated into your training sessions – no matter your skill level.
Practice makes perfect, but practicing bad form and mechanics can hinder your development. Before we get into the drills to make you an expert, use these face-off tips on body placement strategy:
- Concentrate on your hand placement first. Always place your hands in the same way when prepping for the face-off. This not only helps with muscle memory but also so the opposition can’t deduce what move you’re going to throw. Keep your primary hand near the top of the stick close to the throat while maintaining your secondary hand about 2 feet down the pole.
- Same tip for your feet and legs – don’t differ your placements. Your right foot’s toes should always face the ball whereas your left foot should be pointed toward the goal.
- The purpose of the lacrosse face-off is to explode off the X with the power and skill to gain control of the ball. You need to use your entire body to do this. Stay light on your feet while putting no weight on your hands. Stay low, but bend at the knees instead of your back.
Once your body has understood and remembered the proper placement of everything, you need to practice drills to perfect your skills at the center of the field. The most important are hand drills, over/under drills, and ground ball drills.
Hand Drills – A drill partner will give the cadence, like in a typical face-off situation – down, set, then whistle. You then touch down for 5 seconds over the ball as quickly as possible to increase hand speed. Repeat the drill at least 10 times.
Over/Under Drills – You’ll need a partner in the wing for this drill, along with a coach-like presence. Have the coach act as a ref to blow the whistle in the beginning of the drill. As he blows the whistle you need to yell out (so the wingman can here you) either “over” or “under”. Grab the ball and hit the wing in accordance with your specified direction. Change positions in a circle drill pattern or repeat 10 times.
Ground Ball Drills – This drill can be for practicing forward or backward ground balls, differing only with a use of a pivot foot for the latter. Warm up your legs by giving a quick clamp off the line and send the ball in a forward movement through with a grounder.
If you practice these drills and stay consistent with your face-off stance you should become an expert in no time!