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An elite face-off player can be a major difference-maker on a lacrosse team. To gain an advantage at the face-off X, check out these six pre-practice face-off drills – perfect for use at any level. The following drills are practical, effective and frequently used by the Duke men’s lacrosse program. Follow along with former Duke standout midfielder and current Lehigh University head coach Kevin Cassese as he breaks down each face-off drill before directing his midfielders through a full-speed simulation.
For additional instruction on proper face-off stance, techniques and overall tips, check out our previous face-off feature from March featuring Coach Cassese.
For this drill, when we come out for a face-off, the offensive side of the field will mean “Over” and the defensive side of the field will mean “Under.” These directions tell everyone on the field where the face-off player wants his teammates to be. So when a player goes down and puts a clamp on the ball and there’s an ensuing scrum, he may yell out over. When this happens, he will send the ball out the front side where his wing player can get a step on the opposition, scoop up the ball and transition down field.
Here’s how the Over/Under Drill works. One player starts at the X in typical face-off stance and then signals/yells where the ball is going. He will shoot the ball in that direction. The next player in line steps up to the ball (while on the run), gets down in a clamp position, and directs it either over or under. The next player in line continues with this trend as all players quickly move around the field simulating this maneuver. There is always continuous movement with this drill.
In this drill, players will line up side-by-side in typical face-off stance. Make sure there is plenty of room between each player. The coach will then blow the whistle 10-20 times in a row. With each whistle, the key here is for everyone to give a short chop over the ball and then make a quick jump back in ready position. We’re simply working on quickness in our hands and wrists, getting back into ready position, and getting to know the whistle a bit.
Ground Balls Forward
This drill is ideal for warming up the legs and getting ready for extensive face-off practice. Players will give a quick clamp and then send the ball forward and through with a grounder. This drill is continuous. After sending the ball forward, players should quickly get back to their starting point and start the drill again on the next whistle.
Ground Balls Backward
Here, we’ll go down with our clamp, proceed with a move and then send the ball backward. Unlike the previous drill, it’s key here to use our right foot as a pivot foot in order to block the opponent out, scoop the ground ball and bring it up towards your head. Notice how the players yell out “Ball” and “Release.” It’s important to communicate constantly on the field. It gives directions to teammates so that you can have an advantage on the competition. Remember to stay legal every time. Practicing illegal face-off moves will only hinder your progress.
Over/Under Ground Balls
Make a line right behind the face-off X. There will be one midfielder to start at the X and then another player out on the wing. The wing man will serve as the outlet man for this drill. Next, the coach will say down and then blow the whistle. The man at the X will give his teammate directions (Over or Under), find the ball and then hit the outlet guy in stride. The outlet guy will then go to the end of the line while the face-off man becomes the outlet player. Remember to listen to your teammates around you, find that ball and shoot it out to them. Stay low at all times and keep that proper form, too.
The Goosing Drill works on pushing the ball forward and then pushing the ball to your wing men. After a down call, the coach will blow the whistle and proceed to roll the ball out to a particular side. Here, we’re trying to simulate pushing the ball out a bit too far so that the offensive wing man can take it quickly and move it up field. This “goosing” pass is more of a push pass than a full-out pass. The goal here is to simply get the ball away from trouble.
To following face-off drills can be seen in Championship Productions’ DVD “Becoming a Champion Lacrosse Player: The Face-Off.” Check out more face-off videos in our extensive lacrosse library by clicking here.
A dominant face-off man can change the outcome of a lacrosse game, whether it’s paving the way for fast break opportunities and scoring opportunities or preventing an opposing team from gaining momentum. An effective face-off man can also control the time of possession for his team, which will ultimately give his side a better chance at winning a particular contest.
With current Lehigh University head coach Kevin Cassese as your guide, check out these four useful face-off moves to see how you can start implementing them at your next practice. Hopefully, after learning some of the key techniques, your squad can gain a major advantage at the face-off X.
Start in your normal lacrosse position. Then, at the sound of the whistle, take your left fist and punch it forward as you clamp. This maneuver will get the ball into the small of your stick and block the opposing player’s stick away from the ball. Plus, it allows the strength of your stick to control the move. Forearm and wrist strength are also key towards having an effective power clamp move.
As you go to clamp, shift yourself over the ball. Then, pull your back hand up a tiny bit and rake the ball out the front side.
As soon as you hear the whistle, move yourself down the right side of the mid-line, pushing forward. Then, jam the ball into the small of your stick and make a big step with your right foot. Rake the ball out the back, turn and box your man out.
Don’t just swing it down the line, get the ball into the small of your stick and rake it back into space where an opposing player can’t get to it.
Don’t forget to about the key elements of a good lacrosse face-off stance: Keep your feet shoulder width apart and your backside down. Your knees should be bent and low to the ground. Your hands should be light yet explosive. Always keep your head and body out of the neutral zone and don’t lean over the ball. Plus, your stick shaft should be parallel to the midfield line.
The previous face-off drills can be seen in detail on Championship Productions’ DVD “Becoming a Champion Lacrosse Player: The Face-Off” with Kevin Cassese. Check out our entire lacrosse face-off catalog right here.