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Tufts head coach Mike Daly is a firm believer that increased face-off work in practice had a direct correlation to his team’s championship run in 2010.
This week you’ll get an exclusive chance to learn Daly’s face-off warm-up progression, an instrumental set of face-off drills that have paid dividends for his squad in recent seasons. Look to incorporate these effective drills in your own practices this year. Hopefully, you’ll see an improvement in your face-off winning percentage and overall transition game.
For Coach Daly and the Jumbos, this warm-up is a key part of their face-off routine. It starts with face-off basics and then moves into counters and more detailed progressions.
First up, after Coach Daly blows the whistle, players get into their face-off positions (squatting and head down), and go back and forth over the top of the ball with their stick head for up to 10 seconds. Take a short break and then the players repeat.
Next, it’s Moves vs. Air, which includes clamps, jams, and lasers. It all starts with a clamp move after the whistle. Then the players practice Jams vs. Air. This is where each face-off guy reaches out across the ball and jams his stick to prevent his opponent from getting to the ball. He can then easily funnel the ball in his direction thanks to key body positioning and effective stick placement. For Lasers vs. Air, there’s an immediate deflection of the ball with the stick and the player can play the ball to space.
For Dummy Partner, players are simply working on their moves against each other. The dummies provide some resistance and the goal is to get warmed up and go against some minimal resistance.
Finally, the players go live against each other. Competition is important here. If you win, you move up to the winner’s side. If you lose you go back to the loser’s side. You keep moving guys up until you have an ultimate winner. Overall, it’s great competition and something that the Tufts lacrosse team uses in practice and even on game day. It also incorporates toughness into every one of their reps.
Got any other face-off drills that you use in your own warm-up progression? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us why they are so effective for you.
In the latest special situations & game strategies feature, we’ll focus on defensive substitution techniques and then wing play drills for face-off situations. Florida State men’s lacrosse coaches Bill Harkins and Matt Waesche will both lead you through the segments using whiteboard diagrams and live on-field simulations.
This drill recalls a scenario when you’re looking to sub out an entire defensive unit efficiently without allowing any fast breaks or other problems. However, you don’t want to bring out all three guys at once. Simply, if you lose the ball, it’s a 6-0 fast break the other way.
Meanwhile, your defensive unit also can’t afford to leave opponents open on the field any longer than they have to. Therefore, it’s key to slide defenders down the field and then get the new subs to rotate over. This enables you to still get good coverage of the entire field.
On the sideline, have your first sub defender ready to go. When you call “down the string”, your first defender on the field slides down the field (while watching the action) and the new sub works his way on. Our other two defenders come down the string and at the same time, our new substitute defender works his way all the way over to the opposite side to cover the opposite attackman. He should also be watching the action on the opposite side of the field in case we turn it over.
The other two players then slide down. The next substitute defender comes in, the other player comes off, and it repeats until all players have been changed (without leaving their attack uncovered).
With the Wing Play Drill, get two face-off men ready to go at the X. Then get a long pole and a short stick set up on one restraining line, and another set of the same group on the opposite line. There will possibly be three balls in play simultaneously.
The face-off guys first battle at the X. Meanwhile, a nearby coach has two other balls and makes a decision as to how many balls will go in play. If he throws out two balls at once, one side of wing players go after a loose ball while the opposite side goes after the other ball, plus we’ve also got the two guys in the middle battling. You can even throw just one ball and have all the wing men fight for that GB. Or you can keep both balls in your hand and proceed like a normal face-off.
Tip: Look to get at 45-degree angles outside the circle for trail checks and opposite side traps.
With “hip”, this is a strategy when battling a fast opponent. It’s imperative to get your hip on your opponent and drive them away from the ball for two or three steps. This way, we should have an inside track to turn and get to the ball ourselves. Get leverage and go right to the ball.
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “How to Run the Box: Substitution Schemes to Create Mismatches.” To check out more videos featuring special situations & plays, simply head over to our lacrosse library.
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.