One of the fastest growing aspects in the sport of lacrosse is the Faceoff and FOGOs (FaceOffGetOff). Players who are exceptional at taking faceoffs are becoming more and more valuable as time passes and the game continues to grow. They have become so important that over the past ten years, that we have seen players get recruited by colleges solely for their faceoff ability. The faceoff is not only important because of the opportunity to gain possession of the ball, but if you have a consistent FOGO you can stop the opposition from gaining momentum throughout the game. Here are three important factors in being successful at the faceoff:
- Balance – You need to be able to move quickly once a move is made –whether you win the draw or not. You want to be able to get into the correct position so you have mobility without keeping your weight on your hands or knees. Players who place all their weight on their hands will not be as successful because they won’t be able to transition from the faceoff into a fast break, and will lose key seconds while trying to regain their balance.
- Technique – Just like any other athletic activity, the correct technique will benefit you more in the long run than trying to be the fastest or strongest from the get-go. It’s like strength lifting: if you just try to lift every weight in the weight room you’ll end up getting hurt or getting into the wrong rhythm. Ideally, you learn the correct way first and then build from there.
- Fast Hands – Obviously having fast hands is a must for faceoff guys and a good thing to help with this is having an audio file that has whistles blown at random times to help learn quick reaction time. There are a couple of mobile apps that can do this for you and they will help tremendously.
Set Up For Winning Faceoffs
Being unbeatable at the X includes everything from set up, to executing a move, and picking the ball. There are a variety of different moves and counter-moves that will allow you to be successful. Being able to pull these off and react to them will help you win the battle:
- The setup. Your setup should be the same for every faceoff; stance and head of the stick in relation to the ball should be the same angle each time. (If you're consistent, you'll be harder to read.) Put your dominant toe directly behind the ball.
- Stance. Speed kills. Improve your speed against opponents by balancing your stance with your weight off your hands. Hand position should stay the same on the stick every time, with the dominant hand kept close down to the neck of the stick without touching the plastic of the head. Keep elbows between your knees and your weight as low as possible to get the advantage over the other player.
- Crowding the ball. Players should line up as close as possible, but still be able to move with quick feet.
- Clamp moves. For any clamp move, stay low, clamp down over the ball to trap it. Then, with the ball locked in, lift the non-dominant hand and drag your stick to pop it forward and make a fast break.
- Jam. Jam is a defensive move to get possession of the ball instead of creating a fast break. Beat the other player by beating him at the whistle, jamming his stick to the ground, then sweeping the ball behind you with the shaft of yours.
Staying consistent in your setup is just one way of hiding your strategy; you should also strive to read your opponent's upcoming move. All players have a "tell"; you just have to find it. Reading your opponent takes practice and experience. Look for changes in their wrist position at setup. A left wrist on the ground indicates a clamp, but if it’s up, look for a jam or a laser.
With some practice, your lacrosse faceoffs can become winning faceoffs. Keep at it, and you just might become unbeatable.