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Denver Pioneers Lacrosse

Denver Pioneers - Photo from http://www.denverpioneers.com

As most face-off guys would agree, the clamp is the most common move in lacrosse. Proper stance and technique can make the clamp one of a fogo’s most valuable tool. The move consists of rolling your wrists in order to rotate the backside of your head over the ball, while simultaneously driving the bottom of your shaft with your left hand towards the offensive side of the field. Wrist and forearm strength are also a very important aspect of having an effective clamp.

Slight changes in body position and focus of your weight can easily tweak a standard clamp into a power move. Using your legs, core and upper body, a quick transfer of weight from your feet towards the ball can mean the difference between a stalemate and control of the ball in some situations. However, it is important to keep yourself in a position where you can quickly chase a ground ball. There is a fine line between overpowering your move and remaining quick to loose balls. Do not leave your feet at the faceoff X!

Contrary to power moves, quick moves are often most effective against an opponent with slow hands or feet. The ability to abruptly remove the ball from the X before Joe Shmoe can react will often result in fast breaks or control of the ball. Rakes, jumps and quick clamps are some of the quickness moves that have been the most effective for me.

Deciding what moves are best to use usually relies on your opponent. Watch the enemy’s hands before the game, or in film session. Look for the way in which they hold the stick, if their wrists are parallel to the ground or more upright, and what their stance looks like. All of these aspects can be crucial in determining what types of moves will be most efficient.

Stay Classy,
Ben Wahler 38

Success at the faceoff X is impossible without a strong set of wings. The best advice I can give to wingers is to understand your faceoff mid. Learn his strengths, weaknesses, moves, consistency and the location at which the ball most often ends up when that particular guy is taking a draw.

Whether you are offensively minded or defensively minded, be prepared for anything. While boxing out your opponent may be the best choice for one situation, it can also put you at a disadvantage if you have not communicated with your teammate entering battle at the X.

The three players at the midfield need to work as a unit. Since microphones in lacrosse helmets are still probably a few years off, loud, directive communication is just as important as the faceoff move itself.

The goal of a faceoff is to gain possession. Just because the enemy may have won the draw itself, the battle is not yet lost. As Yoda said to Luke:

“A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind. This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph. Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Jedi craves not these things.”

Just as face-offs must be studied, wing play must also. Face-offs are the roots of goals, possessions, stops, transitions and glory. Though difficult to see on a stats sheet, games can be won or lost at the X. Unite with the way of the Jedi.

May the force be with you,
Ben Wahler 38

FOGO. Our job is pretty straightforward. Faceoff, get off. As simple as this may seem, there is a wrong way to do this. Right now, I am sure you are saying to yourself, ‘I’m not just a fogo!’ Lucky you.

The point is, the faceoff is not over once possession is gained or lost. The actions a faceoff mid takes following the 10 to 20 seconds after the draw can mean the difference between playing college lacrosse and taking draws with grandma in the basement after a daily afternoon nap.

There are a few general outcomes that follow a faceoff: A neutral zone possession or loss, a fast break, and an illegal procedure call. Knowing what to do in these situations is important in order to put yourself in a position that will help your team the most.

Your coach will usually tell you what your role is following the face, however there are a few general things you want to keep in mind.

  1. Support the ball before subbing off the field. If your team wins possession off the draw, get open or get out of the way of the ball carrier. Get the ball settled in the offensive end, then sub off through the mid or elsewhere if that is what your coach has told you. Some coaches will also have substitution play but I will leave that up to them.
  2. Don’t be over aggressive if you lose the draw. Making overzealous checks around the midline will often cause you to get a flag. Get back in the hole and substitute yourself with your opponent.
  3. Don’t be afraid to make plays. A player on the field that is unable or doesn’t have the confidence to make necessary plays when he is stuck on the field will only hurt the team.
  4. Listen to your coaches. Most of the time, the coaching staff can see changes that need to be made regarding your positioning after the face.

For me, Bart Sullivan and E. Covey were my second and third pair of eyes, and were highly responsible for successful post-draw situations that I was in. Not to mention, practicing face-offs in a parking lot lit by Sully’s car headlights in the pouring rain had a major impact on the effectiveness of my post-draw play.

Face-Off Country Club forever,
Ben Wahler

There is nothing more annoying than a scrappy, tough groundball guru as an opponent at the faceoff X. I am talking the type of guy that shower’s once a week, eats quarter pounders for breakfast, and still thinks wearing letter jackets from high school is cool.

As difficult as it is for me to acknowledge these individuals as college lacrosse players, they have become a difficult opponent at the X. At a mere 5-9, I like to think of myself as a solid groundball guy, even though quarter pounders and letter jackets are not really my thing.

With my quickness and toughness in tight scrums, I have found myself coming up with a lot of fifty-fifty ground balls. Staying low and having a solid base is key in coming out on top.

Any drills that involve ball protection, with and without possession, and general strength and knowledge in off-ball situations are great additions to any faceoff middie’s repertoire.

Take your vitamins,
Ben Wahler 38

Originally posted on LaxSpot on 02/12/2008

Sorry about not posting anything lately, I have been real busy with practices and school work, and actually do not currently have the internet at my apartment.  For some reason it is not working so I haven’t been able to get on here lately. My fault.

Anyways, lately we have had 2 weekends of scrimmages and practices everyday.  We started off scrimmaging Loyola and Delaware on February 2 at Maryland.  Scrimmages went well and luckily the weather was nice so it made it more enjoyable.  We played Loyola first, which was a rematch from our fall scrimmage.  It was a low scoring game but we found a lot of positives out there that we built off of for the upcoming games.  We then played Delaware and that was more of a high pace, scoring game for us.  In all the day was successful for us and we got a lot accomplished.

The following weekend (this past weekend) we headed up to Princeton to play them, another rematch of the fall.  We came out on fire and built up a good lead.  The weather wasn’t the greatest but it was still fun to play against a highly competitive team and to see where we would match up.  Things went well and that leads us into this week.  This week we are focusing on certain things that we noticed didn’t go well in the scrimmage that we want to fix for the season.  We rap up our preseason with scrimmages on Saturday here at Maryland, against Harvard and someone else.  This is our last chance to work the kinks out and get everything on track for our opening game against Georgetown.

Our scrimmages are winding down and we are all looking forward to the season to start.  We are really excited about our team this year and how we all came together.  Should be interesting to see what happens when the season officially starts up and we will go from there: starting at Georgetown.

Originally posted on LaxSpot on 1/24/2008

And the season begins…. We started actual practice this week and it feels good to get it going.  But it feels pretty cold out too.  We are starting up our stick drills and getting comfortable in full pads again.  The freshman are getting accustomed to the usual routine and fitting in with the team.  This has been a full week of practice with no classes for me.  My winter class ended last Friday and now I am just waiting for the spring semester to start.  This week has all been about lacrosse and getting focused on the season again.  This week of no school has helped with the free time to relax and rest from practice.  Nothing beats hanging out on the couch relaxing watching good television or a good movie.  Not to mention having bags of ice all over my legs from bruises already.  That is probably the best part about spring: bruises all over, not.  The long practices gives the shooters more time to hit me and man it hurts.  I am not going to lie, getting hit with the ball is not fun, especially in practice in the cold weather.  The bruises, welts, and swelling never ends but it comes with the job.  I would never trade my position on the field for any one them.  I love being between the pipes and facing shots day after day.  Why? I do not know.  And yes, it hurts, but oh well.  Although practices are tiring and drain me, I continue to look forward to the next one to get back on the field, between the pipes to face the next shot that comes at me.

Originally posted on LaxSpot on 1/15/2008

The last week of winter session is windy down.  We are getting in shape and looking forward to the season which is right around the corner.  As we are all preparing for finals of our January term class, we are pushing ourselves even harder on the field.  We haven’t gotten used to waking up at 6am but we know it’s well worth it.  The veterans on the team call this week Christmas with lacrosse.  Every morning we come in for running and there is a new type of gear in our lockers.  Whether it is new G22 gloves, stx armpads, shoulder pads, heads, stringing sticks, or under armor gear, we are excited to get it.  Everyone is stringing up their sticks, dying their sticks, adjusting their helmets, or lacing up their cleats.  The excitement is building and we are ready for the 2008 season to come.  Once this week is over, all the new gear that we get is going to be put to use on the fields and we will be going at it full throttle.  We have a bad taste in our mouths’ from last year and ready to take on whoever comes in front of us.  This past month of waking up before the sun is even up is for the next couple months to come.  We have put in the hard work with the conditioning part, now here comes the fun part of laxin’ it up on the field.

Originally posted on LaxSpot on 1/7/2008

After my first half week of practice, I couldn’t wait for the weekend to just do nothing.  The weekends are valuable during winter term because it allows you to finally be able to sleep in.  Having to get up at 6am every morning and work out then go straight to class is no fun.  On the weekends though is a good time for our team to hang out and bond.  During the winter term, there are not many students on campus so it is mainly just our team and a few other students.  This allows for our team to hang out together and develop a strong bond right before the season starts up.  This past weekend we all hung out and watched football.  Nothing is better than NFL playoffs.  And the BCS championship is on tonight.  We all get together and watch the games together and some of the kids on our team are big Ohio State fans so its fun to watch it with them.  But now it is back to boot camp and running and lifting and class for a full week.  It is good to get in shape and start up the season but it is a lot of tough work, I can’t wait to have it all pay off in the upcoming spring.

Originally posted on LaxSpot on 1/7/2008

One day after New Year’s Day and I am back in College Park practicing for the 2008 lacrosse season already.  I am also taking a January term 3 credit class so that started January 2nd, same day that preseason practice started for me.  I arrived back in College Park on New Year’s Day around 9pm, just in time to unpack and get settled back in my for routine for January.  Wednesday, my first day, was not a typical January day for me.  I woke up around 8:25 to get to my 9 o’clock class on time.  My class goes from 9-12:15 Monday through Friday.  So on Wednesday after class, I came home and took a nap before going to my first running practice at 5pm.  At practice, we ran and lifted for about an hour and forty five minutes.  We did a circuit of drills for about 20 minutes that consisted of short, explosive sprints with about 50 yards sprints in between drills.  After running, we headed into the weight room for our ab work out, followed by our lifting routine.  After a strenuous workout, I was beat and ready to get home and relax.  I got a good meal for dinner and put a movie on and was set for the night.  Now, I just had to set my alarm for 6:15 to start my typical January day on Thursday.After hitting snooze on my alarm once and getting up at 6:20, I had to head on over to the team house for work out number two beginning at 7am.  After running several long sprints and a stick drills work out, I had to quickly shower and head on over to my 9 o’clock class.  After paying attention for just over three hours in my class, I was headed home and to bed.  I was ready to take a nap and sleep forever, until waking up, watching a movie, getting food, and setting my alarm for 6:15 to do it all over again.

Originally posted on LaxSpot on 12/28/2008

I am very excited about this new lacrosse website forming, laxspot.com. I love seeing the game continue to grow and this website is perfect for people throughout the lacrosse nation to stay in contact and see what’s new in lacrosse. I will be posting weekly about what goes on at a top college program during the season. We start our pre-season practicing on January 2nd, so that is right around the corner. We have already been real busy during the fall and look forward to the upcoming year. I will let you all know what goes on at practices, pre-games, games, and even the college life of school and classes to let you all know what a typical student-athlete goes through during lacrosse season. I am looking forward to using laxspot.com and GO TERPS!

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