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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

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