By Dom Darcangelo

Being a great lacrosse player stems from mastering the face-off. This boils down to three key points: hand position, body position, and being aware of your surroundings. A-Game Sports lacrosse coach Dom Darcangelo weighs in on these points and provides practice suggestions for each.

Hand Position: One of the most important factors in getting set is keeping your hands light. A face-off pro keeps their hands light while pulling their center of gravity forward, ready to pounce as soon as the whistle is blown. While keeping it light, you also want to be powerful by driving your back hand forward as you roll your top hand through the plastic of the stick. Pushing your back hand forward will manipulate the plastic of the head to pinch and squeeze over the ball.

Practice: Over-and-Backs

Get in your stance over the ball and drive the head of your stick on the front and back side of the ball without touching the rubber. 15 seconds on, 15 seconds off. Repeat for 5 sets.

Body Position: Body positioning starts from the time you enter the face-off X. Setup is a matter of preference. I personally found that the one-knee-down position worked best for my game. I have also seen more upright stances and condensed positioning. Choose whatever stance makes you the lightest and fastest. Make sure your center of gravity is slightly forward and anticipating the whistle.

Practice: Drive your body and hands over the ball. Get down in your stance and drive you back hand over the ball. 10 Reps. Rest for 30 seconds. Repeat for 5 sets.

Awareness of Your Surroundings: Recently, picking your head up and looking around for an open target to roll the ball out towards has been marked as illegal. Face-off specialists are now working within their limits to more accurately locate their teammates while scraping on the ground. A strong key to success is determining prior positioning of your wingmen. Communicate about where you would like to place the ball when you make the win, prior to getting out on the field. Go in with a plan that can give your squad the best advantage.

Tip: Determine how long a wingman will take to enter the center of the field. Try to manipulate play until your support arrives, and attempt to get the ball to a similar location on every draw.

Above all else, always remember to work hard!

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