A lacrosse face-off is like a game of "rock, paper, scissors." Each player goes in with a plan, and the one with the better plan—assuming he executes it correctly—will come away with the ball.
One basic move to help you dominate the 'X' is "the Clamp." It is the most common technique used by face-off specialists to gain control of the ball. (LAX players: get stronger with Paul Rabil's Chain Push-Ups.)
- To set up for a clamp, position your stick parallel to your body with the back of your stick head facing the ball.
- When the whistle blows, forcefully drive your right hand forward to create separation, while you drive your left hand forward with your knuckles dragging across the ground.
- The separation will allow you to rotate your stick and "clamp" the ball with the back of your stick head.
- You can then pull the ball out to your wing, or pop it behind you and pick it up.
Once the face-off is won or lost, use your body to get into a position that will prevent your opponent from getting to the ball. If he attempts to get past you, he will be called for a foul, similar to "boxing out" in basketball. (Check out Maryland Lacrosse's workout.)
If you want to improve your clamping speed and technique, try the drill demonstrated in the SMARTER Team Training video below.
Editor's Note: Coach Taylor has developed the SMARTER Team Training Audio Interview Series, dedicated to promoting critical thinking, reason and public understanding of prudent, purposeful and productive strength and conditioning practices for clients and athletes. Listen to episodes featuring some of the best experts in the fields of strength and conditioning, personal training, sports nutrition and sport psychology here.