Know The Rules:  Lacrosse Face-Offs

As a lacrosse face off guy, you first need to have a layer of tape contrasting the color your head, shaft, and gloves near the throat of the head. You can’t have any tape touching any part of the head; so make it close, but not too close. The tape on your shaft is also supposed to go 6 inches down from the throat. Modifying shafts by adding anything other than tape or a covering designed for grip and color are illegal. US Lacrosse has recently made many lacrosse faceoff rule changes intended to help conduct each face off fairly. This is a major emphasis for refs who always try to minimize cheating and the use of illegal tactics.

Faceoff Positioning

The face off players line up at center field with their back turned to their defense and goalie.  The players’ hands and feet must both be to the left of the head on their sticks before the face off.  This means facing off left-handed isn’t an option. Keep your feet behind the center line and don’t let them touch your stick either. To go along with that, your stick, nor any part of your body, can intrude your opponent’s territory. Although it is legal for players to lean over the center line.


Your lacrosse stick must be parallel to the midline when setting up, and your scoop should line up with the opponent’s ball stop. Before the faceoff, all of your fingers must be wrapped around your shaft and no fingers can be resting on the ground or touching any strings. Then the referee says “down”, “set”, and blows their whistle to start the face off in lacrosse.

Lacrosse Face Off Procedure

First, the ref says “down” and the players move into position on the midline. Then the referee says “set” and the players facing off must remain motionless until the whistle is blown. Moving before the whistle in any way after “set” is a violation.

Sometimes before “set” the referee will help out and tell you to readjust your position or just move you himself. Though don’t expect this to happen too many times before you’ll get a face off violation. Referees face off going within 20 seconds of a goal being scored. Remember, it can be a delay of game call during a faceoff if any violation of the rules for positioning occurs.

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Lacrosse Face Off Violations

Violations during the face off will result in losing the possession of the ball.  There are several violations you can commit that you should know about so you can keep winning.  Most important if a team gets 3 or more pre-whistle and post-whistle face off violations in a half, a player receives a technical foul.  With that in mind you want to always work on proper procedures and position to stay out of the penalty box.

  • The players facing off can not move until after the referee blows the whistle.
  • It is possible to get penalized for making noises during a face off to try and make your opponent jump.
  • In the faceoff you can not clamp on top of the opponents stick disallowing them to play the ball.
  • As a face off guy you can not intentionally put any part of your body on the opponent’s crosse.
  • Nor can they touch the ball with their hand or fingers.
  • You can not kick the opponents stick.
  • Also a player can not clamp the ball and just hold it there if he has no teammate to assist them for several seconds.
  • If the player who won the face off has the ball stuck in the backside of his stick, they have one step to get the ball popped out to yourself or a teammate or it’s a violation.
  • Not that it would be very smart but it is illegal for goalies to face off.

Recent Updates with Lacrosse Rules: