A Third Opinion On The Proposed Face Off Changes

Jerry Ragonese ProAthletics Face off Brooklyn Brawl
It's an art form already! Jerry at work.

Editor’s Note: The face off rule changes proposed by the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Rules Committee have created an uproar in the college lacrosse world. FoGos everywhere have opinions on the changes, and of all the rules, the face off changes pose the most questions. First Connor gave his opinion on things, then Matt Schomburg of FoGoLax got into the action, and now Jerry Ragonese, current Charlotte Hounds FoGo and ProAthletics all-star, weighs in with his thoughts.  Hear what the best in the game have to say!


Rule Proposal: Bye Bye Motorcycle

Players taking the face-off are not allowed to use a motorcycle grip. I could go on for days about this but I’ll try to keep it as short as possible. As far as I know, there have never been rules as to how a player can hold the stick, other than that they have to keep it in their right hand. No reason to start now at the X.

Jerry Ragonese ProAthletics Face off Brooklyn Brawl
It’s an art form already! Jerry at work.

The moto grip isn’t what is holding up players, and traditional grip face offs will be just as long as Moto v Moto. In my experience less cheating happens with moto grip players as the list of “cheat” moves is much smaller, and “elbow pinning” has already been outlawed.

The issue we are seeing is not in what grip is being used, but in that there are now many more “specialists” at the position. Players are bing recruited to take face offs. No one was complaining about the grip when Alex Smith was mowing guys down because he was fast breaking them every time. Now top 10 teams all have an Alex Smith and when you bring in two skilled draw men they are going to lock up (see the MLL).

Everyone’s hand speed with either grip at that level, while very fast, is the same. Once two fast guys lock up they are going to go into the rotation and scrum it out. It will be apart of the game no matter what grip is used; Moto, Traditional or Goofy (left palm up right palm down).

The reason the committee thinks this rule will “fix” things is because no one on the committee has taken a face off in college recently, and they do not understand that the “pinch and pop” made so famous by Smith (who used the Moto grip), is just as easily executed in traditional grip and is actually easier to perform in my opinion.

The reason the Moto grip is being used more by recruited kids is because it’s more natural. When you work out you don’t bench with your hands flipped. You bench press with both hands the same way.  It simply makes sense to keep your hands the same way when your “pushing” someone at the FO X as well. That’s why kids adapted to it quickly.

It’s why I started doing it before I even knew the University of Delaware had lacrosse. It just made sense. It will also prolong your career as a draw man, and your wrist will thank you as well, as its much less stressful.

Rule Proposal: Penalties For Violations?

After two pre-whistle violations in one half by a team, subsequent violations result in a 30­-second technical penalty. When a violation occurs, the face-off player is no longer required to leave the field.

I think it was 2007 when the Hopkins Coaching Staff defused a red hot Delaware team in the Final 4 by stopping the fast break from the X by violating the whistle. What is to stop a team from doing the same in big situations? 20 seconds left in an NCAA game and a team is up 1 and has no prior violations. The team that is up sends out a Long stick to violate the whistle and then gets to stay on the field and play D. Do teams try to save up violations for the end of the quarter? It seems like we’re taking a step back on the rule.

While the officiating at D1 ACC games is spot on, there are a ton of D3 games who get softball refs who know none of the face off rules or techniques of a draw man. They could seriously impact a game with their lack of knowledge. We already ask too much of some of the more under qualified officials and we’re adding more to their plate this year outside of the X with the stalling issue. This rule will cause a lot of arguments on the field as opposed to a player running off the field to get sub he can stay and “plead” his case.

Rule Proposal: 12 Inch Face Off

The committee thinks this will get the ball out quicker, similar to a NLL face off. However, guys are already breaking fingers at 4 inches away. Move them back to a foot and we’re going to have some really serious season ending hand injuries. The good guys are STILL going to fast break guys, in fact they will SMASH weaker opponents, and we will start seeing guys go 0/15 in some cases.

Now with the extra room there is more space and time, and as a result, we’re going to see a lot of guys just spearing each other or jamming down the line into a player’s hands. Metal shaft will beat a tiny finger 100 times out of 100. The clamp will go the way of the Dodo and in 5 years the F/O will be removed from the game for being too dangerous.

I just don’t see this new face off style being safe at all.

The Sum Of All Fears:

To sum things up; if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. The X has been changed 4 times since I started taking draws in 2006. There was the “Run off on a violation”, The 2010 head changes, the addition of the set, and the elbow rule.

Every time is has done nothing for pace of play, as the problem in the game simply doesn’t lie at the X. The problem sits in the box. These changes will ensure the big 4 are in the final 4 every year. Upsets normally come from a Hot goalie and a big showing at the FO X by “lesser” teams. These rules possibly remove one of those chances, and along with the safety issues, my main concern is that we will lose fans because of it.


  1. Great article Jerry. I hope that the Committee comes to their senses and realizes that the fixes they are attempting to put in place are not addressing the actual problems. I feel that faceoffs are an easy scapegoat and hope that the rules committee comes to their senses.