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Faceoff Tips

Tips for Faceoffs

Watch Paul Cantabene discuss/demonstrate faceoff techniques in these videos: Part 1 and Part 2.


The correct stance is one of the most important aspects of the face-off. There are many ways you can set up for a face-off, everyone has there own style. But it is important to remember these three tips:

1. Don't put any weight on your hands when setting up, you should be able to lift your hands off the ground when doing a face-off and still keep your balance. Also not putting a lot of weight on your hands allows you to move a lot quicker (
video here).

2. Set your hands on your stick the same way for every face off; this way you are practicing proper technique, and it is harder for the other man to read what move you are going to do. Place your right hand on the top of your stick as close to the throat as you can, and the left hand in the middle (
video here).

3. Line up as close to the ball as you can (
video here)

Reading a Player:

No matter if this player is the best or the worst face-off player in the world he is readable. Some are better at hiding what they are going to do, but it can still be done. The most common changes are in the pressure that he has in his hands, the position of the player's hands on their stick, and their wrist position. The left wrist position tells a lot about what move he will do. For instance:

1. If the players left wrist is off the ground he will most likely jump the ball or punch it.

2. If the players left wrist is resting on the ground he will usually clamp.


Being able to counter your opponent’s move is also important for being a good face-off middie. The clamp is one of the most popular moves for the face-off but is also the easiest to counter-act. To counter act the Clamp* you use the jump*. To counter act a move such as the jump you would do something I call the punch*. When setting up for the punch put a little bit of pressure on your right hand, and as soon as the whistle blows make a punching motion with your right hand. This will cause the ball to go forward so be ready to scoop it up, or set a pick so a wingman can get it.

Stick Type/What you look for in a face off head:

Offset or not:
Although many of the sticks made now days are offset, a lot of face-off men still like to use on-set or straight heads because it allows them to get there throat of the stick closer to the ball. Offset does have its advantages because for moves such as the jump you don't have to move the head of your stick as much because of how it’s set up. When it comes down to it, it’s all about personal preference.

Most players who do face-offs prefer stiff heads. They have stiff heads because they don't want their heads to bend due to the other player pushing on them with their stick and all the other contact involved in a face-off.

Flexible sticks can help in getting the ball out of your opponents stick because it can pinch it self temporarily around the ball. More flexible heads can also be used for moves such as the plunger. The only thing to worry about flexible heads it that they sometimes don't flex back all the right after the face-off do to the pressure you put on it. So if you use more force in your moves go with a stiff head.

Basic Moves:

This is probably the most common and simplest move in the game today. It goes like this. Basically, you snap your left hand forward, so as to make the back of your head come down on top of the ball. You can then rake the ball out to your wing or pop it behind you to pick it up yourself.

The jump is sometimes called a reverse clamp due to the fact that you still trap the ball with your head, but you trap it with the face of your head, instead of the back. Here’s how it goes. This move requires a lot of things to go on at once, so it is a slight bit complicated. You use your right hand to pick your head up off the ground, while tilting the top back towards yourself and pushing it forward at he same time. You then bring it back down once you get over the ball, so as to trap the ball. Once again, you can either rake it or pop back to yourself. If you did the move correctly, your stick should be underneath your opponent’s, as this move is used to beat the clamp.

Also called a push, this is another fairly simple move; it just takes a little muscle. Here’s how it goes. Using your right hand, you tilt the top sidewall of your head back toward yourself, while pushing the head forward at the same time. This will hopefully push the ball forward, so it ends up behind your opponent. It works best against a jump, but can also work well against a clamp.

This is a really fun move if you can actually pull it off in a game. It goes like this. When the whistle blows, you clamp down half-way. You then lift up on the back of your shaft and put some weight on your head. This will pinch the ball in between your sidewalls. You can then pull it out and flip it to yourself or a teammate. Be careful with this one, though, as some refs may call you for it seeing as it is technically stuck in the back of your head, but the rule is gray on all of this.


1. Your three main moves are like a game of “rock, paper, scissors”. A clamp beats a push, which beats a jump, which beats a clamp. So, reading his hands and anticipating his move is an important tool in facing off.

2. When clamping, if you both clamp at the same time and neither has fully clamped the ball, it helps to push your left hand forward. This will help you get your stick under his. If he does beat you in the clamp, try to get your right foot in the path of where he will rake the ball. This will buy you some more time and possibly give you a second chance at the ball if he flicks it into your foot.