The Scoop Winter 2016 - Page 32

Fl g Is Down

The Scoop: Why, in your opinion, do you think the faceoff procedures have changed and what sort of direction are we heading when it comes to starting our games and after every score?

Darrell Benson: We've had, I don't know, probably five different changes in the last fifteen or twenty years. The rules themselves haven't really changed per se, it's the mechanics and the procedure for how we conduct the faceoff. So, it's still a faceoff. And you still have two kids lined up. And you still have the same basic rules. But over the course of the last ten or fifteen years, the game has become very specialized at the highest levels and what you're seeing is some teams gain an extreme advantage with kids who come in and just dominate the faceoff. And so you'd have one or two faceoff guys that were pretty dominant and coaches felt that was giving teams an extreme advantage, and didn't feel that it was fair, because in their minds, there was cheating going on, kids were getting away with stuff, and things weren't on the level. So they tried a bunch of different things over the years and this last change, this most recent change, which of course started in college two years ago in the NCAA rules, is kind of a throwback to twenty years ago when we used to put the ball in the sticks and what it does is slows the faceoff down. And it forces both sides to be as legal as you can get them. So we have time now to tell the kids to get their hands off the plastic, we can actually reach down when we put the ball between the sticks, we can make sure the sticks are upright, the heads are literally lined up perfectly, almost perfectly. So the officials now have a lot to say with how the faceoff is conducted, as opposed to the last three or four years where kids would come in, they'd be leaning, they'd be rolling into the faceoff, and again getting that extreme advantage.

Paul Quill: Darrell did a fabulous job covering that. Not much more to add other than the whole idea of an alpha, over the last couple of years... the faceoff guy just really dominated, meaning he would win it and control it, where now with the new rules, I feel as though he has to win it, but still get it out to his wing men, and it's more of a fight. And that's what everyone is looking for so that one faceoff man can't dominate the way he used to.

The Scoop: What do coaches and players need to know about the ball being in the back of their crosse?

DB: The other factor that came into play was the plunge—the plunge-and-pop—where the kids would go down, they'd plunge, and then pop, and they could carry the ball all the way down the field, and the ball might be stuck in the back of the stick, we had no way of knowing that, so we'd let the play continue until they could get the ball out or pass it or whatever they could do. Again the coaches felt that this was giving the kid who had altered his stick or head, who had become so good at the plunge-and-pop, it gave them an extreme advantage, so they decided they'd change that rule as well. Now that is more of a rule change than a procedure change. That's now withholding the ball. And they have only one-and-a-half steps to get the ball out of the back of their stick, and it has to come out freely and smoothly, he can't pop the stick on the ground, pop it against his arm, it he pops it and it comes out off to the left or the right because it had been lodged in the head, that's a withholding violation. So the kids are really adapting well. I think it makes for a much more fair faceoff, a smoother faceoff and I think it's one of those mechanic slash rule changes extremely for the better.

PQ: Off the face off, you only get one step with it. When that second foot comes down, and the ball's in the back of the stick, that's procedure and the other team's going to get the ball. And at any other time during the game now, you cannot have the ball in the back of your stick. So that'd be procedure right away.

DB: It's just going in this year. It's brand new this year for high school and for youth. It's only been an NCAA rule for a year. And then the federation adopted it for this season. We haven't employed it outdoors yet for the high school and for the youth. There's not a lot of gray in this rule. A lot of the sticks are manufactured in a way where the back channel is very tight to begin with. So if the ball is going to stick, they have to now figure out a way to get it out of the back of the stick without getting called for withholding. And they have to get it out quick. As Paul mentioned, when that second foot hits the ground, I call it one-and-a-half steps, basically they get one-and-a-half steps, because when that second step hits the ground, that's when we call withholding if the ball isn't out of the back of the stick yet.

The Scoop: What are the most common infractions that you see regularly at the youth level?

PQ: The most common obviously always is jumping. In other words, moving before the whistle. Every kid gets down there and he's all excited to go, and sometimes they move before the whistle, and like Darrell said earlier, now

"Face Offs"

The Scoop sat down with two Senior EMLOA Officials for a conversation about face offs in MBYLL youth lacrosse. Joining us for a candid conversation about the rules were Darrell Benson (President of Eastern Massachusetts Lacrosse Officials Association) and Paul Quill (NW Region Officials Coordinator).

A Candid Conversation with EMLOA Officials

32 The Scoop / Winter '16