Controversial Face Off Rule Change by NCAA for Better of Sport

Photo Credit: Ian Neadle

Let’s face it, draw rules change. Every. Single. Year.

Everything has modified from no clamping, to different stances, down to different procedures. Now, the NCAA is saying that the faceoff midi cannot carry the ball in his stick after a faceoff.

Immediately this has attracted controversial reactions for all around. Most saw a rule change coming, but few, I think, saw this happening. A shift in playing styles has been the consequence of frequent rule alterations and advancement of athletes through sports sciences.

The entire act of a draw specialist even holding onto the ball came from all this constant change. It got to a point where midfielders didn’t want stall calls or penalties, and made it simpler to create an immediate fast break, releasing them from the clouded judgment of the referee faster.

So, let’s get this straight before moving forward: faceoffs were originally acts of team sharing to clear the ball rules changing too frequently causes a change in playing styles draw specialists now attempt to scoop and fast break away with the ball, avoiding further confusion and potential penalties NCAA changes this rule, effective this week, so that faceoffs cannot be won by carrying the ball on the back of your stick.

Let’s keep going now.

In my opinion, this is better for the game. I think too many fast break opportunities were created by this, and too many games stolen away from grasp (UPenn v Drexel, first round, 2014).  Fast breaks should be a stolen opportunity, not one because the other draw man was still on the ground. This can create more spectator entertainment value in: more team work and ball sharing more ground ball fighting and fewer fast breaks more penalties

This goes back to me saying about fast breaks. To continue the sport’s growth, I believe team play is in order. Faceoffs are done by ‘specialists’ who now get the ball to another midfielder and scramble off the field or fast break, then scramble. It’s like having another d-pole, where’s the advantage to all the subbing?

Now, the specialist will be faced with more game-playing action.


NCAA coaches will need to reconsider a few of their fast break packages and faceoff packages. Most will consider different playing routes, some will change styles. Players will need to make more of an effort to be involved without causing penalties, stalling, or injuring one another.


Some officials may find it difficult to accurately call flags and penalties while the ground ball scramble is still going. How does this effect the possession and stalling rules? Many refs will be faced with in-the-moment calls that may become controversial in themselves. No one enjoys officiating lacrosse, there’s so much going on all at once.


How will this impact the specialist? For one, many college and high school athletes training to break away with the ball will undoubtedly be hindered by this rule change. Other draw men may experience the need to bulk up on defensive skill sets, and others mays need to find different ways of popping the ball out to a teammate safely. I think spectators will see a shift in ‘specialist’ styles.

Overall, this is a controversial move that will be reacted to in many different forms. It won’t be until the NCAA season is in full swing that we’ll experience the ripple affects of the change. Not preseason, not beginning, and not postseason.

Postseason will demonstrate who’s adapted the best, and pre- and start of- season will be too soon. The middle is where we’ll see the teams struggling fall, the teams thriving strive ahead, and the specialists who have adapted or trained well from the beginning conquer.