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MLL Implements New Face-off Rule

March 17, 2016
Major League Lacrosse has announced a new face-off rule effective at the start of the 2011 season. Players will no longer be allowed to use their stick or any part of their body to pin down opponents’ sticks, according to Major League Lacrosse.

“The idea behind the new rule is to create a clean face-off,” said MLL Director of Officiating, Kevin O’Leary. “We are trying to eliminate the excessive amount of time the ball is being withheld from play.”

Face-offs are held at the beginning of each period and after each goal by facing the ball at the center of the field. Previously, players were allowed to pin down opponents’ sticks.  Now, “a player may not deliberately pin his opponent’s crosse [or plastic head] to the ground by stick to stick contact” or by using any body part, according to the 2011 MLL Rule Book.   

After a growing concern last season, O’Leary examined the 2010 official game footage with a stopwatch to determine how much time was being spent between the blow of the whistle and the point when a team cleanly possessed the ball. The result was shocking.

“In one game we spent 14 minutes facing-off, which basically means one quarter of the game was spent on the face-off, when the ball was not in play,” O’Leary said.

Eliminating this stalemate was the impetus for the rule change. If the rule is administered correctly, O’Leary says the game action will speed up, giving fans an enhanced face-off and game experience.

“It will be one of the most exciting plays in the game to watch,” O’Leary said.

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