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Straight Shooters: Matt Zash on improving faceoff quickness

Matt Zash was a two-time All-American midfielder at Duke.
Matt Zash was a two-time All-American midfielder at Duke. (Handout photo)

"Straight Shooters" answers your youth lacrosse questions with the help of US Lacrosse experts. This week's "Straight Shooter" is Matt Zash. Zash was a two-time All-American midfielder at Duke. He plays professionally for Major League Lacrosse and the National Lacrosse League. Currently, Zash owns and operates the Lax Hut, a chain of lacrosse retail stores. Zash was also a member of the 2003 U.S. U-19 Men's World Championship team.

Q: I was wondering if you know of any ways that I could work on getting quicker at clamping down on faceoffs, or if you can give me any tips on what style you use for your faceoff that allows for a quicker clamp. Also, how do I work on my own to improve the speed of my faceoff without having to have another person there with me?

-- Mason Aguilar, Middletown, Ohio

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A:

Quickness on the draw is mainly a function of reaction time. However, if your center of gravity is over your hands, you won't be able to clamp as quickly and as effectively. The test: when you're in the set position, lift your stick and gloves off the ground. If you fall forward, too much weight was on your hands.

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Second, an effective quick clamper does not use his head as a hinge, with the bottom/grounded sidewall fixed to the turf as the top rail closes over the ball. In a simultaneous action, the bottom rail should slide out and back as the top rail clamps down and grabs the ball. This cannot be done if you failed the aforementioned test.

Here's how you get better on your own:

1. Use a tape or digital recorder to record two different series of whistles. The first should have a consistent, one-second pause in between each whistle. For the second series, make a recording of varying rest times, anywhere from two to six seconds.

2. Use the first audio as a warm-up. On the whistle, jump your head over the ball, tap the ground, and then jump back over the ball, returning to the start position. Try to get as close to the ball as possible without touching it. This exercise will help improve your hand-eye coordination. After a few dozen reps, repeat the same drill, but using the second audio. This will challenge your reaction time.

3. Using both audios, one then two, practice your clamp.

"Straight Shooters" runs on baltimoresun.com and laxmagazine.com. E-mail your lacrosse questions to sports@baltsun.com and include a phone number for e-mail verification. US Lacrosse, headquartered in Baltimore, is the national governing body of men's and women's lacrosse. Learn more about playing, coaching and officiating lacrosse at uslacrosse.org.

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