Statement on NFHS Faceoff Mechanics

It has come to the attention of the board that some officials are using the new NCAA faceoff rules and mechanic for GHSA contests.  There are two issues with this practice:  it contradicts the NFHS rules and undermines the association’s training program.

More GHSA schools are requesting three officials during the regular season and since 2014 all playoff games are three-man crews.  GLOA has developed a training program in order to meet the increased demand for officials certified in there-man mechanics.  It is imperative that Referees take every opportunity to reinforce what the training introduced and answer any questions officials might have. Each crew should conduct an extensive pregame when working with officials new to three-man mechanics to review faceoff procedures, provide feedback throughout the game as well as in a post game debrief .

Crews are encouraged to bring in the wing officials to help officiate the faceoff if it is believed that one or both players are gaining an unfair advantage.  Similarly, crews may, at the discretion of the R, adjust the rotation of which official conducts the faceoff.  But crews must conduct the faceoff itself according to the NFHS rules. Telling the players to come down, adjusting their crosses, and then placing the ball in between the heads before the set command is given per NCAA rules and mechanics contradicts Federation rules and mechanics.

NFHS Rule 4:3-5 clearly states how the faceoff is to be conducted.

ART. 3 The official first shall place the ball on the ground at the Center. The players shall stand on the same side of the field as the goal each is defending. The official shall indicate to both players to assume their respective positions at the same time. The crosses and gloves shall rest on the ground along the center line parallel to each other, up to, but not touching, the center line. Players may not back out and reset their positions once the official has initiated the faceoff positioning.

ART. 4 The official shall make certain that the reverse surfaces of the ­crosses match evenly, and are perpendicular to the ground. Each player shall have both hands and the fingers wrapped around the handle of his own crosse, touching the ground but not touching any strings of the crosse. The right hand may not touch any part of the head of the crosse. The player’s feet may not touch his crosse. Both hands and both feet of each player shall be to the left of the throat of his crosse. The feet shall be behind the line and not touching it. No portion of either crosse may touch, and each player shall be positioned so that his entire body is to the left of the throat of his crosse. It is legal to lean over the center line.

ART. 5 Once the players facing have assumed their positions, the official shall say “set.” For hearing-impaired players, a reasonable accommodation for the “set” command and whistle sound will be provided. Once this signal is given, both players shall remain motionless until the official sounds the whistle to start play. The official will sound the whistle after readying the ball for play and stating the word “set.” The official shall vary the cadence of sounding the whistle for each faceoff. At the sound of the whistle, each player may attempt to direct the course of the ball by the movement of his crosse in any manner he desires. It is illegal to kick, step on or intentionally place any other body part on his crosse or the opponent’s crosse. It is illegal for a faceoff player to use his crosse to hold or pin down the crosse of his opponent.

Please let us know if you have any questions, concerns or comments.