The National Lacrosse League has announced a rule change that affects play within the faceoff circle. During faceoffs, league rules will now require the two opposing players in the circle to begin in a set position with the heads of their sticks at a new distance of eight inches apart. The previous distance was two inches apart. "We experimented with the concept during the preseason, and found that by putting more space between the sticks of the players in the faceoff circle, the draws were contested with the the ball coming out of the faceoff circle quicker", said League VP of Operations Brian Lemon. "The faster and cleaner draws triggered a faster transition and more fast break opportunities. Teams would attack the offensive zone faster, which improves overall game flow."
The rule change was recommended by the league’s Competition Committee, with final approval granted by a vote of the league’s Board of Governors. The change takes effect immediately. The 2011 regular season opens on January 8.
A second preseason rules experiment, playing with an orange lacrosse ball instead of the traditional white colored ball, was voted down by both the Committee and the Board.
"During our preseason experimentation with the orange ball, we did not find that the ball meaningfully enhanced the visibility for the participants or the fans”, said Lemon. “The lacrosse balls used in NLL games will remain in their traditional white color.”
The official wording of the change to Rule 44.2 is as follows:
44.2 FACE-OFF POSITIONING - The drawmen shall stand on the same side of the centerline of the floor as the goal each is defending, with their lacrosse stick resting on the floor along the centerline. Both hands and feet of each player facing must be to the left of the throat of the stick. Each must have both hands on the handle of the stick, not touching any strings and touching the floor. Their feet may not touch the stick.
No portion of either stick may touch nor may either player be in contact with his opponent’s body by encroaching in his opponent’s territory. The walls of the stick must be approximately eight inches apart touching the floor. The sticks must be placed so that they are parallel to the centerline, and the players facing must keep their feet behind the centerline. Once the players have assumed their positions the official shall say, “set”. Players must remain motionless until the whistle is blown.