COVID-19 Protocol – Faceoff


Some leagues may choose to adopt college/NCAA faceoff protocols, to reduce proximity for safer play:

  • Faceoff players are social distancing near center X.
  • Official places ball on/near center X, takes approximately 2 steps away.
  • Official indicates “Down”.
  • Faceoff players assume legal positions quickly, without assistance.
  • Official indicates “Set”, positions themselves to observe while not obstructing wing-line players, and blows whistle.
  • Faceoff players not in position are violated immediately. If both players are not in position, official issues verbal commands to correct.

All other NFHS rules pertaining to faceoffs are in effect.

Note: As of 2022, NFHS has adopted requirements for faceoff players to be standing, and the top hand in a palm-up position. This is aligns with college/NCAA rules.

More details

Pre-game meeting:

Particularly at the beginning of this season, stay on top of your emails and instructions received from NCLRA & NCJLA, and be flexible with alterations. Make sure the crew is on the same page. When certifying the coach and his or her players, mention what to expect for the faceoff procedure so they can relay it to their faceoff players. Particularly around youth or low-skill levels, look for succinct teaching opportunities.

Officials’ mechanics

The official “in charge” of the faceoff (single-side in 3-man, and the appropriate side in 2-man) quickly checks:

  • Neutral zone is clear
  • Ball is centered
  • Stick heads are aligned top-to-stop
  • Sticks are vertical

If all is good, indicate “Set” and back away to blow whistle when clear of the area.

The official “assisting” the faceoff may want to stand a little closer to midfield, primarily focusing on:

  • Neutral zone is clear
  • Stick heads are aligned top-to-stop
  • Nearest player moving early

In general, this official should speak only if necessary. Avoid contact from incoming wing-line players, and have an escape route to your goal line planned in case of a fast break.

In 3-man crews, the remaining official has standard responsibilities:

  • Ensure the box area is clean
  • Signal field is ready to partners
  • Observe near- and far-side wing-line players
    • Illegal procedure for early start
    • Holding, screening, big hits, etc.

In general, this official helps with the “big picture”.

Other thoughts

Controlling the faceoff helps control the game. Learn from what the faceoff players are doing, and discuss as a crew during dead balls. Pre-game messaging — it’s easy way to get everyone on the same page.

When there is a violation, ensure attackmen, defensemen, and substitutions are restrained until the ball is awarded and whistled in-play. If you violate, make clear, short, properly signaled calls with confidence to keep the flow of the game forward-moving: Whistle, pause, violation & hand signal, pause, color & point. Restart.