Best Faceoff Heads for Lacrosse

Best Faceoff Heads for Lacrosse
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Throughout my lacrosse career as a midfielder, I loved many aspects of the game including offense, defense, and transition.

My favorite part, though—and probably what I was the best at—was facing off.

I attended Alex Smith’s faceoff camps before each season in high school to perfect my craft and get hundreds of live reps just days before the season started. 

At that camp, I first realized the importance of a good faceoff head. Alex, like many other faceoff guys at that time, used an OG Blade. After searching eBay daily for one that wasn’t over $200 (they were discontinued by Warrior at the time), I finally found one. 

I remember being shocked at how much easier it was to faceoff with and the advantage it gave me. The way it flexed on the ball was unlike anything I had ever experienced and allowed me to pinch and pop like never before.

Even though Warrior recreated the OG Blade a few years ago, there has recently been an influx of faceoff-specific heads to the market that are even better. This guide will go over those options to help you find the best faceoff head for your game.

Table of Contents

Best Faceoff Heads for Lacrosse

A few weeks ago, I decided to buy a new faceoff head myself. By the time I made my decision, I had already spent hours going through the options, so I decided to turn it into an article to help other players.

I started off by considering 11 of the most popular faceoff heads on the market today. After reading and watching countless reviews and traveling to my local sporting goods store to feel the heads for myself, I was able to narrow my list down to 7. 

Below you can find those 7 faceoff heads including what type of player each is best for as well as specific information that is important to consider when choosing one such as warp resistance and flexibility.

I use the terminology “FOGO” and “FOSO” from here on out. These stand for “Face Off, Get Off” and “Face Off, Stay On” respectively. 

If you only primarily faceoff for your team, then you can really consider any of the following heads since they are all great for faceoffs. If you stay on to play offense, however, you should choose a head that I marked as being good for FOSOs. You can read more about why each head is good for FOGOs or FOSOs in each review.

For an explanation of what some of the information you’ll find below means—such as “oblique flex” and “face flex”—check out the section below the reviews.

7 Best Faceoff Heads:

  1. ECD Weapon X: Best for FOSO (What I ended up buying)
  2. StringKing Mark 2F: Best for FOSO or FOGO
  3. StringKing Mark 2F Stiff: Best for FOSO or FOGO who prefers stiff head
  4. Nike CEO: Best for FOGO
  5. STX Duel Reflex: Best for FOGO or FOSO
  6. Warrior Burn FO: Best for FOGO or FOSO
  7. Nike CEO 2: Best for FOGO or FOSO

1) ECD Weapon X

My #1 Choice for Face Off, Stay On — What I Bought

Details

  • Weight: 5.6 oz
  • Flexibility (10 = most flexible): 7
  • Flex Type: Mostly oblique flex
  • Warp Resistance: Great
  • Offensive Performance: Great
  • Throat Type: Short throat with plug

After all of my research, I ended up buying the ECD Weapon X primarily due to its performance on offense and warp resistance. 

My final two were the Weapon X and the StringKing Mark 2F, but the Weapon X’s full offset was the deciding factor. I carry the ball a lot for my teams and regularly initiate the offense, so having a head with a full offset gives me better hold and a release that I’m used to. It’s worth noting that the offset may take some getting used to when facing off if you are used to faceoff heads that have little-to-no offset.

Aside from the offensive capabilities, this is an amazing head for faceoffs. It does take some time to break in, but once you do, it will flex in almost any way you want. A lot of this, as well as the warp resistance, can be attributed to the asymmetrical sidewalls which help the bottom sidewall flex up into the ball while the top collapses down.

The FlexForm plastic helps the head snap back into shape after every faceoff. Compared some other options such as the CEO and Burn FO, this head doesn’t warp easily and is much more durable over time. You won’t have to worry about trying to pass and shoot with a crooked head which is really important.

>> Read full ECD Weapon X Review

Pros

Cons

2) StringKing Mark 2F

Best for: FOSO or FOGO

Details

  • Weight: 4.37 oz
  • Flexibility (10 = most flexible): 6
  • Flex Type: Oblique
  • Warp Resistance: Great
  • Offensive Performance: Good
  • Throat Type: Short, no throat plug

As mentioned above, the StringKing Mark 2F was in my final two choices for which faceoff head to buy. If this head was just slightly more offset, I probably would have gone with it. Much like the Weapon X, it has great warp resistance, many stringing holes, and a scoop that makes groundballs a breeze.

One of my favorite features of this head is how thin the plastic is. This makes it really easy to flex your head under your opponent’s sidewall to grab the ball and drag it out. And even though the plastic is really thin, this head is super durable and warp resistant. Much like the Weapon X, it snaps back into place very well after every faceoff—making it another great option for playing offense after facing off.

When you first get this head, it may take some getting used to and breaking in since it doesn’t crush down on the ball quite as well as the Weapon X and Nike CEO. For some players, it may seem to resist flexing in the way you are used to.

Overall, this is a great choice for both FOGO and FOSO. I was very close to choosing this head and am sure I would be happy with it if it’s the route I decided to go.

Pros

Cons

3) StringKing Mark 2F Stiff

Best for: FOSOs or FOGOs who prefer stiffer head

Details

  • Weight: Not disclosed
  • Flexibility: 4
  • Flex Type: Oblique
  • Warp Resistance: Great
  • Offensive Performance: Great
  • Throat Type: Short, no throat plug

I’ll leave this section a little shorter since much of what I said for the normal Mark 2F holds true for the stiff version of this StringKing head.

If you prefer a stiffer head for facing off or if you also play LSM/defense, then the Mark 2F Stiff is your best bet. It has the same warp resistance and shape as the normal 2F but uses a stronger plastic to keep it stiffer.

Pros

Cons

4) Nike CEO

Best for: Pure FOGOs

Drip Level: 4.8/5

Nike CEO

Details

  • Weight: 4.9 oz
  • Flexibility: 9
  • Flex Type: Face flex
  • Warp Resistance: Poor
  • Offensive Performance: Poor
  • Throat Type: Standard throat; not shortened

The Nike CEO wasn’t designed to be a faceoff head. Originally Nike designed it to be used by attackmen who prefer a very tight pinch. It just turned out that the sidewall design made this an amazing head for facing off, and since it came out, it has been the most popular faceoff head since the OG Blade.  

The design of the sidewall struts allows this head to collapse down on itself, creating great face flex allowing faceoff men to securely pinch the ball in the throat even if the rest of the head bends backwards.

If you are a pure FOGO who doesn’t have to worry about playing much offense, this is one of the best options. The way the head flexes and grabs the ball is unmatched—and is the reason why it has become one of the most popular faceoff heads of all time.

On the downside, this head warps… A LOT and isn’t very durable. The top of the head will quickly start bending forward (meaning the scoop will be more forward than the throat) and to the side. This makes it really hard to use on offense and you may have to worry about it being illegal.

Overall, if you are just looking for a head to faceoff with, the CEO is undoubtedly one of the best choices. Just be prepared to constantly bend the head back into shape and buy replacements once the head inevitably breaks or becomes warped beyond use.

Pros

Cons

5) STX Duel Reflex

Best for: FOGO or FOSO

Drip Level: 4.6/5

STX Duel Reflex

Details

  • Weight: Not disclosed
  • Flexibility: 5
  • Flex Type: Oblique flex
  • Warp Resistance: Great
  • Offensive Performance: Good
  • Throat Type: Short throat with plug

This newest member of the STX Duel family is the best yet in my opinion. It uses the same design as the original Duel but with a better plastic that resists warping and is less flimsy. Unlike the Duel 2, the Duel Reflex also won’t kink and become illegal quickly.

It features many of the other great features of faceoff-specific heads such as a shortened throat with a throat plug and sidewalls specifically designed to flex well on the ball. 

On the downside, this head has a pretty flat scoop—which some players (myself included) don’t like—and few sidewall stringing holes towards the bottom of the head. Also, it doesn’t face flex well if that’s what you’re used to. Instead it flexes mainly on an oblique angle that makes it good for plungers.

Pros

Cons

6) Warrior Burn FO

Best for: FOGO or FOSO

Drip Level: 4.6/5

Details

  • Weight: 5.61 oz
  • Flexibility: 6
  • Flex Type: Face flex
  • Warp Resistance: Decent
  • Offensive Performance: Decent
  • Throat Type: Short throat with plug

Warrior teamed up with Trevor Baptiste to create the Burn FO, which quickly emerged as one of the best faceoff heads on the market. Much like the Weapon X, this head has asymmetric sidewalls to help with flexibility and durability.

The design is very similar to the Nike CEO allowing it to face flex more than most other heads. Unlike the CEO, though, it is more durable and resistant to warping. It also comes with a block that you can insert into your stick between faceoffs to keep it legal (cya later softball!). 

What I don’t really like about this head is how wide it is in the throat. When you go down to line up for a faceoff, the head is very tall, meaning that you have to flex the head more to pinch the ball before you can pop it out. Over time, the head will warp to solve that issue some, but until then, it’s a disadvantage worth considering.

Pros

Cons

7) Nike CEO 2

Best for: FOGO or FOSO

Drip Level: 4.6/5

Nike CEO 2

Details

  • Weight: Not disclosed
  • Flexibility: 5
  • Flex Type: Face flex & oblique flex
  • Warp Resistance: Decent
  • Offensive Performance: Decent
  • Throat Type: Short throat with plug

Once the original CEO took over the faceoff market, Nike decided to release an updated version that was supposed to fix many of the issues that the original had. While they definitely did solve a lot of the durability issues, the CEO 2 doesn’t flex quite as well or the same as the original.

Much like the Burn FO, it has a pretty wide throat, making it harder to grab the ball. In addition, it still face flexes some but not nearly as much as the original CEO.

With all that being said, if you are tired of going through CEOs every couple of months, the CEO 2 is still a good option to consider. It should be easier to switch to than a completely different head as it feels somewhat similar to the original.

Pros

Cons

How to Choose a Faceoff Head

With countless heads available, it can be hard to figure out which one is best for you. The following are things I considered when choosing my new faceoff head and creating the list of the best faceoff heads above:

1) Face Flex vs. Oblique Flex

If you were confused by the terms face flex and oblique flex above, let me explain. These are mostly relevant for when you do a pinch and pop. 

This image gives a good visual of the difference between the two:

face flex vs oblique flex

Most heads flex on an oblique angle. This means they flex somewhat sideways when you pinch the ball. When you lift your left hand up to do a pinch and pop, the throat will still bend backward some, but the head primarily flexes so the throat is to the left of the rest of the head.

Face flex, on the other hand, is when the throat goes primarily perpendicular to the rest of the head instead of sideways. Heads need to have a very specific sidewall design to be able to face flex.

As for which is the best, there’s no right answer. It comes down to what you’re comfortable with. If you have used heads that flex obliquely in the past, then you will probably do better with another oblique flexing head—and vice versa if you’ve used face flexing heads in the past.

2) How Much You Stay On the Field Outside of Faceoffs

As I briefly touched on earlier, it’s important to find a head that is decent for offense and defense if you are going to be regularly staying on the field. If you just face off then get off, then it’s much less important.

Good face off, stay on heads have at least some offset and good warp resistance. You don’t want a head that is going to warp so much that it’s difficult to pass, catch, and shoot with.

3) Your Faceoff Styly

You also need to consider your faceoff style when choosing a head. If you like to pinch and pop, then you need to choose a head that has some flexibility. If you are more of a power clamper or like to push other people off the ball, on the other hand, then you should look for a stiffer head.

4) Durability & Warp Resistance

Since you bend your head so much when facing off, durability can be a big issue. You should check out customer reviews and guides like this to get an idea of how heads will hold up after hundreds of reps. 

There are certain heads (like the Nike CEO) that are amazing for faceoffs but break and warp so easily that you’ll have to buy a new one every few months. As you can imagine, that can get expensive quickly.

5) Throat Length

Lastly, be sure to take a look at the length of the throats on the heads you are considering.

When facing off, the closer your hand is to the head, the more control and power you will have. Since you are not allowed to put your hand on the plastic, heads with shorter throats give you an advantage. 

Breaking in Your Faceoff Head

It’s very important to “break in” your faceoff head before you use it in a live game. By breaking in your head, I mean making it more flexible in the ways that you regularly clamp/flex your head over the ball.

Even the most flexible heads are somewhat stiff when you first start using them. Depending on the head, it may take anywhere from 50 to 500 faceoff reps before your head starts flexing in the way you prefer easily. 

It’s important to break in your faceoff head before you start using it in games so you are used to the way it performs and are confident that it will bend the way you want it to.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common ways to break in faceoff heads and which are a good idea:

1) Boil Your Head – Not Recommended (Usually)

If you ever dyed a lacrosse head in boiling water, you probably noticed that is was more flexible after. 

This can be a decent strategy for very stiff heads that you want to faceoff with, but for any of the heads listed above, I don’t recommend it mainly because it’s not necessary. 

Overtime you’ll head will break in and boiling it may just compromise the plastic making it less durable.

2) Bake Your Head – Not Recommended

Similar to boiling your head, exposing your head to extreme heat through baking it will also soften the plastic. 

For the same reasons listed above, I don’t recommend baking any of the heads mentioned on this page to make it more flexbile. 

If you really want to soften a head without doing it the natural way (see below), I recommend boiling it over baking it.

3) Just Faceoff With It – Recommended

My preferred way of breaking in faceoff heads is to simply take a bunch of faceoffs with it. 

All heads will naturally soften up somewhat over time and that tends to be especially true for faceoff-specific heads since they are designed to flex over the ball. You’d be surprised how much your head breaks in with even just 50 to 100 reps.

A Note About Warping

As your head breaks in, it will likely warp a bit. In most cases, this isn’t a bad thing (up to a point). 

As you flex your head over and over in the same way, the plastic will start to bend in that direction naturally. The benefit of this is that you’ll have to flex your head less to pinch the ball. 

Think of it this way: if your top sidewall is 2 centimeters over the ball when it is brand new, that’s 2 centimeters that you either have to clamp down over the ball or flex down to pinch it. If your head warps so it is only 1 centimeter over the ball, though, it requires less movement on your part, increasing the chances that you’ll win the clamp/pinch.

Warping gets bad when your head is either hard to pass and catch with or when it becomes illegal. In these cases, you should try bending the head back towards its original position as much as possible, use a softball or other object to keep the throat wide enough or purchase a new head.

Over time as your head warps, you may have to use tools to keep it wide enough to be legal or so the ball pops out of the back easily. 

When I play, I often grab a baseball or softball and put it in the throat of my head every time I come off the field. It works pretty well for me and it isn’t too hard to get used to the head’s width changing throughout the game.

Here are some popular objects that you can use to keep your head in the ideal shape:

  • Baseball
  • Softball
  • Hockey puck
  • Block of wood

More recently, ECD and Warrior have developed products to keep your faceoff head legal. ECD’s comes with the Weapon X and is simply a rounded block that slides into your throat. Warrior offers the Wedge (see image below) that slides into your throat. You can buy the Warrior Wedge separately for just $19.99.

You may also want to make a habit of bending your head back towards the center after faceoffs. If you regularly pinch and pop, your head will start bending to the left when looking at the face of it. Whenever I play, as soon as the ball leaves my stick after a faceoff, I instantly push the left side of my head towards the center so it is straight and ready to go for offense.

Resources for Learning About Facing Off

If you are interested in learning more about faceoff heads and techniques, here are a few of my favorite resources that you may want to check out:

Products to Consider Alongside Your Faceoff Head

If you’ve found your next faceoff head, you may be interested in some other products that can help take your game to the next level. Here are some of my favorites:

Tying It Up

I hope this guide helped you find a new faceoff head. If you have any questions or want to share your experience with a faceoff head, feel free to comment below or contact me.

Interested in seeing our other top picks for lacrosse heads and shafts? Check out our guide to the best lacrosse heads and best attack/midfield shafts.

Photo source: Flickr

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