The new PLL shot clock rule has made it very difficult for faceoff specialists to keep their spots on PLL rosters. Coming off the All Star break, Connor Farrell, who played in the All Star game, has found himself on the bench this upcoming week. In this post, we review the new shot clock rule and look at how it's affecting the PLL fogos.
What is the New Shot Clock Rule?
The old shot clock rule is when a team gains possession at any point, the shot clock resets to 52 seconds. The 52 second shot clock reset was also applied to hitting a pipe or the goalie. With the new rule, the shot clock is reset to 52 seconds only after the ball changes possession. Every other time, the shot clock resets to 32 seconds, which includes a shot off the pipe or goalie and is picked up by the team that shot it and faceoffs. The rule was implemented at the start of the 2023 season with the goal being to increase the speed of play.
What do I think of the Rule?
The idea of a 32 second reset is a phenomenal one, with it being very similar to the basketball’s shorter clock reset after the ball hits the rim but is rebounded by the offensive team. Because the team is already set up in their offense, the clock doesn’t need to be reset to 52 seconds. It makes the game much faster with more shots and more scoring. That being said, the 32 second shot clock after a faceoff I knew from the start of the season was going to be horrible for faceoffs. There is not nearly enough time to substitute and get into an offense, with many teams opting to not even dress a faceoff specialist, with the most recent team being the Chrome who are benching Connor Farrell as of 7/27/23. Imagine just finishing a PLL All Star Game, facing off at 68% for your team, and being benched as your team goes 1-4 for the first 5 weeks. That should never happen. Teams are actively being punished for putting a faceoff guy at the X. When will it come to a point when teams refuse to pick up the ball or play hockey for the first 30 seconds of every faceoff?
The rule also takes away the option to go backwards. Faceoff guys have to play the ball forwards or their offense will only have about 10 seconds to do something with the ball. That is an alarmingly short amount of time to run an offense. Teams have been trying to experiment with different wing options, having the defensive players and fogo stay on for the 32 seconds, and putting a defensive mid on the defensive end to play offense and sub quicker. Even with these options, it’s easy just to put an LSM on the faceoff and have the fogo have to go backwards which is almost a guaranteed turnover.
There have been 5 weeks of the new shot clock rule, yet teams have yet to figure out a good strategy to score. The two teams with the highest faceoff percentages are Atlas and Chrome sitting at 75.2% and 67.8% respectively. (PLL Team Stats) Both teams are at the bottom of the standings. The teams with the lowest faceoff percentages? Waterdogs and Cannons, sitting at 23% and 28% respectively, but are second and third in the rankings. Both of these teams have decided to not dress a faceoff specialist at all and use one of their 19 roster spots for another field player. Chrome are the next team to follow suit as they are 1-4 on the year being second in faceoffs. Will other teams that are losing faceoffs heavily to teams with better fogos follow suit? The Redwoods and Chaos have both been struggling to keep up with the top faceoff guys, but are still in the middle of the pack in standings.
There is one caveat, the Archers are 67.7%, basically tied for second place on faceoffs with Chrome, but are at the top of the standings at 4-1. Why? Because the Archers have a 32% efficiency on 32 second possessions. (Joe Keegan Offensive Efficiency Tweet) Even with that stat, Sisselberger still said winning the faceoff feels like a punishment. Will the faceoff success continue to flourish for the Archers? Turning faceoff wins into goals instead of turnovers is a hard task, and even with the Archers winning so many faceoffs, it seems that many teams are just forgoing the faceoff guy altogether, and trying a different strategy.
Future of the Rule
Obviously, there is more to lacrosse than just faceoffs. The Atlas are at the bottom of the standings for defense as well, which is also a huge factor in them losing games. But it’s hard to ignore how the faceoff has affected the game. I love the 32 second shot clock reset off of hitting the goal, that change is very well done. Hopefully, the PLL will change the faceoff shot clock, but that change will not happen until next season. My suggestion is to do a 42 second clock at the faceoff, which will still speed up play and give teams ample time to sub effectively. The other option would be to put it back to 52 seconds, which will slow down play slightly but I don’t think that’s a big issue. Teams may adapt to better their odds, putting offensive players on the faceoff instead of defensive players, but I think a shot clock change is going to be the best option going forward.