How did you get introduced to lacrosse?
I played baseball, football and hockey until 3rd grade. All of my friends I played hockey with also played lacrosse. It didn't take much to convincing from them to drop baseball, and once they got me into lacrosse, I was hooked.
How did you become such a technical faceoff athlete?
Until College I didnt specialize in the position at all. My goal was to be a well-rounded do it all midfielder and I always loved the competitive nature of the faceoff. Once that became a primary role of mine my freshman season at Rutgers, I did everything I could to study the position through film and trained with others any chance I had. Coaching the position later in my college career really helped me look at it from a much more analytical perspective as well.
What's one piece of advice you could give to a high school player going through the recruiting process?
Be proactive, don't be shy, be confident, be patient, and be yourself!
Speaking on the recruiting process, how do you feel it has changed since you have been recruited to Rutgers University?
I did not commit to Rutgers until the summer prior to my senior year. The speed of recruiting has increased dramatically, forcing players to be academically and athletically prepared much sooner.
What's your current stick setup?
I am in love with the NoNoz X heads. I use warrior diamond shafts. I have experimented with many kinds of mesh. I love String King's products because they are consistent, light, and dependable.
How do you tape your sticks?
I tape the top of my stick from the throat to about 6 inches down for faceoffs. I also tape the from the butt end to about halfway up the shaft so I know where to put my left hand and to prevent it from sliding.
What do you look for in your pockets?
I look for mid to high pockets that allow me to scoop the ball easily and get it out of my stick fast. I dont like for the ball to move around within the pocket to provide me with hold. I don't play with very much whip and love to feel a little click off the top of the head when I throw.
Do you string your own sticks or have someone who knows exactly what you like?
I typically string all of my own sticks. This makes it easy for me to make adjustments when necessary. My stick is constantly changing from faceoffs and it is essential for me to keep my stick throwing consistent.
What would we find in your gear bag?
You would find all of your typical gear, probably 4 or 5 sticks (#faceoffproblems), a softball, a hockey puck, extra tape, electrolyte packets, knee pads and sleeves, extra mesh/sidewall/shooters, and a multi tool. Always prepared for anything.
How was faceoff factory founded?
Following my freshman season at Rutgers, my teammate Blake Burkhart transferred to Loyola. He and I had trained together throughout the off season and season. His father, Bryan Burkhart, wanted us to continue to train together despite being at different schools as he had seen first hand, how competing with one another while remaining friends had tremendously improved our ability in one short year. He launched the venture to fill a void in his hometown of Newport Beach, CA and agreed to hire us as coaches contingent upon us training together after every time we coached. We found that the coaching reinforced all of our techniques, and training following our coaching sessions made us much more analytical and knowledgeable. Following college graduation, Bryan's construction business had really been taking off and he didn't have the time to run Face off Factory anymore. I restructured the company and created my own LLC last fall and have been the managing partner since.
What is your favorite pre and post game meal?
Pregame, I love hitting up whole foods. This allows me to eat a balance and healthy meal while being able to change it up with all the choice they have. Post game I usually feel famished and am never picky.
What does your weekly workout regimen consists of?
Monday's involve some resistance stretching accompanied with some light yoga techniques. I try to lift 2-3 times a week in the form of circuit training. My emphasis is never on lifting heavy weights but rather just trying to keep my heart rate up through high paced training. I also try to get cardio in through playing basketball. If I can't find people to play with, running some sprints or the stadium at Harvard is usually next on the list. Last but certainly not least, I like to faceoff 2-3 times a week when I coach and give private lessons. This gives my students a great look and allows me to stay sharp/practice new techniques.
Best drill to increase hand speed and reaction time of the whistle?
I am big on any drill that improves or challenges your coordination. However, our speed is dependent upon our focus and listening skills. Through my coaching and training, I have found that giving whistles at varied paces followed by just whistles (without down or set calls) really forces and challenges you to improve your focus, listening, and reactions. I also love using different whistles on you tube. The first time through I try to be patient and react. The second time through, I really try to listen for the different inflections in the referee's voices to recognize patterns and try to anticipate.
What does a typical Boston cannons practice consist of?
Some stretching and stick work to warm up. Full speed stickwork to reinforce our offensive concepts and sets. Shooting. Game plan talks at both ends. Skeleton O and D. 6v6 / Uppers vs Dowers / Face off Island for me.
Best piece of advice you have ever received?
The only thing you can control between those lines is your effort and your attitude. Anything less than your best in those two facets is unacceptable.
What's one thing most people would be surprised to know about Joe Nardella?
Hockey was my first love and I really enjoy playing Halo on Xbox One.