With the summer ultimate season fast approaching, many teams are starting to get together for practices and are working on the different types of offense (horizontal, vertical, zone, split stack, german, etc). However, what type of offensive system is right for your team?

There are several ways to approach this so I will offer a few ways to determine which system works best for your team:

1. Team makeup – ¬†first, look at your team and the strengths of your individual players and be realistic. If you don’t have someone who can huck full field, admit that – don’t pretend that you do. This will help you determine what system your team will be best at running. Although you want to setup showing that you have a huck so the defense thinks you do, really focus on quick movement and short throws to move the disc up the field. Reversely, if you have throwers who can huck, don’t just huck all the time – the defense will learn very quickly that you can huck and when they take that away make sure your team is ready for the shorter throws to under cuts.

2. Weather – depending on the conditions, you will want to run different systems. If it’s super windy then you don’t want to run a huck offense upwind – but downwind you might want to. If it’s raining then it’s a good idea to run an offense with shorter passes since longer passes will be harder to catch. If it’s really muddy and it’s hard to move then working the disc through the handlers is a good idea since the upfield cuts won’t be as easy as they normally are to get open.

3. What the D does – if the defense sets up a zone then it’s a good idea to run a zone offense against it. There are other offenses that work as well but you are somewhat at the mercy of the D that is set against you. A huge part of being successful is to realize right away what the D is doing and to adjust accordingly. As much as the D will try to keep mixing up what they’re doing, it’s good on offense to mix up with you’re doing to keep the D guessing as well.

4. If something isn’t working – if you’ve tried to run an offense that hasn’t worked, how many times in a row are you going to run it before you change what you’re doing? Some teams will be stubborn and keep trying something until it works, but in a game to 15, you only have so many points to work with so I think it’s a good idea to try it twice and then switch it up if it doesn’t work. It’s also like that saying…fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. And the third time you should be doing something different I think.

6. What you have plays for – a lot of teams will develop a standard layout of plays – 6 or 7 horizontal plays and 3 or 4 vertical plays. So, based on that number, most teams will run horizontal more than they will vertical. But try not to get stuck in this mindset. Determine what will work best for your team, come up with some plays that your team can learn, and learn well, and then execute them when it matters.

7. Where you are on the field – The general rule of thumb is that no matter what offense you’re running, when your team is close to the endzone, you should set up a vertical stack. The reason for this is that in the endzone, there is a finite amount of space in which to score. A vertical stack works well since both sides of the field are left open – a horizontal stack doesn’t allow for much movement since deep isn’t really an option in the endzone. Another scenario is when you’re on the sideline – in this case it’s usually best to get the disc to the middle of the field since you will have more room to work with and once the disc gets moved to the middle then you can set up your offense.

These are a few things to consider when you are starting to have practices for your team and figuring out what plays you want your team to run. How do you plan your offensive strategy for your team?

Written by Ultimate Rob

Rob McLeod is a disc sports competitor, a 13 time World Record holder (including 6 Guinness World Records), 10-time World Champion, 2 time Quadruped title holder and currently holds the Canadian Distance Record. He created ultimaterob.com in 2009.