Vertical Stack Revisited Part 3

I am going to close the idea of a dynamic vertical with several odds and ends that tie the concepts together.

  1. Recognize the strength of your thrower. When your thrower is capable of hucking with precision, delay your strike-cut until after possession has been gained. If the thrower is only comfortably throwing 20 yards, leave for your deep strike a second prior to the catch and then cut back under for a 15-20 yard gainer.
  2. Don’t clutter the forward throwing lanes. For this strategy to work well, give teammates the time and space to allow continuation cuts to occur. Overzealous handlers and other teammates trying to get the disc back may see all of the open space and try to take advantage (Figure 1). This is not acceptable early in the stall count, as your presence may prevent a forward throw to an open receiver – basically, you will be playing defense while on offense. The space is open for one reason and that is to advance the disc downfield. Handlers will need to get into position for a reset or dump-swing manoeuvre and become active when the current thrower squares up to the reset. As a general rule of thumb, look downfield for 3 – 5 stalls, then focus on your reset handler.
  3. High percentage strike cuts are the responsibility of, both, the thrower and the receiver. In Michael Lawler’s Ultimate Project series, he describes the Rule of Thirds (Figure 2) as it pertains to deep throws. The point of the video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9b-D24LQoA&list=PL464BB1D774A673B1) is to vastly improve hucking completion percentages through the implementation of several simple rules for throwers and receivers.A throwers eye view of this concept can be seen at 07:32 of a NexGen game (http://vimeo.com/26219711). The Furious George player receives the disc in the center of the field and hucks to player in his lane. Rather than throw directly over his teammates head, he puts it down the open side alley. The receiver strikes parallel to the sideline and adjusts his cut after the disc has been thrown. If the receiver were to have cut on a 45 degree angle towards the sideline (with the same throw), the end result would have been a crowd pleasing catch or a turnover.
  4. Practicing the concept of a dynamic vertical with continuation cutting. Set up a traditional center of the field vertical on the brick mark. You need one thrower with a light mark (forcing home or away), a pile of discs and 4 or 5 offensive players in the vertical (no defenders). Keep the same thrower until all of the discs have been thrown.
    1. Thrower say Disc In.
    2. Vertical stack shift laterally in a predetermined direction.
    3. Last back cuts in and receives the disc. As last back cuts in, the new last back performs a continuation cut towards the new thrower. Note: During practice, ensure continuation cuts to the disc gain no less than 20 yards.
    4. As the first continuation cutter is catching the disc, the new last back is responsible for performing a continuation cut towards the new thrower.
    5. Go through the entire group until everyone has been the first thrower on the brick mark and started in different place in the stack.

    As players become comfortable, force the vertical stack to shift laterally in response to handler movement. When players become comfortable with shifting the vertical stack in response to changes in disc position, add in defenders who play honestly at %50. Over time, increase the intensity of the defenders.

  5. Success will resemble frustrated defenders, high completion percentages and multiple throws forward, which gain significant yardage, prior to dump swing maneuvers.

In summary, the offense wants to create as many situations in which a defender has to guess which direction a cutter is going. This information asymmetry (thanks to Kenny Sharp) can be exploited by a dynamic vertical stack to create high percentage throwing opportunities. This strategy is a useful tool for any team to wield. Don’t be predictable: Experiment with initiation cutters leaving from the middle of the vertical stack. Start in horizontal and shift into vertical after the first pass. The main lesson here is how to isolate cutters, not to depend on one offensive structure for success.

Just ask yourself: Is this the most appropriate tool for the job?

 

About Keith Krieger

Keith has been playing ultimate for close to a decade. He's had the opportunity to play both formally and informally with teams the west and east coast of Canada. His main focus has been playing with Wreckhouse from St. John's NL. Like most, he plays ultimate for the competition, fitness and strategy.

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