The Mexican Offence

Many of you are familiar with the vertical, horizontal and spread offence but not many of you have heard about the Mexican Offence. It’s relatively new and was developed by Felix Shardlow from Brighton Ultimate in 2012. It’s not for every team but depending on the types of players you have, this might be a good system for your team to incorporate. Here is a video showing the Mexican offence in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j01Py8Jl6N8 and more can be found on the Hexagon Ultimate  YouTube channel.

Introduction

This document explains the basics of Mexican Offence in Ultimate. Mexican was first played in the summer of 2012 in a pickup game in Brighton, introduced by Felix Shardlow. The strategy quickly gained support and became the favorite amongst many players, who recognised its potential and enjoyed its freedom. These players would each feed ideas back and forth, discovering new ways to unlock the potential, and figuring out the most effective principles which should be applied.

Although experimented with occasionally by the Brighton City offence line through 2012-2013, it was only at UKU Tour 3 2013 where it blossomed. The Brighton City offence line decided to come straight out with it in their first game, against Euro Champions Clapham – who beat Brighton 15-8 at UKU Nationals 2012.

Clapham started out with man-to-man defence, but Brighton scored relatively easily with long throws. Clapham then threw a tight zone defence – but without modifying their offence, Brighton scored in a few passes. Clapham then put on a loose zone, and Brighton scored in 5 or 6 passes to make it 6-6.

Although Brighton’s D line hadn’t converted any turns, Clapham felt like they were on the ropes, called their second time-out, and came out with a very physical, tight man-to-man defence. They edged the game away, winning 15-11 in the end – the best result Brighton have had against them for years. After the game, Marc “Britney” Guilbert – Clapham and GB Open captain – said how impressed he was with the way we created and used the space on the field, that we were doing it in a way which Clapham aspired to.

Brighton City finished 3rd at UKU Nationals 2013 using this offence 90% of the time on both lines. However, the offence is not limited to top-level play. The principles at work in Mexican are more similar to other sports than any other offence in Ultimate, and Mex has been easily and successfully taught to university freshers from both Sussex and Brighton Universities – when presented with vertical, horizontal, and Mexican as equal options, freshers usually preferred to play Mex, sometimes
horizontal, but never vertical stack.

Mex can also be played with fewer players – although the overall shape changes, the principles remain the same and the effectiveness is not compromised.

This doc is written so a beginner can pick it up and understand how to play offence in Ultimate without any prior experience. Experienced players may have picked up habits and principles from other offences which can hinder Mexican, so clear your mind and try not to make any assumptions. The information in this document is very basic – deliberately open to the interpretation that best suits your team.

Principles

On-disc:

  • Always take the open pass / what the defenders give you, regardless of:
    • yardage / field position
    • stall count
    • personnel
  • Face infield so you can see all of your team & all of the options / open passes available to you
  • Fake to cuts you cannot, for any reason, complete a pass to

Off-disc:

  • Respond to fakes – change direction, clear space
  • Take what your defender gives you – cut & signal with hands
  • Create space for your team mates by cutting, even when closely covered
  • Cut into space as you see it developing
  • Do not surround the disc
  • Be constantly heads-up, on your toes, and aware of the play & your surroundings
  • Stay connected to your team mates without crowding them
  • Communicate

Formation

formationFirstly, this formation is not a structure which must be strictly followed at all times – it is a guideline for the shape the players should be looking to maintain during fluid play – a meta-structure, if you will, to keep in the back of your minds whilst the offence moves fluidly. Players could be taking the initiative and cutting / clearing space at all times, or running more strict set plays, depending on the style of your team.

The disc should be on the edge of the formation – this prevents surrounding the disc, and gives continuation options after the first pass is made. The shape extends from the disc towards the centre of the space available – so when the disc is on the sideline, the formation extends directly off the line into the centre of the field. This animation shows how the shape is applied when the disc is in different field positions – essential viewing.

The shape consists of six equilateral triangles creating a hexagon. The use of triangles means players are spread across the field in the most efficient manner – each player has as much space as possible, whilst remaining connected to as many team mates as possible. Maintaining these triangles and thus the ‘connections’ between players is crucial to the effectiveness of the formation – without the triangles it becomes far, far less effective.

The distance between each player should be equal distance to the average player’s comfortable, reliable, and accurate throwing distance – usually between 5 and 15 yards. The triangles are the crux of the shape so must not be neglected – the overall formation acts as a guideline for the space we should be looking to use during fluid play.

Movement

movementHow the movement from the mex setup works is largely down to how your team wants to play. Expansive cuts create space which can immediately be used by the surrounding players, so can be used to initiate play. Deep cuts are possible from many positions on the field, and the space directly around the disc is always available to be used. Give and go moves work well, and set plays are possible in every situation – three players cutting in a triangle shape, for instance, presents three viable options every couple of seconds.

For efficient movement when the disc is in flow, a few rules of thumb can help. If the disc is flowing up the sideline, the formation should ‘roll’ up that sideline – players behind the disc should push out wide away from the disc and upfield, and players in front of the disc should attack the space in front of the disc on the active sideline – as per this animation.

If the disc is passed to the central player, players behind the disc (surrounding it) should push wide and upfield, and players upfield should look to cut into the space created immediately in the centre, in front of the disc. This animation shows movement after a simple under cut from the central player, and this animation shows movement when the central player receives the disc towards the side of the field.

Scoring

Scoring happens in two ways: (1) from a deep throw, or (2) from flow towards the end zone. Static, stop-start situations near to the opposing teams end zone are difficult due to the defenders having a very small space to cover – the deep throw is no longer a viable threat. When a comfortable distance away from the end zone, deep throws are possible from many positions, and deep cuts are able to come from almost any player at any time. Flow towards the end zone can be started by flowing with the disc in any direction, moving the defenders out of position, and then taking advantage of the space to generate a scoring opportunity. If flow stops without a score being generated, then the team should focus on re-starting the flow – either by moving the disc across the field, or – more easily when very near the end zone – by flowing back away from the end zone. After flow away from the end zone has been achieved, once again the deep throw will be a viable threat (assuming your team has retained their shape), as well as the possibility of re-generating flow towards the opposing teams end zone.

The ideal distance to which you should flow away from the end zone depends on the players on your team – far enough so that all defenders are out of the end zone, but not so far that you cannot reach the end zone with a long throw.

The Mexican Offence was created by Felix Shardlow in 2012 and the current content can be found here. More videos of it in action as well as new Hex-related content can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/HexagonUltimate.

Also check out Brighton City using Mexican Offence in games at UK Nationals and Europeans on http://www.pushpass.co.uk.

About Felix Shardlow

Felix Shardlow has played Ultimate since the year 2000, has coached University teams to multiple successes, and represented Clapham and GB Open in 2011. He currently co-captains Brighton City, coaches the Mohawks and Panthers Uni teams, and runs the website http://www.pushpass.co.uk.

20 thoughts on “The Mexican Offence

  1. Hey, curious why you are passing this off as your own work? You credited Shardlow with creating the offense,but you never reference that he wrote this article and posted to RSD in Nov. 2008 here http://www.rsdnospam.com/index.php?t=msg&goto=131815& 

    It is in the Google doc https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1b6B4ZIOC2Ff26TooKFcYPHbx-nb9geJKDV27B-5Mvro/edit#slide=id.p here.

    Hey if you contacted Shardlow, who I don’t knowand have never met, and he gave you permission to use his work in this manner then I would gladly retract this statement, but until I’m told otherwise I have to believe this is the most blatant plagiarism I’ve seen in a while.

  2. Ike16 I’m not taking credit for this…it’s very clear in the article that it’s Felix who came up with it. I just put it in a more easy to read form for people to share than the google doc.

  3. rjmcleodIke16I’m also /u/supdog300, just want to respond here as well. I truly believe you had no ill intent in sharing this, but you did not credit the original creator of the work, who is Felix, not because he created the offense, but because he wrote the damn article.

  4. In the animations the disc never goes to the central player. I would think the goal is to get the disc there. Is this not true?

  5. SatyajeetParida I would probably start my defense on a tight cup zone, whose goal is to block 2 of the 3 proximate throws from the handler, and a wing defender could cover the 3rd.  It’s possible you’ll draw a lot of poorly-conceived hammers to try and throw over the formation to the other side of the wagon wheel.  The weak spot would be the handler breaking mark to get to the weak-side proximate option, who would then have 2 open options with only 1 defender (the far-side wing) covering – unless the short deep has rotated over to the middle.  That break-mark throw would also open up a deep-throw jailbreak.  But you could probably draw some low-percentage throws with just a basic zone, as long as the defenders understand what the offense is trying to do.

  6. Denzera SatyajeetParida Clapham’s first attempt to stop this was indeed a tight cup zone – Brighton scored in 5 passes. They then tried a loose cup zone – Brighton scored in 6 passes…

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