Flexagon approaches defence from a new angle, bringing together elements of man-to-man and zonal defence. Flex is neither “man” nor “zone” – it’s a hybrid. Pressure is applied to every offensive player, whilst the defenders are constantly working together as a team.
Consider a vertical stack. If every defender marks man-to-man, then they are all essentially trying to cover the same open side spaces, leaving the force to cover the break side. This is uses very little teamwork. However, every offensive player is under pressure from a defender, which is good for the defence and bad for the offence. If the defence plays a zone, then the stack is cancelled and the offence spreads out and becomes a ‘zonal offence’.
About a month ago, I received an email from an ultimate player. His name is Daniel and he was wondering what offensive and defensive strategies I would suggest for 3 on 3 since he had a tournament coming up and had only ever played normal 7 on 7 before. I’ve included my response below along along with some observations and feedback from Daniel after the tournament (his team lost in the championship game).
I happened to be running into the room to hunt for one of my campers when I saw Narmada from Chennai writing a log. I asked her if she writes every day and If I could translate her thoughts for this blog.
This post was in response to a fan who had a few questions about handling and marking both on offense and defense.
Rob, I’m a combination handler/cutter for I just had a few questions about handling against tight marks and vice versa, marking tough handlers.
I’ve only been handling for a few months, and I’ve found that in the three tournaments I’ve played at I feel like I’m usually just cycling the disc back to an upline handler or dump rather than making throws to cutters. I’ve only turned the disc once across those three tournaments while handling, which I guess is good but most of the throws I have made haven’t been that long of a throw to get turned, if that makes any sense.
The goal of this study was to determine if certain throwing techniques for the sport of Ultimate Frisbee were advantageous relative to other techniques. The defense can attempt to force a thrower to utilize a specific throw; knowing the advantages of different throws can influence a defender’s decision to force the thrower to use a certain throw. Motion capture was used to monitor the flight of a disc (Discraft Ultrastar 175g) for three throwing techniques. The two main groups of throws were backhand (BH) and forehand (FH) throws, with the forehand throws divided into a closed forehand grip (CF) and a split forehand grip (SF). Sixteen participants were recruited with experience ranging from 3 years to 8 years based on survey. Throws were analyzed with regards to linear velocity, angular velocity, precession, and accuracy. Players threw a total of 45 throws: five throws for all combinations of the three throwing techniques combined with three objectives: accuracy, maximum spin, and maximum velocity. The order of the nine throwing groups was randomized. Throws were analyzed for linear velocity, angular velocity, precession, and accuracy. Linear velocity was calculated by measuring the distance traveled in the first 0.02 seconds of flight, and angular velocity was measured by calculating the time required for four unique points on the disc to complete one rotation. precession was measured by calculating the average angular deviation from the average normal plane of the disc, and accuracy was measured by the distance between the center of the disc and the target at closest approach using a quadratic fit to the known flight path. There was a very strong linear correlation between linear velocity and angular velocity. There was no difference in linear velocity between backhand and forehand throws, although the closed grip forehand had a higher linear velocity than the split grip forehand. Backhand throws had higher angular velocities than forehand throws for a given speed; there was no difference in angular velocity between closed grip and split grip forehand throws.
Malissa Lundgren, Ultimate Canada’s 2011 Female Athlete of the Year, discusses how the Capitals were more successful after changing their team strategy following their 2009 semi final loss in the UPA Championships to Brute Squad. In 2010, they would go on to make the finals where the lost to the powerhouse women’s team, Fury.
Indoor ultimate is different than outdoor ultimate for a few reasons: there is no wind, the field is smaller, there are less players on the field, the disc won’t float as much and there are usually walls/ceilings to contend with. This usually means that the games will involve more precise throws, a different strategy since there will be less players and depending on if you play continuous scoring or not, retaining possession matters more.
A few weeks ago, I got a fan email from Kassandra and this was what she said:
I’ve been cutting despite other’s desire to transition me to handler in the future because of my height. However, because I can usually catch up to the offense when they go deep, I find myself on the short end especially on the vertical battles.
I’ve heard the term boxing out a few times. Can you explain it to me, please?
I thought this was a great question and wanted to share with you what my response was.
Defenders can act as a team to restrict a centre of the field vertical offence. The goal of team defence is to trap a vertical stack on one sideline or the other by forcing throws forward, aggressively preventing upline resets and taking away the huck option with a last back. The scenario is quite easy to setup from a dead disc but can take a team several practices or games before being able to execute during normal flow or game play. Most players will agree it is much easier to defend against an offence from a dead disc than it is to defend a team that is moving the disc well. To that end, it is quite easy to beat handler defenders up-line during normal flow, which results in well timed hucks to cutters with separation. So, at best you may trap a team successfully 10 times per game and force 3 or 4 turnovers. At some point, however, the offence will work the disc to within a few yards of their scoring end zone.
This tutorial video for the Calgary Ultimate Association talks about how to cut into space. The key points are: recognize what the dump mark is doing, fake the marker to create space, work with the dump.
This tutorial video for the Calgary Ultimate Association talks about how to cut into space. The key points are: Know where the open and break side are, cutting to the break side is easy space for the cutter; requires a break from the thrower, cutting to the open side requires the cutter beats their defender; is an easy open throw for the thrower, cut with speed – don’t jog, don’t get too close to the thrower.
As a player you might, at times, think about ways you can improve your contribution to your team. Alternatively you might be looking for a way to differentiate yourself from other players, developing a skill that sets you apart and increases your value to the team. A good option is to consider becoming awesome at the pull.
This post contains a lesson that will be familiar to many Ultimate players. It is a lesson that I learnt the hard way, on the field in an important game. Hopefully I can help newer players avoid the hard lesson by providing an easy one!
Put simply, if you are playing defense on a point and have a chance to bid on the disc your primary goal is to catch and control the disc. Although it is easier (and fun!) to smack the disc out its flight path this is a dangerous option as you are not actually exerting very much control on the disc. It can end up going anywhere on the field.
This tutorial video for the Calgary Ultimate Association talks about how to create an unbreakable mark and how to beat an unbreakable mark. The key points in creating an unbreakable mark are: Focus, Thrower Awareness and Holding the Force. The key points in breaking an unbreakable mark are: Get the marker off balance, Less fakes and Fake using your whole body.
Too many times in a game, the disc will be thrown, the player on offense will catch it, the defender will turn to their team and shout “Where was the up call?”.
However, it’s not up to your team to tell you where the disc is. Sure, an “Up” call will help, but you should also be aware and know where the disc is, where the offensive player is and be ready to make a bid on the disc.
Since the receiver already has the advantage, you must work on your field awareness in order to increase your chances of getting a D on the disc.
This video was split into two pieces because it ran over the 15 minute YouTube time limit. There are several examples of not quite so good play by the deep deep in the zone D. The video looks at the various plays and ways the deep deep’s play could be improved.