One of the main reasons horizontal offence is preferred over vertical offence is that there tends to be more open space. A typical vertical stack up the middle will leave one side of the field open (a little more than 1/3 the width of the field). On the other hand, horizontal offence in the most ideal situations can create a lot more open space by isolating the entire middle (a little less than 2/3’s the width).

Horizontal Offence

The illustrations below explain the details of horizontal offence. For those unfamiliar with horizontal offence, unlike vertical offence, the handlers should keep the disc in the middle in most situations. Horizontal offence relies on keeping the middle of the field clear at all times, as a result keeping defenders busy is an important aspect. It’s a very easy offence to poach on, so always be ready to exploit poaches.

Just by looking at the diagrams below, one obvious difference between horizontal offence is the amount of free (vertical) deep space. As a result, huck plays can be very easy to pull off. In reaction to this, many teams will force “straight-up” for a few stall counts, so your handlers should be solid enough to break the force at any time.

The Setup

This is a diagram to show you the setup of a Horizontal offense. There are 3 handlers back with the disc, all inline with one another. 4 lane cutters are positioned 10-15 yards downfield, set up in pairs on each side of the field, creating space in the middle. Typically, the lane cutters will have some designated sequence such as calling numbers for a sequence of cuts (e.g. 4-5-6-7), or designating the two initiating cuts by calling one person a “primary” cutter and another a “secondary”, or by giving positions such as “mids” and “strikers”. Horizontal is a very free flowing offense, though, so these designations should really only be used as a guideline particularly for initiating movement downfield.

Horizontal Setup (Image)


  1. You never want to be completely hugging the sideline, but you do need to ensure you create enough space in the middle of the field.
  2. Cutting space and resting space is opposite to vertical offense. You rest on the side lanes, you do most of your cutting in the middle.
  3. In order to set up effective deep cuts, it is important for the flat stack to remain relatively close to the handlers. At the same time, it is important to give the handlers a buffer space to allow them an area to make up-field cuts.
  4. This is an opportunistic offense in that everyone should feel they have the green light to make a cut when the opportunity is there. Along with this, all the players on the field need to work together to create space and setup their flow.

This is a very basic demonstration of how lane cutters can set up and initiate their cuts in a horizontal offense. For this part, ignore the handlers and pay particular attention to the positioning and the movement of the lane cutters.

Lane Cutting (Flash Illustration)

After you have completed a pass up-field to a lane cutter, you now face the situation where you have to reposition your players. In the horizontal setup, you want to keep 3 handlers back, and 4 lane cutters spread downfield. When your first pass goes up, the lane cutter who makes the catch essentially becomes a handler. It is the job of the original handlers to reposition themselves by having one of them slide downfield to join the lane cutters. People often ask how do you know which handler moves downfield? It’s a complete judgment call that should be based on a few factors: who is in the best position to shift downfield, and how can we most easily restore our original starting setup (3 handlers, 4 lane cutters, everyone spread across the field)? This is part of the dynamic nature of horizontal O and it’s what not only makes it effective, but also fun.

Repositioning (Flash Illustration)


The horizontal drills section is still under heavy development… for now there is one flash play that has been developed.

CrossField Hucking (Flash Illustration)

This is a very generic play that is meant for teams that have an athletic advantage over their opponents. The general premise behind this play is to isolate lane cutters to one on one battles with their defenders. By using the room a horizontal setup can provide, it should be easier for your lane cutters to get open. The major challenge with this play is keeping the remaining defenders busy so they do not poach. The best way to deal with poaching players is to make the play very dynamic, and allow other lane cutter “fake cuts” to become real viable options if their defenders do not cover them.

As you can see, this type of play could lead to a quick score because once the isolated lane cutter gets the disc, it leaves the other lane cutter in an isolated position to run deep. This play is best for teams with highly athletic lane cutters, primarily the two involved as they must be able to get open very quickly and deal with potential poaching.

Key Points:

  1. Disc should initiate from the center handler
  2. Other laner cutters must make real cuts to keep the defensive players from poaching.
  3. Every cut from the isolated lane cutter is a viable option. If the player gets open on the first cut deep, the handler should throw it.
  4. The focus of this play is on one on one battles.  The advantage is always with the cutting player.
  1. 2 Responses to “Horizontal”

  2. This is awesome. Can you post a few more flash drills?

    By Samir on Oct 4, 2011

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  2. Mar 29, 2009: Ultimatehandbook » Blog Archive » Horizontal Isolation is up

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