Vertical

Although vertical offence is used less often among experienced teams, it is can still be a very effective. Vertical offence is characterized by the stack which is “vertical” or perpendicular to the width of the field. By keeping players lined up, your team can create open lanes for cutters to exploit.

Below are some keypoints to note when deciding on strategies for your team to adopt.

KeyPoints:

  1. Make sure your team knows the goal of the play.
  2. The skill level required to perform the play (eg- is a breakforce throw needed?)
  3. What your team’s strenghts are (speed, handling, height)
  4. Many teams will recognize plays immediately and adapt. Never get stuck in a set play, in general an open player is always a good choice.

This play uses the defence’s force to the offence’s advantage and does not require a skilled thrower. The disc should be near the center of the field, and the dump handler should be positioned on the open side of the disc. The last cutter initiates the play by cutting to the open side, next the dump handler cuts behind the disc getting an easy dump pass. Immediately, the defence will be on the wrong side and this should allow an easy pass to the first person in the stack.

The BreakForce Breakout is especially effective against teams that play weak defence on the handler dump. As a result, doing this play repeatedly may prove ineffective as teams adapt their defence to the dump cut.

BreakForce Breakout(Flash Illustration)

KeyPoints:

  1. Other players not involved in the play should keep their defence busy by doing fake cuts.
  2. The dump pass should be a “leading pass” to open space and not straight at the cutter.

This play is very similar to the “BreakForce Breakout” play but requires a little more skill. In short, the first cutter in the stack performs a fake cut to the open side while the rest of the stack follows and floods to the open side. The first cutter in the stack (second in the stack from the beginner) cuts to the breakforce side to receive a throw from the handler. Once the disc is caught, a third handler on the brekaforce side should cut vertically to receive a dump pass. This will give the handler with the disc a few seconds to huck the disc without a strong defensive mark on them.

Breakside Strike (Flash Illustration)

KeyPoints:

  1. The handler with the disc should be one of your strongest handlers because they must break the force.
  2. Leading passes are the key to every throw in this play.
  3. The stack must flood properly to avoide poachers on the huck.

The flood is one of the most basic vertical plays used in some form or another by most teams. Although it’s very easy to play defence against, when used at the right times, this can lead to easy goals.

Flood (Flash Illustration)

KeyPoints:

  1. The stack must flood and pull the defense with them (make the cuts believable).
  2. The handler may have more luck breaking the force by doing a “step-around” throw.

Like the flood, the Out and Under play is one of the most common vertical plays and is still used by most teams. This play relies on a poaching defense, where the first cutter goes deep and hopefully pulls in the defence from the back of the stack. The last offensive player in the stack will be open for a large gainer because their mark will be helping out deep.

Out and Under (Flash Illustration)

KeyPoints:

  1. If the first cutter is open, the handler should huck it to them, it’s not always the case that the defense will poach.
  2. Even if the last defensive player does not poach, the last offensive player in the stack should still be able to get open by making a decisive cut.

This play enables the offense to create a lane from the sideline by performing fake cuts to flood the stack. The 45 degree slant of the stack makes the last cutters in the stack a dangerous threat to the defense.

Sideline Huck (Flash Illustration)

KeyPoints:

  1. The handler should put the disc up to space as in the animation, and not to the thrower.
  2. The stack must be slanted to leave enough space for the cutter to get open.

This play is fairly complex and requires strong handlers as many short cuts are required. The upside of this play is that the huck should be very easy to pull off and it should result in a score. The play begins with a handler cut up the line, which is then followed by a flood of the stack and a cut straight down the middle. Next, the wide handler cuts straight up to receive short pass which should give them some time to get an easy huck off to a striking player.

Sideline Swing huck (Flash Illustration)

KeyPoints:

  1. A strong core of handlers is required to do this play.
  2. The stack’s job (the 3 other players) is to get out of the play and keep their checks busy.

The Split and Send play is a very easy play to do but is also very predictable to experienced teams. In short, the stack lines up in the center with the disc, the last cutter cuts 45 degress one way, which is then followed by the new last cutter who does the same cut to the other side. Once they have cut in, the last cutter in the stack should strike deep, as their check will not be ready to cover the deep. The handler can throw to either of the three cuts, but for the huck, it’s best to float the throw up to space as the offensive player will have a few extra steps on their defensive check.

Split and Send (Flash Illustration)

KeyPoints:

  1. The first two cuts should be considered viable cuts, as those throwers could huck it instead.
  2. Because this play is so common, expect defenders do “poach” and help out on the out cuts. This may give you the opportunity for a big gainer by cutting in.
  3. Although the animation breaks down each cut and throw into seperate time frames, in reality, there should be more overlap between them.

Playing 1 on 1 defence against a vertical offence can be easy if your team is more athletic than your opponents. In general, the more athletic and skilled your teammates are, the less you should have to rely on any form of “special” defence, that is, your team should be able to play hard 1 on 1 defence to create turnovers. On the other hand, if your team is at a disadvantage (more of their players are significantly better 1 on 1), than some form of “helping” out (eg- poaching) will be required. Another way of looking at it is that the only time you shouldn’t be using 1 on 1 defence is when you’re playing a highly athletic team, your team is tired, or your current strategy is working.

Like any defence, all defence starts with the “mark”. The defence in the lane must trust that the mark on the disc will not allow a break force throw and that an “up” call will be yelled when the disc is thrown. These are the two main responsibilities of the defence on the mark.

The rest of the defence should cover the “inside” cuts (cuts not going deep) to force the offence to cut deep. By doing this, you will force them to make a riskier throw on a huck, or to lose yardage on a dump pass. Although covering the inside position of the open side is the general rule of thumb, the defence on the last cutter should be positioned a bit behind.

Two important strategies for vertical defence are: fronting and switching.

The philsophy of fronting defence is that you control where the cutter can go by standing where you don’t want them to go. Defenders on the first first 3 or 4 cutters on the stack should be positioned on the “inside” of their mark to force them to cut either breakforce of deep. The breakforce threat will be handled by the mark, and the deep throw will be handled by the deep defenders. In order to deal with the deep cuts, the last two or three defenders in the stack should position themselves on the “out” cut, behind their checks. By doing this, the offence will be forced to make a risky pass into crowded space, or to break the force. The last element that is important for this defence is to switch checks (discussed next).

Switching is a form of zone defence, you cover a player within a designated area and then let them go once they move out of this area. In relation to fronting defence, it’s important that defenders covering the players at the front of the stack do not follow their players on hucks. Instead, they should follow their checks until they have reached the deep area and let the deep defenders pickup their checks. The same applies to the deep defeners, they should only cover their check in the deep area and switch off once their mark has cut in far enough.

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