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The Stack (Basics)

In your first few games, you might notice everyone on offence running higgledy-piggledy. Because you donít know what to do, you just run randomly too; getting the disc seems to depend on chance. But the voice in the back of your head says, ďThere has got to be a better way.Ē There is, and itís called the stack.

The stack is the most simple organized offence in ultimate. Your team stands in a line facing the thrower. The line begins about fifteen metres away from the disc and stretches away from the thrower. There are about three metres separating the receivers in this line. The stack is usually parallel with the sidelines and in line with the disc. However, if the disc is near the sidelines, the stack will be angled diagonally across the field.

What the stack does is create open space. When everyone stands in a line down the middle of the field, the sides of the field become open lanes. However, this open space tempts ultimate players. Everyone runs at once and, again, itís the higgledy-piggledy offence.

Making good use of the space provided by the stack takes discipline. One by one, the receivers make their runs for a pass (cuts). For each receiver to have an open space to cut into, the other five receivers have to stay out of the way. Knowing who will cut and who will stay requires the players to be aware of each other. Look up and down the stack. Is anyone about to cut? If not, go for it. If there is someone already cutting, wait for that receiver to finish their run, then make your cut. to cutting section

If you cut, you will either get the disc or you wonít. If you do, then itís your turn to throw. But if you donít get thrown the disc, what should you do? Clear out.

Stack Flow (Flash Illustration)
The animation below demonstrates how a stack allows room for players to cut, and how a stack must be dynamic and adjust according to the disc's position. In a real situation, scoring would usually not be so easy :).

If you make a cut but donít get thrown the disc, clear out. Run as fast as you can to the back of the stack. From here you will be able to watch for your next opportunity to cut.

Clearing out is important. The thrower has only ten seconds to find a receiver. If you cut in but donít get the disc, the thrower might have only five seconds left to find someone. Get out of the way so a teammate can cut in before the ten seconds are up.

When a receiver cuts from the stack and catches the disc, this usually moves the disc up the field. (Sometimes the disc moves backwards or sideways.) Because the disc has moved, the stack has to move. If the stack does not move, it will be left behind.

Because the disc flies faster than people can run, the stack is usually in motion and trying to stay ahead of the disc. As they move, the people in the stack watch each other to see who will cut next. They also watch the disc and try to anticipate where it will go.

It is very easy for a stack to go higgledy-piggledy as soon as the disc moves. People lose their minds and all want to make the next cut. Again, discipline is your friend. Resist the urge to cut, move with the stack, and watch your teammates. When you see your chance, take it.

Stack Motion (Flash Illustration)
The animation below demonstrates how a "vertical" stack will adjust according to the location of the disc and the force. This example is done in four steps, pay special attention to the defensive "mark" and the angle of the stack, the force is "away". There is a lot to take out of this example beyond the stack movement.