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Old School Vs. New School

by VY Chow

There seems to be two diverging philosophies on how to defend against a very skilled deep thrower that has also hurt you going deep. The first philosophy is perhaps considered old school, focusing on team defense and changing the team's defensive strategy. The second, new school, philosophy is what I like to call the "hack-a-Shaq" tactic, and although not exactly the same as its namesake, the results are comparable. The hack-a-Shaq consists of intentionally fouling the thrower to significantly disrupt the offensive flow (and deep shot) without consequence to the defending team and, I hate to say, is indelibly efficacious. 

Currently, I still prefer the so-called old school strategy of changing up the team D. I somehow feel the second is a violation of SOTG but will freely admit that it is increasingly tough to play against teams that use the hack-a-Shaq approach. The old school philosophy begins with recognizing that the very skilled deep thrower does the most damage to your team when they have the disc on the front half of the field - the ability to open up their team's offense with seemingly unstoppable long throws makes lane cutters difficult to defend. There are a few things your team can do to limit the damage this handler does against your team. 

Likely this handler is adept at getting open and thus getting the disc. Pushing them deep is still killing you. One approach is to acknowledge that you can't stop the thrower from either getting the disc (in or out) or putting it deep. To limit the damage, you want to herd and "allow" the thrower to get the disc on the open side with the defender close enough to put on a mark that will only give up the huck on the open side. Too often, the handler-defender attempts to totally deny this handler from getting the disc and this often backfires with the handler getting the disc in a position without a mark and the whole field in which to throw. This approach relies heavily on downfield D, and this might still be ineffectual even if you try and help deep or do a lot of switching. So what next? 

The next strategy is to play some sort of zone or poachy, junky D for a few passes or until half field and then switch to man. The basic idea of the junk/zone is to reduce the ability for the O to isolate lane cutters deep, push them into help, and once you've shortened the field and taken away the dangerous deep threat, switch back to man. A further move is to play zone/junk D with man D on that handler. The goal of this is to make it more difficult to get the disc to the handler, neutralize the deep threat with the zone/junk D, and to encourage the O to get the disc to less dangerous players - this is obviously a combination of two basketball tactics (1) variations of the box and one with your zone/junk D and (2) making it easier to put the ball in the hands of someone who ain't the best shooter and let them shoot. 

The hack-a-Shaq philosophy is extremely effective and used in both the men's and women's games. This strategy is implemented a couple different ways. One method is to constantly bump and foul the thrower in the first 5-6 seconds and then step back as the count gets higher to avoid the foul call and to avoid resetting the stall to zero. Teams generally don't want to call fouls in the first few seconds because this stops the flow of the offense and the D gains a tremendous advantage to survey the field with the stoppage in play. However, if you don't call the foul, then your O has missed the first and/or second shot because you couldn't get the throw off and often your O is onto your 3rd or 4th option. So, do you call a foul and stop play or do you hope that your O is running on all cylinders that day? 

Another hack-a-Shaq method is to intentionally foul the thrower only when they attempt to throw (open/break, it doesn't matter) and the marker doesn't contest the foul call. Obviously this approach is also very effective as the deep throw, or any throw, is unlikely to be completed and even when it is, the thrower is always being hit and hacked when they throw. In the women's game, this approach of "intentional fouling during the throw" seems to be more prevalent than the the first type of hack-a-Shaq strategy I described. It feels like this type of hack-a-Shaq is becoming more and more common in the women's game over the last couple of years. 

There isn't anything in the rules against either of these hack-a-Shack defensive strategies. They are overwhelmingly effective not only in taking away the offensive flow but can cause even a seasoned handler to lose their composure under the constant physical duress. I have to say that as more and more teams move towards either version of the hack-a-Shaq philosophy, it becomes harder and harder for me to cling to SOTG and stay with the old school approach. Perhaps it has nothing to do with SOTG, but is simply a further evolution of the game. The efficacy of the hack-a-Shaq tactic is certainly persuasive but before it becomes systemic, I wonder and perhaps hope there will be some change in the rules to even the playing field for the offense (not to mention, the constant stoppages of play is unfriendly to viewers). One thought is to tally uncontested marking fouls and after a certain number of uncontested marking fouls, the O gets to advance the disc 10-15yards thereafter for each additional uncontested marking foul. But that is straying into a whole different issue. For now, we will be sticking with the old school D. 

huddle Issue 3 Defending A Hucker

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

Question Your First-Half Performance
by Chris Ashbrook

Keep Your Opponent Guessing
by Gwen Ambler

The Answer May Be On The Field Already
by Tully Beatty

Stay Resilient
by Lou Burruss

Old School Vs. New School
by VY Chow

by Matt Dufort

Alternating Matchups
by Jeff Eastham-Anderson

Suggested Team & Individual Tactics
by Jeff Graham

What Do They Want To Do?
by Dan Heijmen

Make Any Adjustment...Just Make It Now
by Ryan Morgan

Never Lose A Game Without...
by Miranda Roth

Cue The Comeback!
by Kirk Savage

Make The Offense Uncomfortable
by Nancy Sun

What To Concede & What To Take Away
by Chris Talarico

Defensive Goals
by Ben van Heuvelen

Containing A Big Thrower
by Mike Whitaker

Make It A Team Game
by Ben Wiggins




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