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Trap Hard & Smart

by Kris Kelly

A trap cup zone is a common and effective configuration in Mixed Ultimate. It looks to create pressure and mismatches at the disc. The handlers, who touch the disc most in zone offense, are depended upon by the rest of the team to be consistent and unflappable when working a zone D. An aggressive trap cup can serve to fluster and frustrate the handlers, whether it's because they themselves are having trouble moving the disc or because others are having trouble getting them the disc. When the handlers become uncomfortable, the rest of the offense snowballs along with them. Often a trap cup will focus on: (1) forcing in the direction where the wind is making the swing throws easier so that breaking the mark/cup back the other direction is very difficult and (2) forcing the disc to the sideline where there is a female handler and/or a weaker thrower (not necessarily a handler). 

In the presented scenario where the wind is unpredictable, the D will probably focus on (2). The idea is to put 1-2 people (usually men) in the cup who have exceptional marks and are difficult to get around. The defense is hoping to create hand and foot blocks (especially against female handlers where a difference in physical size lends itself more easily to these types of blocks) as well as force poor execution and/or decision-making that result in discs either getting turfed or caught in the wind. In addition, while the mark is making it tougher to get a throw off, the rest of the cup is creating even more of a challenge by taking away typical go-to throws (the dump, the crash, and the IO, for example). The first and most natural thing the offense will want to do is get it around the mark or through the cup since going over the top in these conditions would seemingly be a very low percentage choice. But with so much pressure on the thrower as well as on the other bailout positions, everyone crowds the disc, the field gets smaller, and then urgency and panic lead to blocks and turns. 

The downfield of this zone is usually set up with the men in the middle of the field and women on the wings. This is because the defenders in the middle of the field tend to have to cover more ground than the wings and men typically can do this more effectively. Your deep-deep should be the guy with speed and ups who can cover ground and pull high, floaty throws out of the air. Your short-deep is preferably quick and squirrelly due to the fact that most teams have their best cutter(s) popping; a highly reflexive layout trigger would also be an advantage at short-deep since throws up the middle are usually shorter and happen quickly, leaving little time to process and respond to them. Wings need to have a lot of field awareness since they have to cover their sideline as well as help out the short-deep and deep-deep depending on where the disc is, where the offense is cutting, and how the genders are set up. They have to communicate a lot with those defending the middle of the field so that everyone knows what their defensive priority is. 

As is obvious from the name of the configuration, the effectiveness of trap cup zone D depends largely on the cup. When the cup is moving, it has to do so as a unit to avoid opening up holes through it. There will almost always be men and women in the cup; therefore the members of the cup face the challenge of finding a happy medium in the pace that they run so they can both move quickly across the field and stay together. Also, the cup has to communicate effectively about when to put the trap on and who will be guarding what during the trap. If either of these points is not coordinated, the zone is more likely to fall apart. Getting the cup in sync takes practice, which is why having a handful of players who specialize at running the cup together will only help to make your zone stronger. But until this sort of oneness becomes natural for the cup, it is vulnerable. 

Depending on how the cup is being breached, a couple of things could need adjusting: 

1. The members of the cup might need to mark up differently on the handler(s)/those closest to the disc in order to take away the throw or move that is consistently breaking them. 2. The short-deep might need to communicate better where the cuts are coming in, direct the cup where to go, and plug whatever hole that might create.3. The strong-side wing might need to step up to help out the cup and/or short-deep, which means that the deep-deep might need to drift to the strong-side to help out the wing, and the weak-side wing might need to pull back and pinch into the center a bit more to help out the deep-deep. 

If there was time to talk to just one player during a time-out, it would be to tell the mark what throw(s) from what player(s) are hurting us at the moment and to shift the appropriate way to take it away, thus hopefully re-establishing a feeling of discomfort and frustration at once again not allowing them to throw what they want. All other adjustments on the field domino from whatever the mark is doing. If you've prepared your zone well, everyone else on the field should know what to do and where to be based on how the mark positions himself. 

huddle Issue 7 Zone Defense

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

The Wham!
by Jaime Arambula

Addressing Zone Questions
by Chris Ashbrook

Zone Observations From The NYNY Days
by Tully Beatty

A Tweak To The 1-3-3
by Matt Dufort

What Should We Contain?
by Jeff Eastham-Anderson

Adjustments To The 2-3-2
by Adam Goff

Redistribute Their Resources
by Greg Husak

Trap Hard & Smart
by Kris Kelly

The Four-Person Cup
by Miranda Roth

A Couple Of Thoughts On Zone D
by Ben Wiggins




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