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Downfield 1-On-1 Defense

by Seth Wiggins

You're downfield, the disc has stopped, and you're defending a cutter in the middle of a flat stack. You'll need all the speed, agility, and strength you have—long before the point begins you can better your odds by improving your physical ability. Chances are if you are reading this you know how. 

Although Ultimate is a team game, the flat stack does a good job at isolating one-on-one matchups. While switching and poaching can work against weaker offensive teams, intelligent ones will be able to change the position of both the disc and their cutters quicker than you can react, and will beat your defense without much effort. 

You aren't reading this to figure out how to guard a one dimensional player—the tall, fast runner who can't throw should be backed (defender closer to the endzone then the disc), and the slow lilliputian thrower should be fronted (defender closer to the disc than the endzone). What you should be worried about are the athletes that can be effective either with the disc in their hands or catching longer throws. 

So how do you defend them? Frankly, I don't know. After 4 years of club ultimate, I have been beat one way or another by almost every single offensive player. More will get their chance. I have however been taught a few basic tips: 

Understand probabilities: A good team will complete all throws to open cutters coming to the disc. These cuts average 10-15 yards, so 5-7 open cuts will mean a goal. Throws to cutters going away from the disc bring a lower completion percentage. Even though one long throw can equal the value of 7 short ones, the chance of a turnover is infinitely better than none. The trick is determining what chance of completion a long throw has, and acting accordingly. 

Understand cutter's goals: A cutter with one step separation from their defender coming to the disc is open, however the same cutter with three steps going away is covered. The cutter's differing definition of success should be met with appropriate defensive goals of stopping cuts coming to the disc by more that those going away. 

Watch and match hips: Your cutter's hips will tell you where they are running, and yours should be positioned the same as theirs. When defending your cutter, you need only react to changes of direction by the hips, and not to arm, shoulder, or head fakes. 

Know the location of the disc: Your position relative to your defender's should also be relative to the location of the disc. You have three choices—watch both your defender and the disc, rely on sideline help to tell you where it is, or (lightly) touch your defender and watch the disc. 

Use your body: It is possible at times to position your body in the path of your cutter before they get there in order to prevent their desired movement. This is particularly effective against cutters coming back to the disc after running away. This is risky, as any cutter can use a overly close defender to their advantage when expected. Never initiate contact. 

These might help. Remember, perfect offense beats perfect defense. The point is to get as many blocks as possible, which is not the same as stopping every play. 

huddle Issue 11 Cutting From The Middle Of A Ho Stack

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Use On-Field Cues
by Gwen Ambler

Five Easy Steps
by Dusty Becker

It All Comes Back To Throwing
by Lou Burruss

Sockeye's Wheelhouse
by Mike Caldwell

Understanding Offensive Priorities
by Greg Husak

Everything Should Be Intentional
by Bryn Martyna

Three Keys To Being A Good Middle
by Chelsea Putnam

Downfield 1-On-1 Defense
by Seth Wiggins




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