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A Quick Example: Defending The Dump

by Ben Wiggins

I've had some success teaching team D in the past, and I like to think that young players, especially bright ones, will often surprise you with their ability to learn complex concepts and make them work against very good offensive players and teams. 

One example of our team-D philosophy is in how we taught dump D at U of Oregon. This would usually happen at some point during February or March, after the basics of defense and offense but before the real tournament schedule got up to speed. 

We'd talk/walk/run through three aspects of dump D. For each aspect, we'd talk as a team, most often using a couple of people as human models. My experience tells me that people learn only rarely from whiteboards. If you want them to apply something on the field, you have to show them on the field. We'd discuss the logic first ("why" are we doing this) and then the tactics. 

As often as possible, we'd do a drill where everyone was in a group, and we went through a specific motion together. Wax on, wax off, only we are 'poach on, poach off.' This works really well for individual techniques like marking, as well. 

The three aspects we'd talk/demonstrate/drill/attempt for dump D were: 

1. Body positioning
We give our players the option of forcing the dump upfield, backfield, face-guarding, or watching only the thrower (space-guarding). The logic for each is given simply:

  • Face-guard when you want to prevent the throw entirely, and no one else is a threat.
  • Force backfield when yardage is crucial (like, they are going upwind).
  • Force upfield when we want to pressure the thrower or the handler.
  • Space-guard when you think you can get a block, or to poach and force a thrower to give up the disc.

(We'd demonstrate each tool that the defender has, and practice each briefly on a slo-mo D to get the sense of body positioning.) 

2. Changing the focus
Poaching is often more effective early, when throwers won't give up the disc. Changing from force-back to force forward can disrupt timing. Great throwers should be give fewer open looks, if possible. Perhaps most effectively; giving a certain player a different look can keep them thinking, and prevent them from establishing a rhythm.

Crucially; this is the point at which we discuss working together with the mark. Choosing an appropriate focus based on the mark is very useful, and can give us blocks. This is where the team D aspect comes in; the dump defender was allowed to ask for a different mark or a different tendency from the mark, so that this becomes a 2v2, instead of a 2v1 against the dump defender. 

3. Frame the competition
This was absolutely important for us; we had to give our defenders (most often our inexperienced players, if they were learning this for the first time) an expectation of what they were supposed to accomplish. In this scenario, we tell our players that a dump is a 95% throw, and that if they can force a turnover on 2/20 dumps, they are winning their battle by a large margin. They should expect to give up completions, but try to keep those completions off-rhythm, difficult to execute, and occasionally pick off a throw (and then go to the house for the fast-break goal!). 

I definitely do not write this to say that this is the best way to play dump D; but rather as an example of how we taught team defense (at least in this fairly specific example). 


huddle Issue 13 Teaching Team Defense

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

Real Time Space For Real Time Results
by Jaime Arambula

Don't Screw The Team
by VY Chow

Give Specific Calls To Your D
by Adam Goff

A Little Theory & A Lot Of Practice
by Kris Kelly

Step-By-Step Approach At Practice
by Brett Matzuka

Limit Handler Play, & The Caterpillar Drill
by Pat McCarthy

Communication & Vision
by Miranda Roth

A Quick Example: Defending The Dump
by Ben Wiggins




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