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Limit Handler Play, & The Caterpillar Drill

by Pat McCarthy

Team defense starts when you can make solid assumptions about what your teammates will and will not allow. A good team defense limits the offense's options to looks that the D is prepared for, and then pounces when the O predictably does what you set them up for. Basically, you can't play team defense if you are purely reactive to the offense—you have to have a general goal for how you are going to manufacture turnovers. 

The key to making an offense predictable is to limit the play of handlers. Since handlers are close to the disc, it makes sense that they can change the point of attack faster than downfielders—as in, a quick yardage gainer to a handler changes the viable deep space instantly—making it much harder for downfield defenders to take away both the out and under. Similarly, a first look break by a handler gives the O free yards by attacking where the downfield defenders assume they are protected. 

If you're keeping handlers on the open side and losing yards, the only place downfielders can cut is underneath to the open side. This makes it much easier to switch on D or poach, or generally ball hawk down field. Last year we started with handler D, and we had a lot more success with switches down field, or running stunts that generated blocks. 

My favorite drill for working on handler D in a flat stack offense is a 3-on-3 drill, with a full width field, with 5 cones 10 yards apart along the sideline. The O starts with the disc in the middle of the first segment. The O can only advance the disc one 10 yard segment at a time, and if they go back a segment, they have to regain that segment again (you can't lose 10, then gain 20, if that makes sense). It's an exhausting drill and can be used as a conditioning drill—but generally, I like to have the whole team watch, cheer and talk to their defender teammates as the drill is being run. This puts more pressure on the defenders, and makes it painfully obvious when they lose focus.

Before we start, we talk about: 

1. Preventing the up the line cut with body position.
2. Winning the first step after each throw.
3. Stopping the first break look that your person gets if they do get the disc.
4. Making a "Strike" call to the marker (stop the open side) if you get beat up the line.

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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