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Utilizing Your Arsenal

by Brett Matzuka

Breaking the mark is key to scoring against solid defense and an important factor to any offense. Here are 5 ways to dictate play and gain an advantage over your mark: 

1. Expanding your options early (become more threatening) 

Since at the beginning of the game the defense is trying to figure out your strengths and weaknesses to properly apply pressure, this is your opportunity to take advantage and become more threatening. A good defender will start with a standard mark by trying to stop two primary breaks, the 'inside-out' and the 'around'. As play goes on, your mark learns from the options you take and changes their mark accordingly to make it harder on you. Having the disc, and knowing this, you have a chance to take advantage and become a bigger threat. If you use a throw, potentially less conventional (high release flick, scoober, push pass, etc.), you aren't as confident in early when there isn't much pressure being applied to that throw, you condition the defender to consider this a threat to their mark. With this, the defender will consider this option a potential break and adapt their mark to incorporate this. This will shift pressure off of your more confident throws, allowing you to use them effectively later in the game. 

2. Minimize Pivots 

Every time you pivot, you are changing the downfield offense's point of attack (break side or open side), reestablishing your balance, and wasting a stall count. An average pivot takes 1 stall count to perform, so if you pivot 3 times in one possession, you only have 1-2 stall counts to look up field before you will need to dump. This gives little time to set up and execute a break efficiently. By pivoting less, not just do you maintain better balance over the possession, but you make the pivot more valuable as the defender will not know when you're going to pivot. This can catch the defender off balance, get them to over commit to an open side look or lure them into a false sense of security, increasing your chances of executing a successful break. 

3. Fake only what you can throw 

Good defenders are dynamic and are using every possession to get a better understanding of what you want to throw. Your mark is using every piece of information to hone in on what you prefer, and how to use this to generate turnovers. Faking a throw you don't have not only wastes a stall count but also lets the defender know their pressure is working, gives the defender knowledge on what options you use and which you don't, and encourages them to clamp down even more. Also, unnecessary fakes can become patterns to your throwing routine which good defenders can also catch onto. Maintaining composure and confidence during possession, instead of faking unnecessarily, will keep you focused on executing your throw and keep the defender from pinning down an optimal strategy for applying pressure to your throws. 

4. Don't force it 

All of us have done the 3-man mark drill. One person throws, one person receives and the last person puts on a hard straight up mark trying to prevent the pass (usually starting on some high stall count). In this drill, a defender will usually feel successful if they can manage a certain percentage of blocks/turnovers. In turn, the defender will clamp down on the strategy they have used that has been successful and apply more pressure and intensity, making it hard to dictate to the mark as you would want. In a game, this is much the same. By attempting to break unsuccessfully, your defender gains confidence in their marking strategy, and increases intensity and pressure. If you can manage to attempt less breaks but succeed a much higher percentage of the time (only take the option when you are 99% confident), it forces the mark to respect this option more by making them understand that any look to the break side, if thrown, is going to be a success. This will keep the defender reactive to you rather than vice versa. 

5. Make open side throws devastating 

This one seems to be the most overlooked, and also most important. A good defensive unit is going to prevent offensive flow and make your offense score using their least favored options. For example, a good hucking offensive team will be forced to work the disc under against a good, smart defense. This idea is seen in tennis most often. A good tennis player will play to his opponent's weakest shot the whole match. An opponent with an incredibly strong forehand but average backhand will be forced to hit 85% of this shots as backhands in order to win. Any big tennis fans will refer to Wimbledon '08 where Nadal defeated Federer. If you look back at this match, you will notice that Nadal played at least 80% of his shots to Federer's backhand. This was not only because Nadal's forehand is his weapon but because Federer's least threatening shot is his backhand. 

In this regard, the best way to make the break easier is to make your open side throws seem even more threatening than your break throws. If you can continue to deal out devastating throws on the open side, a mark will eventually start to inch over to hinder this option in an attempt to create a turnover opportunity. When this happens, the defender has exposed the weak side and you should have an easy break option.

huddle Issue 14 Breaking The Mark

Tuesday, March 9th, 2009

Scoring Consistently
by Chris Ashbrook

From The 2000 UPA Finals
by Tully Beatty

You Never Have To Break The Mark If...
by VY Chow

Mark Breaking
by Jeff Eastham-Anderson

The Goal Is To Make It Easy To Score
by Adam Goff

Allowing Mistakes, Deceiving Marks
by Lindsey Hack

Utilizing Your Arsenal
by Brett Matzuka

Every Fake Must Be A Viable Throw
by Chelsea Putnam

Plan Ahead
by Kath Ratcliff

The Shimmy
by Miranda Roth

Beating The Mark
by Adam Sigelman

An Easier Way
by Chris Talarico




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