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Needs Of The Team And The Individual

by Greg Husak

Role players are valuable to any successful team. More than valuable, they may be essential. This is typically because they have the ability to throw their whole effort into a part of the game that the stars don't have the effort for. An obvious example of this is a marker in the zone. Marking takes a lot of effort, and is very tiring both because of chasing the disc around, but also because working hard on the mark takes a lot of energy. However, a zone can fall apart if the marks are not sprinting to the disc or being aggressive on the mark. Marking in zone is one of the more obvious examples of a specific role player, but almost any zone position can have a specialist, and even some offensive positions can be limited to the point of being a specific role. 

I think it is a great benefit for someone to fill specific roles, but this is also very dependent on the needs of the team and the expectations of an individual. I think it is wise for players to continuously expand their toolbox of tricks to make themselves more diverse. However, as a full season progresses, it benefits the team (and the individual) to start to focus on what has become their niche on the team. In other words, it would make no sense for a college player in January to decide that he is going to be the marker in the zone when he should be improving all aspects of his game (throwing, man defense, etc). But maybe by the time Sectionals comes around he should realize where his strengths lie and how he can best help the team succeed. By keeping up all his skills early in the season he might realize that there are others that are better suited to marking, or the captains can give more direction about what each individual should rely on. When picking a team, I think most teams would prefer the all-around player who can then fit into the teams needs as the season progresses. Certainly if someone is absolutely exceptional at a particular thing, they should play towards that strength, but I think that teams would generally prefer well-rounded players over specialists. 

In the next five years I see the role of someone who can shut down the other team's handler being very important. Good handlers know how to juke, get you off-footed, use space and keep you on your heels well enough to make guarding them tough. Also, teams rely on their handlers to be available for easy resets and to push the disc up the field. A person who can limit the effectiveness of the other team's top handler can create a few breaks for their defense. This may mean that each team has a stable of two or three of these guys who, depending on the opponent, fill that role of primary defender. 

In terms of less important roles, I think the deep receiver is going to become a thing of the past. Now so many strong athletes are playing defense that having the one guy who is tall, fast and jumps really well isn't enough for you to just jack it to him without pause. More and more that guy is being guarded by an equally tall, fast and great jumper. Knowing how to set up cuts in flow, exploit a poach, or create space for teammates are going to be more valued skills than raw athleticism. 

huddle Issue 15 Roles Players

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

Roles Can Be Difficult To Observe
by Jeff Eastham-Anderson

Build From Versatile, Athletic Players
by Lindsey Hack

Needs Of The Team And The Individual
by Greg Husak

Use All Of Your Players
by Peri Kurshan

Roles From Necessity
by Kirk Savage

What Is A Role Player?
by Charlie Reznikoff

Using The Best Part Of Each Player
by Miranda Roth

Is There Any Hope For The Specialist?
by Seth Wiggins




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