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The Extra Defender

by Jeff Eastham-Anderson

I've always viewed the sideline as an extra defender that can be utilized by the defense to gain an advantage, especially in a vertical stack offense. As the disc moves to the sideline, the thrower and cutters have less viable space to work with, which restricts them to two kinds of viable cuts; a deep cut and an under cut. For a defender, shutting down these two sideline options simplifies the task that is presented when the disc is in the middle; a deep cut, an under cut, and a break mark. 

As soon as the defense adjusts their positioning to the two remaining options, the offense loses whatever advantage it gained in moving the disc to the sideline. As such, it is my belief that the sideline is a land of limited opportunity that quickly turns into a trap. Offenses would be best served by capitalizing quickly on any advantage presented by a sideline situation, but then turn immediately to the task of getting the disc off the sideline, and present the defense with a different set of cuts to defend. 

The defensive advantage on the sideline is magnified when considering dump throws to simply reset the disc. In the middle of the field, the dump has the option of working entirely on the open side, greatly reducing the influence of the mark on completing a throw. A sideline position, on the other hand, requires the dump to work around the influence of the marker, and again reduces them to two options if they want to make a cut; up the line, or behind the disc. 

Furthermore, I would argue that isolating one or two downfield cutters is not a pure advantage to the offense (regardless of sideline or midfield positioning), as the defense is usually also aware of this isolation, and can adjust accordingly. Even if it is as simple as the defender on the isolated cutter being prepared to react to the cutter, or as complex as shifting defenders to crowd the open side, the defense can reduce the advantage of isolating a cutter. 

As for training to use the sideline effectively, two things need to happen. First, the players on your team need to buy into the same philosophy. As somebody who espouses the "move off the sideline quickly" point of view, nothing is more infuriating than seeing a thrower stare down a receiver in the lane for eight seconds before turning to the dump. Likewise, I'm sure that a cutter in the lane who thinks "the sideline is a land of opportunity," and got open at stall nine would also be upset at seeing the thrower looking at the dump. Second, everybody needs to get on the same page in terms of the types of throws and movements that are in line with the philosophy you choose. I've always been a big fan of playing full games that have one tweak to emphasize a certain idea. For example, if you want to work on moving the disc off the sideline quickly, make a count of six be a turnover. Alternatively, if you want to work the sideline, make any dump throw before stall seven a turnover. Small changes like these seem silly and contrived when you first try them, but work very well if they are implemented correctly and limited to a specific goal. 

huddle Issue 16 Using The Sideline

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009
The Extra Defender
by Jeff Eastham-Anderson

Attack Both Sidelines
by Adam Goff

No Room For Error
by Lindsey Hack

Three Lane Theory
by Greg Husak

Paraphrasing Parinella & Zazlow
by Ted Munter

Drilling For The Sideline Trap
by Charlie Reznikoff

Field Spacing & Offense
by Kirk Savage

Yardage Opportunities
by Chris Talarico

Depends On The Offensive System...
by Ben van Heuvelen




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