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Field Spacing & Offense

by Kirk Savage

Field spacing depends on the offense your team is running. This is dictated in part by the defensive strengths of the team you are playing and in part by your own team's strengths. 

In the mid-to-late 1990's, the offense of choice for us (Furious) was the vertical stack. In the vertical O, the idea is to move the disc to one sideline or the other and flood the stack to the other side of the field, thus isolating a cutter. The shorter the stack the better—thus allowing for more effective deep cuts. We used this offense very successfully as we had tall and fast receivers. Defenses at the time where not very sophisticated—except for DoG who was able to use the "clam" to slow things down. However, around 2000 teams started to get wise to the fact that it is pretty easy to poach on in or out cuts in the vertical setup. When the players in the stack flood—defenders just sit in the lane—and there is nowhere to go. Suddenly, the sideline is a war zone where cutters have to battle for every 5 yard gain. 

Then we adapted and started the "West Coast" Horizontal Offense. At first it did not really matter where the disc was on the field. Teams were slow to adjust and we had our way for a number of years. We were able to cut out or come under for big yards, as defenders did not know how to match up against us. 

It was not until Sockeye started to figure out that if the disc is on the sideline in Horizontal O, that a deep poach on the far side of the field is possible. It took them a couple of years to perfect it, but eventually they did and this created all kinds of problems for our team. Having the disc on the sideline was a terrible place to be once again—and we had to work hard to break our old habits and move the disc to the middle of the field. In Horizontal O, if the disc is in the middle of the field—it is really hard to poach, as defenders have to play more honest on their checks—and the thrower has access to the entire field. 

The game has now evolved to the place where handlers are even more important than ever to moving the disc. In years past, the handler could just be a reset/babysitter of the disc. However, with the latest improvements in defense, handlers are required to constantly attack and look for the disc. The "flip" to the handler (a play that 4 years ago was very rare) is now commonplace and a necessity for a team to have offensive success. 

The best philosophy in today's game is to:

  1. Keep the disc in the middle of the field
  2. Activate handlers to move the disc and to keep the angles changing downfield for the defenders. †

Our team has the advantage of having played together for many years. We will change our offensive sets from vertical to horizontal to split to stretch to keep the other team on their toes. This constant changing of styles allows for a team be most effective. My advice is to work on a variety of offensive sets. This variety will also pay off for your defensive line, as you cannot always be sure of the style that a team will play against you. 

† This is much like a power play in hockey where the offensive players move the puck around the perimeter of the defenders looking to change angles, which creates a breakdown in positioning and an opportunity to strike. 


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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