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Maximizing Impact

by Brett Matzuka

Lets step away from Ultimate, and assume you are playing a card game in which there are five random cards face up on the table and you will get dealt five cards randomly; your job is to pair each one of your cards up with one on the table. There are many ways of doing this (five to be exact!). 


Presented on the table: 7 J 3 9 K 

Your cards: Q 10 5 4 8 

Leaving this as is works perfectly fine. 

However, lets say you have an overall objective that you have to pair them up such that more of your cards are of higher value than those already on the table. Your job is to maximize your cards effectiveness at beating the other cards in value. 

Using the previous example, if you arrange your cards up so that your high card is against their high card, you will get the following: 

K J 9 7 3 

Q 10 8 5 4

You will only manage to win one matchup, while losing four of the other matchups. Now, if you choose your matchups carefully, you can manage to win up to four of the matchups, out of the five: 

K J 9 7 3 

4 Q 10 8 5

Ok, so lets step back onto the frisbee field and apply this abstraction. The point of this is that matching up your best against their best is not the optimal use of your resources. A defensive unit should utilize their strengths to maximize their impact on the opposing teams offense. 

So, the next question is, how does one do that? 

Well, assuming you have an understanding of their offense (vert, horo, etc.), how they run it (in vert, are they breaking the mark to create flow or jamming it open side; in horo, do they look to the middle pair or try and hit the wings), and who is having the biggest impact in keeping it going (is the main handler anchoring the offense or do they rely on a stud cutter to open up the downfield), it is a matter of matching up your players to win more of the matchups. 

For example, if they have a standout handler that is the anchor to their offense, trying to shut them down with your best defender is probably not the best allocation. A dump is probably still a 90% completion rate with your best defender on them and if the handler is doing his job, the disc will spend more time downfield in the flow of the offense, leaving your best defender out of the play more often than not, minimizing his chances of getting a block. 

A better allocation might be a tall defender who's reach can interupt the handlers first and second options, slowing the offense down. Also, putting your best defender on a cutter who seems to get a lot of touches would also be a good option as your best defender will be more involved in the play (can poach, help easily on deep looks, etc), increasing his chances of getting a block (downfield cutter getting 3 touches a point with your best defender who might get a block 10% of the plays he is involved in, means he should get a block once every 4 points). 

This also has a residual effect that the handlers might second guess using this cutter causing them to use second and third options downfield which will get higher stall counts, more pressure on guys who may not get the disc as much to play a more active role, and elongates play, giving your top defender more chances at a big play downfield. 

Just like the card game, you are very rarely going to be able to win every matchup, and in the cases that you can, you don't need to worry about defensive matchups. Putting your worst defender on their best player, while having better matchups on 5 or 6 of the other players may seem counterintuitive, but can play into your team's hands. You know your team, its how you use your team's resources that will decide the outcome of the game. 

huddle Issue 17 Using Defensive Matchups

Tuesday, April 27th, 2009

May The Best Man Win
by Tully Beatty

Three-Legged Stool
by Lou Burruss

The Right Adjustments
by Adam Goff

To Rotate Or Not To Rotate?
by Lindsey Hack

Limitations To Matchup Theory
by Greg Husak

Maximizing Defensive Assets
by Kris Kelly

Maximizing Impact
by Brett Matzuka

Who Should Guard Their Best Player?
by Ted Munter

Matching Up With Defensive Characteristics
by Kama Siegel

Give Your Defenders A Chance
by Shane Steward

A Theoretically Helpful Exercise
by Seth Wiggins





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