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How To Get A Layout Block

by Al Nichols

In the perfect defensive scenario, no one ever has to get a layout block. The marker does a great job of taking away part of the field and preventing hucks. Lane cutter defenders deny any open space to downfield receivers and when the count is getting higher, the dump defender stuffs the reset option. The thrower is left with nothing and quietly puts down the disc after hearing the word ten. How often does that happen? 

I think most teams and their defensive players are not attempting to get a block on any given point but rather trying to prevent their opponents from getting open enough for a high percentage pass. Relatively easy to do against opponents who struggle to throw it long or to break the mark but increasingly difficult with better throwers and receivers. Against stronger throwers and receivers the defender is forced to position themselves closer to their opponent and as a result you often find yourself chasing someone as opposed to dictating to them where they can go. Most layout blocks come about from this position, where receiver is in full flight to an open space, a step or two ahead of their defender, and the only defensive play left after the disc is up is a layout bid. I've always found that there are three parts to making the play: put yourself in position, seize the opportunity and a small mistake from the offensive players. 

The reality for most defenders is that you have to make a wide variety of positional choices throughout a point, slightly altering these choices depending on the team defensive strategy of the point, where the disc is on the field, what the count is, your direct opponents strengths and weaknesses, weather conditions and if you have time to check it out, the throwing abilities of the person with the disc. But most of the time, in a man defensive scenario, I've always lined up about a step on the open side of the field and a step closer to the disc. If your receiver goes long or to the break side of the field they're already a little open without even having to get you moving and you find yourself already chasing behind the receiver. Though these passes are slightly higher risk, against good throwers the defender has to bite on these cuts and try to stay as close as possible, so when a receiver cuts back to the open side you will still often find yourself chasing a receiver into the open side coming back to the disc even though your initial position was to deny that particular cut. Defenders often find themselves chasing receivers, offense dictating to the d, where the action is going to take place. Fortunately, if you going to get a block against a good thrower they usually have to see the receiver break open or the throw doesn't go up. But to get the block you need to have that opening be as small as possible. Too close and the throw doesn't go up, but hey great d. Too far behind and you'll never make a play, just get ready to start marking. But about one step off the pace and you're in position to maybe make a play. 

Whenever I've been in the zone defensively and we're playing a lot of man d, I am able to put myself in the defensive position of about a step behind my receiver consistently all game. And the moment we break into open space I'm already hoping for a throw with every intention of laying out and making the d. It is already in my mind. The timing of a layout block is critical and if you're not ready to dive it's probably too late. Almost all high-level-experienced players will lay out to catch the disc on O. The disc is right in front of you, the expectation of everyone on the field and sidelines is that you will at least try a layout if it is necessary. On D there's no guarantee that the throw will even go up, that if it does you will necessarily have a shot at the disc but you have to assume that there's going to be an opportunity. You're never going to get it by going around the person behind them, so you have to figure out when and where you're going to go inside his trailing shoulder, without making contact. These are the two major steps in seizing the opportunity: be ready and willing, and find an angle on the inside the receiver between him and the disc. 

The Mistake(s)
If you're way faster than your opponent then when the throw goes up, blow by your receiver and lay out or just catch it. For most players speed is fairly even. 

To get the block, no matter how well positioned and how ready to lay out you still need a mistake. 

If a thrower reads his receiver's position and speed relative to the defender and throws it perfectly out in front of their teammate to run onto with arms extended, the defender has no play. Get ready to mark. But if they throw it so the disc is going to arrive right into the receiver's body, maybe you've got a chance. Being only one step behind and launching with arm fully extended should make up the gap and give you a chance to catch or tip the incoming disc. (I've always favoured launching and landing on my side for both comfort and efficacy because reaching with one arm will give you an extra few inches that could be key. I think it's also more likely to avoid contact.) 

Even if the thrower misses his angle by enough of a margin to give you a chance for a dive block, a smart receiver can change his angle to protect the disc. Instead of continuing to run at the angle he initiated, when the receiver sees the disc is going to be a little behind him or at his body, they should make a more direct line back to the thrower to protect the disc. This cuts off the defender's angle and forces them to not lay out or if they do it's almost impossible to avoid contact. Fortunately, a lot of receivers think they are more open then they are and will continue on their initial line. Run softly. 

huddle Issue 19 The Layout Block

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Bide Your Time
by Tully Beatty

Recognition & Position
by Jeff Eastham-Anderson

An In-Cut Adjustment Illustrated
by Adam Goff

The Value Of A Layout Block?
by Greg Husak

by Brett Matzuka

Team Glory
by Ted Munter

How To Get A Layout Block
by Al Nichols

by Miranda Roth

The Holy Grail Of This Sport
by Adam Sigelman





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