huddle banner

Secrecy & Spying In Ultimate

by Charlie Reznikoff

In the summer of 2006 Sub Zero cut a player then accidentally left him on our email list. This guy later played for our competition. He forwarded to them our "playbook." But before we uncovered the leak, Zero and this team played in finals of Sectionals. Early in the game we got our first defensive possession, near our opponent's endzone. Mark "Paco" Enright picked up the disc and called the audible for me to cut for an immediate swing. My defender switched his positioning to overplay the swing (knowing the audible). I switched my cut and caught a goal. Paco and I had four years of playing together, making the adjustment easy. The audible call was just a starting point for us. By the way, Sub Zero won finals. Perhaps our opponents relied too heavily on their inside information, and forgot they had to play the game. I have twice had access to—but never used—the playbook of a top ten club team whom we played at Club Nationals. In both cases these playbooks were obtainable because they were in a digital format, easily forwarded by email. 

At Labor Day 2006 Sub played an opponent from another region. As I set up the d-line (I always do so with my back turned to our opponents so they can't hear) I reminded the team of the audible for a handler weave after a turn. Then I noticed the captain of the opposing team standing in the back of our endzone listening to my play call. We didn't use our weave audible for that game. Many times as a coach I hear the other team openly discussing (for example) the zone they are about to throw. What do I do? I tell my team to prepare for a zone. I don't actively eavesdrop, but if the other team announces their strategy, I respond. As a coach, I consciously decide how much secrecy is required in making play calls, assuming other teams are listening. On occasion I feel that clarity of strategy is more important than secrecy. In those cases you might hear me yelling the force, or calling the transition to "Man D!" from the sideline. Other times I place a premium on surprise and secrecy. 

I do not consider any of the examples above cheating, or even unspirited. I give the above examples to illustrate two themes. First, as the sport evolves and elaborates, maintaining secrecy will become more important. I suggest all teams consciously protect their plays and audibles, especially digital documents that are easily copied and forwarded. Second, players win and lose a game, not plays. The best play is one that works even if your opponents know it. If your play self destructs as soon as your opponents decode it, it is not a play, it is a trap. 

huddle Issue 22 Set Plays

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Selecting Plays For Your Team
by Lou Burruss

Simplicity, Creativity
by Lindsey Hack

The Double Flat Stack
by Andy Lovseth

Great Play(er)s
by Ted Munter

Secrecy & Spying In Ultimate
by Charlie Reznikoff

by Adam Sigelman

Point Guard Options
by Ben Wiggins

The Benefits Of Theft
by Seth Wiggins





  • Issues

  • Features

  • Authors

  • About

      huddle issue034   huddle issue033   huddle issue032   huddle issue031   huddle issue030  
      huddle issue029   huddle issue028   huddle issue027   huddle issue026   huddle issue025  
      huddle issue024   huddle issue023   huddle issue022   huddle issue021   huddle issue020  
      huddle issue019   huddle issue018   huddle issue017   huddle issue016   huddle issue015  
      huddle issue014   huddle issue013   huddle issue012   huddle issue011   huddle issue010  
      huddle issue009   huddle issue008   huddle issue007   huddle issue006   huddle issue005  
      huddle issue004   huddle issue003   huddle issue002   huddle issue001      
      huddle feature026   huddle feature025   huddle feature024   huddle feature023   huddle feature022  
      huddle feature021   huddle feature020   huddle feature019   huddle feature018   huddle feature017  
      huddle feature016   huddle feature015   huddle feature014   huddle feature013   huddle feature012  
      huddle feature011   huddle feature010   huddle feature009   huddle feature008   huddle feature007  
      huddle feature006   huddle feature005   huddle feature004   huddle feature003   huddle feature002  
      huddle feature001                  


  • Authors

  • About / Get Involved