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Beyond The Fundamentals

by Ben van Heuvelen

Beyond the fundamentals of marking—getting low with the hips, staying balanced, keeping arms wide—here are a few "advanced fundamental" techniques. 

1. Chin up, eyes on the chest. My hand is much more likely to find its way in front of the disc when I'm only "looking" with my peripheral vision. To be honest, I'm not sure why this works so well. In part, I think it's because good throwers use disc fakes to get you out of position. If you're not looking at the disc, you're less likely to get faked out by it. Also, there is so much useful visual information to take in—where the thrower is looking, where his chest is facing, whether he's gripping forehand or backhand—and you can only see all of that by using peripheral vision. 

2. Step backward to prevent the break. Say I'm forcing forehand, and a thrower tries to break me with an inside-out forehand. If I lunge sideways or forward, closing the distance between me and the thrower, then he has a chance to reach forward and release the disc past my hand. Against a good thrower, I have no chance at a block, and he'll probably draw a foul, too. So, instead, I want to open my hips and lunge laterally and backwards. I deny him the ability to release the disc past my arm, I don't let him draw the foul, and I give myself an extra quarter of a second to locate the disc and move my hand to block it. 

3. Straight-up mark. A surprising number of club players put on poor straight-up marks because they seem to think the purpose of a straight-up mark is to get a hand-block. The strategic purpose of a flat mark, however, is usually that we want to prevent throws to the middle of the field—forcing throwers to spray discs wide, into positions where the defense can use the sideline as an extra defender. My rule of thumb for a good flat mark is "mirror shoulders." At all times, my shoulders will be flush with the thrower's shoulders. 

4. The half-flat mark. If a thrower (or a team) is hucking successfully, and/or if they're beating us with yardage-gaining breaks, one way to respond is by adjusting the angle of our marks. In the basic forehand force we all learned on the first day of ultimate practice, the marker sets up at a 45-degree angle to the sideline—putting himself in a position where he's able to shift to take away either the inside-out forehand or the around backhand. With the half-flat mark, the thrower concedes the yardage-losing around throw. He sets up entirely perpendicular to the sideline, as if he were marking straight-up—except here he'll shuffle a half step to his right (assuming a forehand force), such that his left shoulder is even with the thrower's chin. As the thrower pivots, the marker will maintain this relative positioning. There are three advantages to this tactic: A. The marker can respond to a "no huck" with a half-step lateral shuffle, easily and quickly, without having to rotate around or lunge over the thrower. B. The marker doesn't have to move as much to take away the inside-out throw. C. Although the marker is conceding an around pass to the backfield, he is more effectively taking away a yardage-gaining around pass. 

5. Be unpredictable. Vary your distance from the thrower, keep your hands frantic, add an extra half-second to your stall count ("Stalling one, two, two and a half, three"*)—anything, within the limits of legal play and good sportsmanship, to get your thrower thinking more about your mark and less about his throw. 

* I wouldn't use this particular one outside of summer league.

huddle Issue 25 Tips On Marking

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

by Gwen Ambler

Twice, No More
by Lou Burruss

Two Simple Steps
by Matt Dufort

by Adam Goff

Tips & Insights
by Peri Kurshan

Preventative vs. Deceptive
by Brett Matzuka

Tricks Of The Trade
by Patrick Mooney

Team Marking
by Charlie Reznikoff

Defending The Area Around The Thrower
by Kirk Savage

Beyond The Fundamentals
by Ben van Heuvelen





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