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A Strong Sideline Voice

by Tyler Kinley

Most offenders will tell you that yelling instructions to them on the sideline when they're on offense is annoying, if not worse. When you're on offense, sideline chatter is best saved for positive encouragement and celebrating a goal scored. 

However, on D, the sideline is an incredibly powerful tool, able to create momentum on your side, stop momentum for the other team, and create blocks that otherwise wouldn't happen. 

Now, a good sideline voice has a few characteristics. 

First, the voice has to be heard. Duh, right? But if you've got five teammates on the sidelines all yelling at you on the mark, you hear them all and none of them at the same time, and any usefulness is lost. Having individual players talking and listening is crucial. 

Second, the talk itself must be clear and concise. One syllable is best-- "Up!" is quick and immediately recognizable. ""Heytakeawaythebreakside!" is not. 

Finally, you must create a team language and practice it. If you say "Looking break!" to a mark, do you mean an inside-out or an around break throw? Which should he take away? You must decide upon, teach, and then practice sideline voice for it to be effective, but if you do, it can do wonders for a defense. 

Next, what situations are best aided by help from the sidelines? 

The major help comes when your field of vision is limited, and the sideline can inform you of what is happening in areas you can't see. 

The mark is the easiest example. You are facing the thrower, and cannot see what he is looking at. The sideline can tell you what his options are, or instruct you what to take away, ie "No inside! No around! No huck!" I've toyed with the idea of practicing an active sideline voice helping the mark to the point that there is no force, simply a sideline instructing the mark what to take away and making every throw a "break" throw. Certainly not a go-to D, but maybe a good stunt to mix things up and create some chaos. 

Downfield defenders' field of vision can also be limited in a hard man defense. Often if a cutter is being face-guarded (defender staring only at cutter, never checking to see where the disc is), a savvy cutter can move this defender into a place far out of position once the disc has moved, and create an easy opportunity to get open. While the defender should check to see the disc's position, this is an opportunity for sideline voice to be incredibly effective, informing him when, and where, the disc has moved and letting him reposition without taking his eyes off the cutter. Of course, this information must still meet the criteria above (heard, clear, concise, and practiced), but it can be done. 

One caveat-- don't tell the defender where to go, tell him what to know. Yelling "move left" is nearly worthless, but yelling "not looking" as his man cuts deep to tell him that the thrower is staring backwards at the dump and the huck is not a threat is very useful.

Finally, how do you encourage sideline involvement? 

After creating, teaching, and practicing your sideline voice, you still gotta have guys do it, and after your offense grinds out a long grueling point with multiple turnovers and are absolutely gassed and your motivation is lacking because you're down 3, how do you bolster the energy? 

First and foremost, the effect of sidelines needs to be made clear and important by the captains. A good captain knows how strong a vocal sideline voice can be, and by encouraging it positively (it will helps us) rather than negatively (come on guys what the hell we need to be louder!) you will see the best results. 

Second, good sub-calling that involves the whole or most of the team early on goes a long way in engaging the entire team. If a guy hasn't played in the game, it's tough for him to engage as much as he could. If he is subbed in early on, not only does he know he's getting crucial PT, but he is excited for the rest of the game on the sideline. 

To conclude: 

A strong sideline voice can be the difference between a near-block and a block. It must be heard, concise, and understood quickly through practice. There are many defensive opportunities for sideline voice to help, often by seeing what the on-field defender can't, and communicating only the most useful information. Remember, don't tell him where to go, tell him what to know. Finally, instill an appreciation for the importance of sideline voice early and often, and involve people early in games to help create energy from everyone.

huddle issue030 Using The Sideline Voice

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Keep It Calm
by Jody Avirgan

Two Things Durings A Point
by Jeff Eastham-Anderson

Standardizing A Team Way Of Communicating
by Greg Husak

A Strong Sideline Voice
by Tyler Kinley

Tangible vs. Intangible
by Brett Matzuka

A Constant Stream Of Specific Information
by Colin McIntyre

Make It Useful
by Jim Parinella

Sharing The Work
by Logan Pendragon

Assisting The Visually Impaired
by Taylor Pope

It Takes Practice
by Moses Rifkin

Loud + Positive = Good
by Miranda Roth

Provide New Information and Reinforcement
by Shane Rubenfeld

The Zone
by Ben van Heuvelen




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