How to Train Hex: Brilliance Box Drill

Latest training video from the How to Train Hex series available to $8 patrons and above – 7 videos are now available in the archive:

Brilliance Box Drill

  • UKU Phase B (no defence)
  • 4-8 players
  • Accelerating out of throw
  • Decelerating into catch
  • Changing direction with disc in hands
  • 2-person dribbling
Training players ability to throw’n’go in a game-like situation – accelerate out of their throws, decelerate into their catches, and change direction with the disc in their hands. A progression of the drill also introduces dribbling with 2 active players. Watch video.

Flash Poaching (Spectrum of D pt 3)


reddit post & comments about this video…
… full transcript …

Flash Poaching is the technique that’s the first step away from purely marking players that teams use to generate turns. Aware defenders flash poach ahead of a cut when they believe they know which player will imminently be thrown to. A flash poaching player can dive into that space early to discourage the throw or late and potentially get a D. Flash poaching is great for adding a bit of chaos into your defence that throwers need to consider when deciding if a player is free enough to throw to; a more difficult task than deciding if a 1 to 1 marked player is free.

Flash Poaches do however leave a player with separation that can cut away from the flash poach and get very free. Flash Poaches also require a lot of field awareness as flash poaching an option that wasn’t going to be thrown to has no upside and means the player poached off of is even more likely to receive the disc. Flash poaching can encourage watching the disc to determine if a cut will be thrown to instead of keeping focus on your match-up, which can add a split second to a defenders reaction to their match-up cutting.

New York Pony are a team that have used flash poaching very effectively, specifically in the 2018 season, leading to wins at the Pro Championship Finals and USAU Club Nationals. Pony’s defence was excellent at recognising when their match-up was inactive, surveying the field, and attacking the space where an active player was cutting into. More analysis of Pony’s defensive strategy can be found in this analysis video from the Pro championship finals and these livestreams with coach of Pony, Bryan Jones as we go over Pony’s nationals win in 2018.

Justin Foord’s Masterclass in How to React to the Thrower on the Force

Justin Foord’s Masterclass in How to React to the Thrower on the Force from r/ultimate

Here’s the link to the full video analysis of this turnover from the UK Nationals Open Final between Clapham and Chevron in 2017: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15Lc-dPLvDs

Let’s talk about 3000 subscribers

Japan v USA p08: Pointing, Field Balancing, & Player Counting from Koike

Extremely detailed analysis of a few seconds from the Worlds final in 2016 – breaking down Japan’s unique defence. In this clip Koike appears to player-count and then move to ensure the field is balanced, meaning every defender has a nearby offense player to mark. High levels of communication and field awareness are seen in Japan’s not-quite-zone defence.
Takeaways: (1) Point to communicate! (2) As a central defender deciding whether to push under or deep, count the players on the field to ensure your movement keeps the field balanced!
Part of the Japan v USA WUGC 2016 Analysis Series!

reddit post & comments about this video…
… full transcript …

The first thing I notice is the Japanese defender #3 Yasuo Takahashi at the top of the screen, passing off an offensive player (Schlacket) as they run down the wing – pointing in their direction as #81 Masatsune Miyazaki picks them up.

Watching #81 Miyazaki from the start (on the very left of the screen), you notice he allows an offensive player to move away from him across the width of the field, but he points in the general direction they went, which alerts #19 (Koike) to the potentially unmarked player. Miyazaki tracks Schlacket for the remainder of the clip, continually checking in with the disc and the other defenders around him.

#19 Koike in the centre also points towards Schlacket as he moves down the line, and later gesticulates towards the deep space as he moves towards it. Why does he prioritise the deep space? In the backfield at that moment there are three defensive and three offensive players, meaning the situation is balanced. In the deep space however there are 4 offensive players and 3 defenders – until he arrives to help. I believe Koike is player-counting, and that this is an important job for whoever finds themselves in the central defender position. By keeping track of the ratio of downfield vs backfield players, the central defender is able to position themselves to keep the field balanced, and prevent a heavy concentration in any particular area – which often leads to a defensive breakdown. It is of course critical for them to stay in constant communication with the rest of the team whilst doing this, as they act like the central node in a network.

A fairly clear ‘rule of thumb’ for the Japanese defence which we can extrapolate from this clip is one which we also identified in a previous clip: communicate the location of offensive players through gesticulation and vocalisation – especially important if those players are potentially unmarked (i.e. when you let your mark leave you). This would fall under the general defensive principle of: communicate. Less clearly, it appears the central defender is trying to maintain the balance of players on the field by player-counting and adjusting his positioning accordingly, which essentially leads to every defender having a mark / every offensive player being covered / no area being overloaded. Whether this is a rule of thumb, a principle, or part of a more general principle being adhered to is currently unclear, although the next clip I will analyse shows it is definitely an area of focus for Japan.

These two elements of the Japanese defence work very well together – through each defender communicating where the potentially free offensive players are moving around the field, and trying to maintain field balance, the team can work together like a network, and is able to flex in order to cover the offensive team’s movement & positioning, as commentator Bryan Jones makes note of during this point. This level of teamwork lifts the ceiling off what is usually expected from traditional approaches to defence.

How to Switch (Flex Defence Part 2)


Part 2 of the Flexagon Defence series, focusing on switching – early vs late, the triggers you can look for on the field, reactive vs proactive, and pre-empting switches. Felix explains in detail with help from animated illustrations, and video examples of 8 different switches with analysis.
reddit post & comments about this video…

… more details …

Fundamentals of Switching: • Two or more defenders change who they are marking • Cover offensive movement more efficiently and more effectively • Higher stall counts • Opportunities for blocks Early switches: • Increase efficiency • Neutralise cuts Late switches: • Generate blocks • Harder to recover from • Surprise the offence Pre-empting switches: • Spot opportunities • Connect with teammates • Decide together Triggers: • Cutters cross paths • Path takes them past your teammate or vice versa • Space aimed at is closer to a teammate or vice versa Reactive switches: • Most common • Damage limitation tactic • Independent decision making Part of the upcoming Flexagon Defence Series by felixultimate available to Patrons: What is Flexagon Defence? (Flex Defence Part 1) How to Switch Marks (Flex Defence Part 2) How to Surround Stacks (Flex Defence Part 3) Field Awareness & Communication (Flex Defence Part 4) How to Counter Flex (Flex Defence Part 5) How to Counter Hex (Flex Defence Part 6) How to Train Sandwiches How to Train Switches

Spectrum of Defence: Zone (Part 2)

Full Spectrum video on Patreon: https://patreon.com/felixultimate

reddit post & comments about this video…
… full transcript …

Let’s take a look at the other side of the spectrum- Zone defence. In zones, defenders take up a position relative to the disc and then cover that space. Zones tend to have one of two goals. Either zones pressure shorter options and bait throwers into attempting high risk throws, or, zones leave easier options in the backfield open, and contain downfield options in the hope that over many throws the offence will make an unforced error. Zones thrive in poor weather conditions where the likelihood of routine mistakes and difficulty of expansive throws both dramatically increase.

The key problem that zones face is that it’s almost impossible to take away all the options when players take up positions instead of marking players. Therefore zones tend to rely on the offence’s poor decision making or execution errors to generate turns. Zones also require communication and awareness from defenders – keeping track of the disc position, restricting the space on the field in coordination with your teammates and avoiding double coverage – all complex processes which leave plenty of opportunity for critical errors, even in the very best zones.

Few teams play zone defence as a primary strategy in modern day ultimate. Throwers are so proficient at making precise and patient throws that zones may slow the tempo an offence but rarely cause consistent turns. Of course zone defence in adverse weather situations remains prevalent but transition zones are becoming more and more popular. Teams like Raleigh Ring of Fire and recently New York Pony may play zone for the first few passes or until the disc passes a certain point on the field before snapping to 1-1 matchups.

Japan v USA p07: Japan Pointing & Shouting but leaving Schlachet Unmarked



reddit post & comments about this video…
… full transcript …

Japan don’t care about marking players who are behind the disc – you can see #17 look around to find alternate marking options when his player occupies the backfield. He does however make a mistake at the end of the clip by paying too much attention to the thrower and biting on a backfield threat.
#3 Yasuo Takahashi, top left, bumps into Beau early on in the clip, then points and shouts in order to pass him off to a deeper defender. When #19 Mickle comes near to him, he takes him as a mark, but doesn’t follow him into the backfield – instead takes the force.

#19 Masashi Koike as the central defender is the first to point and shout to pass off an offence player who is jogging deep. Note how often he looks at the disc, checks the space around him, points to any nearby offensive options, and closes down offensive players when they are potential threats (depending on the status of the disc).

#7 Yuta Inomata enters screen left after a few seconds, and is also clearly conditioned to point and shout at any nearby offensive players, as he does three times in these first few seconds of defense. He makes a mistake however – not marking #4 Schlacket, who receives the “zone-busting” pass at the end of the clip (though I would not call this defence a ‘zone’).

The reason Inomata did not mark Schlacket was two-fold – firstly, he was in a zonal mindset, (falsely) trusting that #19 Koike would pick up any player in the middle of the field.
Secondly, he was drawn towards drawn towards a deeper offensive player who must have posed a threat (we can’t say for certain as we can’t see the deep marking). #19 Koike, who starts as a central defender, was occupied with a live offensive threat on the sideline, however by slightly poaching he sent a false-positive signal to #7 Inomata that he could cover a central offensive threat, hence why this player was left unmarked.

If the deep marking was tighter then this would have sent Koike a positive signal that he could commit to marking Schlacket and not worry about the deeper threat. Of course the tighter deep marking would have increased the risk of a USA huck – which was likely against the general Japanese team-strategy for this game.

The interesting positive theme of this clip is the repeated pointing and shouting whenever a Japanese defender identifies a potential offensive threat – even if it isn’t always directed towards a specific teammate. This is clearly a cornerstone of the defence – communicate the location of offensive players through gesticulation and vocalisation.

What could be improved, is making sure every offensive player is covered, as this would help prevent the “zone-buster” to Schlacket. It’s worth noting the root cause of the offensive player being unmarked was a knock-on effect of poaching (by #19 and the deep defenders), meaning #7 Inomata felt he could pass off Schlacket rather than mark him.

Spectrum of Defence: Matchups (Part 1)

Patreon: https://patreon.com/felixultimate

reddit post & comments about this video…
… full transcript …

Spectrum of Defence: Matchups (Part 1)
Spectrum of Defence: Zone (Part 2)
Spectrum of Defence: Flash Poaching (Part 3)
Spectrum of Defence: Sustained Poaching (Part 4)
Spectrum of Defence: Flexagon Defence (Part 5)

Hi everybody, this is the spectrum of defensive coverage, which categorises the degree to which a team is defending space, or defending players. In this video we’re going to look at examples of the different concepts along this spectrum, their pros and cons, and why defences might want to play them at different times. For more info on Flexagon defence, which is my speciality, check out the videos on the felixultimate YouTube and patreon channels.

On the far left of this spectrum is Match defence where each defender matches up against an offensive player and aims to stop that individual getting free. Conventional match defence is extremely individualistic allowing defenders to pick favourable match-ups that correspond to their abilities. The basic teamwork that is happening at this end of the spectrum revolves around the force – the defender marking the thrower is tasked with pressuring particular types of throws or throws to a designated area called the break side, whilst the downfield defenders mark their matchups accordingly, usually by guarding moves to the open side as a priority over moves to the break side.

Offences exploit the reactive nature of match defence by forming vertical and side stacks which lead all the defenders into a small area and leave large open spaces for the offence to cut into. Match defence is also vulnerable as it places a disproportionate responsibility on the person marking the thrower to pressure all break-side throws.Most ultimate players have probably run a 3 person break force drill and have routinely broken the force time and time again, try this drill with your eyes closed on disc and you may be surprised at how successful you can be. [Insert video of blindfold breakforce, record one at next disc golf sesh] This means that break side throws are common in almost all high and intermediate level ultimate games.

Few high level teams play pure 1 to 1 match defence nowadays, most encourage a level of flash poaching and reactive switching in situations where a score must be stopped, or where a turnover can be generated. The more that players can lock on to a 1 to 1 match-up, the less on-field teamwork is used, which simplifies the task for defenders and allows them to focus on shutting down their matchup. This leads to a sustained level of pressure over time, with many bids possible from an athletic team. Teams that tend to have an athletic advantage over their opponents like Clapham, Fury and Grut have used match defence to great success as they can consistently shut out their match-ups without the need for team Defence.

If you think I’m doing worthwhile work and you’re benefiting from my videos, and if you want to see the rest of the Spectrum videos without delay, become a patron for any amount. If you want me to analyse footage of you or your team, my rates are very affordable right now because as a coach and cameraman, I need the work – get in touch with what you’d like to see. I’m glad you’re enjoying the videos and I appreciate any support!

What is Flexagon Defence?

In this short video I introduce Flexagon Defence and break it down to show how Flexing defenders can use dynamic teamwork to cause trouble for predictable offences, plus a video example of Flex in action.

reddit post & comments about this video…
… full transcript …

Flexagon defence is a hybrid defence – if you plot a spectrum from matchup-based 1-to-1 defence, to area-based zone defence, Flex lies somewhere in the middle. Sometimes it can resemble 1-to-1 coverage, and at other times it can resemble a zone, but it shouldn’t be described as being one or the other.
All the concepts on this Spectrum of Defensive Coverage are explained with examples in another video linked in the description below, be sure to check it out. This video focuses solely on Flexagon Defence.
Defenders in Flex switch marks as early and as often as they can, and they surround clusters of players including stacks. When the offensive players are spread out or isolated, defenders in flex mark 1-to-1. These coordinated team actions are executed mid-possession, triggered by particular offensive movements, and require strong awareness and communication skills from the flexing defenders. Defenders train to recognise when it’s appropriate to switch, to surround, or to mark 1-to-1, and they keep a constant on-field communication channel open so they can reposition, adjust, and adapt as a team accordingly.
The default force in Flex is towards the middle when the disc is near the middle, and toward the sideline when the disc is near the sideline.

This footage is taken from an indoor regional semi-final, though Flex is usually played outdoors. Reading form a tight stack in the centre of the space, the flexing Sussex defenders surround, and pick up players to mark 1-to-1 as they begin to cut. On the right hand side Zach picks his moment to switch off his mark and catch the interception.
The initial setup ensures little double-coverage as the defenders guard the open space. Despite an initial double-commit, there is quick communication and re-adjustment made before the offence are able to capitalise. Once all the offensive players are cutting, the defenders are marking 1-to-1 whilst looking to help each other. If the offence were to cluster together again, the defenders would return to surrounding them.

More from this series coming soon – for a classroom breakdown of Flexagon Defence check out the felixultimate patreon, and I’ll see you again soon!