Don’t teach your Beginners Stack

Article written by Noah Brinkworth

You probably know by now that we’re not massive fans of stacks here at Hive Ultimate. But there are specific and important reasons why stacks (particularly vertical and side stack – horizontal is not quite as bad) are detrimental to teach to beginners.

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How can we characterise offensive and defensive systems?

This article was written by guest authors Marie and Florian Gailliegue and is an excerpt from their book Ultimate in Motion: Balance and Dynamism, available from their website or currently part of the $25/mo Hive Swarm Tier deal.

Any situation in any spot of the field can be objectively characterised. Many factors combine – spatial (proximity to an endzone), positional (centering on the field), material (distribution of players) and initiative (separation / velocity, or other ability to dictate the tempo). During the game, each team will seek to tilt the advantages in their favour.

Strategy is long-term planning, and tactics are a sequence of calculated actions. Philosophy is from where one or more strategies flow. Structure guides how a strategy can be deployed effectively. Tactics are put at the service of the previous pillars to achieve the overall aim.

A structure is defined by the set of positions occupied by the players of a team. With 7 players, we can imagine a nearly infinite array of possibilities. When a strategy is decided upon, there are several structures that can be chosen to ensure the strategic goals are achieved. No matter the structure, the whole tactical toolbox remains at one’s disposal. The ensemble {Strategy, Structure, Tactics} creates a system. For the team to be as efficient as possible, the chosen system must match the philosophy.

ultimate systems

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4 Offensive Mistakes – Inactivity (3/4)

Noah talks about inactivity on the ultimate frisbee field – why offenses specify active (and therefore inactive) players, and how defence can seek to punish this with systemic poaching off inactive players – creating numerical superiorities in active areas.

Check out the patron-only Director’s Commentary below, where Noah and Felix talk for an hour podcast-style on the topics in the video.

Hexagon Offence Talkthrough

Felix introduces Hex from scratch in this 35min video for $1+ patrons – where hex came from, why teams are playing it, how it differs from stack, where it’s going, and how it fits into the landscape of modern ultimate frisbee strategy. This video serves as an “academic base” to help players learning hex to gain a fuller understanding and get on the same page as each other. Originally recorded in 2019, remastered for 2021.

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Flexagon Defence – Full Series: What is Flex, Switching, Surrounding, Communication

Full compilation of Flex videos, remastered with no breaks or adverts into a 31 minute crash course perfect for sharing with your teammates*.
This video introduces all the concepts of Flex, how they fit into the framework/spectrum of defensive strategy, and illustrates their effectiveness through animations and video examples. Flexagon Defence is a hybrid defence, combining switching marks and surrounding stacks (without poaching), and using teamwork skills, communication, and field awareness. Watch full video.

To train your players to apply switching and surrounding principles, and to be communicative and aware on the field, check out the $8 Training Tier videos for tried-and-tested drills – a new drill video is added every month: https://hiveultimate.com/how-to-play-flexagon-defence/#flex-training-videos

4 Offensive Mistakes – Clustering – (2/4)

Noah talks about crossovers on the ultimate frisbee field – how to avoid them on offence, and how to exploit them on defence.

Switching video: https://youtu.be/aqzhZlCLzOc
Watch this game to learn more about rotating offenses: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9Nbde5VxSs

Director’s Commentary (1hr chat between Noah and Felix) about this video is available to Patrons here:

Organic Ultimate Strategy

Conventional thought on ultimate strategy views the team as a mechanical system – a machine with the players as the moving parts. Teams strive for a highly disciplined style of play, reducing the number of variables as much as possible and applying the theoretically optimal tactics to achieve a simple, predictable system.

This view, however, is limiting. Treating ultimate as a mechanical system allows for a high degree of control but misses the opportunity to explore naturally occurring, organic, styles of play which may be just as effective, if not more so, than conventional strategies.

Here I will argue in favour of an ecological approach to ultimate strategy, analysing the shortcomings of mechanical systems and the advantages of organic play styles.

4 Offensive Mistakes – Clustering (1/4)

Noah talks about the most prevalent form of offensive mistake in conventional ultimate – clustering. How to avoid it on offence, and how to exploit it on defence.
Surrounding video: https://youtu.be/ZdUbFaUZpsU
Director’s Commentary on this episode: https://www.patreon.com/posts/4-offensive-1-4-49927136
Patreon: https://patreon.com/hiveultimate

4 Offensive Mistakes – Clustering – (1/4) – Director’s Commentary

Hive Ultimate Producer Noah Brinkworth chats to Felix about the episode in his series on Offensive Mistakes. Watch video.
Watch Offensive Mistakes Episode 1 here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/4-offensive-1-4-49347231

4 Offensive Mistakes – The Ultimate Problem (0/4)

Introducing the first part of our new 5 part series Offensive Mistakes. Check out the Directors Commentary for $1 on Patreon – https://patreon.com/hiveultimate