Spectrum of Defence: Zone (Part 2)

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

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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.

Spectrum of Defence: Matchups (Part 1)

Patreon: https://patreon.com/felixultimate

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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.

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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!

Group Hex – Non-stop Hex footage analysed by coaches

A group of coaches look at non-stop footage of Hexagon Offence being played by different teams around the world, discuss the pros/cons, field questions from the YouTube chat, and provide critical analysis!

Clip from Rhino v Doublewide

Felix gets Angry about Picks from r/ultimate

Clip taken from Part 1 of the analysis of Rhino v Doublewide with Russ Allen – Part 2 is available on the felixultimate patreon.

Clip from Bravo v Revolver with Bryan Jones

Beating Poaches in the Handler Space (audio on) from r/ultimate

Extended clip talking about the continuation, with Bryan talking about what Revolver typically look for: https://streamable.com/1ojuoc

Taken from part 1 of the series Bryan and Felix are doing on Bravo v Revolver, WUCC 2014 Semi.

Part 2 is available for a buck on the felixultimate patreon, part 3&4 will be streamed live for free soon (and will then join the patreon archive).

Clip – Sandwiching the Front of the Stack in the Endzone

Sandwiching the Front of the Stack in the Endzone from r/ultimate

Darryl Stanley and Felix look at a miscommunication / blown sandwich from the USA at the front of the stack in the end zone, allowing Canada to score in the World U24 Men’s Final.

Full game (YouTube) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLVxfUkNOjg

Full analysis – 1st half ($1): https://www.patreon.com/posts/37928554
Full analysis – 2nd half (“): https://www.patreon.com/posts/38174480

USAU 2019 Final: 3 times greater teamwork on defence could’ve prevented goals

Taking a close look at defence in the USAU National Final, and the potential for greater teamwork.

How to play Hex: Max Options using Balance and Shape, with Hammertron Prime

Featuring a sequence with 10 passes in 22 seconds in the New Zealand Mixed Nationals Semi-Final, we analyse Hammertron Prime’s use of balance and shape to maximise their options and generate goals.