Friday, May 25, 2007

Tournament 2 - Lesson 3 - Horizontal of love

Everyone loves the horizontal. It's the stack of today, and I think teams are running it in league. It's a fine offensive setup for any team if you keep it tight and have the huck option.

The tricky thing with horizontal is I find it easily breaks down when people start poaching and teams don't recognize the poach or know what to do. So what do you do?

Pictured Above: John Hassel cleaning up a jump ball in the finals at TUF (photo courtesy of Marc Hodges).

First, if you can't seem to solve the poach problem then go to vertical. The funny thing is most people don't know why vertical lost favour with teams to the horizontal, and the vertical stack is a great option in present day against teams who don't know how to defend against it. If you get breaks off the vertical offense can be devastating to the opponent.

If you don't want to go vertical, then you have to punish the poaches. It's not exactly simple because depending on personnel, the reason poaches are happening, in many cases, is the opponent wants the disc in the hands of your weaker players. This means that your weaker players need to position themselves away from the poach in a place where they can hurt the opponent.

This is trickier than it sounds. What I find is that when a poach happens the disc moves to a sideline or a spot where no advantage can be gained. For example, think of the situation when the disc is in the middle of the field and poach comes from the handler on the open side. What normally will happen is that handler will yell "poach" and the disc moves quickly to the sideline in the hopes of getting a huck off. The huck rarely happens and now the disc is on the sideline. Two better options is the poached handler advances up the sideline making the huck easier and getting yards or the poached handler cuts behind the middle of the disc setting up for a break throw. There's a third good option to cut deep when the poach looks away.

Beating a horizontal poach is a team thing, and not only the responsibility of the poached player. When players recognize the situation they should either be setting up cuts based on getting open for the when the poached player gets the disc or clearing a lane to give the poached player a lane to cut.

One other technique to help with poaches is to realize who, defensively, is a good poacher. Then you can move your offensive player into a position that makes it harder to poach (one of the best spots are the two inside lanes in the horizontal stack). This means you're team needs to have the flexibility to move around in different positions, but this simple move might solve your problems.

As a coach you need to recognize as fast as possible who they are poaching or what they are trying to do with their poach. Then decide on a plan of action as soon as possible.