Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Teaching Zones - More ideas needed

It was a little cold this weekend in London, and I didn't get a chance to go through my entire progression for teaching a zone. For the number of times I've taught zones, I still don't have a great progression on how to teach the concepts of zone in a bottom up progression of drills and concepts.

Pictured Above: A zone break in action for Limited Release playing Brighton.

It's not the case that I don't have good points to teach about zones. It's more an issue of how do you take a team go from square one to team knows how to play zone.

I have two thoughts on this situation. One, zone is just one of those things that is a top down concept, where you learn some very simple guidelines, and then, you have to experience the zone from both an offensive and defensive player to get a feel for what to do. With repetitions and some steering, a team will learn the philosophies of a particular zone and over time things improve. The alternative, two, is that I just haven't thought about a progression enough, to establish a series of bottom up drills to progress through teaching a zone.

Thoughts? I'm looking for ideas to put into writing.



Pascal Mickelson said...

While my approach is still essentially top down, the progression I use most often when coaching is to build up the zone, piece-wise, in the following manner, which I usually present from the defensive point of view:

1) Handlers plus cup to teach proper cup movement and (on O) to emphasize swinging the disc quickly to keep the cup moving. 2) Add poppers in, with no defensive players down field initially, so that the cup learns where to look for the offense behind them as they move. 3) Add the short deep/midde middle (depending on your terminology) and emphasize communication between this person and members of the cup ("move left/right", "crashing", etc...). 4) Add the offensive wings, again to show the defense the types of movement they'll make downfield. 5) And finally, add the defensive wings and the deep deep and explain how they trade off offensive players moving between their respective zones.

Typically, I find steps 3, 4, and 5 get compressed quite a bit, but you can spend more time on any individual step to emphasize that kind of movement. Also, adding restrictions on the kinds of throws the handlers are allowed to make can emphasize different defensive aspects of the zone.

There are individual drills (e.g. circle cup drill: http://www.menalto.com/ultimate/view_play.php?play_id=13 ) that work on specific zone-type skills, but I've found that players don't benefit from these as much until they have a more global view of what they're trying to accomplish.

Offensively, I think there are more basic skills (at least for the handlers) which can be worked on separately (such as swinging the disc, give and go), but they still learn the best from the top down approach.

Pascal Mickelson said...

I should add that my description assumed a 3 person cup, with three people behind it (2 wings and a short deep/middle middle), and a deep deep. My teams most often see a standard 3 person cup, so that's usually my starting point, and I come back later to discuss differences between a 4 person cup or other "junk" defenses.

luke said...

can they throw? if they can't it's difficult to make the zone work for demonstration purposes.

i use a ball when i have to teach it to new players, and allow it to bounce or whatever... just to cover ball movement...

find 7 players who can play zone to spend some time at practice.

'freeze' and discuss periodically

Jeters said...

The ball idea is great for beginners. I've tried the top down approach and it works. I just wonder if there are better choices.