When you start playing Ultimate Frisbee the focus is more on learning the throws and how to mark your opponent. As soon as you get better at these skills you ask yourself what else can you improve. Then its time for some tactics.
In this article we will cover one easy tactic for the offense and one for the defense.
I got into tactics when we played a game in our practice. The opponent team used one of the mentioned tactics.
Oh boy… we lost. I was just running after my opponents but there was always one completely open. It was impossible to defend as an Ultimate beginner with no knowledge about tactics.
Now lets start with the first tactic!
The vertical stack (offense tactic)
This easy tactic even for ultimate frisbee beginners is highly effective. As I just said this one actually killed me. It was zero fun playing against that one.
What is the vertical stack in Ultimate Frisbee?
If you play the vertical stack you play with two people who are responsible for throwing the disc (handlers). The rest of the players are standing in one line. They are responsible to run and catch the disc (cutters).
If you play outside you have five cutters. Inside you have three. All the pictures contain only five players in total so the drawings don’t get to crowded.
The circles are players (guess you figured that out) and the filled black circle represents the player with the disc.
How does the vertical stack work?
One of the two handlers picks up or catches the disc. The cutters all stand in one line (the stack). Then the first one in the line (closest to the handlers) starts running fast (cutting). As you can see in the picture down below.
She or he can run either towards the handlers or try to run away from them (go deep). The last option is the riskier one but if it works you travel a further distance.
If the cutters doesn’t get the disc he or she should end up in the end of the stack. If there is no way for one handler to throw the disc to the cutters, the other handler can come to help.
When the first cutter is gone, the second one can start running. Either on the same route or another one.
Why to use the vertical stack in a Ultimate game?
The one purpose of the vertical stack in ultimate frisbee is to give the cutters space to run. Every player of your team has a defender on them. This can make the field very crowded.
If one player has the disc and wants to throw, there are many players in the way. On the other hand cutters can’t run into any open space.
If you compare that to the vertical stack, the field looks way different. By standing in the stack the defense players get also dragged into close to it.
This creates a lot of space. Every player is almost in one place. Now the cutters can choose into which direction they want to run.
This opens up so many options which makes it hard to defend against that. Just look at the picture! How it opens up the whole fields.
Remember that I told you about my first experience with the stack?
This killed me. I tried as hard as I could to chase my player I marked but it was a unfair game!
But there is a way to defend that!
The Force (Defense Tactic)
Again a very easy defense tactic for Ultimate Frisbee Beginners. As soon as you apply that in your games it makes your life as an defender way easier.
What is the Force in Ultimate Frisbee?
This easy Ultimate Frisbee Tactic basically cuts the field in half. You have two sides of the field. The home side and the away side. This helps the defenders by drastically decreasing the area to defend.
If you look at the picture above, the defenders (red) have no clue where the disc is going to be thrown. So they line up left and right of the stack and just try to run after the cutters.
How does the Force work in Ultimate Frisbee?
In the beginning of each point you decide as a team, to which side of the field you want the force the disc. As a defender you position yourself to only let the handler throw towards one side of the field.
So you only open up the home or the away side.
This reduces the options of the offense to only one side. On the picture you can see the red marked zone. This is way smaller compared to the black zones mentioned in the vertical stack part of this article.
This makes it much easier for the defenders. They know the disc is going to end up in the red zone.
If the player you mark starts running out the zone, you don’t have to follow as close and safe some energy.
If they use the vertical stack, you as the defending team can line up on the side you are forcing towards. And you know almost where they are running towards.
If you are more advanced you can start to even force cutters towards a specific direction. Eiter towards the handlers or deep. This works by opening up the space where you want them to end up.