Author: <span>megan</span>


January Trials – Week 1 & 2 – 1pm…

So, on Wednesday 22nd and 27th January, 1.00 pm til 3.45 pm, Mohawks are running ‘trials’. No-one is going to be cut from the club and there will be weekly sessions that the whole club is welcome and encouraged to attend, but this is basically a chance for the captains to see where everyone is at after the first term of the year. From how well people perform at these two sessions, the captains are selecting for their “training squads” for the outdoor season – these players will be asked to attend the invite-only sessions on Wednesdays this term (1-3pm). The post-3pm session on Wednesdays this term will remain an inclusive and open training, for anyone who wishes to attend, whether they have made a training squad or not.


If you don’t want to come to the trial sessions (but hopefully everyone does!), still come along at 3.45pm on these two Wednesdays for a fun game of ultimate and to catch up with everyone after the holidays.

The first ‘trial’ will be refreshing your basics (throwing, catching and cutting), whereas the second will deal with some slightly more advanced stuff (positional D, hucking, breaking the mark). There will be lots of game time at both sessions.

The trials will finish at 3.45 – and we’ll have just shy of an hour of light for a fun, relaxed, no pressure game, which everyone is welcome to play in, even if they haven’t been to the trials.

We’re really excited about seeing how everyone’s progressed over the term, and to make you guys really show off your full potential, we’ve even put some little tips together to help you impress at trials.

Things you can do to impress with zero effort

– Focus in – focusing for a whole 2 hours is tough, so take your breaks in concentration at the right points – in specific water breaks, etc. rather than during drill explanations. Keep your eyes wide and trained on the explainer, and signal with your body language to the captains that you are paying attention.

– Try what you’re asked at trials – don’t explain to the coach why it’s definitely a bad idea or why you haven’t been doing it til now, or why this drill isn’t entirely realistic. Just do it – and actually see if it works.

– Work hard even when you’re subbed off in the games – talk to a buddy on the pitch, let them know what’s happening. On D, let them know that their person is looking, or if the disc is moving to a hucker, whether they’re now the person who should be looking to help with deep threats. On O, encourage them, remind them to cut hard, clear out, make space for others. Let them know if there are poachers in the lanes. If you’re a newer player, don’t worry if you don’t really know what to say – just make sure you stay engaged in the game even if you’re not on the pitch.

Things you can do before to prepare for trials

– Refresh your throws – chances are you’ve thrown a little less over the holidays. Get some touches in before trials. For throwing, more is more. If you can throw every day between now and Wednesday, you will do better at trials. Simple!

– Remember how ultimate works on Monday night in Hove! The best way to remember how ultimate works is to play ultimate. Monday night is a good opportunity for this – it’s at Hove Rec, close to Hove train station – and is a good opportunity to get some pitch time and disc time before trials. Floodlights are on at 6.30, and training starts at 7pm sharp. Shout out on the facebook group if you want to go but are unsure where you’re going.
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Tis the Season…

Some words of wisdom from your Mohawk Elders to help make benefit to enjoy the festive season…

Christmas is a wonderful, magical time of the year. But it is easy to stray from the path of righteousness, and the time-honoured ways of the past. So here is some advice from our more senior members on how to enjoy the festive season.

Go to Christmas Practice. Do not leave uni before then, and for the love of god do not plan on going home that evening. Missing your train/plane/ride is probably the best outcome from that decision.

Now that you are going to Christmas practice, do not take beer. Or cider. Mohawks are not anti-beer or anti-cider, but rather beer and cider are anti-Christmas. In order to be full of Christmas Spirit, you must, logically, be full of spirit. It is a necessary condition, if you will.

However, should you choose not to consume alcoholic beverages at this session, we are of course a club that supports your arguably better lifestyle choices. You will also enjoy Christmas practice – mainly because everyone will be so terrible at ultimate that you feel like a god, but also because you will be spending fun and special time with a pretty sweet group of people.

Christmas is the season of giving and sharing. Scientific experiments have shown that people who give are happier than people who take. Give, and share. Bring a bottle of spirits, and do not expect to take any home. If you have some left at the end (assuming you are capable of recognising a bottle by the end), this is a bonus. Share spirits with your friends and teammates and be merry.

There have been some tragic misunderstandings of tradition in recent weeks. Stu valiantly saved the grand tradition of Falmer bar socials after people were confused and thought ‘Falmer bar social’ meant ‘staying in the bar for a bit then clubbing’. By the courage Stu showed in the face of the Dr Who society, and some epic Ro Sham Bo skills, our glorious tradition lives on.

But I digress. My point was – next Wednesday is not a day for clubbing. If you go clubbing, or out in town, after Christmas practice, one of two things has happened: either you are far too sober and have not committed like a true Mohawk to Christmas practice and the ensuing festivities, or you are far too drunk and should not be allowed to make decisions by yourself, lest you end up losing your phone, keys, wallet, bike lock, bike lights, jacket, iPod and other various necessities. Friends don’t let friends leave Christmas practice for town – I’m sorry we let you down, Fetu.

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Indoor Zone: What’s the point?

In previous years, my thinking about indoor zone has gone a little like this. What’s the point? A good offence will always beat zone, because there are spaces, and often there is less pressure than an intense man defence. Pressure gets you blocks, so why give it up?

This statement is true apart from one specific point. That phrase doesn’t work with ‘a good offence’ – it only is true with ‘a perfect offence’. And in uni ultimate, and probably the rest of ultimate, there is no such thing as a perfect offence.

Equally, not practicing zone means that we don’t really get that much practice of playing against it, which means we struggle when we come up against it at big tournaments.

This year, I’ve come across several fantastic opportunities, where we really should have played zone but couldn’t, and some very clever uses of it by other teams. Put frankly, I still don’t like it as a defence, and it sure as heck makes games boring to watch, but as a club we need to be realistic: zone has its uses, and we need to be able to beat it.

Before going into the details of any particular zone (we’ll be teaching one or two this week), I just wanted to outline what I think the ‘point’ of zone is, especially indoors.

There are three main points of zone (indoors), as far as I see it – though I’m very open to other suggestions (comments below!). The first is to eat clock. The second is to get cheap blocks. The third is to just plain screw stuff up.

Clock Eating

This is a purpose which is almost entirely unique to indoors. Indoors, when the buzzer goes, it’s game over – meaning that once you get a lead, keeping it is enough to win the game. Being ahead when the buzzer goes wins you the game. Outdoors is different, because to win the game, you have to score the winning point (in Europe; the US have some crazy time cap stuff, which I have no experience of so won’t comment on).

A good man offence against a good man defence often scores relatively quickly, but a good zone offence against a good zone defence generally has to wait far longer to generate chances at the endzone, meaning that even a good team can take a while to score against a competent zone. Clock eating becomes really useful when you have a lead in a game, and you just want to slow down the other team, and make sure they don’t score too many points too quickly – Nottingham pulled this on our women’s team at indoor nationals this year, while up by about 3 points, and it was a great call, making a comeback almost impossible in the time window of an indoor game. It’s also useful if a team is mounting a bit of a comeback against your man defence, and you want to break up their flow.

A good example of a zone well-suited to this, for people who have experienced it, is the classic ‘force-middle’ or ‘force-poach’ Mohawks zone, which is also played by Sublime. There’s always a free pass – it’s just a boring one to the other handler. If you’re playing a patient team, this zone is a poor choice when you’re down – you’re letting them do the thing they want to do, which is play catch indefinitely until time is over. If you’re up, it’s a great call, regardless of how patient a team is – their patience will work against them, as time runs out and they end up taking too long to score each point to mount a convincing comeback.


Cheap Blocks

Another pretty handy purpose of zone is that it can get you cheap blocks. At university level, lots of teams will have several less experienced players on their team, and it takes experience to clock a zone as it comes down at you. Often throwing a zone can put a team off-balance, and cause them to turnover as they attempt to organise their offence and adapt to a new D.

An example of this is a zone we used at women’s in previous years – while the ‘force-poach’ zone above leaves relatively few holes upfield and gives up a lot of easy passes around the disc (which lets the handlers buy time while upfield clocks onto what is going on), this zone encourages the disc into a high-pressure area of the pitch (the line) and clamps down on easy short passes, looking relatively similar to man defence for the handlers. Upfield, there are more spaces, and looser defenders – but if upfield don’t realise early on that it is zone, the handler with the disc is pretty stuffed and has only a high risk pass to a cutter who may not even be looking at them. Mostly, we got our turnovers on the first pass of possessions with this zone – either the high-risk throw gets blocked or the handlers turnover between themselves.


Oh No, I Need to Think

Some indoor offences are very slick, and very difficult to defend against effectively in man. A good example of this is playing a team quicker than you, which runs a fast-moving handler weave (where two or three players work the disc quickly between them up to the endzone). However, this kind of slick offence comes from extensive, and often almost exclusive, drilling of this offence. Chances are this team has no Plan B – if they can’t run you into the ground, they’re not entirely sure what to do.

Playing zone can be an effective way to screw up highly planned and structured offences (like handler weave) – by forcing teams to think and adjust to your defence, you dictate the speed and flow of the game. Even for teams who don’t rely on one very structured offence, forcing them out of their offensive plan is a good move. Mixing up defences is often very effective, as forcing players to think and adapt can disrupt their ability to generate flow. At a recent one day indoor tournament in London, Mo 1 Mixed played zone for every first defensive point – not because we love zone, but because it disrupted and unsettled the other team’s offence. We didn’t always get blocks, and we didn’t always convert our blocks, but it was pretty effective at putting teams on the back foot from the start.

There isn’t a specific zone that is great for throwing spanners in the works of offences – really, any zone which surprises your opponent should do the trick. If you’ve been playing the same zone all weekend, for every point, anyone who does any scouting or talks to any team you’ve played will know to expect it: nobody in our region is shocked when a Kent team plays zone on them. But if you throw it randomly into a game, sometimes even swapping between zones, boy is that gonna freak out the offence.


So, hopefully that starts giving you some idea of why zone is actually, in spite of how boring it makes games, quite useful indoors, and are convinced that you should show up on Friday so we can teach you a couple…


Friday, 2-4pm, Sports Centre.


Friday Indoor Sessions

Hi all,

Over the next few Friday sessions, I’ll be coaching some basic principles of playing, and playing against, zone indoors. These sessions will be open to everyone in the club, but we’ll be focusing on developing the knowledge and skills of our newer members in particular.

The first session is this Friday2 til 4pm in Hall 1 in the Sports Centre (right near where we have outdoor training). All you’ll need is a pair of clean indoor trainers, a light and a dark shirt, and your brain!

It’s a great opportunity for any first or second years to learn the fundamentals of zone, and a chance for anyone more experienced to brush up their knowledge and get some practice.

Before Friday, I’m also going to get a short piece up on some of the ideas behind zone, especially indoors. It’s not required reading before the session (I’ve been a seminar tutor, I know how futile that is!), but it might help you to know some basic stuff about what’s going on, why we might use zone and so on.

Hope to see you all there!


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Holiday Learning – Focus

So, you’re home for the holidays, and you’re bored and no-one back home plays frisbee. You’re gonna suck when you get back to uni, right? Wrong! Aside from option 1 (take your disc out, throw by yourself), there are many other ways to keep learning about ultimate, even if you’ve got less opportunities to play… Like reading my ideas about defence, say…

Focus – and the weirdest drill you’ll ever do

Last weekend, I played a tournament in the Netherlands with a mixed team, who I had played either little or not at all with. Needless to say, even if I wasn’t pretty crap at indoors, I wouldn’t have been too much use on offence. Mostly I ran around and played D, which was fun – and I was pretty successful, I realised on Monday on my way home. I didn’t get scored on open side the entire weekend.

Now, as defensive tournaments go, I’m pretty happy with that, but it’s also raised an interesting point when talking to Fetu about it, which was the importance of focus on defence, especially indoors.

The last time Squaws were in the top 8 indoors, I believe we got there with defence. We were next to every catch, we were hardly broken, and we were intense. In recent years, we’ve lost that intensity, and you can see it in the footage of the last Skunks possession from outdoor nats – we’re sort of trying to beat our women under, to the open side, but we stuff up quite a few times, before they turn over due to the wind. Mostly, this works for us outdoors – our defence is good enough to force quite small throws, and keep forcing them (even if they are to the open side) until the wind or an error from the other team does our work for us.

Indoors, this defence sucks. There’s no wind, which not only means no wind-assisted turnovers, but also means that errors from the other team are rarer. There are less drops, less turfed discs. Equally, there is far, far less space. The proportion of the pitch our opposition gain outdoors against our D is insufficient to trouble us – the endzone is still at least half a pitch away. Indoors, they’ve scored from about two thirds as many open side throws as we let them make outdoors.

We can play better defence than this – and a lot of it is down to an ability to focus intensely on the job at hand – not getting beaten to the open side. Outdoors, a lapse in focus is a reset stallcount. Indoors, a lapse in focus is a score.

Focus is an odd ability. Some people seem to have it, others don’t. What’s important is not how good you are at it right now – but how much you practice it. Which leads me to the weirdest drill ever.

Next time you’re walking by yourself or on the bus or train, find a sign or point of interest to focus on. Fix your gaze on this object – but don’t think about it. All you’re doing is looking at it, without thinking about anything else, or even about it. At some stage, you’ll either pass this object, or (more likely) lose your focus – a thought will pop into your mind. When that happens, the drill is over. Take a moment to have some scrambled thoughts, then clear them away and refocus on a new sign. Repeat for the rest of your journey, until you almost miss your stop and have to clamber over a pushchair to get out of the train.

You will look weird, and like you are someone who is bizarrely fascinated by mundane objects. But you will get more practiced at focusing, and at blurring out the world around you and your own thoughts while doing so.

Outdoors, you don’t *need* as much focus – there’s bigger spaces involved so the benefits of speed and athleticism become greater in relation to it. But extra ability to focus will always do you good, whatever surface you’re playing D on, so get practicing.

Note – drill totally stolen borrowed from ultimate techniques and tactics.

Mohawk Emails

Indoor Training on Friday!

Hey all,

Quick addition to Pete’s update: tomorrow from 2-4pm is an indoor training session, open to everyone in the club.

Everyone in the club with clean, non-marking shoes, that is – make sure you bring these, and haven’t just walked across the mud outside the sports centre in them!

It’s at the Sports Centre, next to outdoor training and we’re in the big hall. Make sure you bring a white/red shirt and a black/dark shirt, and some water – it gets pretty toasty in there.

See you tomorrow!


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UWIN Homework: Part 3

Handler Weave: See it in action!

So, turns out that nitty gritty details take a lot of words. The details of what throw to block when, the specific patterns they will be running are less important than discipline and pressure. If you remember anything, remember those.

Because the detail post is so detailed, I thought it’d be better to put up the footage and some comments on that first.

The main things to watch for are what the Skunks D players get right and wrong. Mostly, their pressure is excellent – they’re close the whole time. Where they often go wrong is a lack of discipline – forgetting the force and overcommitting, either as the force or as upfield D players. Also, watch how relentlessly Ro Sham run up the line – expect this from teams playing handler weave.

Final starts @10.49. [times may not match up exactly depending on how well it uploaded – sorry if they’re a little out…]

People to watch out for from Ro Sham Bo: #5 Linda (dark skirt), #8 Georgie (dark shorts), #1 Jools (turquoise skirt). You’ll see these three running the handler weave most of the time.

People to watch out for from Skunks: Em Rees #3 (white skirt), mostly marking Jools. Lou Kittow, #18, playing a lot of handler defence too.

11.20 is your first look at the 2-1-2 handler set up. Jools in the bright blue skirt is the ‘1’ – she’s right in the middle of the pitch like god, with lots of space. Brigid (pink skirt) and Georgie (shorts) are the first ‘2’ – and together they form a triangle.

Here you’ll see them go for the ‘first look’ of the iso throw to Jools (Skunks are forcing to the right of the screen – Georgie is attempting to get the disc to Jools’ left). You can see why few teams still use this start to the play – iso or god throws are high risk throws. If I had to guess at anyone using this, I’d guess Ro Sham (who Squaws 1 may face in pre-quarters if we both hold seed) might open with this look. Fling (who are in our pool) are likely to go straight for the running version.

11.30  – This is our next look at the Ro Sham offence and they’re running. What Skunks do well here is both apply pressure and be very disciplined (note: they are now forcing to the left of the screen). Em (white skirt, on force) doesn’t let the disc swing off the sideline (where Georgie is running), and Lou refuses to get beaten under by Linda and is rewarded with a “run through” D (although she’s never really behind Linda). Most importantly, everyone is remembering the force.

[Note on the Skunks offence here – they are CLINICAL. No jabby jabby straight at the endzone – the disc comes off the line, and move again before the window is wide enough for the score to be thrown.]

11.50. New Ro Sham offence. The running version. Georgie (one of the 2) goes up the line, looking for the disc, then is forced back to the break side. What Skunks do well here is that they’re close (pressure!) and the force isn’t easily breakable. What the marker on Georgie does wrong is over commit to that break side run – and gets beaten back to the open side as a result. Don’t get broken; stay open side. This is one of the trickiest bits of playing D against this offence, because every cut is so predictable that you want to D the disc if it gets thrown there. This is where discipline comes in – remember that force and force yourself to trust it.

Again, after the disc moves to Georgie, watch Jools (in her tiny blue skirt) burn it up the line, just about get marked out by Em and then go breakside. The throw to her isn’t perfect – it’s late, and it gives Em a bid. This is probably due to the force hassling Georgie. Again, this is about discipline: give up open side point blocks in this offence and block the hell out of any breaks they try to throw.

After this pass to Jools, you’ll see Skunks lose discipline: Em (after the break going) over commits to the open side on force and is lucky not to get broken. Lou (marking Georgie) overcommits to the break side as a result of this throw looking easier than it should, and gets beaten back openside by Georgie. Again, after this, Lou bites a little too much open side, and lets the break back out to Jools.

However. Although they’ve lost discipline, Em and Lou are doing a pretty good job of being really bloody close every time their person gets the disc – the last three catches have been pretty close. Pressure time. As well as this pressure making the offence a little jittery and forcing a few poor decisions or throws, there’s another element. Handler weave puts a lot of the workload onto relatively few players – offence are going to be tired after a few turnovers, and they’re playing a tough offence for when they’re tired. If you need a boost mid-point, remember that for a second on D.

12.49. Ro Sham are full on selling out into this offence – you can see not the usual 2, but 3 of their players legging it to the endzone to leave Jools and Linda the entire pitch to work up.

Skunks let a break out immediately, Linda continues the break to Jools, forces a great grab. You’ll see Jools make a lot more of these, and while it says a lot about her as a player, it says more about the gradual consistent pressure of Skunks’ D – as the points go on, Ro Sham will force the disc into smaller windows, or throw too far out in front to get the disc away from the pressure of the Skunks D.

[13.20 – Nice toe in by Jools.]

13.37 – the camera fades in as Jools fakes the swing pass to Linda, which Em has done a good job  of taking away at the force, and the upfield D player has done a good job of being reasonably tight on. Whoever is marking Brigid (pink skirt) upfield has lost a little focus, perhaps given themselves not enough of a buffer and let her run at the open side to get the disc (sidenote: I think that’s Anna who now plays for Brighton Women). She also lets that swing off the line go back to Jools, who you’ll notice Em has marked out on the up line cut. You’ll then see Em help out her other upfield D player from getting beaten open side by getting a point block. All coolness of point blocks aside: no open side point blocks. Hold your force.

14.28 – the break sideline is probably the hardest place to play the Ro Sham offence from – your upline cut is now breakside, it’s hard to hit the iso throw and the swing cut is also open side. Icky. Linda’s force makes the error of giving a stuff about the open side and getting broken in a pretty devastating manner. It’s a great throw but that should never be an option. It’s worth also noting that the disc is in the air for a reasonably long time – if the endzone D players are certain they can get a D on it, they should go for it – and until the disc is that close to the endzone, they should be heads up to see if they can help out on discs like this.

[14.55. Whoaaaah. Big hammer.]

14.59. More handler weave – here you can see that they’re back to having 3 handlers, with Linda (#5) in the ‘iso’ or 1 spot. They’re going for the running offence, and Georgie’s mark overbites on that break cut again, and gets beaten open – discipline fail. Having said that they’re playing with 3 handlers, Linda shifts out the way pretty sharpish and is far more inactive than you’d usually expect in this offence.

15.16 – another overbite on force (up the line), after getting beaten to the open side. This lets out the killer break to Linda – it’s overthrown but this is the throw they wait pretty much the whole offence for. Don’t OVERBITE on force!!!

15.35 – Lou gets beaten by a circle cut from Georgie. Em gets beaten up the line by Jools – note that Em gets beaten here because she doesn’t move AS SOON AS JOOLS HAS THROWN. You know where they’re going – up the line. Beat them there.

16.24 – The Skunks D player beats Georgie open side under, but turns her back on Georgie in doing so. This is a BAD THING. In this offence, you’ve gotta be real focused on your man (the disc is useful to watch to a lesser extent), and you need to have your hips and footwork helping you out with this.

17.18 – Skunks get beaten up the line, after a swing to a poached off player. This is naughty. Don’t poach off, and don’t get beaten up the line. Em has a little moment where she sort of forgets the force and lets Jools sneak up the line away from her. This is a pretty important part of defence against the handler weave – no dozing off. You must remain focused, more so than pretty much any other time on defence.

18.23 – Ro Sham are a little bit back into the game – primarily because the Skunks D players are looking tired – where previously they’ve been close if beaten they’re now just beaten. They’ve had a lapse in pressure, and the other side effect of getting tired is often a lapse in discipline – you forget the force, you overbite on cuts when you should be shadowing. Ro Sham are still turning over though, because this is a high risk offence, and it is tiring for them as well.

The next point though (8-7) and Skunks are back on it – they’re real close, and there’s a lot more pressure at the point of the force, which leads to mounting pressure – Ro Sham don’t turn over on a swing, but they’re worn down by that pressure, and the lack of free passes.

Skunks get a little looser again on the D – and Ro sham work it up the pitch up the line and into the endzone. 8-8.

[Now watch the exciting conclusion!!!]

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UWIN Homework: Part 2

Handler Weave: How do we beat it?

First up, a quick point on tactics – FM vs. One Way.

Force middle is often suggested as an option against this offence, but I tend to dislike this as an option. When playing D against handler weave, you want to be able to predict where they’re going, and whether you need to beat them there (because it’s the open side) or if you just need to track them closely (because it’s the break side). FM switches the force too often for you to be able to fully ‘sell out’ to either direction of forcing, reducing your ability as an upfield player to know where to run hard to and where to just shadow your person to.

Having said that – if other stuff ain’t working, try it. If your one way force is sucking, something else might work better. Equally, there is nothing wrong with switching force mid-point (but staying one way), if they’re picking up a turnover on a sideline. This offence runs smoother when the up line cut is to the open side, so forcing them OFF the line that they’re on (and back into the pitch) is a very good idea. Make sure this is communicated loudly and clearly to your whole team however.

Ok, tactics over – they’re useful to think about, but they’re not what beats this defence. Two things will beat handler weave: discipline and pressure. I’ll explain what I mean by each of these separately…



Handler weave is an offence which, against a defence who are all trying to do different things, will mostly win. Discipline is about taking the tactics you’re using and focusing on your element of it. It’s about remembering your job right this second on pitch, not trying to do anyone else’s job, and executing on that job. The key points of every job are 1) don’t get broken on force and 2) don’t get beaten to the open side.

Sounds simple, huh? But when your mark is running around like crazy, it’s difficult to remember these.

On force, it’s important to be aggressive towards anything that might be a break, but leave the open side the hell alone. Going for point blocks open side, or trying to cover the open side to stop someone being beat is going to screw up the rest of the team. Playing D against this, you need to know that your force is going to if not stop all break throws, at least make them difficult and a little bit rubbish – perfect for you getting blocks on.

Where you’ll see Skunks fail in the video (currently uploading!) is that their forces often forget where they’re forcing and let out cheap unpressured breaks, mostly by over-biting on the open side.

Upfield, you have to trust the force, and remember it. Always assume that they’re going to be running at the open side, and give yourself enough of a cushion or buffer to stop it – this is most important on the upline cuts. Take away the open side with your body positioning, and shadow them when they cut break side – breaks are still sometimes going to go (even if they are rubbish) so be as close as you can, without being able to be toasted back to the open side. The key here is anticipating their next move, so that you’re ready to react, without over-anticipating it and biting too hard on stuff you shouldn’t be going for (break side!). Again, you’ll see Skunks players in the video run too hard with the break side cut, because their forces have been letting it out, and then get toasted back to the open side. Remember the force. Take away what the force does not.



When I talk about pressure, I’m meaning not necessarily getting run through Ds or flyby layout blocks (although those are always handy), but being incredibly close all the time to your mark (note that this means NOT bidding on breaks that you have no chance of Ding, so that your force is set as soon as they’re ready and you don’t let out a cheap break), so that the offence have no rest and no easy passes.

Important note on ‘poaching’: if you’re marking a handler, don’t even THINK about poaching. When I say ‘poaching’ I mean leaving your own mark *before* the disc is in the air. By all means, if they throw a pass close to you meant for another player, D that thing. But poaching is especially important NOT to do in the first few seconds of their offence – if you poach off the swing handler (ie. the one that’s going to run up the line), you give them a free pass. This is in direct opposition to the idea of PRESSURE – no free passes (you’ll see Skunks get this wrong in the video and let that swing out by poaching several times – naughty Skunks).

You’ll see in the video clip that Skunks (D team, black shirts) get turns not always through actual blocks – often it is from wayward passes or errors from Ro Sham (O team, white). These look like unforced turnovers, but they’re not. By being close to the handlers the whole time, and gradually piling on pressure, Skunks unsettle the Ro Sham offence and break up its flow. The Ro Sham women’s adrenaline increases with every ‘almost-D’ and every hotly contested catch, which makes them nervous and jittery. Jitters and nerves are going to make you overcook throws and make bad decisions. Get close to your mark, even if you can’t get the block.


Obviously, discipline and pressure are two pretty important components of playing defence on any type of offence. Against handler weave they are crucial. Against other offences, fast players can compensate for poor discipline by running after their player and being fast enough to get blocks; slightly lazy marking or being a bit dopey is punished less severely. Against handler weave, you will be punished for laziness, and you will be punished for dozing off.

Homework: Again, we’re going to visualise the cuts the offence are going to make. But now, we’re going to imagine we’re playing D on each of them, and apply the principles of discipline and pressure. Imagine marking someone making each of those cuts and taking them away – work with your force to apply pressure, stay close to them. Imagine them getting a closely contested undercut catch and putting the force on right away, giving them no rest.

Next post: The Nitty Gritty Details (and the video – hopefully!).

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UWIN Homework: What is handler weave?

So, with nationals rapidly approaching, I thought it’d be worth having a shot at picking apart one of the most common (of the top 8 last year, 5 teams played this offence near exclusively) and worst defended offences of women’s indoors…

The Handler Weave (or 2-1-2)

In the next three posts I’m going to explain what it is, how to beat it, and also give you a chance to look at some footage that shows key parts of it in action (as well as a team beating it on defence).

So, what is Handler Weave?

The 2-1-2 tell you how the formation is set out on the pitch. Firstly there are two goons in the endzone. They’ll normally be in a tight stack.

The other three players set up in a triangle – 2 flat back handlers, and one player isolated in the middle of the pitch. This person will often be referred to as ‘the iso’. You’ll notice that they’re in lots of space, similar to our ‘god’ play.

The original version of this offence (which few teams play anymore) starts with a move/look identical to the god play – which I will refer to as ‘the iso throw’. The handler throws the disc to the break side for the iso to go fetch. This throw would go in the original Ro Sham offence ONLY if the iso’s D player was sitting underneath them (ie. open side under – which incidentally is where we plan to be when playing D on a stack).

If this throw wasn’t on – taken away by either the force or the upfield D player – Ro Sham would transition into the form of the offence that most teams go straight for today – which I will call the “running offence”.

The play start is the handler (of the flatback 2) without the disc running up the line (referred to as the “up line” cut). After this handler has gone, the iso will cut back towards the handler, into the centre of the pitch (this is the “swing” cut and pass). If neither of these options works, the next option is the original running handler bouncing off the line and “wrinkling” back into the centre of the pitch (filling into the iso’s space) – this would usually have to be hit with an overhead to clear ‘traffic’ (bodies in the way).

Check out my super high tech pic of this – blue circles are O players (they’re scoring ‘up’ your screen), white circle indicates who has the disc, lines and arrows show who’s running where.The principle component of this offence is throw and go – as soon as your mark has released the disc you can expect them to be running at top speed up the line.

Why does it work?

Because the offence is cutting hard (due to having an easy pattern to follow), defence often find themselves on the back foot when O change direction. A key element to playing defence against this is knowing where they want to go, and beating them there.

However, once they’ve worked out the predictable pattern of cuts, defence may over-commit to the break side if the force has been beaten before, leaving easy open side cuts. Equally, the force may know that the upline cut is coming, so may over-bite onto the open side fake of the handler, leaving the break throw free – you’ll get to see both of these in the video I’ll be uploading for later posts (some tech issues!).

Fundamentally, handler weave works because its high tempo encourages the defence to run brainlessly after the offence, forgetting the usual rules of defence, like say, the open side. *They* are playing fast, which cons *you* into thinking you don’t have time to think or to even remember the force. This is untrue – thinking will give you more time and will get you blocks, often through them having no options and facing a stallout or a throw to a marked player.

Homework: Visualise this pattern of cuts – handler runs up the line, iso runs back for swing cut, handler wrinkles into the pitch. Draw it on paper with x’s or lines. Talk about it with a team-mate. Make sure your brain knows what they want to be doing – this step is crucial to working out how to stop it.

Next up, I’ll be talking about how we’re going to play D on this offence: it’s all about discipline and pressure.



This weekend is WAY too exciting

Why, you ask?

So. Much. Awesome. Stuff. Happening.

USA Club Championships are running in Florida this weekend – they’ve been running since Thursday. This is some of the best ultimate you can watch, and it’s being streamed FREE!!!

Head to the USA Ultimate youtube stream to check it out – open semi-finals are this evening, which should be CRAZY AWESOME.

On Sunday, the women are playing Women’s Indoor Regionals – 10 teams from the South East region are coming to Brighton to fight it out for one of the four spots for nationals. It’s hosted at BACA – near campus, on the other side of the railway from the uni. Come along and support the three (!!!) Sussex women’s teams as they fight for a ticket to the big show.

And then, Sunday night. Hopefully, the women are going to be celebrating some hot results, and there’s no better way to celebrate with a discounted roast dinner, some drinks and watching the USA Open final in the Druids’. Game starts at 6.30, but you’re gonna wanna be there early to secure your seats… and get your roast on.

Women’s final will also be showing at the Druids’ from 3.45pm, but without sound. This will also be a kick ass game.