Ultimate Frisbee Frisbee: Defensive Tactics

Defensive Tactics

Ultimate Frisbee Defensive Tactics

Marking with a force

One of the most basic defensive principles is the force. The marker effectively blocks the handler's access to half of the field, by aggressively blocking only one side of the handler and leaving the other side open. The unguarded side is called the force side because the thrower is generally forced to throw to that side of the field. The guarded side is called the break-force side, or simply break side, because the thrower would have to "break" the force to throw to that side.

This is done because, assuming evenly matched players, the handler is considered to have an advantage over the marker. It is considered to be relatively easy for the handler to fake out or outmaneuver a marker who is trying to block the whole field, and thus be able to throw the disc. Alternatively, it is generally possible to effectively block half of the field.

The marker calls out the force side ("force home" or "force away") before starting the stall count in order to alert the other defenders to which side of the field is open to the handler. The team can choose the force side ahead of time, or change it on the fly from throw to throw. Aside from forcing home or away, other forces are "force sideline" (force towards the closest sideline), "force center" (force towards the center of the field), and "force up" (force towards either sideline but prevent a throw straight up the field). Another common tactic is to "force forehand" (force the thrower to use their forehand throw) since most players, especially at lower levels of play, have a stronger backhand throw. "Force flick" refers to the forehand; "force back" refers to the backhand.

When the marker calls out the force side, the team can then rely on the marker to block off half the field and position themselves to aggressively cover just the open/force side. If they are playing one-to-one defense, they should position themselves on the force side of their marks, since that is the side that they are most likely to cut to.

The opposite of the "force" is the "straight-up" mark (also called the "no-huck" mark). In this defense, the player marking the handler positions himself directly between the handler and the end zone and actively tries to block both forehands and backhands. Although the handler can make throws to either side, this is the best defense against long throws ("hucks") to the center of the field.

One-on-one defense

The simplest defensive strategy is the one-on-one defense (also known as "man-on-man", "man-to-man", simply "man", or "person"), where each defender guards a specific offensive player, called their "mark". The one-on-one defense emphasizes speed, stamina, and individual positioning and reading of the field. Often players will mark the same person throughout the game, giving them an opportunity to pick up on their opponent's strengths and weaknesses as they play. One-on-one defense can also play a part role in other more complex zone defense strategies.

Zone defense

With a zone defense strategy, the defenders cover an area rather than a specific person. The area they cover moves with the disc as it progresses down the field. Zone defense is frequently used when the weather is windy, rainy, or snowy. The zone defense is also used to discourage the offense from making long passes. A zone defense usually has two components. The first is a group of players close to the disc who attempt to contain the offenses' ability to pass and prevent forward movement. The "zone" is sometimes called the "wedge", "cup", "wall", or "clam" (depending on the specific play or type of zone defense). These close defenders always position themselves relative to the disc, meaning that they have to move quickly as it passes from handler to handler.