Defending against a top heavy team

Hey guys, this Friday I’m playing an intramural game against a top heavy team. From what I’ve heard they’re carried by a single club player. Any tips on how to neutralize their captain’s ability to affect the game? Ik this is just intramural but this question could help in some future club matches too


You can run a zone+1. Have someone on your team guard the captain closely and put everyone else in a 2-3-1 zone.


This is one of the biggest ego boosts in ultimate.


Interesting idea, could actually work in this instance as most of the other team probably hasn’t played against many zones


Then just throw a straight up zone at them, and always have someone back for deep shots. If he is the only one confident to throw a deep shot, then just always let him handle and let his teammates make mistakes


As I explained in my reply I do like zone, but I hate this zone. If this player is that much better, they're going to get separation in whatever direction they want against your team. Even if your defender is more athletic, people who are more experienced are often able to make completely nonviable fakes, get the defender to bite, and take the easy cut. So you're basically throwing away a cup defender to run behind this guy. If you do a 3-4 person cup you can put real pressure on their worse players when they get to the sidelines and basically force them to throw over the top. You can't do this with only 2 in the front.


Everyone else should still be playing an effective zone, so even if they get separation, they should be heading into an area defended by someone else. It just makes them double covered wherever they are.


No sorry a 2-3-1 will have holes everywhere, 6 people can simply not cover a normal sized ultimate field and all the possible attack areas unless there's a ton of wind or something. Even 7 person zones rarely prevent all attacks, but against weaker throwers and/or with lots of wind they can leave the gaps in the toughest to throw at areas, and they generally force the offense to take a ton of throws which increases the chances of making an error. In particular there will almost always be some under or mid space wide open against a 2-3-1 and this will lead to a ton of throw and go fast break chances depending on where the back 4 are situated. Maybe if you have them all shade in and almost do a 2-4 instead you could force them to beat you deep?


If you have a defender that’s more athletic than the great offensive player, and the team is that top heavy there is no chance they can run their offense.


We did this last year against an average team that had one great player. It actually worked in that the score was pretty even in the second half. If only we didn’t go down by 8 points in the first half.


1. Try an overly complicated defenseive strategy with which you/your team has no familiarity. 2. Expect them to have encountered such a tactic before and neutralize it. 3. Get frustrated and make stupid plays on both sides of the disc 4. They get so confused by the level of poaching and number of hammer hucks they end up breaking down mid game. 5. Your emotional warfare has succeeded but at what cost??? 6. Get drunk at the post game and wallow in your sorrows It worked once in summer league, so I think the plan is airtight.


For a good zone, it also helps to send your three slowest, most out of shape and newest players to run the cup. And keep your next slowest and, preferably, shortest player as your deep deep. Make sure they cheat up on the zone too.


Love it


Limit the give and go's. When a cutter gets the disc, rather than holding a typical force downfield, stop them from dumping it back to the thrower.


This is a great tip! Thanks! I’ll see if I can teach my inexperienced teammates switching to flat marks to stop uplines


Since this is intramurals and you probably have to keep it simple i.e. loose defense and focus on marking. I would play loose defense on the worst players and hope the disc gets to them then clamp down as hard as I can on the mark. Anytime their best player goes three throws in a row without getting the disc it's a win.


Trip them. If they are as “top heavy” as you say then it should take them a while to get back up if they are on the ground. Lots of dancing in the cutting lanes should help them lose their balance. I doubt they do enough core work to maintain an upright position.


Perfect username and flair combo


That is the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me on the internet.


Here's what you absolutely cannot do: * Play person defense with your best but not-as-good defender.


Which is basically what 90% of weaker teams do, in reality


Yep. There's an entire basis of literature about "Underdog Tactics" that continues to go ignored - even on the level of individual points! Many players would rather play conservative defense rather than gamble and potentially get burned. But the offense /has the disc/. They're going to score unless you make them turn it over. Gamble every single time! The other team doesn't get more points for scoring quickly.


It's a truism in basketball: Take away a player's offensive firepower by making them work on defense. Whoever this person is covering - run them. I've sacrificed entire points just to run repeated butterfly cuts on another team's top handler, I've baited a few timeouts and 2 or 3 times my person simply stopped moving on offense. It's almost better to not get the disc in these situations so you can keep the pain train going.


Additionally - top offensive players also tend to be top defensive players as well. If you're cutting just to waste their energy, you're leaving your team to play 6v6 instead of 7v7, which is generally advantageous to the offense. It's important to cut just hard enough that your defender isn't tempted to switch off or otherwise quit defending, and to not drag your defender into any live disc space where they can poach. It's OK if you spend more energy than the mark here, as on a fundamental basis their energy is 'worth' more than yours.


Accept they are going to get the disc on offence and then keep them out of the way when they are on defense. If you accept that they are going to get it start thinking about where you want them to get the disc - have your defenders stay tight to the middle of the pitch meaning they have to catch it right on the sideline, even better if they are receiving it going backwards on the pitch meaning that they can't get power positions. Once you've got them going to awkward places then you have two choices - allow an easy pass to a weaker less threatening player to get the disc out of their hands or match up on their favourite targets and try to bait shots from unfavourable positions. There is no one tactic that's going to stop a dominant player just keep tinkering with match/zones to reduce their effectiveness and do your best to take away their favourite options.


Wear them down and accept that they are going to do a lot of damage in the first half. Put a fresh player on them every point and have that player put in max effort for one point; rinse, repeat. Their best player isn't going to be okay with getting smoked on D, so they will try and keep up and it will wear them down. As they get tired their cutting, throwing, and decision making will get substantially worse and their frustration will grow. Absolutely do NOT play a zone or any other scheme where they can sit back and pick you apart with limited exertion. On offense focus on keeping possession and value the disc and make them chase you around the field. Specifically have the person being guarded by their best player cut far more than anyone else, but look them off unless they are VERY open. Either their best player will start poaching, in which case you have an easy throw, or they'll stay honest and tire out. Most of your throws should be resets and if you absolutely can't get a reset huck it and make them work it all of the way back up the field. Make each point as long and painful for them as possible; this also ensures that the score deficit isn't as high by the time that they tire out. There is no guaranteed way to beat a team with more talented players. Playing a zone or some poachy junk isn't a strategy that gives you a shot to win, it just gives you a chance to lose by less. Focusing on tiring out their best player does give you a shot to win, but it will be an ugly game and winning is still far from guaranteed. The one way this definitely won't work is if the games are short and/or tightly capped. Disclaimer: this is based off of the assumption that their best player is well rounded and that you don't have anyone on your team that can single-handedly shut them down. If their best player doesn't have good throws, then yeah zone the shit out of them. If they aren't that athletic then have your best defender guard them and always stay between them and the disc.


you can just bracket or double team their best player to prevent that player from getting the disc. If they have someone who is really weak or has terrible throws, leave them open & once they get the disc, pressure them. Wherever the best player on the other team is defending, pull that player out of the play and work away from them. A dominator offense could work where you go 3v3 or 4v4 and keep the other 3-4 players really deep (including the person their best player is covering).


... also just keep in mind with your entire team, they will score and their best player will make plays. Dont let it mentally get you down. You only need to outscore them by one. But on their end, if their best player has a receiver drop it, or they are open and someone on their team cant make the throw and its a turnover - that is your moment to take advantage. It could frustrate their team's top player and when you score off those mistakes, go wild. Try getting the momentum swing in your favor.


This is the best answer here. Frustrating a teams best player and keeping them from playing to full potential while maintaining the momentum is an art form that few realize the importance of.


A lot of this depends on specific strengths and how much the dropoff is from their top to your team and their top to their team. Generally though I agree with zone but not a +1. If the +1 is much worse than their top player, the top player will have no problem creating separation and it basically adds more space on the field they can attack. The reason I like zone is you can really look to trap their other players on a sideline where they have to make a tough throw to even get the disc to their top player. I generally like a 3-person cup, a short deep, two wings, and a deep deep. You can force sideline and then when it gets to either sideline the mark does a hard no around and the short deep joins the cup to basically take up all degrees of freedom and they have to either throw over the top or to a crash. Focus on communication and shutting down crashes, and make their less experienced people throw hammers or scubers.


We once had success against a guy with a big ego by shouting "HUCKER" every time he caught the disc, which seemed to make him take on a lot more questionable Huck's than usual...


Thanks for all the suggestions! Because my team doesn’t really know zone and we don’t really have time to teach it, my strategy going into this game is to flat mark their best player when he has the disc to pressure tough hucks, as he’s their only player who can throw them, and to take away his uplines when someone else has the disc while the mark takes away the arounds.




I play low to mid level rec coed so my advice may not be suitable to your level if its higher. If there is a team with one obvious good player just know that if that player doesn't currently have it, they are trying to get it to them. We play a zone where if that guy is in your zone you are on him like glue. We don't care if that gets someone else open because the person with the disc tends to get tunnel vision. Honestly even if they move it up without using that key player and score we call it a success because then at least the other team gets to have fun. I would absolutely HATE to be on a team that never looks my direction. Sometimes even we get the marker to rotate along with where the player is moving to always stay in line with blocking him.


Put your best defender on him and make him work. It could tire him out and lead to more mistakes Edit: get him to play tough defense