Tuesday, February 08, 2005

RedZONE Defense by Wood

One of the main reasons teams play zone defense is to prevent the opponent from being able to score quickly, particularly on deep shots.
The defense allows the offense to make lots of shorter passes in the hopes of actively getting a D, the elements (wind) causing a turnover, or the offense simply making a mistake and turning the disc over. The defense prevents longer, high reward passes and encourages shorter, low reward passes. Once the offense gets into the redzone, however, even short passes become high reward because you don't have very far to go. Traditional zone defenses don't work very well in the redzone for this reason. So, defenses will often switch to man when they get into the redzone. Man is no longer disadvantaged because the deep shots are taken away. However, there can be matchup problems, either because you're playing mixed, or simply because of height or speed differences among players.
What if, instead of switching to man defense, you were able to switch to a different zone defense that was designed specifically for the redzone? What would a such a zone look like?
I have considered the idea only briefly and came up with the following plan. It's pure theory as I haven't yet been able to test it on the field. There are lots of weaknesses, so I'd be curious to see other's thoughts on what kind of zone would work on a shorter field.
A common redzone poaching scheme is clam-like, with poachers on the open and break side and someone to take away the zipper. Then deeper open and break poaches. I've seen this most often off a stopped disc
(timeout) when defending a center stack. I don't see this being quite as effective when switching from a zone, because the offensive players are already spread out.
Let's look at where our defenders are, just in general. We probably already have 2-4 cup/marker types near the disc. We've got a wing on each side, a short deep, and a deep deep. While different zones may have positions doing different things, these are the basic areas that must be covered so we'll assume someone is there or can get there quickly. If we can take away the short break pass, the break wing can take away the scoring hammer to the back of the endzone by himself.
Using the mark and one other cup/marker, we should be able to take away the short break pass. Have the marker force flick hard and not allow the around backhand. Have the other person take away the invert flick and the flick through the middle. The third cup/marker and the open side wing should set up on the open side short. The short deep stays in his normal position, the deep deep slides to the open side to take away the deep open-side option. This will force the offense to move the disc short and to the open side, hopefully out of the endzone. As the disc moves closer to the open sideline, the marker/cub can get more aggressive in taking away the dump and forcing a low percentage shot into the goal on the open side where most of our defense is. The deep defenders can allow receivers to get behind them, using the back of the endzone as an extra defender.
Unfortunately there are several weaknesses in this defense. The short deep/off wing have to really watch out for the dump-swing. Short breaks such as scoobers to open receivers can be pretty easy to complete. Perhaps pulling the off-wing up and challenging the offense to complete the high risk hammer to the back of the endzone is a better idea.


Jonathan said...

I prefer to force backhand on redzone "zone" defense. This takes away the hammer break pass since it curves the incorrect direction.

Sideline Engineer said...

We used this last year. As a mixed team, we felt that the switch to man:
-caused too many mismatches
-caused too much confusion
-opened the break side

Zone makes sense for all the reasons you've given, plus the space is much smaller than at mid-field, so the density of defenders is very high and handlers have to be extremely heads up not to throw into a poach.

We also found that teams would sometimes pause and wait for us to melt, hoping to take advantage of the chaos of transition and they became confused when we didn't.

The results were quite good, even in low wind and we'll be doing it again this year.

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