Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Mail Bag: H-Stacks - Downfield Motion

Today’s reader email comes from Weilang in Singapore, who writes:

Hi there,
I've been reading up on the horizontal stack and I'm wondering how exactly should the players run after the first throw (to the mids), so that the structure of the stack is still intact. Thanks in advance :)

First, thanks for reading. Idris published an online newsletter on this subject. If you’re interested in horizontal stacks you should definitely check it out. The book Idris references in the newsletter is here.

One way that the horizontal stack is different from the straight stack is that once the downfield players start cutting, the initial set-up pretty much disappears. In the straight stack players who are not cutting or actively clearing, are generally striving to stay in the middle of the field in order to maintain open space on both sides of the stack and behind the stack. With the horizontal stack there isn’t a home position that players are constantly moving back to.

The exact motion of downfield cutters is going to largely depend on what you’re trying to use the horizontal stack for. Are you just trying to run a called pull play out of it as a way to mix it up and keep the defense off-balance? In that case, you can be very rigid as to exactly when and where you want each player to cut. If the play doesn’t materialize you hit the dump, swing the disc and you’re back into standard straight stack.

If you’re trying to run the horizontal stack as your primary offense you’re going to want to have some sort of what Idris calls a “regenerative component.” In other words, you’re going to want to have some plan for what to do when the horizontal stack gets bogged down. What you decide to use as your regenerative component is going to be largely based on your personnel (More on utilizing players of varying skill level in the horizontal stack can be found here. Maybe you run the handler give and go when the downfield cutters get too deep, or maybe you just say when all hell breaks lose everybody gets out of Bob’s way. It really just depends on your personnel; let your players natural strengths get you out of trouble. If your players don’t have any natural strengths, you could definitely do worse than just hitting the dump and swinging the disc. It’s more difficult to punish the defense with the dump-swing in a horizontal stack, but it will still buy your cutters some time to get back into position.

In terms of motion - at the very minimum you want to let people know where to clear and you probably want to set up some sort of cutting hierarchy. Where you want people to clear is again dependant upon what you want to do with your H-Stack, but you should definitely decide where you want people to go when they’re not cutting. Generally speaking, just moving to the side of the field opposite of the disc is not a terrible idea - be ready to get back into the action quickly though. For cutting hierarchy, just something as simple as Bob’s the primary, Johnny’s the secondary is fine. You can get more elaborate if you like.

Assuming you’re a newer team, that doesn’t really want to take the time to talk about regenerative sets and cutting hierarchy – it’s not terrible to just let your guys run around without too much structure. One of the joys of the horizontal stack is that you don’t necessarily need to work with your teammates in order to get open. Of course, it’s certainly easier if you do...If you decide to go with this free form plan the basic rules of cutting, which you learned when you were running straight stack, still apply. Good deep cuts originate 10-15 yards from the thrower. So don’t start cutting to the house from 35 yards away. It doesn’t matter how open you are, your defender will catch-up. Similarly, it’s still a good idea to cut back to the disc if you find that you’re the deeper than any of your teammates. Even if you don’t get the disc, you’ll open up the deep space for them.

Thanks for the email. Hopefully, some of our readers will post how they like to run the H-Stack.


Weiliang said...

thanks a lot for the reply. Really learnt quite a few things here :)

Tarr said...

So don’t start cutting to the house from 35 yards away. It doesn’t matter how open you are, your defender will catch-up.

Says the man who once had Tim Halt on his team...

aj said...

chuckle...playing with Tim forced me to change my idea of what a "good choice" was. There are two types of good choices - good choices for Timmy and good choices for everybody else.

Having Tim and Joel on the same team made for some very amusing plays - the other team's playing zone and timmy jacks the forehand way over their deep deep's head to seemingly no one - who in the hell is he throwing that too? - ahh...meet WOOTEN!