I find that players will very easily over complicate the game of ultimate, especially the way they play defense. If you’ve played ultimate for long enough to have played with a few different teams, you’ll notice that the half time/timeout talks are very similar and usually discuss the same few points – whether it’s a league team or one of the top teams in the world. This article will give you 5 quick tips for improving your defensive play immediately – and your team will appreciate that.
- Hold the force
- Play close
- Be aware
- Have your teammates talk to you
- Don’t give up on a disc
I find this is the number 1 most focused on element on a team’s defense, yet it’s the one that is the most simple in theory. Don’t get broken. If you’re marking the thrower and forcing them backhand, don’t let a forehand out. It’s that simple. You don’t want to let an easy backhand out either but don’t try to stop the backhand so hard that they get a forehand throw off. Also, if you’re marking upfield, trust your marker and don’t let your person inside you onto the open side. If they run at you, don’t let them by.
This can also be said differently as “don’t poach” or “poach smartly”. Too many players will play off their person whether they are being lazy, they can’t keep up or they’re just not paying attention. Not playing tight on your person will render a good defense useless when everyone else plays tight. So play tight. If you poach, make sure your teammates see it and cover for you.
This means you need to be aware of the disc + of your person + of the other players on the field + of the play unfolding. It’s a lot to keep track of but most importantly, you need to be aware of the disc + your person. If you know where your person is and you know where the disc is, then you can defend them in such a way that they don’t get the disc. Look around, pay attention and if you’re on the field, be heads up all the time. If you get scored on, don’t use the excuse “where’s the up call?” You should have known the disc was thrown. Be aware.
Just as you should talk to your teammates to help them out when they are on D, so should your teammates. You should be aware (see point #3) but having your teammates talk to you will help you react more quickly to the play, resulting in more D’s. Do for them as you would want them to do for you. Part of the ultimate golden rule.
The cool thing about a disc is that it can do weird things in the air – like float an extra 15 yards. That being said, never give up on a disc – especially when it’s thrown to your person. Too many times players will stop running for a disc that’s put up when had they just gone after it, they could have either gotten the D or had a chance at getting the D. Just tell yourself that you are going to get the disc. And then go after it.