The Big Guy Mark

Photo Copyright © 2013 Micah Tapman/CBMT Creative

I mainly covered downfield cutters in college and club, but at 2010 Worlds in Prague, Dutchy started putting me on handlers. I don’t know that I’m particularly better at either. It’s more about matching up on individuals than positions. As a lanky dude with some quickness, I can take handlers out of their comfort zone on and off the disc. And usually O-line handlers aren’t used to covering downfield cutters on the turn, so the thought was I’d have favorable match-ups for deep shots.

Overall, the most important tools in man-on-man defense are body positioning and quickness. Growing up and in high school I played tennis, where the short, lateral bursts of speed are similar to movements in ultimate. Mixing in plyos with any weight lifting or running workout is a good idea. In college, we’d run endless 3v3 handler sets, and I probably got a lot quicker just from those repetitions. For body positioning, it’s about knowing where the disc is and anticipating where the offender is likely to go. As a defender you should be moving when your mark is not, constantly adjusting your body position relative to the cutter, so by the time he’s ready to cut, you’re in his way. Know where the cutter wants to go, but yourself between him and that spot.

Stopping an up line cut and preventing break hucks should be priorities when guarding handlers. Working with your other handler defenders is a good strategy: talking to the mark to shade more inside if you’re able to poach on the break side, clogging lanes and smart switches work well.  Covering a handler, there are a lot of opportunities to clog a lane for a second, but it’s only half as efficient if you don’t let the mark know where you are so he can shade towards you. Also, when the disc is on the sideline, double teaming the dump when the thrower looks back and taking away that easy resent he thought he had can force hasty bail outs.

I don’t think I have an exceptional mark. Marking’s one of the hardest things to do effectively, and I think a good thrower will break the best mark most of the time. The best parts of my mark are my length, and knowing (or thinking I know) what throw the thrower is looking for. But like all markers, I get broken frequently.

I mainly look at the throwing arm and shoulder when I’m marking. Probably not the best strategy, as that’s where fakes are likely to come from, but I’ve never gotten in the habit of watching hips. When forcing forehand, I try and stick a foot or hand out in the up-field lane early in the count, and mostly cover the inside because that’s the quickest throw. I’m trying to cover that off the bat, and ready to shuffle to the backhand side when the thrower pivots. One thing I’m decent at: as soon as the thrower releases, I’m moving up field. I hate getting beat on a throw-and-go.

Issue No. 2 | World Games

October 2, 2013

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