Guarding against Vert Stack
Defend against Vertical Stack
The Vert Stack is a super common play in Ultimate. In fact, many teams utilize the stack every single point. The Stack is probably the most crucial play to know and how to defend it is even more important.
So in the diagram to the right pretend your team is the red circles and you do not have possession of the disc. You are trying to defend against the other team who is trying to score a point. Note: Your team must discuss before hand which way to force, it is important everybody is on the same page. The stack will fail if there is a single weak link.
The Markers Job
In the diagram to the right the blue circle near the bottom has the yellow disc and is being forced away (or forced forehand) by the marker who is the red circle. The marker is standing on his left side and is shutting down the entire left portion of the field at the expense of completely opening up the right side. That is perfectly okay. The marker must try their best not to get broken by the thrower (throwing into the red portion) because the entire defense will fall apart and the blue may gain some serious yardage. The marker must make the thrower throw into the green which is where the rest of the team will be guarding. I cannot stress the importance of the markers force enough. Without a good force the entire play will crumble.
Each player is assigned a single blue circle to mark as stated in Man to Man Defense. The red’s will stand on the side of which the open lane is on since the marker is shutting down the rest of the field. Your team will want to stay on the open side of the blue circles at all times because they will be utilizing that lane to get open.
The vert stack will be cutting one-by-one into the lane attempting to get open through the use of in-cuts and out-cuts. Be aware that they will almost always fake the first cut and go the opposite direction to get open. Stay on them at all costs and know that they will make up to 3 cuts to shake you off.
Another tip is to have the teammate guarding the first guy in the stack stand off of him about 10 feet to the right. This is risky so I recommend choosing an experienced/fast player to do this. By standing 10 feet to the right that player will essentially be “clogging the lane” which shrinks the open portions of the field further, leaving even less open space for your team to cover. But in turn, it leaves his offender more open. However the thrower usually strays away from making that throw because he has to go through his mark to do so. Plus the clogger is still within range to intercept if the throw is not 100% perfect.
If this is done right the thrower will either run out of time (stalled out) or make a easily defended/terrible throw. The thrower may also dump it backwards to reset the stall count. They will lose yardage and if your defense is as good as the first time you should have no problem making them dump it again, and again. Stay quick on your feet and aggressive. To learn how to survive on the reverse side of the stack look at Offensive Vert Stack.
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