Defensive Mindset

Feature photo by Kevin Leclaire –

Mindset is the most critical part of defense. A lot of players approach defense with a reactionary attitude, and I think it is essential to approach defense with the idea that you are in control.  It is your job to control the offense, determining –largely through body positioning— where your offensive player is and isn’t allowed to cut, and then challenging that cut when she eventually takes what you allow her to have.

I have played cornerback on a professional women’s football team for the last five years and it has made my ultimate defense, particularly physical defensive play, so much stronger.  In football it is essential to be much closer to your offensive player than you have to be in ultimate because the ball travels so much faster than a disc, and therefore your footwork has to be both faster and cleaner. Wide receiver defense is all about taking away options with your body, disrupting timing, and driving/closing to the ball, all of which translate to ultimate.

It is essential to train speed and explosion coming out of your break, which is the transition from moving in one direction to another.  This is easy to train on your own simply by backpedaling 5 yards, breaking straight forward, backpedaling 5 yards, and breaking forward 45 degrees in both directions.  This is also a great time to practice proper body mechanics while backpedaling; most people are too upright and have their shoulders too far back. While training a fast break, it is very helpful to touch the ground with both hands to force yourself into proper body mechanics.  If you are not solo, you can break on a audible or visual cue instead of at a certain distance which is helpful for working on reaction time.  For extra fun, add a quick short throw that you can attack.

Physical defense isn’t necessary, but it is a very effective tool to have in your box.  It is most effective for me, but I also think it’s valuable to be unpredictable.  Give your player a few points of in their shorts, contact defense, and then, when they’re expecting one thing give them something else. It’s all about disrupting their flow. Even just getting the offensive player’s mind on you or disrupting their timing can be enough to have done your job.

Issue No. 1 | Defensive Positioning

July 21, 2013

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