Monday, November 21, 2005

Zone O: 2-Handler set

There was an article several years ago about the death of the 3-handler set(3 handlers, 2 wings, a popper, and a deep). I believe that Al and Nathan wrote it, and it might have appeared in Chasing Plastic, I am not sure.

In any case, the article was well-written, and I agree that once a team goes with 2 handlers(2 handlers, 2 wings, 2 poppers, and a deep) against a zone that there is no going back to the traditional 3-handler, dump and swing mentality.

So, how predictive was this article? Are club teams primarily in 2-handler sets? How about Open college teams?

In college Women's Ultimate, most teams use the 3-handler set.

22 comments:

aj said...

The article no longer exists because ultylife disappeared. Thanks to the magic of google’s cached feature you can read the article with no pictures here . I made copies of the article and passed it out to the Emory women when we made the switch to a 2 handler set last year. In retrospect, I guess I should have bought 22 copies of the magazine in an attempt to keep ultylife a float. I actually think the argument the article makes for switching to the 2 handler set is even more compelling at lower levels of competition. The reason for this is that the completion percentage on those swings is considerably lower in college women’s than it is in club men’s. I think this justifies making almost any crazy pass to break the cup if it gives you a good fast break opportunity.

gcooke said...

Ah....Ultylife! Thanks for reminding me.

I agree that the 2-handler set makes a huge difference in the college women's game. My girls, at first, fall into the normal habits of the 3-handler set. After some work, though, we are able to make it work.

I guess I have an additional question: How much zone do you see in club play this days?

Last comment. There was a post, I believe it was Bill Dill on one of my posts, in which he speculated about the positive impact of coaches on the college women's game. So, Emory makes finals at CCC. Obviously, AJ, you are doing something right down there.......

gcooke said...

Jim mentioned somewhere that I am on a "list" of his.

Does giving authorship of his article to Al and Nate get me onto some worse list?

parinella said...

Oh, George, how could you?

You're dead to me now.

You may become alive again by recommending to everyone that they buy Ultimate Techniques and Tactics, which explains the two-handler zone offense in greater detail (pp 137-145), as well as tips if you feel like you absolutely have to play a three-handler set.

parinella said...

Oh, and my favorite line from the article is "Handlers are manipulative, selfish whiners, so don’t let them dictate the offensive style just so they can rack up the stats with lots of throws that don’t do anything."

parinella said...

Oh, and another thought I had regarding stat-keeping for zone offense. Only count passes that go to a non-handler (or are incomplete). Swings and dumps do almost nothing to improve the odds of scoring. If you made this adjustment, I suspect that the number of "passes" in a zone point would be a lot closer to the number of passes in a man point, and thus wouldn't have the false realization that an ineffective zone handler contributed a full game's worth of completions in a single point.

gcooke said...

Jim,

I am not used to dealing with players of such sophistication. I seem to make a bit of headway with my girls when I discuss "selfless play".

It probably helps that I don't keep stats. Nothing to pad.

gcooke said...

...OK...now that I am back in good graces again as I have let Jim turn this thread into a stats discussion.......

There have been many discussions about the purpose of stats. Hell, there is even a yahoogroup about stats.

There are obvious reasons to keep stats, and I am sure that Jim's concern about handlers "hi-jacking" the stats for ego boosting is pretty much unrelated to their practical use.

I wonder if basketball or soccer teams keep track of the number of touches/passes per player. I did a very brief google about soccer, and could find nothing. If this the case for basketball or soccer, then...why not? And, if so, could this speak at all to the need to count touches/passes in Ultimate?

Alex de Frondeville said...

Hey now. Keep in mind that I was quoted as a 'contributor'. As for the true genesis of this offense, and how roles were developed around particular playing abilities (read, throwing skills), I leave that to the discerning reader...

gcooke said...

Now I am dead to Al as well......

Alex de Frondeville said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alex de Frondeville said...

What is also interesting is that occasionally during DoG practice, the offense will go to the 3-handler set to give the defense's zone practice against the 3-handler set. It is always interesting (and very annoying) to play the 3-handler set. Lots of passes that do nothing useful. And if it is a really windy zone, those swings start getting pretty risky.

The final death-knell of the 3-handler offense is that the goal is to exploit the seams as the cup is shifting to cover the swing. The problem here is that after the swing pass is received, it is much MORE difficult to throw to your cutting middle, verifying that he/she is open from both the middle-middle AND the side middle. How many times has a defender made that phantom/poach block? In the 2-handler O, you can just stand there and work the wings and middle-middle to find the open popper or wing who is just standing still. MUCH easier to identify who is open or not, and as a thrower you can also get people open with throw fakes, or looks at one receiver to open up another receiver, etc. And it really doesn't involve much faking either... As you can imagine, I LOVE when teams play zone against us. That pivot position was custom designed for my abilities. No running, needs good throws and field vision, etc...

Ah, George, I'm trying to figure out whether you were ever alive to me to begin with...:)

parinella said...

There are a few places that are keeping advanced basketball stats. 82games.com is one. http://sonicscentral.com/apbrmetrics/viewforum.php?f=1 is another. There was some mention on the latter about advanced passing stats.

Any mature organization will compile stats. Any good mature organization will compile, analyze, and manage stats that contribute the most to winning. Bad orgs will compile lots of stats that don't mean anything, will analyze too few or too many, and won't do anything about the ones they do analyze.

Anyway, 2 vs 3 handlers is a specific example of the much larger issue of how your team manages risk, both from a team level and an individual level. It also reflects on how well you know your capabilities, as the optimum strategy shouldn't assume that every other pass is going to be complete.

gcooke said...

Al, I believe I was alive to you when we did the agility work together several years ago. While I was personally invited by Bryan to join in the workouts, I always felt a bit awkward that it was DOG....GODIVA...and the old mixed guy. In any case, Al, you were always very welcoming to me during those sessions....although perhaps the fact that I told you that I was a new hotshot handler try-out for Dog got your attention.

These are excellent points about the differences between the sets. I must say that when I teach this to the girls, their eyes just light up. As you say, it is a much better way to define the spaces.

parinella said...

And finally, even if you're not keepings stats on paper, players keep stats in their heads.

Ok, one more comment. The 3 handler zone O (more accurately called the dump-swing zone O), if it's successful, results in an inexperienced wing getting the disc trapped on the line with maybe one player downfield to throw to and only one dump anywhere close. The 2 handler zone O deliberately keeps the disc in the middle of the field.

gcooke said...

Jim,

Thanks for those links. I will check them out.

Just to be clear, in terms of risk...the 3-handler set is more risky.

gcooke said...

"Keeping stats in your head"

As a coach, I try to keep trends in my head. Things like "we are getting beat to the open side", and "we are not converting our break opportunities".

I wonder if stats can help in real time? Also, if one can remember those trends, how much will stats contradict or support those impressions?

Michael said...

A better formatted version of the ultylife article (with images).

aj said...

A couple more random thoughts:

I’m not sure if the 2 handler set has become the dominant zone set in elite club, but I do think the underlying theory has been adopted by most teams. In other words, I think most of the elite teams try to advance the disc by exploiting temporary 2 on 1 match-ups. These mini power plays can be generated from a 3 handler set by running a handler upfield in addition to the ways noted in the article.

In the college women game, occasionally we will run into trouble if we don’t throw at least one pass over the top from a handler to a wing. Some teams will bring their short deep and wings in tight in an attempt to stop the passes to the poppers. If you’re unwilling to throw over the top it can be difficult to advance the disc. If we’ve been able to complete an early pass to the wings it usually makes life really easy as the defensive wings tend man up the offensive wings leaving a bunch of space in the middle for the poppers to work with.

gcooke said...

AJ,

I think those a great points. I especially like the bit about the mini-power plays. It has been hard to get my girls to carve out the space in a way that allows them to exploit their opportunities. When they do it correctly, like in your example, they really seem to get it.

Obviously, club teams are able to exploit the 2 on 1's with confidence, and, as Al says, "zone is a gift". Is zone D dead?

jtflynn said...

although i see 3-3-1 defenses and 4-2-1 and 3-3-1 offenses more common than those shown in Jim's diagrams, the power of the 2-handler set IMO is its flexibility. i have my zone O run with 2 hub handles and 2 wings flat. although that only puts 3 players downfield, we do a lot of upfield cuts from the handler/wings and allows for any of those 4 to fill in around the disc (or as outlets) as needed on the fly.

whatever the details, what i really like in the 2-handler set is the flexibility it allows. with the 3 handler set, your hub is locked into a swing/bailout role. with 2 hub handles, you can be much more aggressive because there's always someone to back you up.

good times indeed.


out,
shiv
whor$hack

Edward Lee said...

The 3 handler zone O (more accurately called the dump-swing zone O)

Actually, I think it should be called the "dump-swing except when the handlers can throw the direct swing pass to the opposite sideline, gain yards downfield, run a weave through/past the cup, and otherwise behave as if they are not actually tethered to the sidelines" O.