This started as a reply to Matt Mackey’s post about Zone O fundamentals but became long enough for my own post. The following are some thoughts about what skills make a Zone O player good. I guess these aren’t exactly “fundamentals” per se’ as some of the stuff is pretty advanced, but some thoughts I had while reading his post.
Throwing and Catching
1. Being able to catch a pass and then throw very quickly afterwards. If you receive a break from the trapped side the best thing to do is to keep the movement to the high side and that cup is gonna be sprinting to set the trap on you. The quicker one can move that swing the better.
2. Related point - Being able to throw and catch very quick passes. Because those time windows are small (D is running to reposition and set the cup) zipping throws takes precedence completely over floating a disk to space which happens a fair amount in Man Offense.
3. Being able to gain yards on any particular catch. If you can catch the disc while in the air with lots of momentum going forward, those 2 yards you can gain before your pivot are set are important in 2 ways. First, 2 yards is 2 yards and well take what we can get, but more importantly, if a cup is set and then you catch a short dish as described, you can suddenly make the cup very out of position and therefore throw through holes that weren't there for the previous thrower.
4. Retaining composure when forced to make risky throws. Yeah, sometimes the disc gets trapped on the low side and the cup is not giving you anything and the crashes are covered well. Apart from the fact that hammers, scoobers, ect… are more categorically prone to getting D’d or falling incomplete, if you are not “in control” of your stall count and those risky throws are closer to punts than then real throws, then you will just have a much lower completion percentage for those throws. Realize that sometimes those risky throws are just necessary because the D has forced you into that disadvantageous position - if you allow yourself some time and mental concentration to make a focused throw you will get better results even if it sucks in general that you have to resort to the cross field hammer.
5. Knowing when to swing immediately and when to look for holes after catching it. My O line and I are working on this (I get yelled at when I don’t swing immediately but I get praised when I throw through holes because I didn’t swing it )
6. Trusting your teammates throwing skills and decision making. Yes, you must acknowledge that Sophomore Jimmy doesn’t have the upwind OI and you shouldn’t expect it, but if you resort to only forcing them to make 2 yard dumps, then you just pump up the throw count and thus the risk of turnover.
7.Being able to recognize and call “Double Team”s without losing your focus on player and disc movement. This is the skill I lack the most even though I think about its worth a decent amount. I talk the talk but when I’m playing handler in Zone O I just seem to not even think about Double Teams. It sucks that throwers have to focus on playing and calling the Doubles but that just is the current state of our sport. Ideally a thrower would totally dissociate his normal focus from violation calling but the overwhelming empirical observation is that when a thrower is gonna call “double team” they look at all the cup players, think about it, completely stop focusing on their teammates and yell the call in frustration. They’ll get 2 counts but they lose 2 counts in the process. If someone could retain focus on their team mates but be able to make calls like double team that don’t stop the play, they would have a huge advantage (808 is the best at this particular focus splitting)
8. Being ok with turnovers. There is wind and turnovers are gonna happen – if you get mad about them and lose focus then the D wins. You or your team mate turns its just get on D – stop the fast break and you have a pretty good chance of getting the disc back because the same inclement conditions that caused your turnover will effect the tired and less skilled D team to the same degree.