Poaching by Brummie

Always remember that teams play defence as a team. Poaching and switching are ways to play defence more effectively.

Poaching is a term used to describe one or more players temporarily leaving their match up to strategically cover space in an otherwise person-to-person defensive scheme. Typical areas covered might be deep space (to defend long throws aimed at scoring quickly), near handlers (to narrow throwing lanes, making throws more difficult), or leaving players who are less likely to get the disc to help cover other areas of the field that are more likely to be directly attacked (such as moving closer to the disc when the disc is trapped on one side of the field).

A defender poaches off a clearing player to get a block

Remember that this is a team game and we are all playing team defence. If you see someone is going to score an easy upline goal because they’ve beat their person, then go and stop that easy throw, and expect that one of your team mates will be able to recover in time to stop your person scoring. Often, poaching and switching is a method of denying the offence their primary option, and hoping that your defence can beat their offence in the resulting messy environment.

Subtle Poaching

The aim here is to generate turnovers by tempting throws near defenders that the thrower was unaware of, or whom the thrower did not believe was a possible threat. This can involve “hiding” poaches near (or behind!) other offensive or defensive players. A straight up mark can help by obscuring more of the thrower’s view of the field (but please be aware not to deliberately block vision as this is a marking infraction (WFDF)). When grading the effectiveness of this type of defence, think about whether there was an opportunity for a bid, rather than a generated block, as the ability to generate block opportunities shows sophistication in poaching.

Obvious Poaching

The aim here is to make the thrower see the poach and therefore not even attempt their planned throw. This style of poaching can help to stifle an opponent, and may lead to a frustrated thrower making a poor decision, but it is less likely for any one poaching defender to generate a block when poaching in this style. Flashing the lane is one example of this.

Colombia Revolution with some clear lane poaching

Time-based poaching

The positions chosen by your poaches should be based entirely on what options the offence is looking to exploit. For example, when the offence is looking to move the disc downfield to cutters, it might be beneficial to poach off handlers in order to narrow the throwing lanes (see Poaching off handlers). However, when the offence turns to reset the disc, these poaching positions are no longer helping the defence; instead, they are allowing the offence to move the disc easily. In fact, as discussed in “Slow the game down”, many offences will react to poaches by spending longer looking for yard-gaining throws, knowing that they will likely have an uncontested reset available. Deny them this by looking to poach off handlers for stalls 1-4, then tightening up again to contest reset passes at a high stall.

A Team Ireland defender recognises that GB are looking for a handler reset and peels off his man to prevent the upline pass


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  • Stlord says:

    You could use this clip (and you may have already) as an example of how to move your mark. Faking a look 90 degrees from the sideline opens up the around the front break and a no pressure huck.
    I obviously dont know whether the D wanted to keep that player on the sideline more than giving up those throws.

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