Defence 3-3-1 Japanese Poach by Frank Nam

We've invited guest coach Frank Nam to show off how VReps can be used to bring ultimate drills to life, using an innovative adjustment which will improve your arrowhead zone

In an Wall or Arrowhead zone, defenders are arranged to prevent downfield passes, which leaves swing passes open. In order to prevent the offence from outflanking the zone, there is a simple adjustment that we can use, and that is for the player on the side of the arrowhead to focus on denying continuation when the disc is swung. This is the “Japanese Poach”, so called because I first saw this being used by Buzz Bullets.

We’ve used Virtual Repetitions to record and visualise this play.

Let’s look at things from a bird’s eye view:

Birds Eye View

When the disc gets swung to either reset handler, the closest defender in the arrowhead is the “Japanese poach” who takes away cutter options first, and then sets the mark only when the rest of the zone has adjusted. This is achieved by poaching into the lane as soon as the disc is thrown, then returning to the zone formation only after continuation has been contained.

Defender's view: this is what the wing of the arrow will see. As the disc swings, it is there responsibility to prevent continuation passes before returning to the arrowhead formation

By viewing from the position of the “Japanese poach” defender, we can see how vital it is that they turn to look behind them when the disc is swung; this allows them to see potential continuation options and cut them off. The effectiveness of this approach will become clear when we view from the perspective of the thrower receiving the swing.

Thrower's view: as the disc swings, the defender shifts across to block continuation rather than maintaining the arrowhead

Here, we see the left player in the arrowhead (defender #2, in red) peel off to deny the popper (offence #6, in blue). This gives another defender (#6) the chance to catch up and pick up the popper. With continuation prevented, and all downfield defenders now in place, finally the arrowhead is reformed, with defender #2 applying the mark.

Using this simple technique can help to give your zone defence a little more flexibility, and can help prevent it from being easily outflanked. I first saw Buzz Bullets use this after their offence line turned the disc in the attacking endzone. They would start out in match defense with a poach in the lane until the disc got to a trap sideline. At that point they’d transition to a 3 person cup zone (or other options but here I used the 3 person cup).

It’s a brilliant concept to create a sense of comfort and then change things up after a few throws. It relied on the slowness of the offense recognizing the change and not transitioning to a zone look quickly enough to force a turn.

What is Virtual Repetitions?

Virtual Repetitions is a platform designed to help players practice and prepare for games while they’re away from the field. Virtual Repetitions allows coaches to draw and share plays with their players, who can then walk through them on a 3D virtual field to come to practice and games more prepared.

How can I use Virtual Repetitions?

  1. Sign up as a coach at vreps.us/ultimate-frisbee and create a new team
  2. Invite your players to join your team
  3. Subscribe to plays created by other coaches or draw your own
  4. Have your players download the Virtual Repetitions Ultimate Playbook app to their mobile device and begin sharing your plays for them to practice

You can find the 3-3-1 Japanese Poach play here, and be sure to subscribe to the play!

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  • Defensive Concepts
  • Defensive Strategy