Crash by Jodie Palmer

A crash occurs when an offensive player moves between the cup and the thrower. This generally happens from either the dump or an offensive player behind the cup.

What is a crash?

“Crashing” the cup is a term that refers to offensive players moving inside the cup to receive a short reset pass. Some teams can repeatedly take very short passes to advance the disc, so an effective cup defence will attempt to stop crashes. Remember that defenders other than the mark should remain further than 3m from the thrower to prevent a double team violation. However, this does not apply if another offensive player comes within 3m of the disc (i.e. while you’re actively guarding another defender and within 3m of them, then you’re allowed to go within 3m of the thrower and the double team rule does not apply). Because of all of this, what tends to happen is that a cup will stay 3m away from the thrower unless another offensive player runs into the cup, at which point one or more

An offensive player cuts into the cup from behind the disc, and one of the cup players collapses in reaction

In the example above, the offensive player attempts to get that small pass inside the Cup. Despite not seeing it till late, the Cup prevents any short pass, as well as very quickly returning to their original positions so as to not allow any easy passes through the Cup. Once the offensive player goes beyond the Cup it then becomes the responsibility of the Cup – Open Wing defender behind. This is a great example of clear communication and practice between the cup defenders knowing who takes responsibility for crashes.

Dealing with Crashing the Cup

When an offensive player crashes into the cup, the alley will move towards the thrower to deter the throw to the offensive crasher.

Short passes inside the cup can be used to eat up a lot of yards, so a coordinated strategy is needed to prevent them

Crashing on a cut from behind the disc

Handlers from behind the cup might run into the cup to take short passes. We can stop this by having the alley intercept them; this works well because the alley is typically looking towards the disc, and can therefore see the cut develop and proactively deny it.

Fig. 1: The alley crashes on a handler cut into the cup

Fig. 2: Final positions after the alley contains a handler cut

The alley defender crashes multiple times on cuts from the break side

Crashing on a cut from behind the cup

When the cut into the cup comes from an offensive player behind the cup – called a “popper” – it will require the alley to use their peripheral vision and move towards the thrower, like this:

Fig. 3: Crash onto a popper from behind the cup

Fig. 4: Final positions after crashing onto a popper from behind the cup

When the popper comes from the open side, the crash should look something like this:

Fig. 5: Crash from popper on the open side

Fig. 6: Final positions after crashing onto a popper from the open side

The alley defender prevents a pass to a popper by moving directly towards the thrower; there's no double team here because of the proximity of the popper

In both situations, the alley moves on a straight line towards the disc to take away the space where the crashing offensive player wants to attack.

Common mistakes when crashing

It is important that the alley does not go off their line to try and stop the pass to the offensive crasher, as in Fig. 7. If this happens, the alley leaves a hole in the wall which the thrower can attack. A throw going through the cup is more damaging to the defence than a throw going to a crashing offensive player, so keeping the cup structure is always the first priority.

Fig. 7: How not to crash on a popper

Fig. 8: By moving away from the other cup players, a gap has opened in the cup which the offence could exploit

An example of crashing done wrong; here, the alley overcommits towards the line, leaving a gap in the wall


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