Horizontal Offense

If your team has throwers who can consistently throw long passes down the length of the field (called hucks) then the horizontal offense can be an excellent strategy, as it is designed to provide plenty of both long and short throwing options.


Horizontal offense is structured to create space in the middle of the field, unlike vertical which looks for space (or cutting lanes) down the sides of the field.

There are three handlers that line up horizontally across the field. The middle handler should be close to the centre of the field and have a handler 10 to 15 yards on either side of them.

The four cutters are 10 to 15 yards downfield from the handlers; two on each side of the field.

Perfect horizontal offense

In horizontal two or more people can be making cuts at once, and if the cuts are effective this can create two or more viable options for the thrower. Assuming handlers have the ability to throw all of the throws, a team can truly take advantage of whatever the defense is not defending effectively. Remember to always make safe cuts that avoid risking injury to you or other players!

The Reality

In reality horizontal offense can look messy. But horizontal has the advantage of being more easily adapted, since it is designed to create two or more viable options for the thrower at all times. There is more space for cutters to continue to cut even if their first one doesn’t work out, so in theory there should always be someone open (or nearly open) even when the disc gets passed around a little by the handlers.

Again, communication, adaptability and hard work are what makes the difference between a team that wins the tough points and the team that loses them.

Handler Responsibilities

  • Be patient. Wait for an open throw. If it isn’t there by stall 5, pass the disc to one of the other handlers.
  • Get it to the middle. Try to keep the disc near the centre of the field. This way the handler has more options. If the disc is near the sideline, two of the cutters are far away from the handler. For this reason, the strongest handler should be in the middle.
  • Keep your defender busy. Handler defenders can easily poach or get in the way of the offense if their player isn’t keeping them sufficiently distracted.  
  • Make safe throws to ensure that nobody on the field gets hurt.
  • Be spirited. Always play with SOTG in mind! Compliment your defender if they do something well, and be friendly.

Cutter Responsibilities

  • Be an elevator. Cutters often work in pairs like an elevator: if one cut is running towards the disc, the other should be making a deep cut towards the endzone. Both should be running hard and expect the disc at all times.
  • Keep moving.  Because a horizontal stack provides more opportunities to cut to open space with greater frequency, more players are in play – keep moving to open space and/or clearing out of the space you just cut to.
  • Anticipate. Anticipation is key for cutters. Practice timing your cuts so you become open as soon as the next thrower receives the disc.
  • Be aware. Like the vertical offense, cutters must be aware of when and where others are cutting.
  • Dump at 5. When a cutter receives the disc, they should look for an open throw. If that throw isn’t there (by around stall 5) they should dump the disc back to a handler.
  • Time your rest. Horizontal involves more running than vertical.  Since every cut can be a viable option, it isn’t as easy to rest in the stack. Instead of a resting place, there is a resting time: you should rest when the disc swings to the other side of the field, but be sure to anticipate the next play and be ready to cut.
  • Make safe cuts to ensure that nobody on the field gets hurt. You should NEVER make a cut that causes contact or risks injuring another player. 
  • Be spirited. Always play with SOTG in mind! Compliment your defender if they do something well, and be friendly!

How it comes together

There are a lot of moving pieces and many things to remember - even more than in vertical. You’ll likely need to read this over several times as you continue playing to fully understand all the concepts. For a moving graphic of what horizontal can look like, follow the link to the Playspedia.


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