RE: Proper defense guarding

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SS By SS
#1

Hello,

This is a question that has popped up over the last few seasons and continues to occur. I have noticed as a gal, this tends to happen exclusively when girls are 'manning' another.

So, here is a situation: Say my team has the disc. We are trying to move the disc up the field. The other team is manning our players. As a player that is not handling, I am making cuts for the disc. My understanding is that the person who is guarding me can run with me and block any disc reaching me. The rules are a bit unclear, but this is how I have understood it. While this person can stay with me, they cannot block me from running to any place on the field. My experience has been that defenders that are blocking me stand about 1-3m in front of me and move to block where I want to run. Below is what I found from the rule book:
(1) When the disc is in the air a player may not move in a manner solely to prevent an opponent from taking an unoccupied path to the disc and any resulting non-incidental contact is a foul on the blocking player which is treated like a receiving foul (XVI.H.3.b).
&
(2) A player may not take a position that is unavoidable by a moving opponent when time, distance and line of sight are considered. Non-incidental contact resulting from taking such a position is a foul on the blocking player.

If I am on offense, I can legally run around them if they are stationary and if I run into them, they can call a foul, unless they are taking a position to prevent me from taking a certain path. So, if a person who is guarding another player is constantly blocking by moving and blocking a person from running to various spots that is not allowed right? Just want clarification and more opinions, b/c this happens all the time amongst gals (particularly the newer gals).

Thanks

under your quoted number one its a bit of a grey area. if the other person is making a play on the disc (as it is in the air) they are generally not "soley preventing their opponent from taking an unoccupied path to the disc". on the other hand, if they are only watching you and not paying any attention to the disc and preventing you from taking a path to the disc it would be considered a foul on their part (like an interference call in hockey).

under your quoted number two, it only comes into effect if your opponent takes a position that is unavoidable by you. IE. if you are running full speed and they step in front of you at the last second and you cant stop and run into them. that would be considered a foul on them

If the person is always staying a step in front of you while blocking your path, I believe that's good defense. However, if the person just stands there and then while you are about to run past her, she sticks her body out to block you, I believe that is a foul (something like an interference foul).

Sneha,

As Carlos said, that is in fact good defense, as long as they don't block you such that you can't reasonably avoid hitting them. Before the disc is thrown, the purpose of defense is to prevent the O player from getting in a position where they can easily receive a pass. Aside from asking them nicely to play bad offense, there are two ways to do that. One is to be where the offender wants to be, making that position less desirable or useful, but there are many positions that are useful for them so that just gives them free choice over which other one to move to. The other option is to reposition yourself between where they are and where they want to be, forcing them to take a longer route (and more time and energy) to get to where they want to be. It requires constant repositioning and reactions, so it's more work for the defender, but as you have seen it is much more effective. And it is very much allowed.

You can stop this from being (as) frustrating either by moving to a position where they can't get in front of you, such as moving away from them or sideways. This does limit your options, since they are probably positioned between you and the disc, which takes away the easiest cut/throw. Another way you can get around this is to make them give you what you want, and there are many ways of doing this. You can get them moving in one direction (by running towards where you don't want to go) then change direction abruptly so that by the time they react you are in front of them, you can try to get them thinking you're gong to do something other than you have planned (by watching an imaginary disc fly to the opposite side of the field, for example), you can get them turned around so that their balance or awkward positioning benefits you, or many other ways. This does take a lot more thought and practice, and there are many subtleties to it, but it's what makes a good player effective.

Another thing you can do is to take a page from their book when you're on defense. As you've seen, it's allowed and it's effective.

Once the disc is in the air, though, it's a whole different ball of wax, and that one has been discussed here quite a bit in the past.

"While this person can stay with me, they cannot block me from running to any place on the field."

Where the rules invite interpretation, we all tend to evolve our own rules-of-thumb. Just bear in mind, Sneha, that the rules don't explicitly say defenders cannot block you; a little better said, they say that defenders may not cause a foul while blocking you. The rules provide additional detail concerning airborne discs and "unavoidability." Outside of those details, there is still plenty of room for blocking that begets incidental contact.

My gut reaction says that I would call most of your encounters acceptable defense. I'm a little surprised and confused that you've only observed this interaction among women. It makes me wonder if I've totally misunderstood. What are the men doing?

SS By SS

Thanks for all your responses. I think only a few people really got what I was saying. It was incorrect of me to state 1-3m of blocking and should have said at least 3m in front of me. Standing 1m from me and blocking any passes or movement IS good defense - no issues with that.

Given that, I think mrdmbond got what I said with the response, "on the other hand, if they are only watching you and not paying any attention to the disc and preventing you from taking a path to the disc it would be considered a foul on their part (like an interference call in hockey)." This was the most appropriate response for my situation.

I am aware of what good defense is and if someone defending sticks with their marker, that is completely legal and great. In zone type defense, if a defender is moving to a position an offensive player wants to go to and is watching the disc in doing this, this is also good. Though, my question is that if a person blocks or is trying to block a path you want to take, then that must be illegal. I.e. If I am defending, I cannot stand in front of you, facing you, and move sideways with my arms wide apart blocking you from moving to another position without causing contact. In this case, I'm not watching the disc, just watching you and moving to where you want to move.

To comment on atanarjuat. As I mentioned earlier this typically occurs among new players, particularly new women. In my opinion this is not good defense, b/c the defender is not watching the disc and blocking the disc from getting to the player, just merely blocking a player from running to a position on the field that is open. You typically don't see the guys blocking other guys from running to any position on the field...they typically stick with their guy or run to where the disc is thrown. The better women players do that - this of course is in my biased opinion. You also said, "Where the rules invite interpretation, we all tend to evolve our own rules-of-thumb. Just bear in mind, Sneha, that the rules don't explicitly say defenders cannot block you" - yes, exactly...which is why I have this question. I would like opinions on what the rules explicitly mean on this topic.

i dont know if id limit it to women, it happens to men too. maybe theres just been a few people youve been dealing with. if it is a continuing issue, speak with your captain and get them to talk to the other team.

on a side note, it can be benefitial to you if you are on offense and your check is paying no attention to the disc. If the disc is up in the air it makes it easier for you to fake one way (away from the disc) and then cut hard back towards it. if you make an effective cut, you are pretty much guaranteed to get the disc as your check will not be looking at it and does not know where it is.

SS By SS

Yes, my bad...don't mean to cause dissension bringing up us gals. I just don't notice it among men, that's all. I do not want to debate whether or not it equally occurs among both genders or not. Yes, of course it can be beneficial. Doesn't make it legal. THAT is simply what I clearly want to find out.

So, please respond if you can speak to that, not on whether or not one can get around it or play with it. I should have mentioned it earlier but the legality is all I want to know. Thanks

"Though, my question is that if a person blocks or is trying to block a path you want to take, then that must be illegal. I.e. If I am defending, I cannot stand in front of you, facing you, and move sideways with my arms wide apart blocking you from moving to another position without causing contact. In this case, I'm not watching the disc, just watching you and moving to where you want to move."

I see no obvious foul in this defense, with the usual exceptions: when the disc is in the air, or when non-incidental contact occurs after taking an utterly unavoidable position.

The specific use of one's arms is always controversial, though; there are many threads already in print dealing with that incendiary topic. I'd rather ignore that for now as it's not integral to your original question.

SS By SS

"I see no obvious foul in this defense, with the usual exceptions: when the disc is in the air, or when non-incidental contact occurs after taking an utterly unavoidable position."

Please clearly explain that statement in more lay terms. I do not understand what you mean.

Not a foul unless the following occurs:
1) The disc goes up and, rather than playing the disc, your defender runs interference (like bball) and prevents you from taking an unoccupied path to the disc, causing non-incidental contact = Foul (see "Boxing Out" thread previously, though)
2) When you are moving, your defender takes an unavoidable position causing non-incidental contact between the two or you = Foul.

"So, if a person who is guarding another player is constantly blocking by moving and blocking a person from running to various spots that is not allowed right?"

Wrong.

UNLESS the disc has gone up and see #1 above.
UNLESS you are already moving, and then see #2 above.

If your defender is moving in your way, and you have time to avoid them, that is good defense. He/she is simply herding you to where they want you to go on the field. Defenders will use this as a means to prevent you from getting to the open side of the field.

Well, let me put it this way: there are plenty of ways to legally block someone from going somewhere, and I'll attempt to describe some of them. The defense you've described is not inherently illegal, but it's possible to overstep the line and foul someone while doing it. As a competitive player, I have to toe that line very carefully.

1) First, let's assume the disc is not in the air:

The rules allow for any given player to take any unoccupied position on the field (XVII.A). Sometimes, the defender wants to deny some part of the field to the cutter, and he'll put himself in a position to block the easiest route. If the cutter tries to take another route, the defender is entitled to put himself in the way-- he's just taking another unoccupied position. If he does this skillfully, the cutter might bump into him, but the contact will be minor and incidental, and he is not hitting the cutter. If the defender does this properly, if anything, the cutter will have fouled the defender by charging into him.

The exception to this tactic is the "unavoidability" clause. In lay terms, the defender is not entitled to jump in the way of an express train. When the cutter has momentum and a direction, the defender is not entitled to take a position the cutter cannot avoid. The cutter might have to suddenly stop or dodge, but that's fine. Even a bump will still be incidental contact; but a "non-incidental" collision gives the cutter grounds for a foul call if the cutter could not have avoided it.

2) Now, let's assume the disc is in the air

As you've already pointed out, Sneha, when the disc is airborne, the defender may not take a position with the "sole" intent of blocking an unoccupied path to the disc. However, in combination with almost anything else (like, also trying to block the disc as it comes down), that behaviour is still fine. If the disc is up, and the defender's eyes are still locked on the cutter and he continues to block the cutter's every move to catch the disc, well, that's a pretty good example of sole intent. Non-incidental contact must still occur before you call a foul, though.

- assuming the disc is not in the air...

It's important to realize that the defender doesn't _really_ know where the O wants to go.
Most times they make a (however well) educated guess and position to block a path of
player, or disc or create a foot-race with uncertain odds.

The question of the legality of a block really comes down to whether or not the position is
"unavoidable". The hardline is this: if the D-player chooses to block an O-player's path and
the O has at his/her disposal some means to be able to avoid the D: however frustrating, the
block - by itself - does not constitute a foul. If only the line were so clear.

In my limited experience, I'd say non-North American touring players (generally) tend to
have a more "O-friendly" interpretation, placing the onus on the D to avoid all contact. On
the other hand, in North American touring, this contact is seldom called. It may be the NA
players share a more "D-friendly" interpretation of the rule, (i.e: "If the O-player is aware
of you fighting for position and you get both feet and the entire core of your body there first,
then it's your spot: 'nice block!'..."). It may also be that it's simply not in the interest of the
offense to risk a stoppage in play, allowing the D to regain total field awareness.

If there was a rational to justify the more "D-friendly" interpretation it might be this:
1. Given all the fakes and misdirections that an experienced O player is using (see Gin-boh's
post) the D player really doesn't know where the O wants to go so no place should be
considered strictly off-limits. The only certainly being the individual players positions at the
time of consideration.

2. Given that the experienced O player is trying to hide his/her intentions, he/she should be
'aware' that even an experienced D player may not react as they expect and thus the O
player should be more prepared to avoid contact.

The key thing here: this "d-friendly" rational relies on the players being comparably
"experienced". This isn't always the case.

In addendum to what achoo said, WFDF rules don't have the explicit "non-incidental" contact requirement to their blocking foul rules. So UPA rules are just a little more "D-friendly" (so to speak) from the get-go.

ah yes: good point

Sneha: "Please clearly explain that statement in more lay terms. I do not understand what
you mean."

I'm not sure if you've gotten a satisfactorily clear answer yet (though there are lots of good
answers which deal with the finer points above).

Here's the Coles notes:

1. When the disc *is not* in the air, the defense can block you however they want, so long as
they don't cause an unavoidable collision.

2. When the disc *is* in the air, the defense can block you however they want, so long as
they are also trying for the disc (a teeny-tiny bit), and don't cause an unavoidable collision.

--

The above holds true regardless of whether the person is your check or if they're zoning you.
None of that matters.

Sneha: "Though, my question is that if a person blocks or is trying to block a path you want
to take, then that must be illegal. I.e. If I am defending, I cannot stand in front of you,
facing you, and move sideways with my arms wide apart blocking you from moving to
another position without causing contact."

Perfectly legal, even the arms wide. If the disc were in the air, it would be a Blocking Foul
unless the D was also trying for the disc (even a teensy-weensy bit).

If you are having problems with your check 'block in you out' may I suggest a few things.

First create more motion....get your defender to move their feet. If they are fronting you, cut one way and force your defender to move their feet (and hips) in that direction. As soon as they've moved their hips (and transfered their weight) cut to the opposite side. Once you have a defenders hips turned in the opposite direction you have them beat (90% of the time).

Secondly, get your defender so their back is to the disc. If they aren't reading the disc they are completely at your mercy...a little head fake here, a step there, and you can have their hips turned right around.

Its all about creating space where (and when) you want it....it is impossible for a defender to defend all sides around you....you just have to get them moving our of the area you want to go to first.

Hope this is helpful :)

Yeah. I appreciate this read. I am of short height. Therefore, these little tips are quite useful!

Advance Offense/Defense 101. :)

SS By SS

Thanks. Temple, achoo, atanarjuat and YourMom for actually answering my question. All of you clearly explained the rules. Temple, I really appreciated the 'coles notes' version.

It's funny how a question gets interpreted and explained/discussed all sorts of ways, when all I want to know is if it's legal. I was NOT looking for ways to get around this defender - thanks but no thanks if you responded in this way. But I'm glad others found it useful.

Bottom line for me is this: If say, I am going for the disc (which is in the air) and the defender is blocking my path or moves in my path to block my path, I can call a blocking foul. If I am not going for the disc, but cutting closer to the disc, and there is non-incidental contact then that is also a foul - if there is no contact then that type of D is perfectly legal. In this latter situation, the onus is on the O to get around the D. This is how I understood all this discussion. Clarify if incorrect.

That's my simple summary. Or my coles notes summary. Thanks again.

Sneha: "It's funny how a question gets interpreted and explained/discussed all sorts of ways,
when all I want to know is if it's legal. I was NOT looking for ways to get around this
defender - thanks but no thanks if you responded in this way. But I'm glad others found it
useful."

Try to see beyond your needs on this one, you hit on it at the end there. People didn't take
time just to answer your question (many of them did, btw, but it just wasn't super-clear).
Rather your question sparked a discussion. A useful one with lots of good advice at that.

--

Sneha: "Bottom line for me is this: If say, I am going for the disc (which is in the air) and
the defender is blocking my path or moves in my path to block my path, I can call a blocking
foul."

I would say that's an incorrect takeaway. If the D is *only* blocking you, and *in no way* is
going for the disc when it is in the air, then it is a Blocking Foul.

However, if the D is doing their *very best to block you* and take away your line, but is
*also* going for the disc a little bit, even if that means taking a very circuitous route to the
disc, or sticking their arms out, etc, then it's perfectly legal (providing no unavoidable
collision, of course).

--

Sneha: "If I am not going for the disc, but cutting closer to the disc, and there is non-
incidental contact then that is also a foul - if there is no contact then that type of D is
perfectly legal. In this latter situation, the onus is on the O to get around the D. This is how I
understood all this discussion. Clarify if incorrect."

That's correct, when the disc is not in the air, it's only a foul on the D if the D caused the
collision by taking an unavoidable position. If the O could have reasonably avoided the
collision, but didn't, then it would be a foul on the O.

SS By SS

Temple,
"Try to see beyond your needs on this one, you hit on it at the end there." It was unnecessary to make that former comment (especially if according to you, I "hit on it at the end"). My comment was simply stating the obvious as I saw it, not judging anyone's needs. True, I was a bit rude in that response, but the initial part of your comment was guilty of the same.

The rest of your response was appreciated, and actually made me feel glad that I asked this question. Thank you for that.

And, thanks to everyone for taking the time to respond.

"If I am not going for the disc, but cutting closer to the disc, and there is non-incidental contact then that is also a foul - if there is no contact then that type of D is perfectly legal."

I think you understand, SS, but that maybe you rephrased what we've said a little less carefully. I say this because the non-incidental contact can potentially be the cutter's fault. This tends to happen when the cutter sees he is about to get blocked, and tries to charge through anyways.

Sneha: "It's funny how a question gets interpreted and explained/discussed all sorts of ways,
when all I want to know is if it's legal. I was NOT looking for ways to get around this
defender - thanks but no thanks if you responded in this way. But I'm glad others found it
useful."

Funny how people interpret this forum as a private convo exclusively for their needs. NO need for snarkiness there princess. I understand your need for legalities, just thought I'd add a perspective about how to avoid contact altogether, and getting open without having to make any call at all.

I hope the others explained things simply enough for you to understand...sounds like you'll be making lots of foul calls... Oh joy!

JDD By JDD

Just to follow up on the above point - often people will come up with specific questions but the discussion will answer BOTH the specific question and broader issues (rules clarifications on related issues, strategy issues, what to do in a similar but slightly different situation etc.).

I don't know if anyone was actually complaining about the range of answers here, or responding to a (perceived) problem with the range of answers, but - in general - pretty much any question on rules and any answers (backed up properly by the rules themselves) serve only to educate the ultimate community at large. So, no need for snarkiness/defensiveness etc, just "thanks, that answers my question and maybe some other ones" and move on. And keep up the questions and responses... in the end all will benefit.

JDD, and leprechaun. I agree with both of you completely.

Ah... crap. I am bad for that... However, I don't think I have ever been extremely Snarky about that...