Vert Stack: The Basics

A vertical stack is one of the first things you are taught as a beginner. This post will try to give you a brief overview of the offense in the vertical stack.

I started off to write a detailed post on the stack, but found this article. I would recommend you to first read this and come back to read the summary below.

Here are a few things, that I'd like to point out, about the V-Stack.

  • Spacing and Timing are the most important things for a stack.
  • The idea of a stack is to create space for the cutters to cut into. The stack should therefore be positioned in such a way that there's enough space on both the open side and the force side. Look at the image below. Note: There's usually a dump, and 5 players in the stack, unlike in the image.
  • The stack can be angled, so as to increase the cutting space, when the disc is close to a sideline, with the head of the stack closer to the strong side.
  • The head of the stack should position at an optimal distance for the handler to throw to the cutters. Not too far off, or the handler would basically have to huck, instead of a clean pass. Not too close, or the head of the stack gets in the way of the throws to the cutters, giving the first defender a chance to bid on them.
  • "There's only two speeds in Ultimate - Full Speed and Zero Speed". When you don't get the disc, you clear out (move back into the stack) as quickly, if not faster, as you made your cut. This will clear the lane out for the next cutters to try and make their cuts.
  • The animations on playspedia do not show it, nor does the text mention it, but it is a good idea for two cutters to cut almost simultaneously on the open and the break sides. The handler, then has an option to throw on either side, depending on what his mark gives him.
  • Though the animation above shows a player in the middle of the stack cutting first, the initial cutting patter of the last back cutting first is usually followed. (at least in beginner teams)
  • There need to be continuation cuts! 7 & 5, and 6 & 4, usually pair up to make the continuation cuts, on the force and break sides respectively. As, soon as 5 realizes that 7 is going to get the disc, he should be making his cut. Player 7, should have only enough time to set himself up, look up field and throw to an open 5! She shouldn't have to wait for cuts to be made, since waiting with the disc, gives the mark a chance to put up a better mark.
  • The stack needs to keep "push"ing (back), so that the head of the stack is in front of the disc. It's the responsibility of the head of the stack to ensure this, and also ensure that there is co-ordination amongst the players of the stack and the right cuts are coming in at the right time.
  • When you are cutting from the stack, make sure that you co-ordinate with other players in the stack, so as to not block each others' cuts.
  • After the stall count reaches about 6, the handler will stop looking up-field and activate the dump. The cutters in the stack, should then stop making cuts to make space for the dump cut. Look at steps 7 and 8 in the animation above, to see a dump cut.
  • Player 2, could have either received the disc at step 7, an up line pass or at step 8, a dump pass. The stack should be prepared for a dump and swing and make the appropriate cut, at this point. The animation nicely shows player 2, already starting his cut for the swing. Once the disc is swung from the open side to the break side, the disc can get a lot of yardage, since the defenders were caught on the wrong side of the stack.
  • Remember, spacing and timing!

Now, Stack on me!

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