Hexagon Offence v2.3

v 2.3 – October 2018
Concept first published 1st Jan 2013
Older version also available en Français (v2.1)

Hex is a natural and organic offence in ultimate frisbee. If you want to win and have fun, follow these three guidelines:

1. Keep the disc moving
2. Maintain team shape
3. Control your balance

Understanding and implementing these principles creates a fast-moving, flow-based offence which doesn’t give the defence a chance to set, maximises options, constantly changes the angles of attack, generates plenty of scoring opportunities, and is a lot of fun to play – for beginners and experienced players alike!

1. Keep the disc moving

Sustained flow is very valuable and hard to defend against, so players should take any open pass available to them without hesitation. The decision tree in the video below is a guideline for how players should move, and where they should look, in order to have the best shot at keeping the disc moving.

2. Maintain team shape

Players should maintain hex shape throughout their possession, as this will maximise their options. This is an ongoing task – shape doesn’t need to be perfect, and it will slightly deform whenever the disc or players move – but a little maintenance goes a long way. The shape is a hexagon made of equilateral triangles, with the thrower on one of the corners. Players should gravitate to shape positions when flow has stopped – something Outbreak could do a little better in this video illustrating hex shape:

3. Control your balance

In terms of individual technique, being in control of your balance whilst catching and throwing means you are in control of your acceleration and deceleration as well as the direction of the disc – a powerful combination! When used to counter defensive imbalance and/or exploit space, a thrower can generate flow and penetrate through defensive setups.

There are two basic types of throw: the dribble-throw and the pivot-throw. At the moment of release, a thrower’s acceleration is near zero for a pivot-throw, and maximised for a dribble-throw. Pivot-throws are useful for getting the disc around a defender, but leave a defender between the previous thrower and the new thrower. Dribble-throws are useful for moving (with the disc) past or away from a defender, but are more difficult to execute.

Video coming soon: Hex Technique Explained – Balance Control


Combine and train these three elements – movement, shape, and technique – with freedom, creativity, and spirit – to win whilst enjoying the sport of ultimate frisbee to its fullest!

Extra notes for players who are familiar with / trained in stack offences:

  • De-prioritise gaining yards – hex values flow over yardage, so take the open pass regardless of yardage, field position, or stall count. Look to initiate and continue flow, instead of looking downfield to potentially gain yards
  • Spread out – clumping together in a stack maximises space at the expense of options, which does not work well with a flow-based offence. Make equilateral triangles locally, and resist the temptation to flood (or ‘clear’) downfield when the disc is on the sideline (50% of the players should be behind the disc to keep balanced shape)
  • Follow your throw – when throwing, instead of viewing nearby space as just areas for your receivers to cut to, view them as areas which you can attack immediately after releasing the disc, receive passes back to, and then use the momentum of your defender against them
  • Face infield – the centre of the space – soon after catching the disc, instead of looking downfield

Further reading:

Video examples:

Hex Coaching:

If you want your team to have a crash course on Hex in preparation for the season ahead, felixultimate.com can run a Hex Clinic in your city – this will get everyone on the same page and able to play hex within one weekend. If your team is already playing hex and wants to improve, you can book a live online video analysis session with Felix. At the time of writing, 7 Hex Clinics and 14 live online video analysis sessions have taken place. To arrange a live online analysis session or a hex clinic in your city, contact felix at felixultimate.com

Amsterdam Hex Clinic

Amsterdam Hex Clinic, 29-30th September 2018

Last weekend saw players from all over Netherlands and Belgium come together to learn Hex Offence and Flex Defence at the Amsterdam Hex Clinic, put together with help from Sjoerd Druven. The clinic started with a classroom session on Flexagon Defence theory – the group discussed common offensive mistakes and shortcomings, and thought about which were the most noticed, and which are rarely considered to contribute to turnovers. Then we looked at how defence could change to take advantage of the less noticed offensive shortcomings, and how such a defence could be trained.

… read more & see videos of drills …

We headed out onto the field after lunch to put into practice what we had been talking about – running a few drills without a disc involved, focusing on defensive movement. Here are clips from Trent’s Drill (credit to Trent Simmons from 10milliondiscs.org) and the Surrounding Stack Drill, which aim to get players used to moving and reacting to multiple offensive players in a group, rather than just 1-to-1 marking.



Casper / ulti.tv filmed the first outdoors session, so when we went inside we were able to immediately use the footage for video analysis! This was really beneficial to everyone – to be able to replay exactly what happened and consider alternative actions is a great way to learn quickly. After the analysis session we headed out again for the Triple-Sandwich drill, and more games!

Saturday night we had a meal at a Turkish restaurant and played some Dobble before going out for a couple of drinks & then back to Sjoerd’s house (picturesque – next to a canal).

Sunday was Hexagon Offence day – starting again with a classroom session where we looked at the history of offence, broke down the shared fundamental elements of offence, and looked at how different offensive systems prioritise different values – and how Hex fits into the picture. Hex, which values flow above all else, was explained through Movement, Shape, and Technique – each of which are very different compared to conventional stack offences.

Then we headed out onto the field again! We trained technique first, emphasising the throw-and-go / dribble-throw technique, and had a Dribble Slalom Race:


Then we incorporated the dribble technique into the Brilliance Box Drill, which adds some more game-like realism:


After everyone got some practice building shape, we went into games, and the offence worked smoothly – it was tough to defend against and everyone was discovering new throws and movements in the fast-moving style. The most common feedback was that it was surprisingly good FUN to play!

ulti.tv filming with a pole cam

Ulti.tv were filming again, so we were able to go inside and immediately have an analysis session. During this session I noticed that everyone was analysing their own play – I didn’t really need to contribute much because the theory knowledge from earlier was being put into action, and everyone could see what they could do better in any situation, and what was working well.

Although it was quite a light turnout this time around, we had 7v7 and I felt the clinic was a huge success. Everyone understood the theory, implemented it well, saw another side of ultimate strategy, and many players said they were keen to take the O/D back to their teams.

I learnt more about how to teach the strategies and implemented a few new drills with great success. Most importantly though, everybody had FUN playing Hex & Flex!

Hex Movement Decision Tree


… read transcript / summary …

Hex Movement Decision Tree: Brief explanation / shortened transcript of video

The way I’ve been looking at offence recently is to break it into three elements; Movement, Structure, and Technique.
This decision tree is a guideline for how to sustain and generate movement of the disc. The left side pertains to movement of the disc, and the right side is more focused on players who are off-disc.

If you have the disc in your hands then you have three questions; Is someone open in front of you?, Is the previous thrower open?, and Can you continue the path of the disc? If the answer is Yes to any of these three questions then you take the open pass, and look for the return pass, before returning to the start of the decision tree. If the return pass is successful then you enter a loop on the top left of the tree, which is where give-go / dribbling moves thrive.

If the answer to any of the three ‘open’ questions is Maybe, then you fake. The answer could be ‘maybe’ because you’re not confident with the distance or type of throw the option is asking of you, or because the defender is half-covering the throw, or for any reason you’re not happy with the option – in this case, fake, and return to asking “Is someone open in front of you?” – which may be the player you just faked an option to.

In some situations it’s better to look to continue the path of the disc before looking back to the previous thrower. Looking back to previous thrower lends itself to a more dribbling-style of Hex, but looking first to continue the path of the disc fits in quite nicely with techniques players have learnt from conventional offences.
If all then ‘open’ answers are ‘No’, then you should face the centre of the space. In Hex, this means you face where the Hat position is (the central player), and you should have all your team mates within your field of view. At this point you return to asking yourself if anyone is open in front of you.

Let’s say you go for the return pass and don’t get the disc back into your hands. The first question to ask yourself is ‘Am I in good hex shape?‘. The details about hex shape / structure are defined in another video, but if you decide you are not in good hex shape then you should reposition – with urgency. Repositioning moves are like cuts, and simply repositioning may well provide the thrower with a viable passing option.

If you are in good hex shape, ask yourself if you are open. If you are, communicate with the thrower by gesticulation or vocalisation, to let the thrower know you are a potential option for them to hit or fake to.

If you aren’t open, see if the thrower is looking at you. If they are, you should try to generate an option for them to either hit or fake to – by moving, or by gesticulating towards space. This will create further options for your team mates.

If you’re in good hex shape, not open, and the thrower is not looking at you, then you should see whether you can create useful space for a team mate. This means looking around to take note of your team mates positions and their defenders relative positions, and working out whether you moving in any direction could create a space, or occupy another defender, which would be useful for your team mate. If you can, then you should generate this option.

If none of these things are the case, then you should chill – don’t stress or feel pressure to create an option, because if everyone on your team is going through the same decision process then the thrower will be faking to half-options, looking at players to generate options, and so on, and the options will come. Continue monitoring the situation to see if you can create useful space for a team mate, to make sure you’re in good hex shape (as a team), and to see if you’re free or if the thrower is looking at you, but aim to become comfortable being in the position of sustaining offensive possession as a team.

How to play Hex: Maintaining Shape (analysis of Outbreak Mountain)

Excerpt:

Full stream / extended analysis video:

Colombia WG2017 – Analysis of a Gender-Weighted Offence

In this video from the 2017 World Games we’re going to look at how Colombia adapt their offence to effectively counter the one-to-one defence Poland play against them.

Interview with Colombian coach Mauricio Moore: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yN65_cIBYy8

Transcript: During the game it became apparent that the Colombian women were winning their matchups with greater ease than the Colombian men. To play to this advantage, Colombia manipulate the space on the field to reduce the risk of clogging and poaching from the male defenders, and maximise the space available to the women – in this case on the far sideline & deep – whilst the men are concentrated in the near-side and backfield areas.

… read more & photos …

There is some initial poaching from the male defenders, but the Colombian men stay involved and calmly take the open pass. The women on the far side have now formed a triangle, they are no longer being inhibited by the poaches, and they have a clear channel to the end zone. Note how the male players resist the urge to reposition downfield when the disc is near the sideline, instead trying to draw their defenders away from poaching positions.

Once the Colombian women are in flow the offence looks fairly unstoppable, with the defenders not able to apply any real pressure, however in the end the turnover is caused by an unforced execution error.

Colombia get the disc back later in the point, but the women are disconnected at the start of the offence, and there is some sagging and poaching from the defenders. When one of Poland’s male defenders gets sucked in on a poaching opportunity, their mark rightly takes off deep, but the disc doesn’t come and when he comes back we see Colombia fall into a similar setup to the one we saw earlier.

The women retain their shape deep on the far sideline whilst the men take a few easy open passes to keep the tempo of the offence. The triangle shape makes it very difficult for the Polish female defenders to poach or switch effectively.

When Lauras Ospina gets the disc, Colombia have a favourable one-to-one matchup completely isolated in the attacking half of the field, where Yina Cartagena scores without the defence having a bid.

By utilising the space on the field, manipulating the defence, and taking the open pass, Colombia were able to play to their advantage – their female one-to-one matchups – whilst minimising the poaching opportunities for the male defenders.

Utilising space and manipulating defence happens with all offenses, but which offensive structure would be most suited to this gender-weighted tactic?
Vertical stack creates space down the sides of the field but is very susceptible to poaching, as one or two male defenders start in the centre of the downfield space. 4-women in the stack with the three men in the backfield is possible, but is open to counter-tactics such as defenders sagging off the handlers, or downfield defenders surrounding the vertical stack to make it overconcentrated and difficult to initate flow from.

Splitting the vertical stack takes things to the extreme – it maximisises the space available, but it asks cutters to make big initial movements to get free. This is well suited to the hard cutting, yards-focused style which is prevalent in the game at the moment, particularly in North America.

How about horizontal stack? This is more dynamic and can work in a few different ways… when there are two male defenders downfield poaching could become a problem, so having three downfield female players can work nicely, offering loads of space… My favourite setup – which will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with my work – is called Hexagon Offence. This setup naturally supports the triangle shape Colombia’s women were forming, whilst keeping every other player connected, meaning any poaching can be quickly and easily punished.

Space in the Hex setup is created dynamically – when one player makes a cut they create a space where they came from, which is not how it works in vertical or split stack. This new space can be used by any adjacent team mates, and unlike horizontal stack, these second cuts can be made directly from the setup positions within the Hex shape. This dynamic creation and use of space has a cascading effect which maximises options for the offence and denies the defence any leverage.

Hex has taught me a lot about Ultimate, and there’s a bunch of other reasons why I prefer it to traditional offences, but I digress! I can talk about that more in another video.

If four women are on the field winning their matchups – perhaps related to a lack of female subs from the opposition – then a number of other interesting setups are possible to make use of this advantage.

I didn’t get a chance to speak to Mauricio Moore, the Colombian coach, about this video at all, so it’s just things that I’ve kind of seen, and my interpretation of them. He did an interview recently which is really really worth checking out – it’s a subtitled one, it’s in Spanish, but the subtitles are great, he’s clearly got a way with words, I’ll put the link down in the description below. Definitely check it out, I think everyone can learn from his experiences and what he has to say.

He says they focus very little on on-field tactics, so probably they just identified that the women were mismatched and just encouraged their men to just stay back and out of the way whilst the women had their own space to work with, rather than it being something they had drilled or it being a formal structure or arrangement they had. In this way I think they’re similar to Japan in terms of national teams, in that they’re more dynamic and organic with how they play, rather than sticking to set rules and cutting patterns and reset patterns, they kind of make it up as they go along to a certain extent, which is an approach that I really like.

Flags

Flags
2-7 players

flags-3pFlags is a simple game which adds training elements to a throw around. It will expose your weaknesses and challenge your strengths. Set out two markers (water bottles are good) a few yards apart, one directly downwind of the other – these mark the goal line – the windier it is, the longer the goal line should be. The higher the skill of the players (and/or the lesser the wind), the narrower the goal line.

2 players: Throw from where you catch, don’t cut for throws but do move to catch them. (1) Throw over the goal line at any height, (2) Throw around the far side of the goal [OI], (3) Throw around the inside of the goal [IO]

3 players: 2v1 – Rolling defender, cutting now encouraged. All players can move freely and pass on either side of the flags, but only passes across the goal line (at any height) count as goals. Goals reset a shot clock to prevent stalling, and the shot clock can be counted by the defender from anywhere on the field.

Felix, Will and Edgars play 3-player Flags.
3v2 / 4v3: More players can be brought in both on offence and defence, and the goal widened.

Experiment with different goal sizes, goal orientation to the wind, restricting the surrounding space with back lines, and so on. I recommend stalling from 4-10, as this is most game-like – mimicking the common situation where a thrower looks for a secondary option at stall 3. Let me know if you come up with some interesting rules or modifications yourself! As it was written on the back of the first frisbee – Play catch. Invent games. Have fun.

Flexagon Defence v1.02

(c) Felix Shardlow v.1.02 26th June 2018

Also available in French / en Français (v0.97)

Part of a series:
Flexagon Defence
Advanced Flex Part I: Counter-Strategies
Advanced Flex Part II: Communication
Advanced Flex Part III: The Stall 3 Game-Changer

Intro

Flexagon Defence is not a zone, nor is it strictly 1-to-1 defence. Flex employs local positioning guidelines to reduce offensive advantage wherever possible. Where zonal marking utilises role-based teamwork and dynamic positioning; 1-to-1 defence employs simple positioning rules and focuses on athleticism; Flex utilises a set of principles which encourage defenders to work as a team, dynamically recognising any offensive mistakes or inefficiencies and attempting to punish them to gain advantage.

In Ultimate, offence by default has a huge advantage, and if they play very well then it’s very difficult for any defence to stop them from scoring. Actively gaining advantage on defence requires the ability to recognise offensive mistakes, and then utilise a combination of teamwork, positioning, and athleticism to capitalise.

The 3 Flex Principles

  • Communicate
  • Switch / surround where appropriate
  • Cover all offensive players as a team

Communication

Aim to open a communication channel with nearby teammates as soon as they are within range, so it can be used instantly when opponents move. There are three main ways of opening & using a communication channel:

  • eye contact – keep your head up – positional information is shared & acknowledged, chances for miscommunication reduced
  • gesticulation – keep your eyes open – pointing, indicating
  • vocalisation – keep your ears open – push/pull shouts to move teammates

For more on communication, see Advanced Flex Part II: Communication

Switch / surround where appropriate

  • Using your communication channel, reposition to surround offensive players when there is no space between two or more opponents
  • Surround with the same number of defenders as there are offensive players
  • If there is space between all offensive players, and their movement cannot be punished with switches, mark 1-to-1 until the opportunity to switch or surround arises
  • Prepare to switch marks early – pre-empt offensive movement if possible, as late / reactive switches only limit damage – they do not necessarily gain advantage for the defence
  • Prepare to switch marks when opponents move towards occupied areas
  • Switch if mutually beneficial for defenders, and both offensive players can be easier covered
  • Both players must move quickly to cover their new marks

Offensive players who are occupying the same space as each other, or moving towards occupied areas, are making mistakes – be prepared to punish them to gain advantage!

Cover all offensive players as a team

  • All individuals should be marking one specific player unless surrounding or flash-poaching
  • Leave no offensive player unmarked
  • Get help if trying to cover two players
  • Avoid defensive double-coverage
  • Only poach temporarily, and when you have help from a team mate (in a sandwiching / surrounding situation)
  • Solo poaches send false signals to other defenders, which causes a breakdown of Flex due to chain reaction

The offensive team have the same number of players as the defence – and one of their players isn’t allowed to move!

Global Positioning

Flex doesn’t really have a prescribed shape or formation, as the local positioning of the defenders is entirely dependant upon the positioning of the offensive players. However, if the theory of both offence and defence in Ultimate are explored to depths, a hexagon (or rotatable 2-3-2) shape emerges as most efficient use of space by 7 players. The hex shape is only utilised in Flex defence in three circumstances:

  • When playing against a Hex offence, as shape knowledge will help the defence to pre-empt offensive movement and punish positioning / movement mistakes
  • When the team are very experienced with playing Flex, and wish to employ more advanced ideas related to global switching & surrounding
  • If the defensive team are not switching or surrounding enough during normal play – calling initial positions can be useful as it puts defenders into a more ‘zone-like’ mindset, where they will be more actively looking for switching and surrounding opportunities.

Conversely, if a Flex team is surrounding too loosely, blowing switches often, or if poaching becomes an issue, calling initial match-ups on the line can encourage the defence to adopt a more 1-to-1-like mindset, which should address those problems.

If calling positions, by default: 2 forwards, 2 wings, 2 backs, 1 hat (central player).
If your opponent is playing horizontal stack it’s recommended you start with person-to-person marking, but if calling positions: 3 forwards, 2 wings, 1 hat, 1 back. For more on playing Flex against specific offensive strategies, see Advanced Flex Part I: Counter-Strategies
The terms “forward” and “back” refer to how you see the field when on the line before a point – “forwards” are comparable to “handler marks”, “backs” are comparable to “deeps”.
Remember that Flex is not a zone, and position calling should only be used in the three situations listed above.

The force – recommended: if the disc is near the middle force straight-up, if the disc is near the sideline force towards the line – this leaves defenders on either shoulder of the force in all situations. The force is not a critical part of Flex – it can often be left til last when making sure all offensive players are covered, and it can change depending on opponents / conditions. There should certainly not be a player chasing the disc and putting on multiple forces in a row (unless you have incorporated an advanced switching system into your Flex).


Further Reading

Advanced Flex Part I: Counter-Strategies
Advanced Flex Part II: Communication
Advanced Flex Part III: The Stall 3 Game-Changer

Want videos of Flex in action, or vocal explanations and stuff? Keep updated through the Hexagon Ultimate YouTube channel and the felixultimate YouTube channel.

Flex in action against FWD at Europeans – fast forward to 37:48:

GB Mixed U23’s played this defence at Worlds in 2015 – more videos of Felix explaining it to the team will be uploaded to the Hexagon Ultimate channel shortly (below is a video of the first time it was introduced to the team):

Hex/Flex in action against Japan at Worlds:

Hexagon Offence v2.21

v 2.21 – 31st August 2018
Concept first published 1st Jan 2013
Also available in French / en Français (v2.1)

Note: This page is currently undergoing reconstruction, not all concepts are represented as concisely as they could be!

Ultimate is a team-based field sport, and as such Movement, Positioning, and Technique/Skillset are the major elements for strategic consideration. Hex Offence’s movement is comparable to Spain’s tiki-taka quick passing style of soccer play. Hex’s positioning is spread like a network – maximising connections between players, and as such maximising options. Technique / skill sets which are suited to Hex include staying balanced and ready to throw or run anywhere at all times, communicating and reacting to your team mates, having spatial and field awareness, and being in control of your acceleration / deceleration at all times.

Hex can be explained through three simple principles:

1. Keep the disc moving (higher value than gaining yards)
2. Maintain the shape (a hexagon)
3. Create space for your team mates, use space as you see it developing

Abiding by these principles creates a fast-moving, flow-based offence which doesn’t give the defence a chance to set, maximises the offensive options available, constantly changes the angles of attack, and is a lot of fun to play.

1. Keep the disc moving – take the open pass

The flow chart in the video below is a guideline for the decisions you should be making on the field when playing Hex.

Direct link to the Hex Movement Decision Tree image

Ways this style of play differs from conventional offence:

  • Take the open pass regardless of field position, yardage, or stall count – if the open pass is behind you, take it. Don’t wait to see if there’s another open pass which can gain you yards, simply take the open pass you are aware of at that point in time. If you have an open pass on stall 1, don’t hold onto the disc to see if anything else will present itself later in the stall – simply take the open pass as soon as you see it.
  • Face infield – by facing towards the centre of the space, you are also facing towards the centre of the shape, so you are able to see open passes develop anywhere on the field at any time.
  • Aim to initiate & maintain flow – two quick passes can be enough to initiate flow, and once flowing, sustain it for as long as possible by continuing to take the open passes. Do not sacrifice flow in order to look for yardage gaining passes.

Faking
Some of the decision pathways above are yellow – this means an option isn’t definitely open, but it isn’t definitely marked out either. This could be due to a loose defender, due to not being confident with the type of throw or the distance involved, or any other reason the thrower isn’t totally happy with the option. In this circumstance, fake.

Faking should always be realistic and purposeful. There are three main purposes for faking, in order of importance:
a) To move downfield defenders around – if you have seen a potential option, then the good defenders on the field will also have seen it, so a realistic fake will get them committing to cover this option, and open up other options for the offence elsewhere on the field.
b) To communicate with your team – when you fake to a potential throwing option, you communicate to that player that you have recognised the option they are providing, but that you are not going to throw it for whatever reason. This serves as a prompt for them to provide an option elsewhere on the field. The rest of your team are also party to this communication, and should respond appropriately. An effect of a good purposeful fake is that the team are brought onto the same page, into sync, and are then able to establish a rhythm to their offence and control the tempo.
c) To move your mark – useful to make a particular throw easier, and often considered the primary reason for faking, sometimes fakes for this purpose are not aimed at viable options and thus can cause miscommunication and disconnection between the thrower and their team mates. When there are enough offensive options available, faking solely for this purpose is no longer productive.

2. Maintain the shape

In the Hex Movement Decision Tree, if you don’t have the disc in your hands then you must ask yourself “Am I in good hex shape?” – to know the answer, you must first know the shape!
Here is a video where I analyse an Australian team (Outbreak) playing Hex, with particular focus on how they should be maintaining shape during the possession.

The shape (a hexagon) stays the same regardless of the location of the disc – rotating as it nears the sideline in order to keep all players inside the playing field & away from the sideline, as illustrated here. The shape cannot and need not always be perfect during a point, but all players should make efforts and work as a team to maintain the shape when they can, especially if they are not involved in the immediate play.

Some guidelines to help with maintaining shape during a point:

    • Stay connected – when in good shape, each player is connected to (within 8-12 yards of) three team mates. The distance between any two players in the shape is guided by the team’s average throwing ability, or wind conditions – it should be a comfortable pass if the player moves towards the thrower as quickly as possible, or if they move away from the thrower as quickly as possible (a long pass). The three players connected to the thrower occupy the centre of the comfortable distances the thrower can pass, and keep the same distance away from each other.
    • Make triangles – the shape consists of six equilateral triangles, so if players focus locally on maintaining these triangles, the hexagon shape forms naturally.
    • Keep equidistant – locally, ensure the triangles are equilateral. These equal distances make it much easier to ensure everyone is connected, and to establish rhythm and tempo control as an offence, as well as setting a standard for pass-length that players can become familiar and comfortable with.
    • Avoid the narrow channel – when moving up past a player with the disc, take the path on the wider side of the field – avoid the space between the thrower and the sideline.

  • Don’t surround the disc – against person-to-person marking, surrounding the disc (i.e. having the thrower in the centre of the shape, or having a ‘reset’ on the opposite side of the disc to ‘cutters’) will often lead to turnovers and should be avoided. Against zonal defence, surrounding the disc can be beneficial.

Theoretical shape movement – without defenders, the most efficient way to advance the disc down the field whilst maintaining shape would be to pass the disc down the sideline whilst the hex rotates like a wheel rolling down the line – as illustrated in this animation.
In practice, defenders prevent the most efficient offensive movement, and so although globally the structure effectively rotates as it moves down the sideline, not all local situations will reflect this rotation directly, and players will interchange between positions regularly.
When the disc is passed forwards through the middle, players behind and lateral with the disc must push up to avoid surrounding the disc (whilst avoiding the narrow channel), as illustrated in this animation and this animation.

“Hexagon” technically refers to the shape used in this offence, which could be considered as separate to the disc movement, technique, and style of play this article lays out. For simplicity, I am combining the shape, the movement, the technique and the style in this article and under the name Hexagon Offence, as no other offences currently exist which use the Hex shape (though the positions in Frank Huguenard’s Motion Offence are similar). If plenty more Hex-based offences spring up over time then the combined ideas of shape & movement & technique/style may be renamed to something more personal, such as Shardlow Offence, Felix O, etc.

3. Create space for your team mates, use space as you see it developing

The final part on the Hex Movement Decision Tree reads “Can you create useful space for a teammate?” – knowing the answer to this requires having good spatial and field awareness, and understanding how your teammates can use space which you create. Keep you head up and always be aware of where the defenders and the offensive players are positioned, and, if appropriate, move accordingly. You can create space for your teammates even when you are closely covered, and it is acceptable to distort the shape in order to generate an option.

As space opens on the field, make use of it by moving into it. This also helps your team maintain shape. Take what your defender gives you, or make them give you something you want.

Here’s a clip of UK team SMOG playing Hex at Windmill 2018, where they are applying most of the principles explained above fairly well:


Scoring

Scoring in all Ultimate usually happens in one of two ways: (1) from a deep throw, or (2) from flow towards the end zone. When the disc is around the area of the brick mark, the deep throw is a significant threat, so defenders must not allow the offence players to streak free towards the zone. This allows the offence more chances to be free coming back towards the disc, for shorter passes which can be used to initiate flow. Hardly any turnovers happen when the disc is thrown from near the brick mark.
As the disc gets closer to the end zone, the deep throw is no longer a threat, so the defence can apply more pressure to shorter passes. When flow stops outside the end zone, the odds of the offence scoring decreases significantly.
When in this situation, it is still relatively easy for the offence to initiate flow – if they are moving away from the end zone. The offence should coordinate flowing away from the zone – towards the brick mark – whilst vacating all players from the end zone (staying connected), as this will quickly open up the deep throw again as an immediate scoring option, and put them in a good position to direct their flow back towards the end zone.
The ideal distance to which you should flow away from the end zone depends on the players on your team – far enough so that all defenders are out of the end zone, but not so far that your players cannot reach the end zone with a long throw.

Resources

Training Hex Offence with your team – contains some diagrams & descriptions of drills, and tips on how to introduce the offence to your team.
Mex Offence v2.1 – an older version of this doc – more verbose.
Full game footage of Hexagon Offence being played is available at pushpass.co.uk – see any of Brighton City’s games from UKU Nationals 2012/13/14, XEUCF 2013, EUCF 2014, or any Sussex Mohawks 1 or Brighton Panthers games from Uni Regionals 2014. For clips of Hexagon Offence see the Hexagon Ultimate YouTube channel – here are some samples from the channel of Hex in action, taken in 2013.

NB: The play in these videos is by no means a perfect display of Hex, and in the football ones I did get a bit overzealous on drawing triangles over the pitch…



Full drone cam footage of GB U23X v GB Mixed 2015



Chat with Mario O’Brien

[–]riseupmario[S] 1 point

overall yea it all sounds like it could work, just a matter of refining and testing it. I’m a true believer in the idea of ‘anything strategically can work if everyone’s on the same and it’s executed well’. Just gotta keep self-evolving as much as possible.

In general my idea on switching/sandwiching is that it can and does work, situationally, but defenses that get overly switchy are too risky and against smart cutters and great handlers/throwers… you’re setting yourself up for 1 throw that breaks the ice and then never catching up. Fact: most top elite handlers break any mark they want, even the best marks, so if you blow a switch and leave someone open for a split second, they get the disc and boom everyone’s scrambling to catch up… and if you switch at the wrong time when the thrower’s mark is out of position, it’s several easy throws in a row.

Again, not saying it can’t be done, just telling you what I see at the top… and I’d say Sockeye is as experimental as any team out there in terms of trying new/unconventional things… maybe Japan has us beat 😉

[–]riseupmario[S] 1 point

sweet. can’t wait to play against it 😉 or play in it sometime!

Chatting to Mario helped me clarify my thoughts on & for the first time verbalise how poaching causes the progressive collapse of Flex D. I’ve now incorporated this specific example into the Flex theory clinic – it now feels like there is a frame in place, and we’re no longer fumbling in the dark trying to figure out & define ‘smart defence’; we’re working out what fills the frame & where the holes are. The task for the first time feels relatively finite.

I’ve got a lot of time for Sockeye – I hung out with them a little in Prague during WUCC 2010, I love a team that knows how to play hard, party, and isn’t afraid to innovate on the field and openly discuss new strategies and tactics.

To read Mario’s full AMA click here, and be sure to check out his new ULTACADEMY project.