How to play Hex: Flow – Analysis of 14 passes in flow from Stevens IoT
Analysis of 14 passes in flow from US College team Stevens IoT playing Hexagon Offence – 3rd video in the ‘How to play Hex’ series!
… read transcript / summary …
Full 3hr analysis session with Stevens Tech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ufyd8oe0aN8
Also from the How to play Hex series:
Hex Movement Decision Tree: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUTyrYrPCq0
Analysis of Outbreak’s Hex Shape: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KvEaqAuN3Cg
Here’s some analysis of a US College team playing Hexagon Offence. It came about after I met TJ Stanton at the tryouts for New York Empire – his college coach Jason Thompson was already considering introducing Hex to Stevens Institute of Technology (as well as some other teams he’s involved with), and he knew they had to give it a shot after speaking to TJ.
This footage is from the final of the D3 Metro East Conference Championship, Stevens are in white against the college of New Jersey.
This point involves 14 passes in flow leading up to a score. I’m going to focus first on Stevens’ STRUCTURE and then on their MOVEMENT – not touching too much on their TECHNIQUE.
The three principles in Hex are to maintain shape, sustain flow, and control balance. Let’s stop the video here to look at Stevens’ offensive shape on the field during flow. Here are where their players are, and these are the hex shape points for this disc position near the far sideline. Around five of the seven players are near hex points, and there is no significant overload in any area as the player at the back can fill in here, and this player isn’t too far away from this prong position connected to the disc. 5 out of 7 with no overload is actually pretty good shape, bearing in mind shape is constantly deforming during play and shape maintenance is an ongoing task.
These players are then almost all immediately involved in the play, and although the opportunity for a pass to the near sideline is missed, the central position is filled in from afar and flow is sustained with another quick pass.
If we stop again, let’s look at offensive positioning, and compare to the hex shape points for this disc position. Around four of the team are near to shape points, the three prong positions are pretty much occupied, the only issue is that there is some overcrowding deep.
The fairly good shape facilitates the subsequent good flow. The upline cut has some separation that isn’t cashed in on, and the disc immediately moves across the pitch again. The shape is now really good, just needing small adjustments for the new disc position.
Now let’s look at the movement of the offence. The movement in hex is explained via the hex movement decision tree, which basically says take the first open pass in front of you, and face the centre of the space if nothing is developing.
If we pause here, Chris has just caught the disc and there is no option immediately open in front of him. He will turn immediately to face infield, where the centre of the shape is, which would have been slightly quicker if he had turned inwards rather than outwards after catching.
As the disc moves, Ronnie is moving across the field towards a hex shape point, which would have sustained flow nicely, however he turns away and clears, meaning the option the thrower takes is a little more risky.
If the pass had been made to the sideline and the catcher had turned inwards, they would have also seen the central player quickly, and been able to use them with a pass, or a very effective fake.
As the disc is passed, TJ immediately moves downfield, and provides a stall zero option in the direction the new thrower is facing during their catch.
Flow is sustained as the disc moves to the centre again, and Blake has two options available in front of him. After moving to the side, the disc flows all the way back across the field, continuing its path through the hex shape points smoothly.
Ronnie catches facing the backfield, and should turn inwards to face the centre of the space. He turns outwards but doesn’t waste any energy on an outwards auto-fake (which would be counter-productive for flow), instead finding the central option in good time and keeping the disc moving well.
The score is generated as TJ executes a well timed power move from the back across Kyle’s immediate field of view after catching, and TJ is able to throw whatever he wants towards the end zone for one second.
The stall count does not rise above 3 for the fourteen passes leading up to the score. Stevens’ shape throughout is fairly good, which facilitates their ability to sustain flow and advance the disc forwards both directly and indirectly.
Now, if you’ve been watching this video wondering what on earth I’m going on about when I speak of things like hex shape points, here’s a little explanation of how hexagon offence works:
There are three main elements to all offensive play – structure, movement, and technique. Each are equally important as the other, usually an offence is defined by its structure so that’s what I’ll talk about first.
The hexagonal structure is made of equilateral triangles, the points of which are a comfortable distance away from each other – around 12 yards. If it’s windy, or if players are smaller, slower, or can’t throw very accurately over distance, the distance between these points reduces. You want this distance to be comfortable so that a player can sprint towards or away from the disc and be able to receive a pass in stride.
The structure is a shape rather than a formation – as the disc position changes, a formation such as horizontal or vertical stacks will shift and warp, whereas the hex shape stays constant and rotates relative to the available space. The thrower is usually on the edge of the shape, to avoid 1-to-1 defenders surrounding the disc and provide a second level of continuation on a fundamental level. The “hat” is a useful point to keep track of, as it acts as a balance point for the shape, so everyone one the field should be aware of it, maintain it, and build the shape around it. When the disc is on the side, the shape extends perpendicular from the sideline, utilising the space most effectively. The shape will naturally deform during play, so all players should be making efforts to maintain the shape when they are not directly involved in the play around the disc.
In order to best maintain shape, all players should have knowledge of where the hex points are for the disc position, and should each gravitate towards these points. As the disc moves and as the stall count rises, populating the hex shape points will give your team good shape, which facilitates good flow and maximises options. Gravitating towards the hex shape points to occupy them whenever you have any individual down-time is step one, communicating and staying connected to your teammates in order to create good shape as a team is the next level.
These movements to maintain the shape after it has deformed can often be considered as cuts which can be passed to.
The shape is the supporting structure for the movement. The stall count should be kept as low as possible, so the decisions and actions of a player as the disc is coming towards them, when is in their hands, and what they do immediately after it leaves their hands, are critically important to the movement of the offence.
The movement is based around principles and guidelines, rather than cutting orders and patterns.
Movement in hex best explained through the Hex Movement Decision Tree, so check out the video linked in the description below to learn more about that, and expect a video in the future about techniques, such as dribbling, which are best suited to flow-based offences like hex.
Let’s have a quick look at a few more scores from Stevens Tech in this game. Here we see a turnover from TCNJ, Stevens pass the disc quickly and keep it moving by taking the first available options, their shape is pretty good after some initial downfield overloading and they sustain flow fairly well, finishing it off with a long throw to space.
Here you see the hex setup as the disc is walked up after a turnover, TJ in the hat wrongfoots his defender and goes deep, no switch from the defence means a comfortable long throw, Chris has also chased it down and is clear to catch the scoring pass.
Now this is a good move from Ronnie to offer a stall 1 option, when typically the offence and defence would spend the valuable first three seconds of the stall focusing on the area in front of the disc. Instead, each of the poached players is used, and the discs swings to the far side. In particular, a smart defender like Ben Katz would typically poach off Joe here at the back and cause trouble downfield, knowing they won’t be involved in the play for a while, but against hex that doesn’t work as the moving disc finds them very quickly and turns that separation into a threat.
This is similar to the first clip, but in this case TJ comes under towards the hex point to continue flow. He turns inwards and finds a pass to the centre, which is all very nice. The next pass tears open the defence, changing the angle of attack so drastically that is TJ instantly free for the score.
That’s all for now, congrats to Stevens for winning the final, and also congratulations to Belgian team Helgtre who recently got silver at the Belgian National Championships playing hex and flex strategies. Click Subscribe if you haven’t already and I’ll see you again soon!
Great analysis again Felix. It’s good to see that the principles of good formation still work even when the basics aren’t yet completely ingrained. It means that their offense can still get a lot better by focusing on those points. Promising!