So, with nationals rapidly approaching, I thought it’d be worth having a shot at picking apart one of the most common (of the top 8 last year, 5 teams played this offence near exclusively) and worst defended offences of women’s indoors…
The Handler Weave (or 2-1-2)
In the next three posts I’m going to explain what it is, how to beat it, and also give you a chance to look at some footage that shows key parts of it in action (as well as a team beating it on defence).
So, what is Handler Weave?
The 2-1-2 tell you how the formation is set out on the pitch. Firstly there are two goons in the endzone. They’ll normally be in a tight stack.
The other three players set up in a triangle – 2 flat back handlers, and one player isolated in the middle of the pitch. This person will often be referred to as ‘the iso’. You’ll notice that they’re in lots of space, similar to our ‘god’ play.
The original version of this offence (which few teams play anymore) starts with a move/look identical to the god play – which I will refer to as ‘the iso throw’. The handler throws the disc to the break side for the iso to go fetch. This throw would go in the original Ro Sham offence ONLY if the iso’s D player was sitting underneath them (ie. open side under – which incidentally is where we plan to be when playing D on a stack).
If this throw wasn’t on – taken away by either the force or the upfield D player – Ro Sham would transition into the form of the offence that most teams go straight for today – which I will call the “running offence”.
The play start is the handler (of the flatback 2) without the disc running up the line (referred to as the “up line” cut). After this handler has gone, the iso will cut back towards the handler, into the centre of the pitch (this is the “swing” cut and pass). If neither of these options works, the next option is the original running handler bouncing off the line and “wrinkling” back into the centre of the pitch (filling into the iso’s space) – this would usually have to be hit with an overhead to clear ‘traffic’ (bodies in the way).
Check out my super high tech pic of this – blue circles are O players (they’re scoring ‘up’ your screen), white circle indicates who has the disc, lines and arrows show who’s running where.The principle component of this offence is throw and go – as soon as your mark has released the disc you can expect them to be running at top speed up the line.
Why does it work?
Because the offence is cutting hard (due to having an easy pattern to follow), defence often find themselves on the back foot when O change direction. A key element to playing defence against this is knowing where they want to go, and beating them there.
However, once they’ve worked out the predictable pattern of cuts, defence may over-commit to the break side if the force has been beaten before, leaving easy open side cuts. Equally, the force may know that the upline cut is coming, so may over-bite onto the open side fake of the handler, leaving the break throw free – you’ll get to see both of these in the video I’ll be uploading for later posts (some tech issues!).
Fundamentally, handler weave works because its high tempo encourages the defence to run brainlessly after the offence, forgetting the usual rules of defence, like say, the open side. *They* are playing fast, which cons *you* into thinking you don’t have time to think or to even remember the force. This is untrue – thinking will give you more time and will get you blocks, often through them having no options and facing a stallout or a throw to a marked player.
Homework: Visualise this pattern of cuts – handler runs up the line, iso runs back for swing cut, handler wrinkles into the pitch. Draw it on paper with x’s or lines. Talk about it with a team-mate. Make sure your brain knows what they want to be doing – this step is crucial to working out how to stop it.
Next up, I’ll be talking about how we’re going to play D on this offence: it’s all about discipline and pressure.