Any training self-planner, whether fledgling or veteran, would do well to heed her words on priorities and flexibility – both are keys to success for we amateur (yet comitted) athletes for whom life can get in the way of what’s ideal.
Gwen shares her thoughts on running the 4-person (or 4-man or 4-woman if you prefer) cup below. A lot of what she offers applies not just to the 4pc but can be applied to other zones as well.
Thanks a lot Gwen!
In my mind, the big difference between a 4-person cup zone (why doesn’t anyone call it a 4-2-1?) and a 1-3-3 is the emphasis on pushing the disc backwards in the 4-person cup. The trap looks exactly the same, but in the middle of the field and on the non-trap sideline, the cup curls around, making the passing lanes out of the cup angle back much more than against a 1-3-3 or even a 3 person cup. As the disc is thrown to another handler, (assuming it is not on the sideline yet) the pusher/point on that side takes an angle to cut off the next swing pass, then closes in–sometimes to mark, sometimes to just take away the passing lane (depending on the positioning of the other pusher/point and the threats on the field). A 4-person cup was initially designed to contest the swings of a 3-person handler set, and works quite well to make it hard for the handlers to gain yards through swinging. It’s the ability of the cup to curl that really challenges the swings and can push the offense backwards.
Another great thing about the 4-person cup is that it allows for a lot of flexibility within a point to change up the zone you’re playing. You can switch from FM to trapping quite easily. You can also switch between different types of traps with just an audible. You can also pull one of the mid-mids out of the cup to act as a short deep if your opponents have dropped a couple of throws into the space behind the cup (a general weak-spot of the 4-person cup zone). Alternatively, you can have one of the mid-mids or points play person-D against the dump–taking away crashes and easy resets, challenging the thrower to make a longer and riskier pass to another player not guarded person-on. With an experienced 4-person cup zone team, you can transition back and forth from the standard 4-person cup set-up to a number of these different permutations.
The hardest position to play in the 4-person cup zone is wing. There’s a lot of ground to cover if a team likes to try to go over the top of the cup. The wings and deep deep usually have more than one person to cover each, so the ability to triangulate the threats is key. Speed is also a must to be able to cover big swaths of the field. When the disc gets into the redzone, many teams will transition out of zone, but it can still be effective as long as the wings and deep deep re-orient themselves to each take away a third of the shortened field behind the cup. In general, the requirements of wings and deep deep when playing a 4-person cup are pretty much the same as in a 1-3-3 and the spacing is roughly identical.