Many of you are familiar with the vertical, horizontal and spread offence but not many of you have heard about the Mexican Offence. It’s relatively new and was developed by Felix Shardlow from Brighton Ultimate in 2012.
This document explains the basics of Mexican Offence in Ultimate. Mexican was first played in the summer of 2012 in a pickup game in Brighton, introduced by Felix Shardlow. The strategy quickly gained support and became the favorite amongst many players, who recognised its potential and enjoyed its freedom. These players would each feed ideas back and forth, discovering new ways to unlock the potential, and figuring out the most effective principles which should be applied.
Although experimented with occasionally by the Brighton City offence line through 2012-2013, it was only at UKU Tour 3 2013 where it blossomed. The Brighton City offence line decided to come straight out with it in their first game, against Euro Champions Clapham – who beat Brighton 15-8 at UKU Nationals 2012.
Clapham started out with man-to-man defence, but Brighton scored relatively easily with long throws. Clapham then threw a tight zone defence – but without modifying their offence, Brighton scored in a few passes. Clapham then put on a loose zone, and Brighton scored in 5 or 6 passes to make it 6-6.
Although Brighton’s D line hadn’t converted any turns, Clapham felt like they were on the ropes, called their second time-out, and came out with a very physical, tight man-to-man defence. They edged the game away, winning 15-11 in the end – the best result Brighton have had against them for years. After the game, Marc “Britney” Guilbert – Clapham and GB Open captain – said how impressed he was with the way we created and used the space on the field, that we were doing it in a way which Clapham aspired to.
Brighton City finished 3rd at UKU Nationals 2013 using this offence 90% of the time on both lines. However, the offence is not limited to top-level play. The principles at work in Mexican are more similar to other sports than any other offence in Ultimate, and Mex has been easily and successfully taught to university freshers from both Sussex and Brighton Universities – when presented with vertical, horizontal, and Mexican as equal options, freshers usually preferred to play Mex, sometimes horizontal, but never vertical stack.
Mex can also be played with fewer players – although the overall shape changes, the principles remain the same and the effectiveness is not compromised.
This doc is written so a beginner can pick it up and understand how to play offence in Ultimate without any prior experience. Experienced players may have picked up habits and principles from other offences which can hinder Mexican, so clear your mind and try not to make any assumptions. The information in this document is very basic – deliberately open to the interpretation that best suits your team.
- Always take the open pass / what the defenders give you, regardless of:
– yardage / field position
– stall count
- Face infield so you can see all of your team & all of the options / open passes available to you
- Fake to cuts you cannot, for any reason, complete a pass to
- Respond to fakes – change direction, clear space
- Take what your defender gives you – cut & signal with hands
- Create space for your team mates by cutting, even when closely covered
- Cut into space as you see it developing
- Do not surround the disc
- Be constantly heads-up, on your toes, and aware of the play & your surroundings
- Stay connected to your team mates without crowding them
Firstly, this formation is not a structure which must be strictly followed at all times – it is a guideline for the shape the players should be looking to maintain during fluid play – a meta-structure, if you will, to keep in the back of your minds whilst the offence moves fluidly. Players could be taking the initiative and cutting / clearing space at all times, or running more strict set plays, depending on the style of your team.
The disc should be on the edge of the formation – this prevents surrounding the disc, and gives continuation options after the first pass is made. The shape extends from the disc towards the centre of the space available – so when the disc is on the sideline, the formation extends directly off the line into the centre of the field. This animation shows how the shape is applied when the disc is in different field positions – essential viewing.
The shape consists of six equilateral triangles creating a hexagon. The use of triangles means players are spread across the field in the most efficient manner – each player has as much space as possible, whilst remaining connected to as many team mates as possible. Maintaining these triangles and thus the ‘connections’ between players is crucial to the effectiveness of the formation – without the triangles it becomes far, far less effective.
The distance between each player should be equal distance to the average player’s comfortable, reliable, and accurate throwing distance – usually between 5 and 15 yards. The triangles are the crux of the shape so must not be neglected – the overall formation acts as a guideline for the space we should be looking to use during fluid play.
How the movement from the mex setup works is largely down to how your team wants to play. Expansive cuts create space which can immediately be used by the surrounding players, so can be used to initiate play. Deep cuts are possible from many positions on the field, and the space directly around the disc is always available to be used. Give and go moves work well, and set plays are possible in every situation – three players cutting in a triangle shape, for instance, presents three viable options every couple of seconds.
For efficient movement when the disc is in flow, a few rules of thumb can help. If the disc is flowing up the sideline, the formation should ‘roll’ up that sideline – players behind the disc should push out wide away from the disc and upfield, and players in front of the disc should attack the space in front of the disc on the active sideline – as per this animation.
If the disc is passed to the central player, players behind the disc (surrounding it) should push wide and upfield, and players upfield should look to cut into the space created immediately in the centre, in front of the disc. This animation shows movement after a simple under cut from the central player, and this animation shows movement when the central player receives the disc towards the side of the field.
Scoring happens in two ways: (1) from a deep throw, or (2) from flow towards the end zone. Static, stop-start situations near to the opposing teams end zone are difficult due to the defenders having a very small space to cover – the deep throw is no longer a viable threat. When a comfortable distance away from the end zone, deep throws are possible from many positions, and deep cuts are able to come from almost any player at any time. Flow towards the end zone can be started by flowing with the disc in any direction, moving the defenders out of position, and then taking advantage of the space to generate a scoring opportunity. If flow stops without a score being generated, then the team should focus on re-starting the flow – either by moving the disc across the field, or – more easily when very near the end zone – by flowing back away from the end zone. After flow away from the end zone has been achieved, once again the deep throw will be a viable threat (assuming your team has retained their shape), as well as the possibility of re-generating flow towards the opposing teams 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 you cannot reach the end zone with a long throw.
The Mexican Offence was created by Felix Shardlow in 2012 and the original content can be found here: http://goo.gl/miR1Jj.
Full game footage of Mexican Offence being played is available here – see any of Brighton City’s games from UKU Nationals 2012 or XEUCF 2013, or any Sussex Mohawks 1 or Brighton Panthers games from Uni Regionals 2014. For clips of Mexican Offence see the Hexagon Ultimate YouTube channel.