|Pretty much everyone knows the stack, and pretty much everyone plays it - all the time. The stack certainly has a place in the game, but I find often people now are not even aware of alternatives - the stack is taught to new players as if it is required in the 10th edition of the UPA rules, and people naturally play it without regard to its suitability for a particular team or situation.
In the stack, the offensive players form a line downfield, leaving the section in front of the thrower empty. This then becomes the arena where the first cutter attacks. If he can get open from his defender, it is guaranteed that there is a free lane between him and the thrower, since there is no one in the region between them. (NOTE: if the defense plays a semi-zone and has one or more players cheat off their men downfield the offense can throw long to one of the free receivers.)
The offense then has 2 choices. If there is a good followup cut they can make the continuation pass and hope to break the defense without giving them a chance to recover. If this does not work, they can reform the stack and start the process over again.
The stack has some strengths. These include:
- it often works. No defender can one-on-one shut down a good, athletic receiver being thrown to by a skilled thrower.
- it helps eliminate clogging.
- and, on the other side, it eliminates those dead times when no one will take responsibility for the offense by making the hard cut.
- it is particularly effective right on the goal line, where some other offenses break down.
- it enforces the primary handling of the disc by the handlers that the offense selects as most reliable.
- it is simple, both to teach and to coordinate players unfamiliar with each other's style. In hat tournaments most people know how to play it, so a pickup team can play an effective offense immediately.
Some of the disadvantages include:
- it is slow. The offense has an inherent advantage when scrambling, but setting up the stack gives the defense time to set up as well.
- the number of opportunities to throw is very low. In a 10-second stall count there will only be 3 or 4 cuts by primary cutters.
- Because the thrower needs to focus on the primary receiver throughout his cut in order to be prepared to throw when he is open, it is not easy to follow what is going on elsewhere on the field.
- A good marker can try to keep track of the primary cutter and make the throw more difficult.
- It is not a good offense for beginners to improve in. While they do know their responsibilities, they may feel they are not really part of the offense, or learning much about the game.
Finally, here are some counter arguments to the strengths cited above.
- [It often works]: it works for quick, athletic players with good hands, but of course this type of player can get the disc in just about any offense. Handlers who are not as quick but insist on playing this style may have trouble getting the disc, where other offenses might play more to their strengths.
- [eliminates clogging]: if clogging is a problem, this is a possible way to address it. If any offense is working well, clogging should not be a problem. There is no need to take medicine if you are not sick.
- [eliminates dead offense]: again, if this is a problem, the stack is one way, but certainly not the only way, to address it.
- [enforces primary handling of disc]: this is great for those designated handlers, but others may not feel they are in the offense, or get the number of opportunities to handle the disc and improve their game as they might in other offenses.
- [it is simple]: by the same token, almost every team knows how to play it, and is relatively experienced playing defense against it.