Punting: A Legitimate Kubb Strategy?

In football, if you don’t get a first down in your first three plays, then you will more than likely punt the ball to the other team. Ideally, this forces the other team to start their drive deep in their own zone, with more yards to go to score points.

But I know what you’re thinking. Punting? In Kubb? What in the world is that? Punting is the name that some members of Kalamazoo Kubb gave to a strategy Michael Economy vehemently lobbies his teams to use. His strategy was to not toss field kubbs back just beyond the 4 meter mark, but to toss kubbs deep into your opponent’s zone. Now this isn’t a strategy he implements at every turn, but he has key times in the game where he wants to discuss punting.

In the image below, the blue kubbs show a typical spot a team’s inkastare would drill his kubbs. They are grouped together and as close to the center line as possible for a shorter throw. The red kubbs show how the other team might “punt” and keep the kubbs deep in their opponents zone. If they cannot knock down these field kubbs, then the opponents only move up a few feet instead of moving up potentially 4 meters.

Diagram of kubb gameplay.The first time we discuss punting is when we get more than 3 kubbs in play. He will routinely ask the inkastare if they feel good about grouping them. Then, if a kubb or two skips, bounces, or in any way goes astray, we must discuss our options. Do we feel good about getting those field kubbs down now that they are not grouped? Should we try to group remaining kubbs, try to throw them in a spot to make it a group, or should we toss our remaining kubbs deep just in case we cannot down the kubbs with have already thrown? These are all things our team must discuss, resolve, and decide what gives us the best chance of winning. If we leave kubbs standing on a turn and our opponent does not finish us off on their own turn, then you can bet the farm Mike will make us discuss punting.

His view is very simple, you should never allow your opponent to move up. If this must happen, you make their advantage as minimal as possible. The team our club sent to the U.S. National Kubb Championship last July took huge advantage of our opponents not listening to his advice. Until we played Kubb’d for a spot in the top 16, we had not won a game from the back line. We had dominate wins, we had wins we just squeaked out, but they all came after our opponent gave us an advantage line.

Now I’m not really going to ask if this is a legitimate kubb strategy. I think we all know it is. I’ve seen it used at the two tournaments I attended in 2014 and we’ve all seen Eric Anderson talk about it in his YouTube videos. My question is, can this be used to help you win games?

I’ve been very anti-punting in our club. I’ve been known to mock its wisdom and to make fun of those who use it. You see, in the games we’ve played in our backyards, in our city parks, and in tournaments, I rarely see it help you win games. What it is very good at is extending games. I’ve seen it used to earn a tie or partial points in tournaments with time limits. But in a world where the top inkastare’s can drill an awesome group just 4 meters away, how can a winning strategy be to put them farther away?

My response is always the same when it comes to discussing whether a team should punt. To win consistently at kubb you must group them well and take only a couple batons to knock over your group. If you can’t do that, you can’t win. You can punt, but if you do, you are only prolonging your defeat. If I’m going to lose, I’m going to lose on my terms. I want to lose because I couldn’t group them or I couldn’t blast effectively. I get up to two throws at each kubb to get them as close as possible, and that’s how I win or lose. Perhaps I’m jaded because I’m the usually the inkastare and I’m the first blaster. How dare you think I can’t make that shot!

Kubb is about adjusting to your game and to your opponents. So the truth in this debate is probably somewhere in the middle. But I’ve often wondered if there are people out in Kubbnation that have had this same debate. Do you use the punting strategy? Is it effective for you? How do you decide when it’s time to punt? Please join the debate, we’d love to hear from you.

Kubb unites people and creates peace on Earth. We've started our club to unite players around the Kalamazoo/Southwest Michigan to grow this great game. We know there are teams out there, like Team Kalamakubb and now have the resources to get us all together to grow the game here in Michigan!
  1. The reason I don’t like the punting strategy is that it really just delays an inevitable loss. If you aren’t playing well enough to knock down all the field kubbs up close, you probably aren’t good enough to do it further away either. If you’re worried about your opponent taking you out with an advantage line, they will probably still get you in the end. I think you’re just living an extra round or three, and your chance at winning is as thin as it would be any other way. The only exception I can see to this is if you’re really hitting your seven to eight meter shots that game and not hitting anything closer. I still think the majority of the time, you’re better off grouping tight, close group.

  2. Winning by throwing deep requires your baton accuracy for the long shots to be as high as it is for short shots. Here’s a couple related conversations on this topic:

  3. We have never used this strategy in tournament play. I do feel that using this strategy puts your team at a disadvantage from clearing the field, if you survive the turn to throw again.

    He is correct about never allowing a team to move up. That is rule #1, never give your opponent a advantage line. I teach to always clear the field. Even if you have a kubb that took a wild bounce and is not in your group, it should be much easier to pick up than a kubb that your team decided to put deep. Clear the field and be satisfied even if you didn’t get a chance to take another baseline kubb. You did your job and now the pressure is on your oppenent to do the same thing.

    Based on your statement that your team discusses this option when more than 3 kubbs are in play, tells me you are not confident in clearing the field at 4-5m. Practice and get used to playing and clearing 6-10 kubbs in play. This builds confidence and efficiency in your game which will then lead to more victories. Hope that helps. 🙂

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