Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Deep Cutting

Hello avid-readers. As always, my apologies for the huge gaps between entries. I don't have any good excuses, it's just hard for me to actually sit down and complete work on some of them for some reason. However, with the college season starting up in a couple weeks and the Ultimate fire that comes with a new batch of young guys under my tutelage, I really hope to update my blog much more often.

I'll make a deal with you folks. If I can get up to 50+ followers after this entry, I'll do at least one more entry for August and no less than three for September... give me that motivation! Anyways, on to the actual ultimate details:

I'm going to break this down into two(ish) parts. The first will be rather straightforward: getting deep separation. The second section will be significantly more in depth and that will be on deep spacing.

Before I get into any of that though let me make it clear that these are some general deep cutting principles. The best throwers and the best cutters can and do break a lot of these. Some people are exceptionally good at reading the disc. Some throwers can put the disc out at some crazy angles or have no fear of the sideline or fear of the loopy O-I flight path. However, I believe that even the best throwers and cutters have a solid foundation of the principles outlined here.

Deep Separation

Getting deep separation is a simple thing.  You can go about it in two ways. You can treat it like a handler or underneath cut where your attempting to turn your defenders hips and then making a move to the opposite direction. In this instance, you want to get your defender fully committed to the underneath then turn on a point and head deep. 

Doing this is an especially effective way to cut because many defenders will commit extra-hard to the underneath for the glory of the lay-out block, leaving themselves completely out of position to cover the deep afterwards. 

The second way to cut deep, and bear in mind this is quite simplistic, simply run deep. Deep cuts have one special quality that other cuts do not have: you (should) have significant vertical field space to utilize straight-line speed. So for you annoying people that have great speed, if you're faster than your defender then the more straight line distance you run, the more separation you'll get. However, you do not have infinite space to continue to build that separation, so this is where deep spacing becomes important.

Deep Spacing - Vertical

While making a deep cut you have to keep two types of spacing in mind, vertical spacing and horizontal spacing. Vertical spacing is important because you want to make sure you're not going to run out of field length or have to slow your cut down to wait for the disc, which will allow your defender to catch up.

To give yourself enough vertical space to make a good deep cut your deep cut needs to originate from fairly shallow, (vertically close to the disc) depending on how fast you can cover the vertical space on the field. If your cut starts too deep then your thrower will not have the vertical space to put the disc out where you can run it down at full speed.

Think of it this way: the best hucker on your team just got an up-the-line handler cut and has power position. You want to BEGIN your deep move, be it streaking straight deep from your setup position (you speedy guys) or planting on your under cut and turning deep, right as that handler catches the line throw. The disc is in their hands, they have that 1-2 second window where the forward momentum of the cut they made is transferred into their throwing motion and they can put the disc out as far as possible.

If your cut started too deep, then you're going to run out of field length and either the disc is going to go out the back of the end-zone or you're going to have to stop and wait for the disc, which also gives your defender the opportunity to make up ground.

There are so many factors that go into deciding what's "too deep." It depends on where you started, what offense you're running, where other cutters are, and how far down the field your team already is, but the basic idea is,  if you can't run the disc out full speed, then your cut originated too deep (or the throw was bad, but for all intents and purposes here we'll assume quality throws).

Deep Spacing - Horizontal

Horizontal spacing is actually, in my opinion, more important than vertical spacing. It might seem a little odd but an EASY deep throw, read and catch is always in large part due to good horizontal spacing.

A deep cut should originate from the far side of the field as the thrower. This doesn't mean that deep cuts can only come the opposite side of the field as the thrower, it simply means there should be adequate horizontal space for an easy space throw.

In this illustration, the thrower (circle X) is being forced away. Assuming a force-side huck, then the deep cut (X) should originate from the break side of the field. It doesn't necessarily mean the deep cut has to originate all the way from the sideline, but with the cut coming from the breakside, both the thrower and the cutter are given adequate space to make a good flat throw, and an easy run-down respectively.

For the cutter, they know where the disc is coming from and don't have to waste a lot of time trying to find the disc for a good read; it's coming in over their left shoulder and they know it, which leaves them in the best position to come down with the throw, especially considering most defenders will begin with their back to the disc. It is natural for the disc's flight path in this scenario to simply meet the deep cutter at a singular point. Difficult reads originate when the cut and and the throw are following the same path. 

If I'm the thrower here, I know I can make a simple flat throw, no oustide-in or inside-out is needed, which is both the easiest throw, and the easiest disc to catch. 

If the thrower is going to make a breakmark huck, then the cut in this instance, should be originating from the away side of the field (mirror the cutter to the opposite side). Everything else is the same idea, there's plenty of space for an easy read and catch. Things get a little hazy on horizontal spacing here, because a thrower may see a cut originating from the away side, and therefore throw a break-mark huck, but the idea remains the same, there should be adequate horizontal space to allow for the easy throw and read.


In this case the deep cut originated too close to in front of the thrower, who again is being forced away. The thrower is left with three options:

1) A huge, looping, force-side backhand (assuming they're right-handed) around the left shoulder of the cutter. This isn't the easiest throw in the world for starters. Additionally, the cutter will have to change the vector of their cut at some point to make the catch unless the throw is an absolutely ridiculous blade. 

2) The flat space throw to the force-side directly over the head of the cutter. This is an easy throw, but a difficult read. With the disc coming in directly over the cutter's head they must spent significantly more time finding the disc and getting into position for a good read and catch. I've seen so many throws like this that are potentially great catches out in space, but the cutter has to spend that extra time finding the disc and it ends up just out of reach. 

3) The inside-out backhand or around forehand break. This throw will come in over the right shoulder of the cutter. This is the ideal throw, as there is adequate space for them to make an easy read, but it is the hardest throw in the game. If your mark is letting of breakmark hucks to significant space you're either dealing with an extraordinary thrower or a bad mark. The difference here on a breakmark huck versus my top illustration breakmark discussion, is that if we mirrored the cut on the top illustration  to originate from the significant away (break) side, then there is much more horizontal space so the thrower only has to make a slight break huck (inside-out right-handed backhand in that case). 

Don't Vertical Stacks Go Against Your Spacing Principles? 

But Katfish, what about center stack? Isn't the disc in it's best position centered, in front of the stack? Are you telling me you're not supposed to huck from there? And that last guy in the stack, often the one cut in an offense, isn't he too deep vertically to make a good deep cut?!

As far as vertical spacing goes for a center stack, I've always taught my guys and been taught that rarely should a deep cut originate from the back of the stack. If a cutter wants to go deep from that position, they should give themselves a hard underneath first, so as to maintain their vertical spacing.

Center stack is also slightly different from my above horizontal illustration in that the "looping" backhand throw to the force side is not quite so looping;  there is a reasonable amount of space to the force or breakside. Ideally, I'd like my cut to originate from farther to the force or break side, to give me even more space for that flat throw, but when the cut starts directly in the middle of the field there is generally enough space for a pretty easy throw and catch. The throw does have to have a slight curve to it, but not so difficult that it's going to make it significantly low percentage.  This also applies to cuts from a horizontal (split, spread, H), that originate directly in line with the thrower.

Horizontal deep spacing is on the reasons you will never see me trap a center stack team on the sideline. When they're trapped every single one of their cutters has adequate horizontal space to make an easy deep cut, whereas if they're forced back towards their stack the only easy, space huck is a breakmark throw.

Again let me reiterate, that these are not end all be all, do this or you suck principles, this are the basics of deep cutting and deep spacing. Some throwers are incredible at bending perfect throws at crazy angles. Some cutters will come down with discs regardless of whether or not it easy read. Sometimes the flat, space huck isn't the best throw because they've got a Beau on their team that can overtake even your best deeps given enough space. However, these are good general principles, that will make for high-percentage hucks.

As always I appreciate and look forward to comments from my readers, even if you disagree.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Handler Cutting

The Basics

There is a principle I want to start with here that transcends the position on the field that you're making your cut (downfield, handler, whatever). This is probably the most important cutting principle anyone can learn: take what the defense is giving you. If my defender playing off me 5 yards to contain the line cut, I'm not going to cut up line. If my defender is backing me by 10 yards because of my 40 inch vertical, I'm not going to go deep (initially). It's a fairly simple concept, but I see so many young players learn one method of cutting (5 hard steps out and under) and make that cut no matter how the defense is set up. If they're going to play off of you as a defender, then take the open cut, it's simple.

Anyway, back to handler cuts. The first thing you need to learn when making a handler cut is how to position yourself properly. This varies slightly depending on the offense you run. But there are a few things that are fairly universal.

Give yourself a good amount of horizontal space away from the disc. However, don't be so far away (20+ yards)  that your cut is going to take 2-3+ seconds to develop, when the person with the disc is ready to reset, you should be in a good position as soon as they turn or very soon thereafter (depending on whether your team runs a timing system, or is more based on eye contact).  I also like to set up 3-4 yards backfield from the disc so as to have more room to drive my defender up the line.

Exactly what you do with a cut varies based on where your defender is positioned and your own athletic skill-set, but in general your first priority should be to force your defender up the line. If you beat them up line, sweet, you gained yards and got power position (your body is moving in the direction you want to throw, down field). If your defender covers that look, then once they've turned their hips and committed to your line cut, you should cut back for the behind reset. Again, how you get the defender to turn their hips is up to your own abilities. Some people throw a shimmy in there, some people are just naturally quick, some people use their size to make it difficult for the defender to get around them.

One good rule of thumb however is to avoid "dancing." Meaning that you're making 3-4 jukes to get your defender to turn. This takes too long as a handler cut, and if your defender's covered the first 3 or 4 then they probably can cover 5 and 6 or the stall count has gotten too high. Also, remember to be dynamic. I've seen some very quick guys go up against a quicker defender, and struggle to get open with moves that normally work. If one thing isn't working against a particular defender, have other options. Figure out what works for you, but remember, a good handler cut should get you separation in a fairly short timeframe.

Sideline Resets

For the majority of your cuts when the disc is on the sideline one of two things is going to happen. 1) You beat your man up the line. 2) You get the disc backfield for the reset. Up the line is pretty straight forward, you're in a great spot for a huck or break throw and should follow up accordingly.

One thing that people should be mindful of is running somewhat parallel to the sideline when you make your line cut. If you take too hard of angle towards the sideline then your thrower does not have the room to make an easy space throw, rather, they are forced to put the disc in the one specific spot where you as the cutter are going to meet the sideline. The problem here is that you can't catch the disc out of bounds, while your defender can keep going 100% straight through and get the D.

However, the thrower must also be careful of putting the disc too far up the line in the space you've created, because eventually you will run into down field defenders and poaches.

Moving to back field resets, one extremely bad habit that a lot of players (especially myself as I've played less competitively in the last two years) have when making a  backfield dump cut is getting the reset almost directly behind the person with the disc. When the disc is sidelined, this is not a good thing. You haven't put yourself into position for a good swing, you haven't advanced the disc towards the center of the field (which for most offenses is a benefit). Mostly what you've done is lost yards.

A good backfield handler cut should always put you in the position to make a swing or at the very least have gained space off the sideline. In the above illustration you've driven your defender up the line, turned their hips, but you took a bad angle and went straight to the disc. Your throwing "power" position in my above example is pointing towards the sideline and away from the downfield, about the only place on the field there is absolute nobody to throw to.

In this picture you still haven't taken the best angle up the line but you're at least gaining some horizontal space away from the disc in addition to getting the reset. You also have a slightly better option to continue your swing across the field.

This is the ideal way to get a back field reset for a couple reasons. First of all, the cut is practically un-coverable. If your defender stops the line cut then they are in no position to stop a swing cut back across the field. Additionally they are on the completely 100% wrong side of the your body to stop a continuation swing and your throwing power position is facing the entire break-side of the field. If you can successfully execute this cut you will get a continue swing off, or at the very least will have the disc significantly closer to the middle of the field. 

The one thing to be careful of with the above "best" cut that I've described, is the throw is significantly more challenging a dump throw than a simple behind-reset. The reason that a lot of players go for the straight behind reset (as shown in my "NO" illustration) is that it's probably the easiest throw for the person with the disc to make. However, I believe it reasonable that any competitive team expect all their players to be able to make this longer, space throw.

Midfield Resets

When the disc is the middle of the field resets are quite simple as you are not terribly concerned with horizontal positioning, but rather you mostly just want to reset the stall count while maintaining relative position to where the disc started. 

I'll go over the three different cuts I generally use when the disc is already centered, and the strengths of each.

The above reset is straight forward. I'm going to go behind the thrower, either slightly break or open side. It doesn't matter if I start on the force or break side. One of the absolute best spots to set up here is straight behind the disc, as one step to either side and a space throw will get you separation and a reset with a good open or break-side power position look. Yes you will be losing yards, but you've kept the disc centered and you should have an easy continue look.

This is the cut I make when I've started on the FORCE or OPEN side of the disc. Meaning the marker is forcing the thrower towards my side of the field. In this case my defender is playing me hard as the line throw is a slight break-mark throw.  I push them hard up the line, slightly past the thrower then cut back horizontally across the field. In this case I'll be gaining yards and will have open-side power-position for a down-field throw.

This final cut is when I start my positioning on the BREAK side of the field. This is very similar to a sideline handler reset. I'm going to drive my defender hard up the line. If they don't cover it I'll take the line. I gained yards and got power position, awesome. If it's covered then once the defender has turned their hips I'll turn back and angle away from the thrower so as to get the disc out in break-space for a wide-open break continue look once I get the reset.

In summation I think you can equate solid handler cutting to three fundamental principles:

1) Utilize the space you have on the field.
2) Take what the defense is giving you.
3) Don't be content just to reset the stall count, think about where your continuation throw, once the disc is reset, can go.

As always I welcome comments and I apologize for my less than stellar illustrations, I hope they are somewhat clear.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Katfish is Not Dead

Hey Avid Readers,

Just to let you all know, while the accuracy of my completions may not have been entirely accurate (off by ~4 months) I do still plan on continuing my offensive fundamentals series, and I do apologize for my hiatus from entries again (college season + work are taking their time toll).

I hope to have my next real entry out on throwing sometime next week.