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.

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