Without further ado:
This picture provides one angle on the IO foot. The throw isn’t explicitly IO–which is to say, this could just be a flat throw to the open side–but you’ll note that the foot position forces the knee to follow and wind up in a position which allows a fairly clean follow-through of the arm in front of the leg.
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I was asked last week about foot placement on forehand hucks. I’ve been meaning to write about foot placement for a while now, and for something so seemingly simple there’s actually a decent amount of nuance to it, so this likely won’t be the only post on the topic.
Some general points on stepping and throwing a forehand:
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The easiest (and best) way to control for this is with your shoulder tilt. It’s easy to think that some wrist tilt can compensate, but the plane of the throw, flat or otherwise, is decided by your shoulders. A throw that naturally comes out OI becomes flat becomes IO if you adjust the plane along which it’s thrown.
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- If you read only one thing about cutting, read Bart Watson’s piece. Concise but full of useful information; re-reading is certain to yield more information than the first glance. His thoughts on cutting not only echo mine, but exceed them. I especially like his notion of “control[ling] your defender;” it’s a nice, succinct way to think about your goals as a cutter, and synergizes nicely with my favorite “create space, attack space.”
My favorites (Ryan Morgan’s assertion that wings are not just a throwaway position for rookies is worth repeating, too); again, they put things a lot more succinctly than I.
I don’t see a ton of revolutionary (compared with my experience) information there, apart from the number of endorsements of the two-handler set; this says to me that zone O really comes down to a good, solid fundamental approach/understanding.
On the skill spectrum, a quick catch-throw turnaround and composure with the disc in your hand are great for any zone handler (and by extension, all players) to have–the former can be worked on pretty much anytime, while the latter would come with more throwing experience/confidence, both under pressure (ratchet it up in practice/drills) and in conditions (find it, and do it).
Knowledge goes hand in hand with skill. Recognizing what kind of zone you’re facing and where the weak points are, along with knowing what your own team’s assets are, likewise will do a lot to prepare for success. Insert Sun Tzu quote about knowing your enemy and yourself.
This is a pretty simple concept, but applied properly can make a big difference in your efficiency and effectiveness on an ultimate field. In ultimate, as with many things, knowing your limits allows you to excel while remaining within yourself.
Your absolute pivot range is how far you can get out to throw. Period. How far does your lunge take you? How much farther does your reach and body torque get you on top of that? Can you throw from that far out? Can you throw well from that far out? You have to be able to throw from this distance (or, phrased differently, know what you can throw at this distance), because the only reason you should extend yourself this far is to throw.
Your practical pivot range is how far you can get out while still being able to quickly move back (which is to say, how far you can get WITHOUT overextending, or your effective faking range). This is a range you’ll wind up doing a lot of your motion on an ultimate field in–realistically, a lot of situations won’t require you to get out to your absolute range to throw successfully. Think open-side passes, or even a quick swing (fake) when you catch the dump ahead of your defender.
Generally speaking, it’s good to keep the fact that you can extend further hidden until you have an opportunity to exploit it (for instance, if you have a killer full-extension inside-out pass, there’s no need to show it until you can make that killer IO for a goal or to start some flow, etc.). Even once you’ve shown it, you shouldn’t need to fake all the way out to that range to get a mark to bite, assuming you have convincing, effective fakes.
Pivot/extension range is worth paying attention to in any circumstance–just tossing around, drills, even in scrimmage. Developing a sense of not only what you can do, but what you need to do within that range to suit your goals (get a throw off, or make a mark bite), can and will make you a better player.
Learn it, do it, own it.
Want to be an elite ultimate player? Learn how to play good handler defense.
If I asked you the question,
“What do you look for in a good handler?”
Your list would probably look something like this:
- good throws
- good hands (catching)
- good hucks
- good decisions (doesn’t turn the disc over)
I’ll offer that, while there is some requisite level of competence required in some of these areas (I’m thinking “good hands”) to be a handler, you can actually do a LOT without anything close to a complete skillset.
The most important thing for any handler (or really any player with the disc in his hands) to know is:
- his/her own limitations
That’s all. Can’t huck it? Maybe learn the fake, but don’t sweat it. Always turfing your IO? Shelf it. Always throwing the disc away? Maybe you need better teammates to catch your visionary throws. (I’m kidding). Not quick enough to shake ‘n bake your man in two steps? Master the fine art of positioning and timing, instead of dancing in the lane.
Right there with knowing what you can’t do is knowing what you CAN. Maybe you don’t have a money flick bomb, endzone-to-endzone, but when you get the disc on an upline cut you can put it to Fred where he’ll rip it down 80% of the time. Maybe your IO sucks, but if your mark is overplaying it you can make a beautiful leading around pass.
Play to your strengths!!! Maybe your team asks you to do more than you’re capable of or comfortable with right now. Instead of simply trying (and failing) to live up to those expectations, think about how the things you WANT to do and CAN do can jive with those same goals. If you’re a handler without game-changing throws, but you can move quickly and get open, instead of trying to make that short IO break pass the coach keeps preaching you can instead focus on dishing the disc to the first open man you see as soon as you get the disc and get back to where you’re the most dangerous–moving. If you’ve got big hucks and little else (including good judgment on when to throw and when to hold), consider talking to your cutters and establishing some preferred receivers you can be comfortable throwing to (and make sure the rest know not to make that cut for you, so you’re maximizing completions).
I’m sure you’ve had experiences where you’ve run up against guys and thought, “I/we are so much better than them, can do so much more,” and then get your ass whooped. You can do a lot with a little if you know how to use it. Before you get caught up in all the stratagems, running a ho-stack or a clam because everyone runs one, try running it from the other side–what can you do well? In what setups, or simply “how,” can you best utilize this skill or ability? (Or instead of the positive definition you can look at the negative definition–given your limitations, how can you most avoid overextending yourself?)
Nobody has it all. You can be a great, well-rounded ultimate player, but there are bound to be areas where you feel less confident. Sometimes you’ll bump up against those limitations–but it doesn’t have to be by design! The best offenses are structured to play to their strengths, to feature their talents. Certainly, progressing in your skills and abilities is something to work towards, but when it counts,