Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Drive and Swerve

Hi out there.  Long time, no write.  I’ve taken the past month since Nationals pretty easy:  made it to the gym a handful of times, worked on my winter league recruiting (we're vomit-worthy siiick), played in an early winter tournament, did a footwork workout once or twice, signed up for the Tough Mudder in April, did a 5 mile run on Thanksgiving for charity.  I’ve been telling myself it’s ok to be a bit of a slob for the past month… but it’s been a month, and I can’t really afford to slide too far.  So hopefully that means a return to not only fitness but blogging as well.

I spent a lot of focus in my training this year on SAQ, efficiency, and technique.  While I understand it's the offseason for the club players, I try not to completely neglect game specific skills in the offseason.  So some thoughts on cutting...

With the rise in popularity of ho-stack over the past 8-10 years, the type of cuts I make on the field have changed.  In vert, the classic cut is a buttonhook (run hard, stop and cut back ~180 degrees the other direction).  In ho (as well as in sidestack), you’re more likely to see a cut that drives horizontally at your defender (putting him on his heels) and then a 90 degree turn deep or in.  Not suggesting you wouldn't use either cut in any type of offense - Boston has been beating you to the openside with this cut since the mid-90s.

Does anyone have a name for this cut?  I could have swore i read something from Wiggins where he called it a step-boom cut.  I've also called it a drive and swerve (DS).

I’m a big believer in footwork and feel that’s an under-emphasized aspect in ultimate training.  If you’re serious about your quickness, you should learn how to properly cut.  I’ve been thinking a lot about the finer points of this specific cut and decided to ask an old teammate, MJ, for his thoughts.

A little about MJ:  I played club with Mike from 2001-2003.  Mike was a college trackstar, has an absurd number of summer league championships, and has coached track, football, and basketball for a long time.  He’s also a certified SAQ coach.  After he got the text message about Pike’s run to semis in 2004, he wrote back saying he was so pumped that he went to the track and ran 200s until he puked, which for him I can only imagine was a lot of 200s.

As an aside, what Tim Morrill is doing is the same type of work MJ did for years.  This type of training is gold, and I would encourage anyone serious about their training to seek out the coaching of an expert like MJ or Tim.

Anyway, enough from me.  Here’s an excerpt from my email exchange with MJ.

Mike, i have a cutting question, and i figured you'd be the most qualified person to ask.  I realize this would be much simpler to explain and ask in person, but hopefully you can follow along.

If i'm sprinting forward 5-10 yards and making a 90 degree cut to my right, i've been wondering on the placement and foot angle of my left foot on the turn.  As i run forward, my toes are pointing north.  As i near my break, i chop my feet still with toes pointed north.  On my break, i jab step with my left foot out to my left and slightly in front of me (at about 10 o'clock) and then step east with my right foot (toes pointed east).  Then accelerate.

My question is on that jab step on my break, should that step be at 10 o'clock?  or 9 or 11 or 12 o'clock?  and should the toes of my left foot be pointed north, north-northeast, northeast-east, or east?

And/or should my penultimate step also start to turn my body right/east?

Hope that makes some sense.


Here's Mike's response.

Hey B-Lo,

Glad you asked. I actually made a living on this cut as a deep threat and possession receiver in football (as you know, they complement each other). It’s a basic 10 yd out or crossing pattern over the middle. The key to that cut (in this case, cutting right on a 10 yard out) is to:

1) Gear down at the closest point to the right angle that you can - this varies person to person, but (this is obvious but worth giving deliberate attention to and drilling in and of itself) the longer you can keep full explosive stride and the quicker you can gear down, the less time your defender will have to respond to your cut. You can drill this by doing sprint-to-stop repeat sets. Run to a line at top speed and work on lowering the hips and digging the balls of your feet into the ground for an abrupt stop. Start at 30 yds and keep shortening that distance. Work on selling the arm swing at full cranking motion. Less than full cranking arms is one defensive key that alerts the defender that you're not really going deep.

2) Think of your right foot as the plant foot - NOT the left. This is counter-intuitive as we tend to think of the outside/opposing-force foot as the foot to plant on. It’s actually both feet working in tandem - but we like to overemphasize the underemphasized to sharpen fundamentals. The right foot should plant at 90 degrees in the direction you're heading in as you turn your hips and widen your arms for balance - THEN, you reach and finish the cut with the left foot to 10:00, it's almost instantaneous, but the right foot definitely plants first on a truly violent cut (think scissors), with the left foot finishing the momentum shift and starting the acceleration east.

3) Yes, you're correct about the left foot extending to 10-11:00, but it’s also important that the left toe be pointing toward 4-5:00 because you'll need that backward force to compensate for your residual forward momentum.

4) Lastly, don't think of it as a 90 degree right angle - think of it as an 80 degree acute angle. If you think of it as a right angle, you're likely to end up on an obtuse angle (10 yard cut to 11-12 yards out - not creating as much separation between you and your defender and giving your defender a chance to sneak underneath the cut for a D). If you think of it as an 11 yard cut to a 9 yard out, you'll end-up at 10 yards with separation.

Hope this helps!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Gunning for Goliath

So my last post was about how to approach games where your team significantly outmatches your opponent.  But the more interesting question is what to do when your opponent is significantly stronger than you.

If your team is one of those teams that takes themselves seriously, then you probably have goals.  And if those goals are appropriately high, then you probably have a team ahead of you that you need to beat (unless you play for Fury or Revolver).  Maybe your goal is to make the second day of Regionals or make Nationals or make quarters or win everything.  In all divisions, those teams on their respective bubble are wondering how to knock off that team just ahead of them.

Maybe you’re Rhino trying to defy the odds and finish top 2 at Regionals.  Maybe you’re Scandal and you draw Fury in quarters at Nationals.

Now don't get me wrong; maybe you’ve played them tight a few times.  Maybe you’ve even beaten them at a summer tournament.  But how likely are you to beat that team in an elimination game when it matters most and when both teams are focused and peaking?

In games like this, your “A” game can’t beat their “A” game.  Maybe your “A+” game can beat their “A-“ game, and if that’s the case and your teams are that closely matched, then maybe you take your chances and hope things break your way.  But if the disparity is more extreme, then your measures need to be more extreme if you’re gonna bridge that gap.

Going toe-to-toe with a team that has better throwers and better athletes is a sub-optimal strategy.  You need to get the other team off their “A” game.  This should be obvious, but how many teams out there all seem to have the same offensive strategy of try isolate their receivers to make vertical cuts while their handlers dink it back and forth… defensively, it’s man-force flick.  There are plenty of good strategies in there.  Unfortunately there are a bunch of teams out there who are better at it than you are.

Every year in Sarasota, if there’s significant wind, there seems to be a Cinderella story of some team that beats their seed on the back of their zone defense.  Florida in 2000?  Fury’s comeback in 2008 in the finals down 10-1.

Didn’t the Condors take down DoG in 2000 thanks in large part to bringing back the out-of-fashion straight up mark?

Don't let them have their first option all day long.

Defensive adjustments are the most obvious way to try throw a kink in an opponent’s plans, but there are offensive looks that will force the other team to adjust.  Maybe you run a split stack.  Maybe you send your deep cuts from the dump position.  Maybe your incuts down the lane clear laterally to a break cut.

One of my most rewarding ultimate experiences was as the 8 seed in the quarters of British College Nationals and upsetting the 1 seed by running a German offense and a 1-3-2-1 zone (Shout out to the Sussex Mohawks!).

Flip the script and make them think about how they play you.

Take risks.  You’re not gonna get enough wide open cuts against a superior opponent.  Throw some hammers.  Get your team used to throwing hucks that tail to the far corner.  Hang discs to the endzone rather than take a marginal dump throw.  Jump out early on a team, have fun doing it, and let them know you’re having fun doing it.

Which brings me to my last point.  There’s a certain level of gamesmanship that can knock an opponent off their game.  I don’t necessarily recommend all of these tactics, but being loud, talking trash, marking hard, getting physical… even making a ton of travel calls… they’ve certainly been a part of more than a few upsets.  Most teams out there have a narrow comfort zone.  Play outside of it.

Good luck to all the teams in the Series.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Saving Sectionals

So with the fall series about to get underway, I’ve been thinking about how to approach Sectionals.  For many club teams in most sections, Sectionals may offer a good game or two on Sunday, but generally there are a lot of blowouts.  How can you keep days like that from being a complete waste of time?  Wiffleball, Yumball, flutterguts, DDC, bocce…?  All good ideas.  Drilling between games?  Running suicides?  Scrimmaging?  It could work.  It depends on your team.

What I’m wondering about though is how to make the games themselves more worthwhile.  Now, if you don’t have a “worthy fucking adversary,” there’s only so much you can do, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get something out of it.  What are good areas to focus on when you outmatch your opponent in every way?


On defense, if the other team is gonna cough up the disc in 2 passes no matter what defense you throw at them, then it’s probably not that helpful to work on your clam.  Not saying you don’t throw it, but understand you’re not getting tested.  Some defensive things you can work on and/or stress as points of emphasis:

Individual skills.  I like to stress staying focused against weaker opponents.  Pride yourself on keeping your pulls inbounds, getting down on every pull, not getting broken, etc.  Don’t get lazy about switching too much.

Team skills: Again, this can be tough if the other team is terrible.  One of my favorite things to work on against weak opponents is transition defenses.  To help this out, focus more on the transition (i.e. finding matchups quickly) and less on applying pressure with your cup.  Maybe even count out loud, and yell out, “Go man!” when you transition to queue the other team to start cutting.


Offense is generally easier to work on, and the weaker opponent just means it’s somewhere between a walk through and a scrimmage.

With individual skills, again, try to stress staying focused and not being sloppy.  Can you just get open by running past your slow, overweight defender?  Sure, but pride yourself on still cutting from motion and maximizing gains.

Spacing is great to work on against weaker opponents.  Don't crowd the disc, work to get swings all the way across the field instead of just 25 yards, etc.

Team concepts: Break flow offense, especially the continuation.  Fast break offense.  Set plays.  I like instituting a rule for a half like, “we will always fast break if the disc is on the field proper.”  Or “we always set up and run a play.”

These are just some ideas for team leaders to consider when approaching Sectionals... just don't forget the bocce ball set.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Random Spew on Catching

So Brodie just posted a video about catching.  It got me thinking about writing a post on catching, but without a way to structure a bunch of random thoughts, I just have a mess of ramblings on catching, both obvious and non-obvious.
  • Catch the disc however you feel most comfortable.  That said, get comfortable catching the disc in a lot of different ways.
  • Actively open your hands and spread your fingers.  I notice as I fatigue, I sometimes don’t open my hands up as wide and am more prone to not take the disc in cleanly.
  • Watch the disc all the way into your hands.  It enhances hand-eye coordination to see your hands.  I have a tendency on low passes to reach down without looking down, and the disc is actually out of my field of vision at the point of the catch.
Soft Hands and Claw Catching
  • In football, people talk about receivers with soft hand – treating the ball like an egg.  Not as much of an emphasis on this in frisbee, but I remember when I first started using the claw catch (took me a while to get it), watching Billy Rodriguez play and being amazed that I couldn’t hear the disc hitting his hands.
  • On the other side of the spectrum, I see a lot of players stab at the disc when they’re claw catching on an incut.  There’s something to be said about being aggressive – attacking the disc and all, but I would prescribe trying to be smoother in bringing your arms up.  Less of a punching motion will decrease the net velocity at which your hands meet the disc, and that will lead to fewer drops.  That fraction of a second your hands are up in front of you also will enhance hand-eye coordination.  On top of that, having your arms up half a second early better shields the disc from the defender, whose arm is gonna be punching into that space at the same time.
  • To elaborate on that last point, one advantage of claw catching is your arm and hand is more likely to be in the path of a laying out defender.  If you’re clap catching, the side of the disc is exposed.  If you’re claw catching, the defender has to get an inch further out in front of you or get their hand in between yours to get the disc cleanly.  So claw catching makes it more likely the defender will have to go through you to get their hands on the disc.  Think about how many times you’ve made bids and been an inch away or got your hand on the disc but the receiver still caught it.  These fractions of an inch matter.
  • Oh, and claw catching will  make you more likely to square your shoulders to the disc and force you to take a direct line to the disc (which for most, though not all, scenarios is desirable).
Clap Catching
  • As for clap catching, i feel more comfortable with my dominant hand on the bottom, which seems less common.  Again, I think you should do what feels right.  Regardless of which hand you have on top, I am a proponent of clap catching the rim, rather than the middle of the disc.  You always hear people saying to attack the disc and catch out in front of you.  Well, if you’re gonna do that, you shouldn’t wait to catch the middle of the disc.  Catch the rim.  This will also speed up your transfer to throwing.  For me, since I catch with my throwing hand on the bottom, the disc is already properly oriented in my hand when I catch (assuming a right side up throw).  But even if my throwing hand is on top, my off hand is on the rim and can facilitate a more secure grip transfer than if it's flat against the bottom.
  • To return to the idea of losing sight of the disc, another time the disc passes out of my field of vision is on clap catches to my side.  If you reach to your left at belly height with your right hand on top, your right forearm is actually blocking your vision of the disc.  So I prescribe catching left hand on top when clap catching to your left and vice versa.
  • A counter argument to that point I heard recently was from Leon Chou, who was taught by Ricky Chung to lace your thumbs on those side clap catches so the disc doesn’t slide through, which requires right hand on top for left sided catches.
One Hand Catching
  • There was a tip on Zip’s tips about catching hammers up high by having your thumb over the top of the rim with the rest of your fingers rather than underneath.  I’ve not had success with this, though i'm not great at catching hammers up high.  I'm curious how many players catch this way.
  • When I first started playing someone explained to me the idea of catching the leading edge of the disc v catching the trailing edge of the disc.  Somewhere along the line, I even read an explanation of the physics behind this (written by Mooney?).  Do people still teach this concept?  If you’re gonna catch one handed, you can catch it normally on the leading edge, but if you try catch it on the trailing edge the same way, the disc will spin away from your hand and be harder to catch.  You either have to speed up you arm speed to neutralize the speed of the disc or, as the ever eloquent Jay Brown once told me, “just grip it tight like you’re jerking off.”
  • A mistake I see all the time that shows a lack of understanding of the physics here:  someone’s making an angled incut on the open side against a force flick.  The thrower throws an outside in righty flick a bit outside the receiver who reaches out with his left hand and grabs the far side (leading edge) of the disc.  Simple enough.  Where I see this principle applied wrong is when the cutter is making this cut but the force is backhand, so the throw coming out is an inside out backhand.  The receiver still reaches wide with his left hand, but now the wide side of the disc is the trailing edge.  The disc spins out of their hand into their body; if they’re lucky, they just bobble it and recover.  In that situation, the safer and easier spot to catch the disc is the near side.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Phases of Learning - Synthesis

To carry on my thoughts on learning progression, I mentioned 3 phases to learning technique.  If you do a bit of reading on these concepts, you’ll come across different names and different numbers of phases.  When you get beyond those 3 phases, the next step in learning is synthesis.  As one masters a skill and understands a concept, they can then extend those lessons to other scenarios and venues.

If you understand the release angles and corresponding flight paths of a hammer, you can extend those principles to any upside down throw you see or make up.

If your understanding of zone offense goes beyond, “when the disc swings, popper 1 cuts to the line, popper 2 cuts across the middle,” to the point where you understand how to create 2-on-1 matchups and pick on the defense’s weak points, you can extend those principles to any zone strategy and even extend those principles to other sports that feature zone defenses.

That’s the synthesis phase of learning.  What hinders our reaching a higher level of game IQ in our young sport is a lack of coaching and critical thought about how we play.  The simple lack of time working on our sport impedes the depths to which we can learn it.  So we teach the basics.  We (hopefully) tell people where to throw, where to cut.  How to throw, how to cut.

Invest the time to tell people why to throw there and why to cut there.  Teach the Whys.

Why are we running this drill?  Why are we running this play?  Why are we swinging the disc?  Why are we forcing flick?  Why are we running a ho?

We have limited practice time, so it's important for coaches to KISS (keep it short and simple), but plant the seeds for critical thought.  Don't overload a learner with nuance they can't handle or make use of.  It's best to go through any exposition during the drilling phase when you want to encourage the learner to think about and reflect on what they're doing.  But if we take that extra step, a few of our athletes will take it a few more, and maybe our sport will take a few steps forward as well.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Phases of Learning

Had to repost this from Dusty's blog.

This has driven me nuts my entire club ultimate career.  Dusty's link to the above article on coaching reminded me of something i wrote back in the day and made me dig up an old end of season feedback email i wrote.  Pike sent out an end of season survey, which i thought was a great idea.  Here's an excerpt from one of my responses.  This was small part of a very, very long email that included positive and negative feedback. 

What i have gone on and on about in the past is that the method we use most of the time when we teach involves explanation and then applying it.  What i have long complained about is that this method skips the middle (and possibly most important) phase of the learning process, the associative phase.  We should explain, then drill the technique in isolation without a ton of other stimuli and skills involved, and then drill it in a game situation.  That middle phase is where the muscle memory occurs, technique is perfected and made instinctual/automatic.  We finally started doing this when we started teaching clam and the monkey zone, but we still do not maximize our teaching time by not focusing more attention on the associative phase of learning and jumping too quickly into live play.  I blame our poor offensive motion, our consistently getting beat by upline cuts, our poor individual defensive positioning, our drifting toward the disc, etc... all on poor teaching and poor learning.  Guys who've played with Pike for 4 or 5 years still run blindly in the cup or only watch the disc when they're on offense.  It's embarassing.  This is not all the teachers' fault, but obviously it starts with the leadership.

When Jim was injured all the time in 2004, he would watch our practices and constantly complain about how the d-team's offensive motion was terrible, and then he'd draw it out on the white board how it's supposed to work.  And it never did any good.  We cannot expect to just explain something and for people to do it.  We must drill muscle memory in simplified scenarios before we do it in a scrimmage.  The Katzenbach drill is a good start for that type of thing, but only a start.

Depending on what theory of education you're reading, there are 3 to 6 phases of learning.  For the sake of learning a skill, e.g. throwing, you can talk about 3 phases:

Cognitive:  how to hold the disc, how to step, arm motion, when to use the throw, where to aim, etc.

Associative:  Repetition/practice in controlled environment.  Typically the longest phase.  We throw thousands of times and monitor our technique.

Autonomous:  Natural, reflexive movement.  Less attention required, freeing up the player to focus on other things (i.e. is a cutter open, is there a poacher, etc).

We drill throwing, but teams tend not to drill team level strategies nearly as much, short-changing the associative phase.  We draw up our offense on a white board and then do a few walk throughs and then scrimmage.  Maybe since we have little time together as a team, we feel we need to scrimmage.  Or maybe we just don't know how to drill tactics.

The article that Dusty links to talks about progressing from 1v1 to 2v2 to 3v3 etc.  When i coached volleyball, we broke down drills into 1 skill drills, 2 skill drills, 3 skill drills, etc.  Breaking down the game into smaller pieces allows us to better focus on the details.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Foot Angle - Cutting

Buttonhook cut… the first cut you ever learn.  Run deep, plant, come back underneath.  Couldn’t be any simpler, right?  Well, I suppose like all skills, there are finer points that are not necessarily intuitive.  One technical flaw I’ve not only noticed players making but have even heard people teaching (so much bad teaching in ultimate!) is planting with the improper foot angle.

I’m not gonna get into all the finer points of cutting, just the deceleration/break.  Imagine on a buttonhook cut, you are initially running deep.  As you decelerate into your break, those steps should be with your foot angled perpendicular to the direction you’re running… NOT facing forward.  If you look at the stud pattern of your cleats, you’ll notice the studs are concentrated along the side edges.  That’s because when you cut you should be cutting off the side of your foot.  Planting with your foot angled sideways will not only allow you to break faster but accelerate faster in the opposite direction as your first step will only involve opening your hips up 90 degrees rather than 180.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Foot Angle

As i mentioned once before, my sporting love before ultimate was volleyball.  Another tip i learned was when preparing to receive serve, you want to stand with your weight forward on the balls of your feet and slightly pigeon toed – that is with your toes slightly pointed in.  The reasoning being that your ankle joint provides optimal force moving forward compared to laterally, and it’s even worse when your pushing backwards.  So by angling your toes in, if you need to step left, the closer your right foot is to pointing to the left, the more force you can generate in that direction.

Try this:  stand facing forward with your feet wider than shoulder width apart.  Point your toes forward and bounce back and forth left to right.  Now try it with your toes pointed slightly in.  And then try it again with your toes pointed out.  You should find that you can push off most forcibly when your toes are pointed in and worst with your toes pointed out.

Now, serve receive is a specific moment where you’re static waiting to burst into motion.  (Out of curiousity, has anyone ever been taught to do this is tennis or baseball?)  Once you’re moving around, it’s not optimal to try maintain a pigeon toed stance.  I apply this to ultimate on the mark.  I’m not advocating bouncing around pigeon toed, but you can start out on the mark like this if it's not in flow.

The more important thing to keep in mind is to not let your toes start to point out.  If you watch a marking drill, you’ll notice that most players will start on the mark with their toes more or less pointed forward (you’ll notice a lot of the worst markers start out with their toes pointed out).  As they bounce/shuffle around on the mark, better markers will keep their toes pointed forward and maintain/recover back to this optimal marking stance.  For myself, I notice as I fatigue my stance gets wider and my toes start to point out.  It is not uncommon to need to lunge to stop a throw, and the further you lunge, the more likely you will open your hips up and that lead foot will turn out.  That’s fine.  The key is recovering to your optimal marking stance with your toes pointed forward.

This principle of foot angle extends to any lateral movements offensive or defensive.  More on that later.


Random trivia:  The club team Pike was previously named No Mas (terrible team name that stood for North Mid-Atlantic All Stars).  The name “Pike” won out over other options that included “Marvin” and “Tripod.”

In my *long ultimate career, I’ve gone through a lot of lawn chairs.  I’ve bought cheap ones and nice ones, and I’ve never been able to get one to last more than a year or so.  I’ve recently changed tacks on this and decided to buy a tripod.

My thinking:  I’ve never actually broken one of my own chairs.  I tend not to sit down that much during games, so in the lifespan of one of my chairs, less than 50% its use is in service of holding up my butt.  What I’ve concluded is the cause of my chairs breaking is when one of my fat ass teammates plop their ass into my chair.  Now bear in mind, most of these chairs are able to support over 300lbs.  It's not their weight so much as it's the plopping, out of fatigue or disgust or both, that causes the bolts to bend or the seams to split.  While these chairs can hold up 300+lbs, they’re not designed to have a body violently dropped into them the way one might collapse onto a couch.

With a tripod, you can’t plop.  Since it’s inherently less stable than a chair, you have to gingerly set your backside in.  I smile when i see my teammates pass my tripod on the sideline in favor of someone else's chair or cooler.  I predict I retire before this tripod does.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Land on One Foot - Bailey's Two Step

I played college in what was the Metro East and there was a time when Princeton’s Clockwork Orange was pretty much the cream of the crop thanks in large part to this lanky kid with a visor named, Bailey Russell (some of the best ever Callahan hype on RSD was from the Clockwork PR machine).

I remember one year where their zone offense involved Bailey throwing scoobers over the cup to this ex-basketball player, grad student whose claim to fame was having dunked on Greg Ostertag.  They’d eventually dump it to Bailey again and they’d repeat.  None of that is really relevant to my point (we old folks ramble a bit) but the interesting thing to me was the way Bailey gained yards on the dumps.

Bailey would hop up and slightly forward as he caught the dump, then land on one foot – specifically his right foot.  When his left foot then landed, he was landing in a big forward step, and then he’d take another big step forward with his right leg.  Having long legs, Bailey's two step gained him a good 2 yards easily.

The keys here:
  • Having some forward momentum in the air so that first step is not just a blatant travel.
  •  Landing on your non-pivot foot (Bailey is right handed).  By landing first with his right foot, his other foot lands in a forward step with his left established his pivot, making the next step a pivot step, which as a pivot step can be in a different direction and/or speed.
Bailey’s stork like legs and floaty-ness make those two steps look natural and legal.

Where is the best application of this move?  When you’re a middle handler in a zone offense that uses a handler crash from in front of the cup, this move will get you deeper into the cup.  Unlike a crash from a popper coming from behind the cup, this type of crash comes at the cup from the front.  Ideally, this crash puts the disc in the handler’s hands with forward momentum, vision of the field, and a cup out of position (likely too close to stop throws through itself).  And it is this last regard – getting deep into the cup to allow throws through– where Bailey’s two step can be most deadly. 

All together:  See your poppers before you move.  Jump into the cup as you receive the disc.  Land on your right foot.  Land on your left with a smooth, big, forward step.  Then take another step/pivot forward to get you right up to the cup and throw through the cup to a popper.  Do this smoothly and quickly before the cup can step back to maintain their spacing.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Land on one foot - part 1

I remember a long time ago reading an article of Parinella’s somewhere where he explained a better way to toe the line is to only keep one foot down to maximize your reach rather than trying to dig both feet in.  Such a simple tip, and it reminded me of my days before ultimate.  Before frisbee, my previous love was volleyball.  I used to subscribe to a volleyball magazine and there were always these quick 1 page articles with a  handy little nugget of wisdom (think Zip's Tips minus the sandwich eating suggestions).

So one of those tips I remember was for playing volleyball doubles.  When you’re the blocker, you have one other teammate behind you in the backcourt covering the entire court on their own and they’re typically backed up to receive a hard driven spike.  Imagine as the blocker who’s jumping in the air, the spike hits off your hands, pops up, and dribbles just behind you.  That’s a hard ball for your teammate to get to if they're positioned fairly deep.  The key to helping your partner out is to land on one foot.  By landing on one foot, you can land already turning toward the court, and hit the ground running giving you a better shot at making the dig.  If you land with both feet, you lose the time it takes your foot to hit the ground and pick it up to take your first step behind you.

Application to frisbee?  On a hanging huck where you mistime your jump.  How often do you see the disc hang, the receiver and defender both jump and miss (or tip the disc) and the disc lands softly just a few steps away?  Try land on one foot and hit the ground running with your other leg to make that second effort grab or D.  By hitting the ground running you’ll also increase your chances of avoiding getting landed on and being taken out in a pile up.