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.