Friday, January 28, 2005

Random Thought of the Day - Primary Cuts

Last night at Emory practice, Adrienne, our tall athletic receiver kept getting too deep and her defender kept sliding way under her making it very difficult for her to cut back to the disc. She had basically taken herself out of the play by getting too far away from the frisbee – her deep cut is effectively shut down because we don’t really have anyone who can throw it more than 55 yards consistently, and her in cut is shut down because her defender is way underneath her. It sort of reminded me that I’ve been meaning to write this big thing about offensive movement against man defense. Basically I think there are 3 types of offensive movement: 1)primary cutting – when you’re trying to get yourself open from a stopped disc, or you’re the first cutter in a called play, or sometimes the motion just stalls and someone just has to go get the disc 2)secondary (continuation) cutting – this is basically cuts from flow or motion. You’re moving on the field and reading the play and you change direction right as the person you’re cutting for catches the disc, voila you’re open. 3) Actively clearing space for your teammates – you almost never notice the guy who cuts as hard as he can under so someone else can go catch a goal, but it’s extremely important, especially when teams start poaching.

Anyway, I don’t have time to write the big huge thing I’m always telling myself to write, but this incident with Adrienne does make me want to talk about type 1 (primary) cuts for a minute. I always tell this anecdote about an interview I saw with Jerry Rice. I’m sure you’ve all heard me tell it before but bear with me while I repeat it. The interviewer asks Jerry Rice how he consistently gets open against defensive backs that are faster/quicker/stronger etc. than he is. Rice basically says that good defensive play is all about maintaining a cushion, tying a string around the receiver’s waist and maintaining the distance of that string at all times. Rice says a receiver’s job is to break the string. Now if you’re just twice as fast as your defender you can just throw it into overdrive and break the string by running away from them. Of course, Rice wasn’t faster and so his strategy for breaking the string was to stutter step or juke or do something where he could eliminate the cushion that defender was giving him. Rice wanted to have the defender pretty much right on top of him when he made his move because the defensive back wouldn’t have time to adjust and Rice would be able to create the separation he needed. I think good ultimate defenders want to do the same thing: they want to maintain a cushion in one direction and force you in the opposite direction. I think the easiest way to get open for type 1 cuts in ultimate is to find the “sweet spot” on the field where you can use the defender’s cushion against him. When I’m playing on Chain I love it when the call is Crawford to me, and I just wait for Crawford to get the disc and kind of walk/jog my guy out to a spot about 15-18 yards away from the disc. When you get out to an island where you can threaten both ways your defender is screwed. He’s forced to “break the string” himself. Why? Well if he continues to give me a 2 yard cushion underneath, the throw is going over both of our heads and he has no chance and if he gives me a 2 yard cushion away I walk back to the disc and he has no time to catch up. So he’s forced to play right on top of me. When he’s right on top of me, it’s really pretty easy for me to force him to turn his hips with some sort of juke.


wood said...

I've been hoping someone would post something on cutting, it's something I feel relatively clueless about. The majority of my cuts rely heavily on athleticism and simply beating my man to a spot on the field where I can receive the disc. I have particular difficulty when I'm fronted and for whatever reason (weak thrower/wind) can't receive the disc deep. I guess I just need to experiment with getting my defender to move their hips, break eye contact with me, lose their buffer, etc. Since I have problems with the concept myself, I am at a complete loss when trying to teach someone how to cut. I basically stick to having them make checkmark cuts and encouraging them to experiment and see what works best for them. Any other suggestions for me or my players would be greatly appreciated.

Also, your description of Adrienne being to deep reminded me of a problem I see with the H stack quite often. When there is a little wind, or on teams that lack good deep throwers, the downfield receivers know that they must get open underneath, so they back up to give themselves more space to work with. While this seems like a good idea, it actually makes the defense's job much easier. The better strategy for the offense is actually to move the downfield receivers closer to the handlers, so that the away cut has to be respected. Perhaps a better solution would be not to use H when you can't take advantage of the deep space. A straight stack would at least give you the open and break side to try and cut to.

aj said...

Just a real quick comment, as I'm actually busy today at work. I think what I'm trying to say about getting into the sweet spot, is that you want to get into places on the field where you can effectively threaten two spaces on the field. If a thrower can't throw 50 yards then get closer to them. Maybe you move out into a space only 10 yards away from them before you start your move. If you're being fronted and the thrower can only throw it 15 yards don't be afraid to make your set-up cut real close to the thrower. Maybe you cut hard at the thrower until your 7 yards away and then turn and make your away cut. Away cuts don't necessarily have to be for bombs. When you're talking Type 1 (selfish give me the disc cuts) I think it's all about threatening more than one area. The most extreme example is the dump cut when you're trapped on the line. You move parallel to the thrower and force the defender to give you up the line or give you the dump. I think you should take the same mentality downfield. Eventually, I'll get around to talking about the other types of movement (type II and III cuts).