Thursday, June 02, 2005

CTG: Stance, Pivoting, and Breaking the Mark

This is the latest installment in the Comprehensive Throwing Guide Series. The previous posts are here: Post 1, Post 2

The fact that I’m writing a post about pivoting and breaking the mark is probably amusing to those that know me, as I’m really more suited to writing posts about dumping at low stall counts, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

I keep starting this post and then getting scared off because describing this is pretty confusing. For the purpose of this post, imagine that you are suspended in mid air looking down at a thrower who has a circle drawn around him. The player is facing forward at what I’m going to call 0 degrees on the circle. Directly to the player’s right is 90 degrees, directly behind him is 180 degrees and directly to his left is 270 degrees.

For right-handed invert flicks (trying to break a flick mark), I teach right leg at 55-70 degrees, in other words forward and out. I have seen good players just step out to get maximum extension (90 degrees), and I have seen other good players just get low quickly to throw the invert. I prefer forward and out (55-70 degrees) over just out (90 degrees) for a couple of reasons: 1) I think forward and out gives you a better angle to throw the break mark throw and you’re closer to your mark giving him less time to react 2) You can pivot more quickly to the around backhand if your leg is forward – it’s really just a question of distance – the more forward your right leg is the less distance you’ll have to cover to get your leg in position to throw the around backhand.

For right-handed around backhands I teach 250-260 degrees. In other words just a little bit back of directly sideways (the marks position can change this). I like this position because I think around break mark throws are primarily about extension. Also, the quicker you’re able to pivot over from the IO flick the more time you’ll have to make this throw, which is why I preach 55-70 degrees on the IO flick.

These two throws should be used in conjunction with each other – use one to set the other one up. There are a few exceptions, but generally I use the invert to set up the around. I’ll usually hold the disc with a flick grip and extend to throw the invert, if I can’t get it off, I’ll immediately transition into the around backhand. I’ll almost never go back to the invert because if I wasn’t able to get the throw off on the first invert or the first around, it’s probably not available anymore. This brings up a related point – one of the biggest problems my players have is that they pivot TOO MUCH when they’re trying to break the mark. Just throw the damned thing – if you weren’t able to throw the pass in 0-1 fakes/pivot you shouldn’t be throwing it.

For right-handed around flicks (when trying to break a backhand mark), I teach stepping back a little bit more than on around backhands. I’d say somewhere in the neighborhood of 125-135 degrees. The reason for this is players tend to get more extension on their around flick than on their around backhand and because you can throw the around flick more quickly and with a more compact motion than an around backhand. As a result, the marker is forced to really commit to stopping the around flick if they want to prevent this break. It is an advantage for the thrower to pull the marker back as far as possible because it gives the thrower more room to pivot and throw the invert backhand.

For the right-handed invert backhand I teach stepping more forward than I do on the invert flick. I’d say somewhere in the neighborhood of 325-335 degrees. Again, I think you’re always advantaged on inverts when you can get more forward because it gives you a better angle to throw through and it makes it easier to pivot to the other throw.

These two throws should also be used in conjunction to break backhand marks. Personally, I tend to use the around flick to set up the invert backhand, although that may be somewhat counterintuitive. I can pivot much more quickly from a forehand to a backhand than I can from a backhand to a forehand. I think this is because you use your quad to go from forehand to backhand whereas you use something else (more hamstring?) to pivot from backhand to forehand.

Anyway, sorry this post was so confusing – any thoughts?


Edward Lee said...

For right-handed around backhands I teach 250-260 degrees. In other words just a little bit back of directly sideways (the marks position can change this). I like this position because I think around break mark throws are primarily about extension.

I think some folks might say 280-300 degrees -- step out and slightly forward, sealing the marker off with your lower body.

aj said...

Yah. I meant to address that in my post. I've always heard the same thing about sealing the marker. Personally, I"ve never been able to pivot quickly enough to realistically be able to seal a decent marker off with my pivot. It does seem like if you could reliably get to that point it would be advantageous though. It seems like you would get fouled even more than usual from the 280-300 degree point as well.

Flo said...

One thing that you left out in your description is where the marker is positioned. This position explains most of the differences in the angles for for- and backhands.

I would think the marker is standing at 20-90 for a backhand mark, and at 290-360 for a flick. The exact position depends on two things:
1) Do you prefer to shut down the IO or the around? (Team strategy)
2) Does the thrower have a quick flick (guarding someone like Ricky I always add 20 to my position).

The difference of 20 between forhand and backhand side comes from the fact that the flick is much quicker than the backhand: you are already facing the right direction and don't have to cross step.

So if the marker is behaving in this reasonable way, your angles as a thrower come out as described.

Agree on your mechanics. Pivot out quickly for the flick first. Then, if it is not there, come back to your backhand. If this is not there, find a different target.

Jon said...

I have this situation occur pretty frequently:

I am being marked flick quite aggressively, and I want to throw a backhand around. I know that the mark is close enough that I can extend well past them if I can get to 270º. However, they're so close that I'll probably hit them if I just pivot counter-clockwise.

Now, I could call "disc space", or just pivot anyway and call the foul, but both would break the flow and there's no guarantee the marker will really back off. What I usually do, is pivot 180º clockwise. This does take my eye off the cutter, but I only use it in situations where the cut is predictable (e.g., set endzone play). So far, I've had very good success with it.

What do other people think about pivoting the other way around?

Tarr said...

On the original post -

I generally suggest that a player step out perpendicular to the direction they are throwing. Maybe 10 or 15 degrees toward. So, the angle suggestions you make are ok provided the cutter is coming at a certain angle.

On the seal-out break-mark backhand -

It's a tricky throw for a few reasons. One, a bigger or quicker marker can still get out there, and they are now closer to the point block than they would be otherwise. Second, you are likely to draw a foul, which can be nice in some cases but not in others. Third, this really flies in the face of my beneral advice on pivoting direction, since here you are pivoting pretty much in the direction of the throw. So you have to learn a different technique to throw this. I guess that puts in the same category as the low flick where you drop straight down and throw under the marker's hands - a specialized break throw that doesn't reall fit into the general scheme of pivoting and throwing.

On marker positioning -

In general, I'd say that you face the direction you want to throw, and if the marker is not directly in front of you, you take the throw the marker is giving you (be it backhand or forehand). If the marker is in front of you (sligtly to the forehand side since that throw is faster), then they are properly set up, and you try to break them by faking and pivoting.

Proper marker positioning is a whole 'nother subject. I usually suggest being square with the thrower (facing the endzone you want to score in) but off to the side on a forehand force, while facing more diagonally for a backhand force. These are just guidelines that take into account where the break cut is usually coming from (and the fact that the IO is the faster break).

On the reverse pivot -

I'm not a fan. This approach basically rewards the marker for an illegal mark. Not only have they taken your better (faster) pivot from you, but while you pivot around they can jump forward again to try to cut off that next throw.

The general approach I would take here, unsavory though it may be, is to pivot through, call the foul, and if possible, try to complete the throw through the foul. Yeah, be that guy. It's the only way (sans observers) to punish the illegal mark.

Of course, in certain situations (end zone play being a good example) you don't really care about precedent or the free throw, you just want to get a good pass out there. So if you're comfortable with the backwards pivot, that would be a time to use it.

aj said...

I'm not a fan of the reverse pivot either. The distance to pivot is greater, and you lose sight of the cutter as your back is turned. When someone marks me that close I like to fight through it WITHOUT calling the foul and then step out to throw the backhand. If I'm still being fouled as I release the disc then I'll call the foul. Based on the continuation rule, if I call the foul on the pivot and then step out and throw an incompletion it's a turnover (correct me if I'm wrong here Tarr).

If I get mugged so much that I can't physically fight through the mark I usually whine really loudly and refer to my marker with an expletive in hopes of discouraging this type of behavior in the future. (As an aside, once I started playing primarily offensive points, I got a lot more whiny about hard fouls on the mark, confirming a suspicion that I had when I played mostly defensive points - namely, that all offensive players are obnoxious, self-righteous pansies.)For more tips on conflict resolution click here.

Tarr said...

You're right about the continuation there AJ. I agree with the strategy you lay out here (fight through and throw if possible, call foul if and only if you're still being fouled on the throw or if you can't get the throw off, bitch and moan to discourage future fouling).

Both Jim and Idris make good points in the thread you reference. Sort of the "light side" and the "dark side" of talking people into not being hacks.

Anonymous said...

AJ, I like the thoughts and the general approach. Here's a few additional things I teach as "fundamentals":

1. When pivoting, Hold the disc in front of your bread basket.

Keeping the disc near your core allows your pivot to get the disc to change sides of the mark more quickly.

2. Faking
Only "show" the disc in places that are actually release points for your thorws.

Anyone remember those Saturday afternoon Kung Fu movies? How about the punch dummies with the red dots representing pressure points? Try and imagine a punch dummy with the dots in the air next to them...these are the locations for your throws release points. Low next to the ankle, med next to the hip, high at shoulder level, and 2 over the top of the shoulders.

Practice pivoting (and even just weight shifting) between them.

Sounds wacky, but your movements from one throw to another become more efficient and "second nature".

Movements that mimic your throws are much more effective fakes.

3. Turn and Face the mark.
For some reason this seems to be counter intuitive for a lot of folks. But the deal is that as long as the marker has you shaded one way, it requires much more movement and commitment to pivot back to a break throw. This provides the mark a comfort level, as they should know when you pivot your shoulder back and bring the disc between you two, that they have to shift and protect the break.

When facing the mark, you now have a stratight up mark and can work both sides of them. Add the first 2 to this (Disc near your core & faking at release points) and now you can setup the mark, as you know which release points you can move quickest between...which they are always suckers for...which they have not yet seen...etc.

BTW, these are all things I also expect to be used against a trap. Not only do you have the mark on a straight up (high alert), you will have the abilty to pivot back out to throw into the force lane the mark has a hard time coming off the direct "attack".

Food for thought,