Welcome to the Cutting Tree. This is an attempt to codify a language for cutting so that coaches can better develop training programs to create superior cutters. One problem that slows development in our sport is that we often lack a common language set, especially across regions. This leads to lost time as players/coaches have to explain what they mean to each other before real understanding can be achieved. Think of the number of times you have drawn out what a “question mark cut” is to another player.
That said, here's what this is not. I am not advocating for teams to lose their special vernacular. Calling an upline cut a beta, shooter or power cut is fine. But I think being able to trace those names back to a common motion helps development. Additionally, this is by no means a tutorial for how to cut effectively. That will take tons of practice using methodologies that are not described here. Rather the following is a set of practicable tools that a cutter can use on the way to being more effective.
First we should define “cut” for the sake of this article. From here on when I refer to a “cut” I am talking about a specific pattern of movement (feet, legs and momentum) designed to get separation from a defender. All of these cuts will not get the same type of separation in all different situations and against different styles of defense. But the purpose of developing this language is so that we (as coaches) can more easily discuss movement against a defender and what type of cuts make sense in a particular offensive scheme or situation.
There is a tendency while reading this to want to refer to particular, situational cuts. Above, the “up line” cut was referenced as an example even though it doesn't fi our criteria for a "cut." The “up line” cut is not mentioned again in this document because it is situational (the location of the disc, offender and force are required). Instead the following breaks down and names the possible ways to execute an upline cut. You might gain separation from your defender using the same method for different situational cuts (continuation, scoring, etc.). The hope is that by naming these methods for gaining separation we might also be able to better train the right method for the right situation (something that is already done at many clinics and in many huddles).
There are a total of 9 different cuts described here. The differences in the cuts are at times minimal, and one could argue that some of them should be collapsed into one cut. On the other hand some would argue that there are other cuts that aren’t described in this document that should be included. Both stances are correct on some level, but it is important to remember that this isn’t a definitive guide but rather the start of a conversation.
Here are the 9 cuts:
1 - Straight Cut
2 - Jab Cut
3 - Check Cut
4 - Double Cut
5 - Press Cut
6 - Seal Cut
7 - Elbow Cut
8 - Slice Cut9 - Cross Cut
And that is that. There are nine sections to the tree. Currently I am going through video trying to find more examples of each cut. Diagrams and descriptions are mostly written, and might end up here in a piecemeal fashion. At some point I will probably get Ultiworld to publish it if I think it is ready. By no means am I doing this alone. Kyle Weisbrod, Miranda Knowles, Jason Simpson and Andy Loveseth have all been asked for their opinions and their contributions have been incredibly informative. Originally the "tree" was a scattered mess, which is exactly the opposite of its purpose. Also I need to thank my wife for proof-reading this and helping me not sound like an idiot despite my best efforts.