Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Cutting Tree: 2 - Jab Cut

This is an excerpt of a larger document detailing the 9 branches of the cutting tree. It is not a finished product, but I am putting it here to work on formatting and field any comments people have.



Jab Cut -  The jab cut is done by making a jabbing motion typically in a lateral direction to your frontal plane.  This creates the illusion of running in that direction, while it also loads your leg to push and move in the opposite direction.  In this move you are trying to exploit your defender’s tendency to (over)react to your movement and put them in a weak-reaction state.  As a result it is important to think about the purpose and placement of your jab in terms of your defender.


  • A jab is meant to generate a hip-turn, pause, or weight-shift by your defender.
  • A jab towards the frontal plane of your defender will possibly generate a back-step.
  • A jab along the frontal plane of your defender may generate a hip turn, but it also might cause the defender to shuffle and maintain their positioning.
  • A jab at a 45 degree angle to their frontal plane (an attacking jab) will force a clear hip turn.  At worst, assuming the defender absorbs it well, it will generate a hop backwards.


Placement of the jab (especially the 45-degree jab) with respect to the outside foot of your opponent is also important.  A placement outside the space between the defender’s feet (footbox) will likely create a drop-step or a hip-turn.  A placement inside the footbox will likely create a backpedal.

The last, most important component of the jab step is the acceleration out of the step.  It is your acceleration out of the jab that creates a majority of your separation.  The jab is simply reducing the reaction of your defender, allowing you to start your acceleration before they can react.  Loading your jab foot properly, and being able to generate force from that in the desired direction allows you to get separation from your defender.

Here are some examples of a jab cut:




A note about the last cut: it isn't very effective.  The cutter gets open, and gets the disc, but because they are in front of their defender their jab didn't really change the defender's reaction before motion.  In the first two the jab is perpendicular to the defender's frontal plane (first video is into the frontal plane and the second video is away) causing the defender to generate momentum in their frontal plane and in the wrong direction.

This one shows a double-jab (which is still a jab) more parallel to the frontal plane of the defender and causing a hip-turn.


Monday, February 15, 2016

The Cutting Tree: Introduction

A few years ago, on Skyd, Mike "MC" Caldwell wrote an article titled "The Cutting Tree."  My excitement was through the roof, as the implied cutting tree surely was like a football cutting tree and it would not only allow for common vernacular but be a coaching tool that could truly improve youth development.  I wrote a post about it then and mentioned that Kyle and I would be working on something.  Well, two years have passed and while I haven't been working on that exclusively, I have made some progress and think it is time to start putting this out.  So here is a rough introduction to what will hopefully be a discussion about cutting as a skill.

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 Cut
9 - 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.