Cutting: Straight lines and sharp turns – why?


I think I’ll do a few of these on cutting – it’s a big subject. First off, I want to show you something surprising about cutting in straight lines with sharp turns.

By cutting and turning correctly, I can give MORE information to my thrower, and simultaneously LESS information to my defender. This is counterintuitive, but entirely true.

Let’s look at the thrower first. Their job is to release the disc early when possible. If you’re running towards the thrower, an early throw gains more yards than a delayed one; if you’re running away from the thrower, an earlier throw is either shorter (easier to make and gives less time for the defender to make a play) or can be thrown with some float out in front of you (rather than thrown late at you, requiring more accuracy – much riskier). If you’re running sideways – which mostly you shouldn’t be, but that’s for another day – then the early throw is in the pitch and the late throw isn’t (or has to be thrown like a bullet…).

Almost always, the thrower wants to throw as early in your cut as possible. But the one piece of information they need to do that is where you are going to be in a few seconds time. If you turn in a big circle, or curve your runs, or stutter about indecisively, the thrower cannot release the disc. He can’t guess where you’ll end up going; worse, he might think he can guess and throw it to somewhere you’re not. But if you stop dead, in a straight line, then bust out of there in a straight line in some other direction, the thrower can throw it pretty much immediately. There’s less chance of a miscommunication, and a much earlier throw.

And from the defender’s point of view: what they need is some clue about where your next step will be – not where you’ll be in 4 seconds. If you turn in a big circle, they can turn with you (or even turn sharper than you and cut off the angle – getting there before you!). If you plan to turn around, and your method of doing that involves turning a bit left then a bit more left then a bit more, your defender can easily recognise that and go with you. You give away a ton of info about your next step, and you don’t really make the defender break stride.

But if you stop dead, then run off in another straight line – which could be literally in any direction from 0-360 degrees – the defender cannot commit their bodyweight until after you’ve actually started your next cut. You give them no advance information.

The apparent paradox arises because the thrower needs all the info about your next cut before they can throw it, whereas a defender can use any info to help them to prepare for the next movement. Knowing that you’re in the process of turning is extremely useful for the defender, but doesn’t much help the thrower until they see where you’re actually headed.

Cut out the advance info, and you hurt your defender. Show your intentions suddenly but clearly and you help the thrower.

So turning properly helps your thrower and hinders your defender. And curving the turn or the early part of your cut won’t trouble your defender, but will prevent your thrower from releasing the disc.

Stop sharply, and run hard in straight lines. If it doesn’t work, and the disc isn’t thrown to you, turn sharply again and run somewhere else. It really is that simple.

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