‘Juking’ is the little shifts of bodyweight you make to try and put a defender off balance before running off in the other direction. It can be a drop of the shoulder, or it can be a huge great wide-legged stride that shifts your whole bodyweight. Is it effective? Is it always effective? Should you do it?
The object of juking before your cut is to get your defender off balance. But of course, there’s no advantage to that if you’re as much off balance as he is! Sure, you’ll still start your cut .2 of a second before him (see the post on ‘Getting Separation‘), but from the same unbalanced position as him, so you’ve gained nothing. Your task is to make him commit more than you do. This isn’t always easy.
There are specific times when it works. And there are times when it’s pretty much pointless.
Juking works well when the defender is not focussed on you. If he’s looking at the disc, and you throw your bodyweight into his blind spot, then he cannot tell whether you’re just juking or whether you’ve actually started to run that way.
He can’t see whether you’re properly leaning into the sprint or whether you’ve thrown your leading leg way in front of you in order to immediately spring back the other way. All he registers is a general sense that your centre of mass has moved as if you were starting to sprint. He will over-commit his weight. You’ll be free the other way.
(The defender here is trying to look at both the disc and the cutter, and can’t see with his peripheral vision that the cutter’s left foot isn’t where it would be in a sprint. All he sees is the upper body move, and he has to react to cover the open side)
But juking when he’s looking straight at you can be close to pointless – he’s just going to mirror you, and you’re wasting time that could be spent cutting. He can see clearly the difference between a weight-shift and a real acceleration, so he won’t be fooled. Anyone who’s ever been face-marked well will know this – he’s focussed solely on you, and you cannot easily fake him out. Just shifting your weight won’t do it.
If he’s experienced, he might even be able to read juking one way as evidence that you actually intend to cut the other way. Juking can make it harder to get free! Instead, you need to get in a proper sprinting position that he’ll believe, run a few yards, get him up to speed – maybe even get him to look around to check the disc hasn’t been thrown to you already – and then you turn properly and leave him for dead (see the post on ‘Getting Separation‘ again).
There is another situation where a little juking can help – and that’s when your poor old defender is panicking. If they’re worried about one particular cut (e.g. you’re much taller or faster and they’re scared of you cutting long) then they will likely bite like hell if you throw even a tiny fake that way. They’ll over-commit to the long cut, just in case you’re cutting long. They’re scared. In this situation, it makes sense to make them bite and then be more open the other way. This gets increasingly rare as you play at higher levels though, so don’t get into the habit of doing it without thinking.
So: juking works, sometimes. Don’t make it a part of your cutting routine – make it a thing you do in certain circumstances for specific reasons. Do it when they’re only just looking at you out of the corner of their eye.