A couple of weeks ago, I watched a player set up on defence after a turn. He was 2 or 3 yards away from the guy he was defending, but since the disc wasn’t in yet he just walked towards him, trying to save energy. The cutter walked towards the stack at the same sort of speed, maintaining the separation.
And then of course the disc was picked up, the cutter ran the length of the field for a score, and the poor, exhausted defender sprinted after him. And still gave up the point.
I guarantee that if that defender had put a little more effort into regaining position properly and early, it would never have happened. Sure, the guy would have cut eventually, but he wasn’t a spectacular cutter and chances are the defender could have done a job without overexerting himself.
By giving him an easy head-start, and by showing him you’re too tired to mark up properly, you encourage him to run you into the ground.
This pattern is repeated all over the pitch, on offence and defence*.
As a cutter on offence, your job is to create separation from your defender and receive a pass. Which is more likely to succeed – one strong cut at 100% effort, or five cuts at 80%? It’s pretty clear that jogging to save energy is a complete waste of time. You might use walking or jogging to deliberately reposition yourself and your defender, but jogging simply because you can’t be bothered to sprint is madness.
You normally beat your defender in the first three yards, so if you can hit that acceleration phase hard your job may be pretty much done. If you don’t beat him, but you at least force him to commit – and you then put in the extra effort to turn as sharply as possible – you’ll get free the other way more effectively. It’s much more effort, much more anaerobic work in the short term, but it’ll reduce the amount of running overall compared to jogging pointlessly around the pitch.
If your whole team does it properly, you’ll have better options, earlier in the stall count, so you’ll score faster (and you won’t have to play D on a turn). You’ll run much less overall. Work hard until the job is done.
On defence, something similar applies. If you can win those first three yards consistently – which you can do with focus and effort and (particularly) positioning – then you won’t have to run 70 yards chasing down a huck, or you won’t have to put a force on (which really is tiring, if you’re doing it properly).
If you’re too lazy to adjust your position rapidly as the disc moves or as the cutter walks around, then you are inviting him to sprint somewhere and setting yourself up for a long chase. And if your posture is lazy – if you break out of an athletic position and stand up on your heels, for example – that’s likely all the encouragement he needs to punish you more. Maybe he’s tired himself, but nothing will give him a second wind faster than a tired-looking defender.
You can discourage proper cuts by maintaining proper position, and by winning the psychological battle. But if the cutter sees you conserving energy, or losing focus, you can guarantee he’s going to look to abuse that. Even when you’re tired, the way to save energy is to maintain position and posture. It’s hard, but it works.
The best way to win, and the best way to save energy, are the same – work harder.