This one is really simple – and really intuitive for most players after a while (though, inevitably, I include my usual overcomplicated analysis). But if you’re just starting out as a handler and you still have to consciously think about your next move, it might just help you to run those give-gos quicker and better.
The basic rule is incredibly easy – after you throw, immediately run for two or three steps at about 45° to where the disc went. Don’t stop and think, just develop that habit.
Whether you continue the cut will depend on a few things – whether you’ve actually beaten your defender; whether you’re running into a space that you shouldn’t be (in your team’s offence); and whether the thrower is looking at your cut (or indeed if they fake to it and ‘ask’ you to cut back somewhere else). But that initial burst is pretty much automatic on almost all your shortish passes.
[For those who’ve played with me, I know what you’re thinking. I don’t do this well; I like to stand and admire my throws like an idiot. Don’t do what I do.]
Let’s explain that 45° a bit. Really it’s probably between 30° and 60° as the situation demands, but it’s not 0° – chasing straight where you just threw it – and it’s not usually 90°. Why not?*
Obviously chasing the disc – 0° – gives no sensible angle for the next throw. If they just dump it back to you on that same line, you don’t usually achieve much. And if you try to run around them for a lead pass, it will be a really challenging throw, and your defender will either be between you and the disc (if it’s thrown after you both pass the thrower) or can call pick as they are forced to run around the thrower.
You’d think anyone would realise that chasing right after their own (short) throw is silly – but it’s quite a common cut when an inexperienced player is on the sideline and makes a pass further up that same sideline. They get a yard on their defender and try to run up the line again, but it’s generally a terrible idea. Much better to cut infield at near 45°, which usually presents a more viable option but also – more importantly – clears you out of the space. Here’s Dylan Freechild throwing a pass vertically up the field and heading off at 45° to set up position:
Of course, when you throw a sideways pass, it’s a pretty effective cut to sprint upline at 45°, like these:
But why not 90°? Why not pass it sideways and then run vertically up the pitch, to gain the most yards?
A bunch of reasons. One is that it’s very helpful to be running slightly across the field when the return throw will set up a huck opportunity – your hips and shoulders are already open and in a good position to quickly release a long throw. If you’d thrown it sideways but then run vertically up the pitch – at 90° to your throw – then you’d have to turn sideways after the catch to wind up your hips and shoulders.
It might seem weird until you really think about it, but you don’t generally want your momentum going in the direction of the throw when hucking† – you want your momentum in the direction of your pivot. If you want to use that give-go to generate a quick, powerful huck, it’s much better to be already facing somewhat sideways where you can throw in stride. Note, for example, the last play in that video, where the throw forces the handler to face much more upfield as he catches it, and he’s in no position to huck forehand up that line.
A second reason is that there’s rarely a huge amount of space directly in front of you as a static, set thrower – that’s precisely the sort of area the defence is focussed on controlling. Whereas the space in front of the other handler – who you’ve just thrown to – is likely to be more open. So throwing sideways and cutting 45° so that you catch it in front of the other handler tends to be much more successful than running at 90°, into the heavy traffic in front of you.
But there’s more to it even than this. Check out Dylan Freechild later in that same point:
He throws the reset almost directly backwards, and sets off at around 45° for the give go – which makes his cut backwards, away from the goal. Why not go nearer 90°, more straight across the pitch, where there is not too much traffic in this situation? Why lose those yards?
I can see at least two good reasons – quite apart from the possibility that he’s just used to cutting give-gos at 45° – but this post is getting long. I’ll leave it with you until next time… what do you think?