Last time out, we left you with this question:
Dylan Freechild 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? Why 45°?
One good answer is nicely covered in a Rise Up video:
That first argument – that you should run away from your defender – seems perfect for the Freechild example. The marker is upfield and on the left shoulder, so running backwards and to the right seems pretty logical. But again there’s more to it – in that Rise Up video, you see that the player doesn’t quite run directly away from the defender (that would be backwards) but instead chooses somewhere near 45° to the throw. It’s not towards his defender, certainly, but nor is it really that much away. The other point made by Ben Wiggins in that video is more accurate – too close is clogging, too far away is a hard throw.
But why is it harder?
Certainly the throwing angle becomes more difficult – it’s that much harder to lead a cutter when they’re going away from you at a steep angle. But it’s not just the throwing angle that becomes more challenging as the cut approaches 90°; it’s also the speed of the throw.
It’s a matter of timing. If you run at 45°, you generally run the long side of a triangle, as shown below. Of course the angles vary slightly, but in general that’s what a give-go cut looks like.
If you run the short side, as with a 90° cut, your then the thrower will have to throw the disc much faster (meaning up to 70% harder*, not just earlier) which conflicts with his desire to lead it out in front of you. Overall the margin of error is vastly reduced -you’ll get a lot of discs either zipping past out of your reach or hitting you on the back shoulder and getting blocked.
In the clip above, Freechild intuitively understands that the timing requires him to cut at a medium angle to the throw he just made.
Like I say, the exact angles will vary with conditions, with how fast you throw or run, and with some practice will become intuitive. But if you’re unsure, just head off without thinking at about 45° and then reassess once in motion – you won’t be far wrong.
*Assuming, for example, a right angled triangle and a 45° give-go cut, the cut is √2 units long and the two throws total 2 units, so the disc needs to travel at 2/√2 = 1.41 times the speed of the cutter (ignoring the catch & throw time in the middle); if we do it the other way – throwing the long side and cutting the short side – then the cut is 1 unit and the throws total 1+√2 units, so the disc needs to travel at (1+√2)/1 = 2.41 times the speed of the cutter.
If we imagine running at 10 m/s, the 45° cut requires 14 m/s throws, and the 90° cut (for a 45° throw) needs 24 m/s. That’s pretty significant, even though the difference will be slightly reduced if we take into account the catch/throw time in the middle.
So if you do cut near 90°, you’re better off cutting longer. If we imagine your 90° cut is 3 times longer than the sideways pass that set it up, then you travel 3 units and the disc travels 1+√(3²+1²) = 4.16 units, so the disc needs to travel 4.16/3 = 1.38 times as fast as you. Cutting at 90°, you need to run about 3 times as far before the relative disc speed gets as low as for that short 45° cut.
There isn’t usually room to make this kind of 90° cut in the handling line – not even straight across the pitch, where it looks like Freechild could go in the original example. Cutting at 90° is commonly a cut for a huck.
[Note two things, however, for completeness. One is that we’re now looking at a much more difficult lead-pass angle, with the disc coming more from behind you, rather than an easy throw which intercepts your path. On the other hand, that speed we calculated is an average over the whole flight, and a longer the throw gives more chance for the disc to slow down – you’ll throw it very fast, but if done right it will sit nicely at the end. The harder angle and the easier stall somewhat counteract each other, and in the end reinforce the earlier point – if you want a margin of error on a 90° give-go, you’d better run long enough for something nearer a huck.
And – of course – I don’t expect that the throw will always come at 90° to where it came from, just as the cut won’t always be exactly 45°. These numbers are just easier to do the maths with, and the points still generally stand. Some cutting angles make for easier throws than others, and most of the time 45° is pretty good.]