Give – and go where? (Part 2)

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.

blog diagrams

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.

cxgbindex*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.]
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5 Responses to Give – and go where? (Part 2)

  1. Felix says:

    60° ftw I reckon – more balanced, so can choose to make it a shorter or longer pass/cut if needed, and if not thrown to you end up in a more neutral position, not too wide, able to make a threatening move in any direction. I think in the game example, Dylan ends up at 45° as his defender steps off him deep and the pass back to him is slightly delayed. In the Rise Up clip it looks more like 60°.
    Maths is easier too – the disc moves at 2x the speed of cutter.


    • Lol. 60°? You mean the spoke of a hexagon? Surprise surprise! 😉

      I certainly take your point though – there are lots of times when 60° is about right. I’ve picked 45° because there are certainly times where it could be even less, and that seems a sensible middle-ground for someone to start out running blindly until they learn to read the situation better. But really we’re splitting hairs. 60° perhaps does a better job of giving you the option of a long cut instead, but is already a slightly harder throw. Swings and (hexagonal) roundabouts.


  2. sionscone says:

    I think you need to start thinking in 3D. I would *always* throw a roll curve to this cut, never the flat pass. Lead the receiver, increase the error margin. If you adopt those principles, your argument about throwing difficulty largely disappears.
    More to the point, ask yourself *why* you are running a give and go in the first place? I’d wager that 90% of players who run a lot of give & go moves just want to get lots of touches. The objective of ultimate is to score goals. Not touch the frisbee a lot. With this in mind, your analysis really ought to take into consideration not only the marker’s initial position, but also the direction of play. Catching the disc in a “power position” is vastly preferable to catching it with your back to the field.
    As a defender, I’d be far more concerned about give & go moves that assess areas of the field to attack than those that are driven largely by angles. The bit about “sealing the lane” is far more dangerous than the angle, and I’d also argue that the angle of cut is intrinsically linked to the defence & field position, with the cutter aiming to hurt the defence as much as possible
    Finally, compare your examples above with this example: where the cuts are more directly downfield


    • Good point on using give-gos aggressively. On that last point though, the video kind of supports my argument also. That last cut by #2 heads off at about 45° without thinking, and only once moving does he recognize the opportunity to head off upfield for the goal. I’m not advocating that all cuts should be at 45° and stay that way, simply that it’s a good starting point if you haven’t yet had time to think about what would most hurt the defence in this situation. Of course, I’m also arguing in this second article that it’s often the easiest angle for the thrower to hit, but clearly that’s not the only consideration and there are lots of situations where you’d be better going somewhere else.

      Simply put, for those who don’t automatically cut give-go but stand watching their pass, a bit of ‘closed-skill’ practice of running at 45° after throwing will be very beneficial, and will put them in a better position to learn and understand when another option is better.


  3. I’m with Brummie on this one. Give and go where? Somewhere dangerous. The point of a give-go is to get the disc with steps on your check so that you can throw uncontested if you throw straight away. So go somewhere where you can throw a quick break, deep throw or even better a break deep throw! It’s the throw immediately after the give go that really hurts the defending team and gives the offence more goal scoring opportunities.

    Where you go in relation to what the defence is doing is much more important than the angle you run at. Farm that space!


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