Monday, January 23, 2006

Combating "take what you are given"?

As a cutter, I love it when a defender not only tips their hand early as to how they are going to play me (fronting, backing, etc), but is unwavering in their commitment to fronting or backing, etc. I am aware of the tenet "take what you are given" both from general Ultimate knowledge and it seems to find its way into many football articles these days. There have been times when I have a defender that is commited to backing me, and, off a stopped disc, I am able to walk him 20 yards downfield and then make an in cut for good yardage.

How many players and/or teams deliberately hold their cards close to the vest on D in order to not advertise "THIS IS HOW I AM PLAYING YOU"? I think there is a lot of value in not only playing "flat"(my word for not fronting or backing) before the disc is in play, but also, especially with a savvy cutter that likes to set up their cut before the disc is in play, to use a small amount of motion to disguise what you are giving the O. Using my example of a defender backing me, I have never had a defender back me, let me take them out 30 yards (too far away for a useful away cut), and then, as the disc is put into play, switch to fronting.

Now, we all know that there are 3-4 principles about cutting, including specifics about what to do when you want what the D is not giving you, but at a basic level it seems with some small tweaks the D could at least force a cutter to have to go beyond principle #1 every once in a while.


llimllib said...

Good point. As a D player, I always start off playing flat against a guy. 50-60% of the time, the guy makes a shitty cut and I don't have to give away which way I'm forcing. (he might still get the disc, but I can usually make these cuts heavily contested)

If, however, he roasts me a couple of times, I'm going to start letting him know that I'm protecting against his best cut (in for handlers and short people, out for everyone else) and just play to snag any bad throws.

gcooke said...


I agree that be playing more toward flat that yo can make your cutter have to earn the cut.

Your second point is interesting. Many times as a cutter, I will, early in the game, make very aggressive away cuts. I feel this a strength of mine, and, if I am lucky, I might be able to get a long pass out of this. As you say, my defender starts to play behind me, and I am able to go underneath for the rest of the game. So, I think there are opportunities as the game progresses to maintain a dynamic defensive approach. I think it is possible to actively let the cutter know that you are combating their strength, but also position yourself in a manner that is not overtly obvious. I guess I am trying to say that I don't think the D should ever conceed.


Evan said...

Personally, I don't see it as "giving" the cutter anything. I see it as forcing the cutter away from his strengths and into my strengths. If you are effective in your abilities to force a cutter in the direction you want, then you know what he is going to do and suddenly the advantage is yours. If I can take away your best options and force you to make the cut I want you to make, then it just becomes a foot race to the place I chose in the first place. Sounds like a situation in which you will not often be getting the disc unless you are much much faster than me.

llimllib said...

Imagine a scenario where I'm my team's best D player guarding you, your team's best O player. I guarded you flat the first time, you roasted me deep. I guarded you flat again the second time, mentall thinking deep a little more, and you roasted me for a long fake out and a big in for lots of yards.

At this point, you have proven that you are going to beat me out, and I need to balance that situation out some - I need to give myself some deep room to work with. I'm going to start backing you. Take your 10 yards - you may be a good thrower, but maybe your offense relies on your big cuts for yards. Maybe you're not used to handling cuts, and you'll make a silly mistake for me to poach onto.

Even if you *are* a sick thrower and you *are* going to make good short cuts too, I've got to change the situation to balance in my favor, and to do that, I've got to back you. It's the only way that I can hope to get you or your offense off balance.

What good would guarding flat do at this point when you've proven that you're good enough to use that small advantage to take me for big yards?

gcooke said...


I am having trouble identifying if you are disagreeing with me or whether we are making a similar point.

The point of view of your comment is that of the defender and I think the specific points you make are that of a good defender.

Regradless of how you define the situation, though, a good cutter will analyze what you are giving them. It might that the two perceptions are identical: what you are giving him is what you want him to do. It might be that the end result is that of your shut the player down. The cutter will still try to read what you are giving them.

It might be that you are able to play successful D and declare throughout your view of your opponents strengths and weaknesses. I do think, though, that is could be possible to both a) define your position as to maximize your strengths and your opponents weaknesses, AND b) dynamically alter your positioning so that not only does your opponent have to take time to make his read, but he will also have to work harder to make the cut that you wanted him to make in the first place.


gcooke said...


I think in your example that there would be no point in playing flat again and that you would probably need to ask your last back's to get their act together.


_dusty_ said...

Playing good team defense and knowing when and where you can get help from is really they key here. If you're guarding a handler near the disc and you know you've got Beau or MG playing last-back, you can afford to front hard. Even though the cutter thinks you're giving up the deep shot, it's actually being taken away by someone else. Really, this is all the force is anyway. You are playing your man to one side, knowing that someone else on your team (the marker) will stop the cut to the other side.

As the short defender in this situation, its actually better to front hard than to play flat, since you'll be better prepared to take away the in-cut by fronting, and someone else will help you out with the away cut. Forcing cutters to the help is one way to play good defense (and much easier than winning 7 different one-on-one battles).

gcooke said...


Thanks. Good comments.

Ok, I think I need to be clear that the point of my post was not to advocate for playing flat. In fact, as Dusty says, playing flat might contradict what you are trying to do from a team D point of view. My point was, during a stopped disc, it might be advantageous to not always be overly demonstrative about what you are doing on D.

Can anyone give me at least that?

Tough crowd today.....


llimllib said...

Sorry, I was writing while waiting for a compile at work, I was jumpy. I think I lost your original point if it was just to not tip your hand from the stack - as long as you're real careful not to let the point get started while you're still flat.

Evan said...

I guess I missed that the point was to not give anything away during a stopped disc. Seems reasonable to me. I think I missed that b/c the defensive time spent while the disc is waiting to be checked in AND the players have freedom to move is realtively insignificant (Only off pulls?). However, against better cutters sometimes I don't want to leave any doubt as to what I am giving/forcing them to do. Many of the better players many not even think about what cut to make, they just make the "right" cut based on the game situation. If I give them a situation in which the right cut is obvious, they may not even think about anything else. Also, I may not be able to afford the time/energy expenditure to switch my displayed intentions or to effecively take away the cut I choose (starting from showing flat) after the disc is checked in or even if I begin to move slightly before.

CJL said...

have you written about these four principles of cutting? i do not know about them and am curious.

gcooke said...

Evan and l,

Cool. I probably was not clear about how specific a situation I was alluding. I apprecaite your comments and interest in the topic.


I am not sure if I remember them. I think one is:

"If the D is not giving you what you want, then you have to fake in order to take what you want".

I will try to find the others......


llimllib said...

cjl: the first four principles on this page are the four principles of cutting, from Jim's book.

Bill Mill

John Chandler-Pepelnjak said...

This is off-topic from what I now understand as the orginal thrust of the post, but I'm curious to see if anyone has experimented with using your defensive position as bait.

I guess I've only used this when I felt like I had some sort of physical advantage on the person I'm guarding. For instance, if I think I'm faster in a full sprint I might back the player (and even let him keep walking me out a la George's example), anticipating that he's going to try to do the big under cut and then see if I can get a jump on it.

Not something to do regularly (better to have the whole team play shut-down D and not bait, methinks) but a fun way to mix it up and take some of the initiative back from the O. Thoughts?


P.S. Love the blog, etc. Long time reader, first time caller...

gcooke said...

In my huddles with the girls, I try to keep my speaking to minimum. Mostly because it takes me so damn long to get to the point.

I think what John is saying is pretty much what I was trying to say. The point being to mix it up if you feel confident that this action will not be in contradiction to overall team idea.

Thanks, John.


Jeff said...

I tend to bait a lot - especially against weaker/slower cutters. Often I will back a player wanting him to cut in and baiting the throw. Once the disc is in the air, I try to close and get the run through/lay out D. In this situation, it's better if the cutter pushes me downfield first to try to get more yardage on the cut. A longer throw gives me more time to close. It doesn't work often at the highest levels, but is very effective lower down.