What is hucking?
Simply put, hucking is when you throw the disc far – to a receiver. When you huck, you almost always want to throw to a receiver. So it’s not just throwing the disc are far as possible (although when you’re at a high stall count this can sometimes come in handy). There are many situations when a huck is helpful so it’s not only important to know HOW to huck but also WHEN to huck. I will talk about the HOW and the WHEN with more of a focus on the HOW.
In order to huck well, one needs to:
- Throw the disc with spin
- Throw the disc with power
- Throw the disc far (relatively)
Tips for hucking
I’ve played ultimate with many varied skilled players and the one thing that remains consistent is that it’s very easy to fall into the trap of hucking for the sake of it. Meaning that a team can score on one good huck but the flip side is that a team can have many turnovers on bad hucks. A few tips I offer are:
- Use hucking as a tool…not as an offensive strategy. If a team relies too much on hucking than the defense just has to play for the huck and only hucking won’t work. Use hucking to establish that your team does indeed have the ability to go long if necessary but make sure to work the unders (short throws) as well. Having a mix of short and long throws will keep the D guessing and will keep the O having the advantage.
- If a team constantly hucks because they have one fast player than the other players on the team won’t get to touch the disc much. A good team will use it’s players so the entire team will become better. The top teams in the world (Sockeye, Jam, Revolver, Johnny Bravo, Furious, GOAT, etc) all succeed when they play well as a team and lose when they rely too much on individual players.
- Make sure to work on your mechanics to ensure you have good power and good spin. Once you have developed good mechanics then you can focus on your technique. And then really work on your technique. The more you work on your technique then the more consistent your throws will be. And that’s what we want – is to have a consistent release so we can have our hucks go where we want them to as much as possible.
- More to be added…
Gripping the disc
As I mention in the forehand section, there are 2 ways to grip the disc – the power grip and the split finger grip. For hucking, I would recommend only throwing with the power grip. The split finger grip takes a lot of power off the throw and doesn’t allow for as much spin as the power grip. Some people teach beginners to throw using the split finger grip but I think the power grip should be taught from the beginning. Eventually those beginners will transition to the power grip so I think it’s valuable to teach it from the beginning.
Getting spin on the disc (video)
A key element of hucking is having spin on the disc. The more spin you put on a disc will allow you to control the flight of the disc in wind instead of letting the wind control the flight of your disc. To get better at getting spin you need to develop a consistent wrist snap and apply it to throwing the disc. I played a lot of sports growing up (specifically badminton) so I already had the basic wrist snap technique when I first learned to throw. If you have experience playing other sports, use your knowledge from that to help you learn to throw. Great analogies for throwing come from badminton, squash, racquetball, etc. The motion of hitting the birdie/ball in these sports will also help you develop your throwing technique since you will already have some of the basic mechanics in place. The more snap you have on your throw, the more spin you will have. You can do exercises to develop wrist strength and a few which I find helpful are any which help your grip strength (so finger, hand and forearm strengthening).
Getting power on your throw (video)
The power in a huck comes from putting the mechanics of the throw together (stepping out, turning your hips, turning your core, snapping your arm and flicking your wrist). To get more power we first need to make sure that all of these elements are working together. If they aren’t completely in sync then we are automatically losing not only power but consistency on our throws. Once we have gotten these elements in sync we can now focus on making the elements more powerful. To do this we can look at each of the elements separately:
- Stepping out – stepping out when hucking is important to have a good throw around the mark
- Hip turn – we can use hip turn to not only get more power into our throw but also to have more movement in our fakes. Also by bending at our waist we can determine what edge we put on the disc (see below)
- Core power – using our core will help us get more power on the throw, will help us fake out our mark and will help take strain off of our arm so it won’t hurt from hucking as much
- Arm snap – snapping our arm is crucial in getting lots of power on the disc and directing where we want the throw to go. Also we use our arm to put edge on the disc by adjusting our body position and moving our arm
- Wrist flick – this is integral in getting lots of spin on the disc
Hucking with Edges (video)
As much as we want to always throw nice flat hucks which fly perfectly straight, reality is that this won’t always happen. Depending on your mark, the upfield defenders, the wind and other factors, many times we have to throw our huck with edge (outside-in or inside-out). A key thing to keep in mind is that we don’t want to control the angle of the disc by moving our wrist; we want to instead adjust our body position by bending at the waist, and moving our arm. We want to keep a consistent wrist snap for our throws to ensure we get maximum spin on our throws.
Generally, an outside-in throw (right to left for righties and left to right for lefties) is useful when we are throwing downwind. This throw will typically have more float than an inside-out (since we can release from higher and have it stay higher). I find outside-in throws good for when we want to pop the disc to a receiver or want to really step wide and throw around our mark. It’s also good for leading your receiver with float compared to an inside-out.
An inside-out throw (left to right for righties and right to left for lefties) is useful for when we are throwing upwind. Because of how the throw is released (with an increasingly elevated flight path), we can generate much more power on the throw and ultimately more distance. This is good for long hucks but doesn’t have as much touch as an outside-in huck.