A general rule of thumb I like to follow is this:

Huck from Zone A; don’t huck from Zone B. In Zone A, use shallow/deep cuts (ie horizontal stack); in Zone B, use break side/open side cuts (ie vertical stack).

Several factors affect this general rule:

  1. What the Defense is running against your Offense – if they’re running a zone then maybe you want to try and work it up the field. Or maybe you want to huck right away for field position so you don’t turn the disc over close to your end zone.
  2. The weather – if you’re going into the wind, if you have a crosswind, etc. This is huge because depending on the weather (and on #3), this will affect your ability to huck from so far away. Ultimate is a game of possession so you want to retain the disc as much as possible. Try not to let the weather affect that too much – remember that your opponents are playing in the exact same conditions so you will want to play smarter to beat them.
  3. The skill of your throwers/receivers (this is related to #2 and is affected by #2) – If you have players who can huck and players who can catch those hucks, then awesome. If you don’t, then you at least want the other team to think that you do. But it’s definitely an asset to have those types of players on your line.
  4. Score of the game/what’s at stake – If you’re in the finals of a tournament then you don’t want to force risky hucks but at the same time, your team probably made it to the final by taking some chances so don’t be afraid to take the chance if you have the throw and the cut. The early games in a tournament are great for figuring out where your team is at in terms of personnel on the field, your skill compared to the other team and how well you’re playing together as a team. Once you reach the finals, you should have figured out much of that earlier so your team should be playing a smart game where you value possession.
  5. The skill of the defense* – Teams with very capable defenders are more apt to take chances with possession because they are more likely to get it back. Usually good defenders equates to great speed, so that also usually lends itself to a huck game. *(thanks to commitch from the USA Ultimate forum for this suggestion)

This is something I like to run my team by – obviously there are different ways to approach this but I’m curious as to what rule of thumb (if any) you/your team follows? What factors influence your decision to deviate from this?

Written by Ultimate Rob

Rob McLeod is a disc sports competitor, a 13 time World Record holder (including 6 Guinness World Records), 10-time World Champion, 2 time Quadruped title holder and currently holds the Canadian Distance Record. He created ultimaterob.com in 2009.