To follow up on my post Checking Your Shoulder – Buttonhook, let’s talk about when to throw to those cuts.  In general, you want to put the disc up as early as possible.
There are a lot of factors involved in decision making, but in an ideal world, you want to be releasing your throw after the cutter has planted and has started their first step back toward you.  Putting the disc up early has various benefits:
  • Maximizes yardage on the incut.  The longer you wait, the closer to you the cutter gets and the less yardage gained on their incut.
  • Creates the most predictable separation from the defender.  At the moment the cutter changes directions on their buttonhook, they have a slight advantage of a headstart running in that direction.  In another 5 steps, maybe your cutter gets more separation or maybe the defender closes the gap, but on their turn, you know what space you have.
  • Gives you greater margin for error.  If your throw is a few degrees off target, it will be easier for the receiver to adjust not only because they’re farther away and have more time, but because as they plant, their speed is zero and they can adjust the angle of their incut.  Even from 30 yards away, it’s hard to adjust to a throw that’s off target if they’re in a full sprint.
Some other notes:
  • If your cutter isn’t checking their shoulder, your throw might surprise them.  They turn around to see the disc is already half way to them.  Checking their shoulder will solve that problem and allow you to throw early while still allowing them to visually pick up the disc early.
  • In slippery conditions, you’ll want to wait an extra step to make sure your cutters are balanced after their turn.
  • Put some zip on your throws.  Don’t gun it in so fast that it’s hard to catch, but the faster you throw, the more yardage gained and the less time for the defender to close.  If you notice in football, wide receivers tend not to go to.  They usually sprint deep, plant, turn and wait for the ball.  The ball just gets there so fast the defender can’t usually get there.  In Frisbee, the disc moves too slow for that.  So find the right balance between making it catchable, giving yourself a margin for error, and getting it there quick.

Written by Brian Lo

I’ve been playing this game long enough with and against some pretty damn good players to learn a few things from them.