Cut down on the time you spending pivoting and threaten more lanes per stall count.
August 15, 2017 by Guest Author in Opinion with 13 comments
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This article was written by guest author Bryce Merrill, coach of the Brigham Young University men’s team.
There’s a lot to be said for a strong, consistent pivot that leads to fundamental throwing—the balance, power transfer, kinetic chain, and wrist snap that help deliver crisp, predictable throws every time the disc leaves your hand. But come game time, sometimes the action of your mark or the timing of a downfield teammate add variables that might throw you out of your groove.
As a coach, I’ve been (un)lucky enough to see some of the best male throwers in the college game up close. Even when we had a solid game plan to slow down some of these world class throwers, some just had an easier time breaking our marks. So I went to the film to see what they were doing to create so many throwing lanes and opportunities.
Matching what I saw from guys like Matt Bennett, Dalton Smith, and Khalif El Salaam et. al. with what I’ve read about great throwing mechanics regarding releasing from multiple pivots, forehands, subroutines within a kinetic throwing chain, and throwing from the ground up, I realized they were beating a mark or getting a throw out to space before a cut has expired in between traditional pivots.
The analysis left me with a few concrete, simple-to-teach concepts, dubbed ‘Triple Threat Throwing’. I incorporated this into the center of our practices last year, which has helped throwers with established fundamentals add some calculated creativity and versatility to their throwing repertoire.
‘Triple Threat Throwing’
Imagine you’re on the open half of the field, being forced backhand. From a balanced position, you pivot forward to throw a pump fake at a downfield teammate. After a few stalls of waiting for something to develop, you pivot your foot all the way backfield and try for an around forehand break. Your mark predicts this move and jumps tight face to take away the look. You pivot back up for a chance at an IO backhand break, but by the time you get there, the cut has expired. You then see a late stall huck open up, but with your foot forward, you won’t be able to generate the power with a strong step in time. Bummer!
Instead, imagine lining up from stall zero with the right pivot foot back, as if to throw an around flick in force backhand. The disc stays out on your left hip, with your shoulders squared to the downfield and weight balanced between your two feet. Your mark will have a tough time deciding what to take way—at any second you could:
- With no step at all, toss a backhand downfield for a big under.
- With a slight twist of the hips, square your shoulders while concurrently drawing the disc and prepping your off-elbow drive for an around flick.
- With your pivot trailing behind, drop into an inside backhand break to the front of the stack.
- With a single pivot forward and away from the mark, launch a backhand huck.
Here’s an example of Jimmy Mickle executing this skill in the Dallas Roughneck’s first round playoff game this season. He catches an in-cut on the sideline against a backhand mark, immediately sets up with his right pivot foot back while his body faces upfield, shimmies to fake the upfield backhand and move his mark, and opens up a big around flick huck.
With so many options and with only the huck requiring you to leave the triple threat throwing position, you’ll better be able to match your throw to the timing of your teammate. You sacrifice some power and some reach,1 but you’ll be able to stretch your defending mark to open side, inside, and around lanes all at once.
To make the triple threat throwing a viable option, you’ll want to practice throwing backhands from your left hip while your right foot is back.
- Feel the weight transfer move from your right pivot, on the toe comfortably behind your body, to your left leg as you lunge into the throw.
- Practice putting OI on those upfield throws to keep them crisp and powerful.
- Practice throwing with IO as your pivot foot trails behind to break your mark.
- Practice going from toe to heel as you pivot your hips and shoulders around for the around-break.
- Practice containing your ‘draw’ and off-elbow drive for each throw in the time it takes to transfer your weight and pivot to the look—a quick draw with disc near the body means you’ll be able to throw as soon as your hips and feet have squared up.
Once you’re comfortable with the mechanics, add some variety—a high release inside backhand that floats to space, an around-flick pump fake to immediate IO break, or an around-flick pump fake to backhand huck. Can you find your traditional footwork and fundamental throws at the edges of the triple threat throws? Sweet! If so, try applying triple threat throwing in some of the following game situations.
Force Forehand Resets
The first three to four seconds of a stall count are often spent working the open side of the offense—taking the huck that your offense has set up for on a continuation, or perhaps hitting an open side under to keep the disc flowing. During this phase of the forehand, the right foot is often back or out to the open side, power loaded and ready to step forward into an immediate throw. Consider your triple threat options with the foot out to the open side:
- With no step or a quick step forward, you can throw an open side under.
- With a step either towards your mark or away from your mark forward, you can create a lane to throw an IO break.
- With a step forward, you can throw a huck.
But if you pump fake your throw, what do you do with your right foot? Instead of drawing it back for a chance at another open side look, leave your right foot upfield, start to square your hips towards the mark, and move the disc to your left hip.
Triple threat throwing gives you the following options:
- With no step at all, toss a no pivot around backhand.
- With a slight twist of the hips, concurrently draw the disc and prepping your off-elbow drive for an inside flick or lefty backhand.
- With a single pivot backward and away from the mark, throw a traditional around backhand break.
By avoiding a potentially unnecessary pivot, you’ll leave options for your reset teammate to time the cut. And if your mark commits hard to either the around or inside lane, you’ll be left with the option of taking the opposite—triple threat footwork keeps both available longer.
Attacking The Break Side In Force Forehand
Whether you’re the fill cut from the stack, an open side reset attacking the break space, or a continuation break side cutter that’s just received the disc from a handler, you’ve got the opportunity to keep the pressure on the defense to cover the breakside. As teams sag or ‘cast the net’ to prevent additional breaks, triple threat throwing can leave you options to attack the space available.
Imagine you’re lined up as the openside reset—at a 45 degree angle a dozen yards back from your handler. They dump it back while you’re in stride to the breakside. You catch the disc, slow down your feet, and release the disc for a continuation around backhand once your right foot is forward for traditional throwing mechanics. If that doesn’t work, you bring your pivot back to the flick side, perhaps immediately into an IO or a dropping it back to again step forward for a more powerful huck. But that’s a lot of steps, and typically enough time for your mark to have regained position and the downfield defense adjust to the breakside attack. Instead, consider some triple threat throwing options. After catching the dump while moving actively towards the break side:
- Throw the around backhand out to space with your left foot forward, focusing on a low release outside in throw to keep it crisp and predictable
- Pump fake the backhand with your left foot forward. With a slight twist of the hips, concurrently draw the disc and prep your off-elbow drive for an inside flick or lefty backhand
- Pump fake the backhand with your left foot forward. With your right foot to the inside, run a give-and-go with your reset handler.
- Pump fake the backhand with your left foot forward. With your right foot already back, twist your hips, draw the disc, prep your off-elbow drive, and launch an outside in flick huck to giant swaths of space that the defense just left open when they orbited hard to the break side.
The difference can seem minimal—you avoid one extra step on the initial attack to the breakside and one additional pivot back to the open side. But two pivots, with your body staying more balanced, make the subsequent IO break, huck, and give-and-go much easier.
In Cut to Flick Hucks
As a downfield cutter, you attack the disc and catch an open side under at full speed against force flick. Getting to a triple threat throwing as quickly as possible will force the defense to react, thus communicating to you and your teammates the available lanes. Many players will often slow down after the catch, and then turn upfield using their pivot step. This often results in a travel, or leaves them with footwork that doesn’t create a lot of opportunities. Instead:
- Catch the disc and decelerate in a straight line until your right foot is out in front of you (while facing your handler).
- Leaving both feet where they are, twist your hips while up on your toes so your body is now facing downfield.
- While twisting, draw the disc tight to the body and load your off-disc elbow.
You’ve now put yourself in a position to throw a continuation huck from an in-cut. Follow the triple threat footwork listed above for the flick to continue to press your advantage and either attack the open side or move the disc immediately towards the break side.
Triple threat throwing creates opportunities for throw speed-of-release and creative release points. As a thrower, triple threat throwing can yield 5-10 lanes per stall, without ever needing to pivot. Should you stop pivoting all together? Absolutely not. But a balanced attack of big pivots to work the edges of the mark and triple threat throwing to exploit their timing and positioning can make you a versatile thrower.
Well, unless you’re Jimmy Mickle. ↩