Ten Pull Plays from 2023 Club Nationals

The plays used by the best to set up quick scores off the pull at the 2023 Club Championships

Fort Collins shame.’s Aubree Dietrich vies for possession against Seattle BFG’s Leah Bar-on Simmons at the 2023 Club Championships. Photo: Rodney Chen – UltiPhotos.com

While writing a new chapter on Pull Plays for Flik, I watched all the streamed games from the 2023 USA Club Championships and saw an incredible variety of tactics used to score quickly off the pull.

There are few things better in ultimate than watching one team tear through another’s defense in a few seconds using well-coordinated team movements, athletic cuts and pinpoint throws. It’s the essence of how strategy intersects with team work to produce moments that leave the defense scratching their heads and wondering what just happened. And we get to see lots of hucks, who doesn’t like that?

Here are my top 10 favorite plays from the hundreds I reviewed:

Play 1: Immediate Deep Cut

https://streamable.com/ayndoq

Sometimes, the simplest plays are the best. Pairing up a strong hucker and an athletic receiver has always been effective, and sometimes you just need to bide your time, waiting to catch an unsuspecting opponent off guard. Brute Squad were cruising 11-4 in this game and maybe a little over-confident, leaving an athletic San Diego Flipside receiver with too much space and time. The throw is excellent: arcing over the defender’s head makes it nearly impossible for her to make a play.

Play 2: Isolation Cutting

https://giphy.com/gifs/mkxCNhTFuKqxFE280E

What I like most in this clip is how long the Seattle BFG handler is willing to give the iso cutter to get open. They’ve set up a side stack to give plenty of space for the cutter, and give them time and trust them to do their job. The huge gain on the initiating under cut sets up the continuation passes; notice how shallow the stack is at the point the pass is caught. The defenders downfield are positioned to guard unders based on the disc being 25 yards further back and simply don’t have time to readjust. This is an important reminder that throwing fast passes helps to gain more yards per throw and gives the defense less time to reposition. Decisive continuation cutting splits the poaches and finishes off a smooth point in just three passes.

Play 3: Zipper to Split Stack

https://streamable.com/ltgviw

I don’t recall seeing a vertical stack transition into split stack before, so kudos to Revolver for innovating. The first move is based on the classic “zipper” with the front two cutters hitting both sides of the field and the back two do the same. In effect, this gives the central cutter the ability to either come under or go away. After getting the disc under, this leaves San Francisco Revolver set up in a split stack. They’re then able to work the disc quickly to the end zone via a well-time deep cut and a smooth backhand to space.

Play 4: Using the Break Side to Attack Deep

https://giphy.com/gifs/o1BvaEsS0ovIGx3u5n

I love the contrast between the two backhands in this clip. The first is thrown low, hard, and wide, with a slight outside-in curve, forcing the receiver to curve her cut slightly on the catch. This beautifully sets her up for a continuation throw on the forehand side. Her defender knows this and overplays on the mark, giving plenty of space for a lofty, inside-out backhand to space for a goal. A great example of why it’s important to practice a range of release points, curves and speeds of throw from 2023 champions Boston Brute Squad.

Play 5: Stutter Step into Deep Cut

https://streamable.com/yeder1

Excellent cutting technique sets up this deep throwing opportunity for Chicago Machine. Malik Auger-Semmar waits for the disc to be fielded then drives hard at his defender who is forced to turn 180 and chase him away. A quick stutter-step from Auger-Semmar is enough to wrong foot his defender, giving him a yard of separation. Paul Arters doesn’t hesitate, unleashing a spectacularly accurate forehand that arcs over Auger-Semmar’s right shoulder for Auger-Semmar to catch in stride. The angle of the throw, much like the example in Play 1 above, ensured the poaching defender from the far stack had no play on the disc.

Play 6: Quick Ho Stack Clears

https://streamable.com/iuhnhg

San Francisco Fury often initiate movement in their horizontal stack by clearing one of the swing handlers to create space for a cutter, but rarely does that handler loop back to get the disc immediately. Fury do a wonderful job creating space in their horizontal stack and this clip is no exception; generating power position sets up a wonderful touch throw to space and an easy goal for Opi Payne.

Play 7: Cascading Lateral Cuts

https://streamable.com/e68g32

The increasing use of drone footage at tournaments gives us an excellent perspective, showing how cuts develop away from the action. We can see Raleigh Ring of Fire’s cutters being backed, and they react by making a series of lateral cuts. The cutters in the stack do a great job of keeping up with the play, ensuring they are ahead of the disc and therefore ideally positioned to provide options to keep the disc flowing. Each time the disc moves, the number of players between the disc and the end zone decreases – 7v7 becomes 5v5 becomes 3v3 – and this ensures the final throw is to an isolated receiver with all the time in the world to reel it in.

Unlike some of the examples which rely on spectacular throws, this playing style is something most teams can replicate. Isolate one cutter at a time and let them do their thing. Meanwhile, make sure there are cutters ready and waiting to provide continuation, something Ring do superbly here.1

Play 8: Resets to Reclaim Flow

https://streamable.com/j7cxgt

A truly great pull play works even when one of the primary options doesn’t connect. It looks like Washington DC Scandal’s pull play comes to a grinding halt after a couple of passes, but what they do extremely well is use a quick reset to reclaim the initiative and get back into flow.

Keep an eye on Claire Trop’s movement following her first pass: she clears down the far sideline, but always keeps an eye on the disc. The moment the reset is caught, she turns underneath to provide breakside continuation. This is a great example of changing the angles of attack; Trop’s defender is well-positioned prior to the reset, but as the disc moves she is suddenly out of position. Scandal capitalize quickly with two continuation throws down the break sideline. As much as I love watching teams bomb hucks, these flowing pull plays are probably harder for a defense to contain.

Play 9: The San Diego Windmill2

https://streamable.com/p28l04

Breaking the mark is an excellent way of setting up deep throws, as we see here in this three pass goal from Flipside. Setting up in a horizontal stack, the two cutters in front of the disc clear away downfield, setting up a break cut from the open side; in the UK we call this a “windmill.” Much like Play 4 above from Brute Squad, a strong break mark throw sets up a simple continuation pass, and the thrower has plenty of time to loop a beautiful pass into the end zone for an easy goal:

Play 10: The Zipper

https://streamable.com/k1m9cw

The zipper is a classic play that’s older than most of the players on the field, but it still works. Here’s a perfect example: the back two Boston DiG cutters from the stack cut underneath – one to each side of the field – and the third cuts deep for a goal. Note how the second cutter takes a few steps deep before turning under; it’s just enough to draw the attention of the deepest defender, helping ensure his teammate’s deep cut wouldn’t attract a poach. Finally, the deep throw isn’t straight down the middle, it’s slightly towards the side of the field away from the cutter’s defender so the receiver can keep his body between the disc and the defender should the throw be anything but perfect (which this one is).

Is there anything more demoralizing to the defense – or confidence boosting for the offence – than getting beaten deep immediately after chasing down a pull?


  1. As an aside, the Truck Stop versus Ring of Fire semifinal was a showcase of offensive perfection and well worth a watch if you haven’t seen it already. 

  2. Editor’s note: much better than my club team’s name for this play, “doggy” 

  1. Sion "Brummie" Scone
    Avatar

    Sion "Brummie" Scone coached GB Open from 2010-2012, and also coached the GB World Games team in 2013, and the u24 Men in 2018. He has been running skills clinics in the UK and around the world since 2005. He played GB Open 2007-12, and GB World Games 2009. He lives in Birmingham, UK. You can reach him by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter (@sionscone).

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