How To Be A Great Handler

I don’t usually discuss finer strategic points here, but this comment from Reddit user Oysterous about being a great handler is quite insightful.

They wrote:

[quote]In my opinion, being a handler is about 2 things:

1: Vision
2: Knowing your limits.

Everything else is secondary, although having a lot of throws is obviously helpful.

Most people think about handling from the throwing side first, and focus on being able to physically place the disc in many field positions with multiple throws. It’s obviously a necessary part of the game, but you wouldn’t be thinking about making the transition if you weren’t confident about being able to make the throws.

The MUCH bigger part about being a handler is having vision. A great handler is like a great quarterback — they can read defensive formations, and can predict flow better than the rest of the team.

Ultimate is a game of possession. The offense has the advantage, so keeping possession is they key to winning. If the offense can maintain possession 100% of the time, they will score that point. Therefore, the goal of the handlers is to maintain possession. Even if the disc is moving backwards, this is more important. Obviously, you need to move the disc forward to score, but it is still a secondary goal after maintaining possession.

Therefore, a handler’s mentality should be less about “how much yardage can I gain if I throw this?” and more “what are the chances this throw will be completed?” Good handlers are constantly thinking about this math problem.

This is where the second point comes in — knowing your limits as a thrower. The math for a good handler breaks down to: “What is the chance that I can throw the disc to the receiver” and “what is the chance he will catch it.” By thinking this way, you get an overall success percentage for that throw option — and you only make throws that have a high percentage of helping your team maintain possession.

A GREAT handler takes it one step further with better vision, and starts to calculate the percentage of the subsequent pass after the first receiver gets the disc. What is the percentage that the next thrower can make another successful pass? How is his position on the field going to affect his options? Does he already have another cutter that is open to continue the flow?”

Any potential throw that has a higher risk of a turnover is discarded. This is why handlers swing and dump so often- the risks of trying to move the disc upfield on that throw are too high, and they know that possession is more important.

Young players think of handling as having great hammers and giant hucks. These are just tools in helping your team maximize it’s possession and scoring percentage- and smart throwers know when they are the smart throwing option.

If you want to be a great handler, you should hate turnovers more than you love gaining yardage or scoring points.[/quote]

  1. Charlie Eisenhood
    Charlie Eisenhood

    Charlie Eisenhood is the editor-in-chief of Ultiworld. You can reach him by email (charlie@ultiworld.com) or on Twitter (@ceisenhood).

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