Clinic #3 – Mechanics of Cutting with Dan Balzerson

At the third winter clinic we had Dan Balzerson (one of the past and present captains of Crash) teach us about the movement patterns he applies to get open as a cutter.

The clinic started with a discussion and then activation drills for adduction, or the push away. This is the key movement pattern for changes of directions up to 90 degrees. Dan emphasized planting the foot outside of one’s centre of mass to achieve the most effective activation of the glutes for powerful drive. He also got a bit nerdy on us while pointing out that it’s important to take one’s current momentum into consideration when deciding what vector of force will achieve the desired direction.

Next we moved on to abduction, or the push under. This is a key component of making changes of direction greater than 90 degrees. It usually follows a push away, and consists of the leg planting close to one’s center of mass and driving towards the opposite leg. We all had a laugh as we tried to synchronize lateral crossover A’s with a partner so we could help each other learn this movement pattern.

These two movements were then put together in a couple of drills that involved 180 degree turns.

We then moved on to cuts versus a defender. Dan highlighted three main cutting techniques that he uses to get open.

First, there is the speed/power cut. In this cut, the defender is not standing in the path of where you would like to go, so you simply accelerate hard in that direction. It’s important to load up both legs just before this explosive acceleration and to make sure both of the adduction and abduction movement patterns are used to generate speed from the first two steps.

Next there is the more traditional change of direction cut. This is the cut we’re all familiar with, but by applying both the adduction and abduction movement patterns we can sharpen the cut and gain even more separation from our defender.

Finally, there is the shoulder cut. This is the cut of choice if the defender is properly positioned where you would like to go but you’ve chosen to go there anyway. In this cut, you cut directly at the defender to aggressively close the gap. Once you are inside of the defenders comfort zone, he or she will have to pick a direction and turn their hips. Then, you can precisely calculate the vector of force necessary to take you around the defends back, and use that initial adduction movement we worked on to efficiently and sharply achieve that change of direction.

The next clinic will be held on Saturday Feb. 27. All the details are here.

Clinic #2 – Breaking the Mark with Matt Snow

For our second clinic of the winter, Matt Snow (former captain of Liquid and Maverick) came in to teach us his methods for breaking the mark. Matt’s been breaking the mark for many years and taught us a few of his tricks on Saturday.

The clinic began with a discussion of wrist snap and how important it is to snap your wrist and put spin on the disc for every throw. Spin provides stability to the disc as it flies through the air and is important for every throw. To work on our wrist snap we did a drill called pepper where one player receives and throws discs as quickly as possible, focusing on spinning the disc on each release. This forces you to switch grips quickly and release the disc with good spin every time.

The second part of the clinic was learning to adjust the position of your stepping foot when throwing the disc depending on the position of the mark and the desired angle of the throw: stepping slightly forwards for an IO break, mostly sideways for a flat break, and a little bit backwards for an around OI break. We then spent some time working on these skills in isolation for both flick and backhand throws. Two key mechanics points were to keep your knee centred over your stepping foot and to maintain a straight line between your upper body and your pivot leg. This allows for maximum reach and stability.

In the third part of the clinic we worked on extending the maximum range of our pivots to each side by doing a modified Run-Mark-Throw drill where the mark simply forces the thrower to reach far to the side on each throw. Throwing both flat throws and backwards stepping OIs, we challenged ourselves to extend farther than we were comfortable while maintaining balance.

Finally, we closed out the session by talking about the moves that Matt actually uses to break the mark. I think the most interesting part of this was the simplicity of the motions. It doesn’t take anything extraordinary to succeed at breaking the mark, just excellence at a few motions. It’s difficult to describe but this part of the clinic built very nicely on Thomas’ teachings from clinic number 1, where we learned to lean and explode when making our throws.

Next clinic will be held on Saturday Feb. 13. All the details are here.