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.

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