Summary by Max (added on by Joce)
Original Article on Skyd Magazine

Overview:  This article interestingly  talks about effort = output. Because of lack of decisive form or function, much effort usually goes to waste. As players mature and defenders get more agile, more aware and more disciplined in denying areas, the conventional tools that coaches equip players with on “how to cut” might not be sufficient (“yield diminishing returns”, as I quote). When cutters fail, the effort goes to waste. And so, the article introduces a new school of thought. For these cutting tools, start describing the “why” rather than just “how”.  This article talks about using the properties of the field  to get free. 

Usability: Coaches and Cutters. For those struggling to get the disc, or for those who are looking to elevate their understanding of cutting spaces and patterns. 

Level: Intermediate to Expert

Short pointers on how to get free:

  1. Set up your defender by moving him into a place that leaves him exposed relative to how the disc is moving.
  2. Specific goal when cutting is to draw the defender into a position where he needs to reconsider his footwork.
  3. Running mirrored cuts as an option to making use of limited space.


Economies of Space and Time

The more space there is in front of the thrower, the more likely you will get open. When you haven’t got enough space to get open easily, give what you have to someone else.

  • By space we are referring to the target area of the disc. Cutters should start regarding space as a currency. Together and separately, cutters must trade, budget and spend space in order to pose threads and ultimately make a successful attack.
  • Space equity: Space is abundant on the field, but very little of it amounts to useful space at any given time. Useful space is defined as the space occupied/belonging to a single cutter that is within 50% of thrower’s maximum range.
    *Note that as you reduce your distance from the thrower, you become less of a useful target, as your yardage gain is minimal.
    *Also note that as you approach the upper end of the thrower’s range (deep), you become less of a viable target, and your only threat becomes an in-cut.
  • Every aggressive move of attack requires space (article suggests 350m2 as the minimum useful space required for a cutter to get open). With a bigger space, the cutter can use a wider range of his cutting tools to get free, separation and gain yardage. In short, larger space = more threats.
  • Mids have to understand this concept, and learn how to evaluate which cutter has better advantage. If you have not enough “useful space”, it would be better to “donate/trade it” to your teammate. That combined equity of space will lead to something more useful.
  • To conclude, teammates must be willing to maintain an economy of spaces for optimum cutting. Make the most out of your real estate.

Threat Number

The most powerful place on the field is a spot where you can make three distinct, equally strong cuts.  When you want the disc, this is where you should start your cut.

  • First advantage of space is to offer threats. Good defenders will block access to one viable threat. If you are positioned in such a way that you can attack 2 directions, the defender will be compromised. If you are positioned to take 3, the defender will be overstretched and reactive. Your goal is to move into a triple-threat position when setting up.
  • A good defender can only be defeated when he or she needs to juggle priorities that require different stances.
  • See figure 2 which illustrates an end zone situation. It has the “threat number” of attack types a cutter can make from a given space.

Timing & Information Deprivation

Set up your defender by moving him into a place that leaves him exposed relative to how the disc is moving. Time your movement so that he cannot see where the disc is caught.  Make your attack there, when he isn’t sure where the threats are.

  • A good defenders’ most important resource is information. Your goal is to deprive him of it.
  • Apart from watching you, defenders observe the field to (i) see the disc position, (ii) see the possible throws, (iii) anticipate the next play, (iv) prioritize threatening spaces. If the defender can get this information at regular intervals, he can reposition quickly to shut down your desirable spaces. In essence, he has shut you down.
  • When you move, you occupy some of the defender’s attention. If you move into a place where there are new/more threats (when disc moves), then you will be comprising the defender’s information at a critical time.
  • So you need to draw the defender into a position where he has to reconsider his footwork because of the threat number. This is the most important component of “good timing”.
  • By timing your move into a threatening position at the same time when the disc is about to be thrown or caught, you elevate your odds of success in your attack.

Add-ons (by Joce): 

  • Every defender’s goal is to triangulate and keep eyes on both you and the disc. Your goal would be to make him choose either YOU or the DISC. You can do so by moving your position relative to the disc into pockets of spaces where it forces your defender to turn his hips in order to readjust his triangulation position.