Learning to cut… at the end of my third year!

Welcome, to the blog of me, Therapist. I won’t blog as regularly as the regulars here but when I get some sort of motivation or inspiration I will put my thoughts down, check that they’re OK with somebody who is better at writing than me and then send them your way. They will range from anything I fancy writing about in Ultimate frisbee, I hope you like my thoughts.


I have never struggled to get free of people and get the disc in my hand at university level. I have scored goals by reacting quickly to a handler getting the disc in a good position or merely outpacing my mark and letting a handler pop a disc into just the right place for me, but never before playing for the GB Beach Open team did I learn to get free of people for fun.

At university level I have played my fair bit of offense and been an easy(ish) reset at times by running back on a cycle play or running break side for a swing continuation. But I always let others use the open lane to get free and work it there – I considered myself a reset if the handler got stuck. The point here is that I never really “cut” and by that I mean going through the mechanics and motions of running one way, changing direction sharply and going back the other to receive a disc easily. Playing for GB Beach, however, I found myself on the O line with nowhere to hide and was left frustrated because of my inability to shake my man, or not being fast enough to solely rely on flat line speed and not longer being “just” a reset when required.

As a quick aside, for Brighton 1 I have tended to stand pretty still on offense to save my energy for defense where I felt more useful. This stems from a lack of confidence on disc to the extent that I didn’t want the disc unless physically scoring. So my lack of cutting at Tour, whilst not very helpful, has not been too detrimental (I hope).

We had a variety of set plays that we were playing through. I knew the plays and I knew where I was supposed to receive the disc, or at least be available to receive a disc should the rest of the play be blocked elsewhere. However, all too often I made a run (notice, NOT cut) into the space I was meant to be and wouldn’t be free enough. More often than not the rest of the play had worked OK so it wasn’t too much of an issue but a good amount of the time I was not helping out offense out at all and so it made it trickier.

There was one play in particular where I was a wide up-field player in horizontal stack and I just had to come under to clear space and receive a swing pass if need be – I just ran under with my man on my shoulder. At uni level this was often OK, at Burla/Paga this had done me fine, heck, at trials for the GB Beach team I had got free plenty but suddenly, with somebody experienced on my shoulder I was not a free man, and that annoyed me.

I think I got told three times before I finally made a “cut” for that particular play. People weren’t annoyed with me when they told me (it was three separate people so perhaps I got lucky in that sense) but wanted me to get free in the right place at the right time. My problem was not just that I was not free enough should the handler want to throw me the disc but actually, since I had not tried to make my D go long at all first but merely run towards the space I need to occupy I was there too early and so by the time the handler looked at me I probably was not even in the ideal space and so them giving the disc up to me was actually now a bad option.

On the third such being told I actually took on board the advice and lo and behold, it worked! My man bit on my deep fake (just 3 or 4 hard steps and he was a gonna – too scared of me I reckon) and I streaked free under just in time for the handler to hit me with a 10 or 15 metre gain. I had time to compose myself before my mark got to me and reset the disc to a moving handler who punted it long to a free guy deep (who had probably sent his man the wrong way under looking for a swing) – the play worked and finally I was a part of it!

The rest of the week was a dream – I was scared of very few people and felt I could get free of them for fun. I took this to Burla (more relaxed, I fully appreciate, and the old style me could still have got free most of the time) and felt I played really well and was finally able to dominate O points like I had always wanted to, and all because I had learnt to cut properly.

The point, though, to this here blog, is that I learned this fundamental part of ultimate at the end of my third year of playing, so much like Shim is saying in his blog series (that he learns new things every week, even though he has been playing for 6 or 7 decades) I learned something huge whilst being, in university circles, an “experienced” player. I had been a captain for two of three years playing without ever really learning how to cut effectively, which in hindsight is pretty terrible.

I always taught people to cut properly (hence Ashley always having cut well – that was me, not Felix, or anyone else, maybe) and shown them in demonstrations the mechanics of cutting but when it came down to the crunch I didn’t do it and relied on reaction time and speed to get free. Now, however, I feel like a good cutter and back myself to get free of most people most of the time – and end up in a good position!

From this blog post then, you should take that you can always learn something and quite often you can still improve on the fundamentals of your game even if you’ve been playing ages. Don’t ever think that you’ve got the basics down to such an extent that you don’t need to work on them. Challenge yourself – get somebody with a huge force to mark you and make them bite on your fakes, get somebody who you have never gotten free of before to mark you and make them fall over trying to change direction when you do or watch me make anybody look like a chump. You can improve on all aspects of your game, so why not try?

Regards, and best of luck improving your basics!


  • Taxi

    Very honest and interesting. Great Post.

  • faron

    This is a great post. Very insightful. That is all 🙂

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