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Before I begin, let me introduce myself. My name is Jen Voce, and I am the author of aVocebehindtheLens’s Blog. Normally, my main focus is in photography, but I’ve been asked by HighReleaseHandler to report on an event he couldn’t attend, not because he didn’t have the time or didn’t want to go; it was because he was male.

WUDi and Bent hosted a Women’s Clinic for Ultimate Frisbee on Randall’s Island this past Saturday for any female who wanted to learn. The invitation went out through Facebook and was open to anyone in the tri-state area. I had heard about it from my team’s new captain, Keira, who had included me on the invite list.

I was interested for a few reasons:

A "Pancake Catch" is a secure catch.

  • I’ve never played Ultimate on an all women’s team.
  • I feel like my defensive skills have become lackluster.
  • I like learning, and love Ultimate. That’s a win-win right there.

As the Women’s Clinic was being held on Fields 53 and 54, we had to wait for the UltiNY Club League to finish their games before we got started. They ended a bit late, which meant we began a bit late, too. Despite this bump, the Clinic ran smoothly and efficiently with what little daylight we had left. We gathered around the tent to learn where the first set of courses were to be found, and departed for the next half hour…

Round 1:
– Throwing for Beginners
– Defensive Positioning
Breaking the mark
– Dump Swings
– Intermediate to Long Throws

Marking Nothing to do with Crayola…

Originally, we had planned on spending Round 1 in “Breaking the Mark”, but the group was over 30 people big. Looking across the field, the “Marking” session had four people, that’s including the coaches. I suggested we switch our choice to “Marking” for the numbers, and I am so glad we did. For those of you who don’t know, “Marking” is the term for defending the person with the disc.

Dont mark like this.

Prior to this Clinic, I had always thought that keeping no more than disc space (about 10-12″) between you and the handler was the norm, staying low was key, and following their movement was all you needed to do. I was so wrong. It’s better to be about three feet away from the person you’re guarding, especially if you’re shorter than the person you’re defending. This gives you more ground to cover, and blocks MUCH more space on the person you’re defending. They can’t go around your arms or legs as easily. The same goes for squatting and staying low. It’s not always the best course of action since, once again, you limit yourself to how much of a defensive wall you create. Bouncing around helps you out because rather than letting the thrower dictate your movements, you dictate the thrower’s movements.

The drill we ran was simple, and you really only need three people to make it happen. Two of the three participants are throwers while the third is the defender running between the two. For the first part of this drill, have the defender guard with their hands behind their back. They need to use only their body to keep the person with the disc from throwing. Have a stall count to ten, as per usual, but make sure the thrower knows they cannot throw before Stall Four. That will make the defender mark a bit harder and a bit longer, too. The person with the disc will throw to the third, stationary player. Repeat this about six times (more if you like) before switching to the next defender. Once everyone has had the opportunity to defend without their hands, run the same drill with no restrictions on their arms. Don’t worry about marking towards a forehand or a backhand. This is a drill for straight-on marking.

Do mark like this.

If you’re thinking to yourself, “That’s all well and good, but what about Breaking the Mark? That would have been useful information, too,” I have something for you as well. During the drill, the thrower primarily moved from forehand to backhand, back and forth, trying to throw off the defender. What was suggested as another form of breaking the mark was faking low and high throws. Try it out, find your rhythm, get back to us on your experience with this drill!

Round 2:
Cutting for Beginners
Dump Cutting
– Catching
Cutting for Intermediate/Advanced Players
– Throwing to a moving target
– Pulls

My friends and I split up for the second session, as more than one class appealed to us as a whole. This also gave us more to talk about with our team later on, and with you during this post!

Cutting for Beginners Gotta start somewhere…

Petra had this to say about “Cutting for Beginners”:

“So low and behold, I now know what they mean by making a real cut. πŸ™‚

Take 5-7 steps in the opposite direction of where you want to run to. Make your last step a really low lunge. The lower you go, the deeper you can dig your feet into the ground, the better you can push off in the direction you want to run to. Run to the disc. DON’T STOP AND CATCH!! Run with your arms out!! This way when your defender is behind you, you still have an inch or so on them when your arms are reaching for the disc.

A good drill is running or trotting (this would be me πŸ™‚ ) five steps, and then lunging on the last one, pivot in the opposite direction and run five steps, lunge, repeat. I did this in front of my laptop while streaming the show The Riches (which I also highly recommend). Mix your lunge leg (left in front, then switch to the right leg). Pivot towards the back leg, meaning if the left is in front, you turn your right shoulder back.

It’s all about muscle memory, so the beginning speed is not so important (also, pissing off your downstairs neighbors by running up and down your apartment should be avoided). It’s more about getting used to the movement and lunging low.

An example of a "Claw Catch".

Aly gave me this tip: You can run at your defender. They have to get out of the way or move aside (it will psych them out!) – then pivot and run the other way.

There are three types of catches:

  1. Pancake: Good beginner catch, catches for themiddle of your body.One hand above the disc and one hand below, palms flat.
  2. Claw: Two hands on the rim, thumbs below the disc. Best for high catches.
  3. Upside-down Claw: Two hands on the rim, thumbs on top of the disc. Best for low catches.

Again, go to the disc!! Don’t stop and catch.”

Dump Cutting Better than it sounds…

I participated in the “Dump Cutting” class since I’m a handler on my club team and thought this class to be the most useful for me. One thing I know I will do as a handler is if the person defending me is giving me a lot of space, I’ll remain stationary and call for the disc. That’s a no-no, but I’m sure I’m not the only one. During a game with seven people on the field, you want to have three designated handlers. The person with the disc is the thrower, while the other two are the dump and swing handlers. If the disc is in the left corner of the field, the handler to their immediate right is considered the dump, while the handler on the far side of the field is called the swing. That being said, let’s head to the class.

In this class, we talked about not only being the person that cuts for the dump, but also being the thrower on the line. “You should be looking for the dump after Stall Four,” we were advised, and rightly so. Yes, everyone wants to move the disc up the field, and no one likes to give up ground, but throwing back 5 feet to a dump can give up 15 feet on the swing throw. This is preferable to being stalled (having the person marking hit Stall Ten before the throw is released) and turning the disc over to the other team.

Fake up the line before looking to the Dump.

The drill in this class came in three parts: thrower, dump, and defense. The first stage was without defense. We practiced faking up the line, making eye contact with our dump (VITAL), and throwing to the handler after they made a fake and then cut to either the backfield or up-field.

When cutting there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • You don’t want to make more than two cuts. It wastes time, and it’s not fooling anyone but the person who is trying to throw to you.
  • Try to take more than two steps in the opposite direction of where you’re looking to end up, that will put your defender at ease that this is the way you’re going.
  • Vary your speed. Jog in one direction, then sprint in the other. That will help to put your defender off balance and keep you in control.
  • Sell the fake. One of the individuals that taught the class advised calling adamantly for the disc while cutting, clapping your hands profusely, and drawing attention as much as possible to your fake cut. That may help throw off your defender.
  • EYE CONTACT. Enough said.

Intermediate/Advanced Cutting Cutting with style…

From Aly with love:

“The focus was on Intermediate Cutting because all of the girls in my group were at that level. Basic concepts to take away from the session:

  • Attack the disc-catch the disc with arms extended and hands open letting the disc come into your palms (as opposed to the pancake catch) to get the upper hand against your defender.
  • Try to be aware of the direction of the rotation of the disc-you want the disc to come into your hand with the rotation.
  • Be aware of your (and your opponent’s) center of gravity-short people have an easier time switching direction and cutting than taller people.
  • When making your cut, run first at your defender forcing them to either back up on their heels or move out of your way before making your cut.
  • Try varying your speed-most women simply try to outrun their defender on their cut as opposed to varying their speed by slowing up or shuffling their feet (as frequently seen in football) before making the cut.

A good cut will allow you to break away from your Defender.

All in all, the class was helpful. Working on my cutting is an ongoing process, and I always appreciate any new tips or tricks for improvement.

While I understand the benefits of attacking the disc, I had a lot of trouble with it during the session and that continued in trying it out today. It works better with throws that are high or layouts but for most throws that are waist level, it seems almost impossible to catch the disc like that. I either can’t get my arms into position or hit the disc away. The safety of the pancake catch seems to work for me right now.

I have previously been given the advice to run towards your defender before making a cut, which is good advice I should try to actually do. We ran a drill that was helpful in practicing this concept. Also, definitely going to try varying my speed.”

Round 3:

There were enough people at the Clinic that when the time came to start the scrimmage, we had two full games running. It was a great opportunity to put into practice our newly learned information and to also play with new people.


Kaptain Keira had this to say:

“I definitely enjoyed the classes. The teachers were super helpful with their suggestions and key points they wanted to get across.

I really enjoyed the first module (Marking) because it gave me a much better idea of how to guard on defense, and broke down exactly what I needed to do to effectively force.

As a Defender, do whatever you can to stay with your person.

The second part of the class (Dump Cutting) was informative as well because it talked about changing your positioning of your body to a completely different angle, so that if you could not throw up the line, you would turn 90 degrees and look for the pass there, while throwing in some fakes in the meantime.

The instructor said it was important to change your body positioning this way, so that your cutter knew that you were looking to throw to him/her.

I was really excited for the classes and definitely felt like they were beneficial for everyone that came. [The instructors] broke down steps of skills that we thought we knew how to do, and really showed us how to tweak and perfect them.

If they do [the Clinic] again, I definitely think it should include more modules, and less scrimmaging. People can always play pickup where ever, but there is not always that opportunity to better your skills. I also found that because we were so pressed for time, a lot of the modules got cut a little short, or were kind of rushed through. However, all in all, I was extremely grateful for the coordination of this event, so much thanks to WUDi and BENT for that!”

Thanks to Petra, Aly, and Keira for helping me to put this post together, and thanks again to WUDi and Bent for an awesome afternoon, and a disc with my name on it!