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The Basics of Pivoting

Pivoting is a very workman-like skill that is rarely noticed but is invaluable in allowing a thrower to create enough space to throw. Pivots should be smooth and well directed: generally a pivot is employed once a potential receiver has been identified, otherwise thrashing around making aimless and inefficient pivots may leave a thrower out of position at the crucial moment. Having identified a receiver, throwers should try to establish eye contact with them before pivoting, so that they continue the cut and anticipate a pass rather than aborting their cut because they think they have not been spotted.

These are the basic principles of pivoting:

  • Throwers should pivot on the foot that is on the opposite side to that of the hand with which they throw, i.e. left foot for right-handers
  • When pivoting, throwers should vary the size of the steps, this will make the defender move but also keep them guessing:
    • Reserve a large step (or perhaps the quick reversal of a large step) for right before the throw
  • When changing from one side to the other, throwers should step in front of the pivot point:
    • They should not turn their back
      • They should keep facing the way they want to throw
      • This helps prevent errors arising from the momentary ‘blindness’ caused by turning away
    • Stepping in front also prevents the forcer from getting too close
  • Throwers should pivot to face the direction they are going to throw in, even when it is to the open side, rather than just learning: compromising balance increases the difficulty of the throw
  • Throwers should be smooth and controlled in their movements
  • Throwers should keep their pivot foot anchored to the same spot to avoid traveling.

Pivoting is a relatively straight forwards skill to acquire and will definitely benefit less experienced players by helping them to create space to make their throw. The concept of stepping (pivoting) should be introduced when players are first learning to throw: you should get into the habit of linking a step with your throw.

Some people talk about turning out your toe when you step to pivot but ultimately, it’s whatever is comfortable for you. Some players are more flexible than others and will be able to step out further so try pivoting different ways and figure out what works for you.

5 thoughts on “The Basics of Pivoting”

  1. What I’m sometimes not clear about is what to do when the marker is guarding the break side by standing so close that you can’t actually pivot there. Their body may still be a disc diameter away, but this can still prevent the pivot.
    I guess you just accept that you can’t pivot, because they are necessarily leaving the flick completely open? If I understand the rules correctly, once the marker has established a position then you can’t pivot into them.

  2. Jeremy, you can’t step directly into them but you can still step around them. If your pivot presently necessitates that you step into them, than this is a foul on you, but if you distribute your weight onto your pivoting foot (L foot for a righty) and rotate on this foot rather than swinging your body wide, you will be able to pivot around any legal mark.If there is contact as they move to try and prevent the throw, you essentially get a free backhand by waiting to call the foul until you release the disc. You don’t need to settle for taking the throw that they give you, you can still work to open up any throw you want!

    1. @BenSlade Thanks for the ideas Ben! Yes, I feel like there should be a way to pivot on a legal mark. In the situation I’m thinking of, the marker is probably making a disc space violation, since a line between their feet would go through my pivot foot… thus for me to pivot towards the backhand side would involve a knee to the groin. 🙂

      I had assumed disc space was mainly the torso, but it’s between “any two points on the marker”… e.g. also meaning they can’t wrap their arms around you, or stand with their feet on either side of your pivot.

    2. @JeremyS Great question Jeremy…one thing you can do if they’re marking too close on the break side is to just break them from the forced side (ie throw a break flick if they’re too close to throw the backhand). If you imagine the player as a vertical playing card, they have to be a disc width away from your body at all times…that doesn’t happen very often and many players will mark tight until the thrower calls them on disc space and makes them move back.

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