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Land on One Foot

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I remember a long time ago reading an article of Parinella’s somewhere where he explained a better way to toe the line is to only keep one foot down to maximize your reach rather than trying to dig both feet in.  Such a simple tip, and it reminded me of my days before ultimate.  Before frisbee, my previous love was volleyball.  I used to subscribe to a volleyball magazine and there were always these quick 1 page articles with a  handy little nugget of wisdom (think Zip’s Tips minus the sandwich eating suggestions).

So one of those tips I remember was for playing volleyball doubles.  When you’re the blocker, you have one other teammate behind you in the backcourt covering the entire court on their own and they’re typically backed up to receive a hard driven spike.  Imagine as the blocker who’s jumping in the air, the spike hits off your hands, pops up, and dribbles just behind you.  That’s a hard ball for your teammate to get to if they’re positioned fairly deep.  The key to helping your partner out is to land on one foot. By landing on one foot, you can land already turning toward the court, and hit the ground running giving you a better shot at making the dig.  If you land with both feet, you lose the time it takes your foot to hit the ground and pick it up to take your first step behind you.

Application to frisbee?  On a hanging huck where you mistime your jump.  How often do you see the disc hang, the receiver and defender both jump and miss (or tip the disc) and the disc lands softly just a few steps away?  Try land on one foot and hit the ground running with your other leg to make that second effort grab or D.  By hitting the ground running you’ll also increase your chances of avoiding getting landed on and being taken out in a pile up.

I played college in what was the Metro East and there was a time when Princeton’s Clockwork Orange was pretty much the cream of the crop thanks in large part to this lanky kid with a visor named, Bailey Russell (some of the best ever Callahan hype on RSD was from the Clockwork PR machine).

I remember one year where their zone offense involved Bailey throwing scoobers over the cup to this ex-basketball player, grad student whose claim to fame was having dunked on Greg Ostertag.  They’d eventually dump it to Bailey again and they’d repeat.  None of that is really relevant to my point (we old folks ramble a bit) but the interesting thing to me was the way Bailey gained yards on the dumps.

Bailey would hop up and slightly forward as he caught the dump, then land on one foot – specifically his right foot.  When his left foot then landed, he was landing in a big forward step, and then he’d take another big step forward with his right leg.  Having long legs, Bailey’s two step gained him a good 2 yards easily.

The keys here:

  • Having some forward momentum in the air so that first step is not just a blatant travel.
  • Landing on your non-pivot foot (Bailey is right handed).  By landing first with his right foot, his other foot lands in a forward step with his left established his pivot, making the next step a pivot step, which as a pivot step can be in a different direction and/or speed.

Bailey’s stork like legs and floaty-ness make those two steps look natural and legal.

Where is the best application of this move?  When you’re a middle handler in a zone offense that uses a handler crash from in front of the cup, this move will get you deeper into the cup.  Unlike a crash from a popper coming from behind the cup, this type of crash comes at the cup from the front. Ideally, this crash puts the disc in the handler’s hands with forward momentum, vision of the field, and a cup out of position (likely too close to stop throws through itself).  And it is this last regard – getting deep into the cup to allow throws through– where Bailey’s two step can be most deadly.

All together: See your poppers before you move. Jump into the cup as you receive the disc. Land on your right foot. Land on your left with a smooth, big, forward step. Then take another step/pivot forward to get you right up to the cup and throw through the cup to a popper. Do this smoothly and quickly before the cup can step back to maintain their spacing.

From Brian Lo’s ultimate frisbee blog:

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