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Random Spew on Catching

So Brodie just posted a video about catching.  It got me thinking about writing a post on catching, but without a way to structure a bunch of random thoughts, I just have a mess of ramblings on catching, both obvious and non-obvious.
  • Catch the disc however you feel most comfortable.  That said, get comfortable catching the disc in a lot of different ways.
  • Actively open your hands and spread your fingers.  I notice as I fatigue, I sometimes don’t open my hands up as wide and am more prone to not take the disc in cleanly.
  • Watch the disc all the way into your hands.  It enhances hand-eye coordination to see your hands.  I have a tendency on low passes to reach down without looking down, and the disc is actually out of my field of vision at the point of the catch.

Soft Hands and Claw Catching

  • In football, people talk about receivers with soft hand – treating the ball like an egg.  Not as much of an emphasis on this in frisbee, but I remember when I first started using the claw catch (took me a while to get it), watching Billy Rodriguez play and being amazed that I couldn’t hear the disc hitting his hands.
  • On the other side of the spectrum, I see a lot of players stab at the disc when they’re claw catching on an incut.  There’s something to be said about being aggressive – attacking the disc and all, but I would prescribe trying to be smoother in bringing your arms up.  Less of a punching motion will decrease the net velocity at which your hands meet the disc, and that will lead to fewer drops.  That fraction of a second your hands are up in front of you also will enhance hand-eye coordination.  On top of that, having your arms up half a second early better shields the disc from the defender, whose arm is gonna be punching into that space at the same time.
  • To elaborate on that last point, one advantage of claw catching is your arm and hand is more likely to be in the path of a laying out defender.  If you’re clap catching, the side of the disc is exposed.  If you’re claw catching, the defender has to get an inch further out in front of you or get their hand in between yours to get the disc cleanly.  So claw catching makes it more likely the defender will have to go through you to get their hands on the disc.  Think about how many times you’ve made bids and been an inch away or got your hand on the disc but the receiver still caught it.  These fractions of an inch matter.
  • Oh, and claw catching will  make you more likely to square your shoulders to the disc and force you to take a direct line to the disc (which for most, though not all, scenarios is desirable).

Clap Catching

  • As for clap catching, i feel more comfortable with my dominant hand on the bottom, which seems less common.  Again, I think you should do what feels right.  Regardless of which hand you have on top, I am a proponent of clap catching the rim, rather than the middle of the disc.  You always hear people saying to attack the disc and catch out in front of you.  Well, if you’re gonna do that, you shouldn’t wait to catch the middle of the disc.  Catch the rim.  This will also speed up your transfer to throwing.  For me, since I catch with my throwing hand on the bottom, the disc is already properly oriented in my hand when I catch (assuming a right side up throw).  But even if my throwing hand is on top, my off hand is on the rim and can facilitate a more secure grip transfer than if it’s flat against the bottom.
  • To return to the idea of losing sight of the disc, another time the disc passes out of my field of vision is on clap catches to my side.  If you reach to your left at belly height with your right hand on top, your right forearm is actually blocking your vision of the disc.  So I prescribe catching left hand on top when clap catching to your left and vice versa.
  • A counter argument to that point I heard recently was from Leon Chou, who was taught by Ricky Chung to lace your thumbs on those side clap catches so the disc doesn’t slide through, which requires right hand on top for left sided catches.
One Hand Catching
  • There was a tip on Zip’s tips about catching hammers up high by having your thumb over the top of the rim with the rest of your fingers rather than underneath.  I’ve not had success with this, though I’m not great at catching hammers up high.  I’m curious how many players catch this way.
  • When I first started playing someone explained to me the idea of catching the leading edge of the disc v catching the trailing edge of the disc.  Somewhere along the line, I even read an explanation of the physics behind this (written by Mooney?).  Do people still teach this concept?  If you’re gonna catch one handed, you can catch it normally on the leading edge, but if you try catch it on the trailing edge the same way, the disc will spin away from your hand and be harder to catch.  You either have to speed up you arm speed to neutralize the speed of the disc or, as the ever eloquent Jay Brown once told me, “just grip it tight like you’re jerking off.”
  • A mistake I see all the time that shows a lack of understanding of the physics here:  someone’s making an angled incut on the open side against a force flick.  The thrower throws an outside in righty flick a bit outside the receiver who reaches out with his left hand and grabs the far side (leading edge) of the disc.  Simple enough.  Where I see this principle applied wrong is when the cutter is making this cut but the force is backhand, so the throw coming out is an inside out backhand.  The receiver still reaches wide with his left hand, but now the wide side of the disc is the trailing edge.  The disc spins out of their hand into their body; if they’re lucky, they just bobble it and recover.  In that situation, the safer and easier spot to catch the disc is the near side.
From Brian Lo’s ultimate frisbee blog:

3 thoughts on “Random Spew on Catching”

  1. Catch (righty) forehands with your left hand, catch backhands with your right hand. Make a play on the disc, don’t let the disc make a play on you.

    Thats the advice i’d give to a new player.

  2. @stephenghubbard Stephen, the point you’re making has to do with the direction of spin on the disc. For example, if you go to catch a rightie backhand with your left hand, the disc is actually spinning out of your hand; catching with your right hand ensures the disc spins into your hand, increasing the chance of you making the catch and not having it bounce out of your hand.Great point!

  3. On one handed catching: I do and teach catching the leading edge of the disc ( on an in cut ). I teach to catch the disc on the quarter that is moving towards you the fastest.  I would describe it as a tendency for the disc to spin into your hand vs out of your hand. With this in mind, I also teach there is a time for right handed catches vs left handed catches ect. With any combination of cut and throw, I believe there is a “best” way to catch the disc – which might not be what feel comfortable at first. It has a lot do with the anatomy of your hand, and engaging the fleshy part of your palm in the best way possible.
    Example: hold you right hand strait out at arms length, slightly above your shoulder height, and imagine catching a disc coming towards you. Imagine a specific throw, say a backhand outside in from a right handed thrower. To catch the edge coming towards you fastest, you are going to have to reach past half way and catch it on the side furthest from you. Imagine doing this first with your fingers on top, and second with your thumb on top.  With your thumb on top, your palm is facing you (and the disc) and the disc will spin into your hand and come to rest against the fleshy portion of you palm. With your thumb on the bottom the posterior aspect of you hand by the first metacarpal can get in the way can cause the disc to bounce out of your hand.
    Important: None of this matters if you *always* catch it….If you never drop the disc, than just keep doing what you are doing. But if you do drop it, think about why, and maybe teach yourself to catch it in a specific way.

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