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Handling and Marking Q&A From a Fan

This post was in response to a fan who had a few questions about handling and marking both on offense and defense.

I’m a combination handler/cutter for I just had a few questions about handling against tight marks and vice versa, marking tough handlers.

I’ve only been handling for a few months, and I’ve found that in the three tournaments I’ve played at I feel like I’m usually just cycling the disc back to an upline handler or dump rather than making throws to cutters. I’ve only turned the disc once across those three tournaments while handling, which I guess is good but most of the throws I have made haven’t been that long of a throw to get turned, if that makes any sense.

For example, I broke a marker so badly that he slipped and fell (granted the ground probably assisted with that), but then kind of froze up because I wasn’t expecting that to happen and made a swing that only gained a few yards when I had a pretty big opportunity.

What can I do with maybe only two or three people outside of practice to improve throwing against a tight mark? Likewise, what should I do to improve my long throwing confidence?

As a handler, I usually mark the other team’s handlers during games. I’ve found that looking at my mark’s eyes and staying on him when he does not have the disc helps me with cutting off his handler cuts and uplines. I’ve gotten a decent amount of Ds from it, but are there any other ways to improve my covering of handlers when they don’t have the disc?

When I am marking the thrower and forcing a certain direction, are there any ways I can tell that he is about to throw? Likewise, how much should I contest throws to the force side without opening up the break option?

Thank you so much for your time in answering these questions.


Don Q.

First of all, great questions!

1. I would recommend the 3 man drill: It was instrumental to help me learn how to mark better and fake/break the mark better. I would recommend learning to move fast but once you have an open throw, make sure you execute the throw properly. A lot of people will move fast and try to throw fast, which can result in you rushing the throw, and not executing properly. I would also recommend taking a stack of discs and do this drill: You’ll develop a more consistent release for your throw (do both backhands and forehands) and you can even try to do it faster so when you’re in a game against a mark, you know you can get to those spots faster than before.

2. To improve your long throw confidence, playing disc golf with ultimate discs is a great way to work on your long throws. In order to get better hucks and pulls, it’s important to work on your max distance throw. If you’re able to throw an ultimate disc 80 or 90 yards, then you should be able to huck 60 or 70 yards quite consistently. If your max throw is 60 or 70, then your 60 or 70 yard huck won’t be consistent since that’s at the outer limit of your throwing range. Does that make sense? Feel free to send me video of you throwing and I can give you some specific tips on your technique.

3. When I mark, I like using my peripheral vision to keep an eye on both my mark and on the disc. By using the triangle concept (you, the disc and your mark are the 3 vertices of the triangle), you should be able to get better at shutting your mark down. The further on the break side you are, the more cushion you can give the mark. When you’re in the endzone, I like to face the mark more and focus more on getting in their way and worry less about the disc but always try to quickly glance back to take snapshots and see where the disc is. Also, not letting them get through you to get onto the open side is a good way to approach marking. Get in their way (don’t just stand still obviously) but moving to always stay in front of them, pushing them to the break side is a good way to keep them from getting the disc.

4. You’ll have to get to know each thrower in order to tell right when they are about to throw. I would recommend trying to make the open throw hard but for sure don’t open up enough that they can get an easy break. Don’t just reach with them – make sure you are on the balls of your feet, moving and lunging. Try to not move straight across, rather lunge a bit away from them to cut down the angle (think about a goaltender in ice hockey and how they come out of the net to cut down the angle). As big as it is to get a foot or hand block, missing that and then getting broken will hurt your team so definitely as you allude to, be a smart marker.

Let me know if you have any other questions!


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