How to Get Open, Even If You're Not Fast

cutting strength and conditioning

When cutting, some athletes run as hard as possible one direction, then stop and run as fast as possible in the opposite direction. While this can work, it is a brute force method that works well when you’re faster and can change direction more quickly than your opponent. The programs I create have the goal of helping you become faster and change directions more quickly. But we also believe in working smarter, not harder.

Maybe you’re working on your athleticism but aren’t there yet. Or maybe you are athletic. Doesn’t matter, you’ll eventually run into someone who is faster than you. For these situations, try these four strategies for creating and seeing the opportunities to get open.

1. Make the defender accelerate.

To accelerate is to commit.  If your defense is just matching your speed, they are never committed or off balance.

For example, if I want an in cut, I will start going deep at maybe 70% speed. The defense can follow without accelerating. Then I accelerate to open a larger gap between us. Now they have to accelerate to close the gap (or let you go for the deep cut). When I sense them starting to close the gap is when I decelerate and turn around for the in cut. It’s easier to decelerate if you have never truly committed to 100% of your own top speed.

2. Take what is given.

If your defender doesn’t close the gap, go deep! Put the defense in a position where they have to choose to cover something, and take the opposite.

Likewise, if you’re given the dump cut, take it. If not, go up the line. One player cannot take away both options without the help of the mark. This tip may seem obvious, but many players create more work for themselves by cutting into spaces their defense is already covering.


3. Timing/swivel head.

Keeping your head on a swivel and cutting at the correct time is the best way to get open.  To make this easier, it is helpful to keep moving in some way so that your defender has to focus on you.

Any time your defender is unsure of where the disc is, you’re at an advantage. You want to be most open when the thrower is first ready to throw. So your change of direction, or commitment (100% speed) to the cut should happen when the thrower is about one step from catching the disc. If you know when this point is but the defense does not, they can’t anticipate your commitment to the cut.

4. Inches matter.

I play the game of inches when the disc is being brought back in bounds. I let the defense set up, then I take one nonchalant step to the right or left.

If they reposition, I take another step, or half-step, likely back toward my original spot. Depending on how much time you have, you can keep taking small steps to shift your defender. The defense often ends up 6-12 inches from where they originally set up even if you end up exactly where you started.
Try a few of these veteran moves in your next game and let me know how it goes!