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Stay On Your Toes

by Daryl Nounnan

I am a big fan of simple rules that can be followed that have far reaching implications for improving your individual game. Staying on your toes, or more appropriately, keeping your weight on the balls of your feet, is one of the best, and can be the foundation for all improvement in footwork that increase your basic skills set. My mentor in the game, Steve Joye, one of the best players of the 80's and early 90's was a big (almost manic) proponent on this. He would throw on his toes, cut on his toes, mark on his toes, argue calls while bouncing around on his toes, go for trail runs on his toes, walk around work on his toes—crazy. But also, he was crazy good at all aspects of the game. 

The key is to "toestrike" whenever transferring weight/preparing for your next action/reaction—never, if you can help it, transfer weight to your heels. Staying on your toes at all times out on the field sets up a cascade of body mechanic compensations that put you in the universal "attack" position for explosive sports. You bend your knees slightly, you crouch some with arms bent in front of your body, and you balance over the balls of your feet—committed only to being ready for the next move needed to make the play. 

After receiving the disc, I immediately get my weight onto the balls of my feet to lower my weight. Then, whenever I pivot and throw, I always step out onto the balls of my feet—to the backhand and to the forehand, staying bent and balanced. This is part of my muscle memory now, but something I spent a lot of time focusing on early in my career—whenever I threw, I never casually stood lock-kneed or straight up, and never stepped out onto my heels...always out and onto my toes. The benefits are numerous, but one of the best is that I never "turf" the disc—even as I tire. 

Starting from the lock-kneed position and/or heel striking on the pivot throws your core weight foreward and then down, becoming more pronounced as you get tired. This momentum will be transferred to the disc on quick pivot/throws. I have watched this with great interest over the years and noted that every Semifinal fatigue "turf burger" was preceeded by a heel strike—followed by a look of confusion//rustration on the throwers face who does not seem to know what happened. I mean, who the heck wants their turnovers to start inexplicably appearing late on Sunday? 

Nick Handler, my teammate on Revolver is one of the better current examples of the benefits of staying on your toes out in the passing lanes. His weekly workouts always include cone drills designed specifically to perfect footwork while staying on his toes, so this has been a learned/drilled skill. On offense, he will cut full speed, then pull this pause "float" move. Fun to watch. Really, he just takes a series of shorter "stutter" steps on his toes at speed, moving, crouching, preparing, then explodes from that position to any one of the 360 degrees he next deems best. On defense he uses this same great basic skill to great benefit: as his assigned lane cutter jukes/fakes/pauses, Nick pulls the "float" ready to react and close the gap when the cutter finally commits to his cut. 

In any situation out there, practice getting to and staying on your toes. If you are not already there, like I like to say, that should be very next on your list of things to do.

huddle Issue 6 Footwork

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Two Players Of Note
by Chris Ashbrook

Notes From Other Sports
by Tully Beatty

Balance & Explosiveness
by Greg Husak

Improving Footwork
by Ryan Morgan

Stay On Your Toes
by Daryl Nounnan

Cutting Fundamentals
by Miranda Roth

Get On The Ladder!
by Chris Talarico

What Coach Arambula Is Preaching
by Ben Wiggins




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