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Honing Your Weakness

by Matt Dufort

Catching the disc is all about practice. If a situation comes up in a game, it'll be much easier if you've done it a hundred times in practice than if it's totally foreign to you. What that means is that you need to practice catching in game situations, not just easy, uncovered, and standing still. Practice catching the disc out in front of you, practice catching with a defender on your back, off-hand catches, in the wind, hammers, and so on. Something as silly as flutterguts can be a big help when you need to catch a bobbled or macked disc. Also, try to catch everything—on defense, tipped discs, random discs flying by during drills—and don't give up until it hits the ground or someone else catches it. This will hone your reactions and get you in the habit of doing it automatically. 

I find it particularly beneficial to practice the things you're weakest at. For example, I'm terrible at catching discs straight-on, where I'm running directly at a disc that's coming straight to me. So I practice those catches constantly, during warm-ups, down-time at practice, or when I'm throwing around. They still give me trouble, but I'm a lot better than I would be if I didn't work on them. 

Different types of catches allow for different margins of error. Clap catches are easier than two-hand claw catches, which are easier than one-handed catches, and so on. If you know you have tons of space from any defenders, it makes more sense to use a clap catch This is particularly true when conditions such as wind, rain, or bright sun make catching more difficult. Lots of drops happen because receivers make the catch harder than it needs to be. 

Sarasota, Florida, where the UPA Club Championships have been held for years, is notoriously windy. At its worst, the disc can bounce six inches up or down in a moment. In these situations, I use what I call the "alligator catch." I put my elbows together in front of me, with the hands spread so that my forearms make about a 90-degree angle. This way, if the disc pops up or down just before it gets to me, it'll hit me in the forearms, and I'll still have a good chance of catching it. If a defender's right on my back, I won't have that luxury. But in general, I like to use the easiest catch I can without risking getting blocked. 

One last thing that's intuitive to many players, but may not be obvious to others, is the influence of spin on catching. Especially if you're catching with one hand, you want the disc to be spinning into your hand, not out of it. This means if a right-handed backhand is coming straight at you, you want to grab the disc just right of its center. The disc should "stick" to your hand; if you try to catch the same pass left of center, the disc will feel like it's pulling out of your hand. I find it especially helpful to focus on this with throws where the direction of spin isn't as clear, like blades and upside-down throws. You may already be doing this unconsciously, but being aware of it can make difficult or awkward catches that much easier.

huddle Issue 8 Catching

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

Anticipation & Focus
by Gwen Ambler

Making It Routine
by Tully Beatty

Teaching Catching: Two Drills
by Lou Burruss

Honing Your Weaknesses
by Matt Dufort

Regimented Catching Practice
by Adam Goff

Practice Ideas
by Greg Husak

Getting An Extra Foot Of Space
by Miranda Roth

Catching The Pull & Transitions
by Nancy Sun

Body Positioning On The Comeback Cut
by Chris Talarico

Eliminate The Unforced Turnover
by Mike Whitaker




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