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Exploiting Defensive Adjustments

by Nick Handler

When you transition from open field cutting to goal-line cutting, two major things change: (1) you are no longer a deep threat, and (2) a throw that gains only a few yards can be very advantageous. Both of these factors change how the defense will play you. For instance, many defenders will get closer to you, get physical, and perhaps force you away from the thrower with their body position. 

There are ways to exploit these defensive adjustments as a cutter. Here are a couple of general approaches that I use to help my team score goals in endzone O: 

1. Spacing
Spacing in both the vertical and horizontal directions of the field are key as you set up your endzone cuts. Initiating cuts with a good amount of vertical separation from the thrower allows you to use forward momentum to put your defender on his heels. This is often necessary when defenders are aggressively fronting near the endzone. If you can get your defender backpedaling, you can take advantage of the small buffer he is giving you and possibly beat him to the open side with a good jab step or hip fake - giving your team the easiest possible throw for a score. In terms of horizontal spacing, setting up your cut slightly on the open side gives you and the thrower the most options - open side, IO break, around break. If you read the defender and see that he is very afraid of getting beat to the open side, you can exploit his positioning by cutting back towards the break side for an easy "up-the-gut" throw. Or you can remain stationary and let your thrower put an easy space throw to the break side if that is one of his strengths. If your defender is overplaying the break throw, you can still go to the open side from that position. 

2. Explosive and decisive cuts
Explosive and decisive cuts near the endzone will force your defender to commit to one direction, turn his hips, and possibly overpursue, all of which will allow you to change direction and gain separation for an easy score. In contrast to an open field cut where you may set the cut up by getting up to full speed in the opposite direction, effective endzone cuts only need one hard jab step, a shoulder fake, and a quick and decisive change of direction to create separation. Many times you won't even have the time or the space to set up a longer cut. 

Miscommunication due to indecisive endzone cutting is a common cause of redzone turnovers. As a cutter, you need to work hard to create separation for a throw that your thrower is comfortable with, commit 100% to this cut, and let the thrower do the rest. Be decisive and you will help cut down on many unnecessary turnovers. 

3. Give-and-go and upline cuts
The deep space is almost useless in endzone O (except for a hammer look), so attacking the endzone from behind the disc or with a give-and-go is an effective way to score. However, this needs to be part of a larger team strategy to avoid clogging and confusion. 

It doesn't need to be a secret that you are going to try to beat your defender for the score in endzone O. In fact, indicating to the thrower and your teammates that you are in a good position to score either verbally or with a raised hand will allow them to give you the space and time you need to make a goal-scoring cut. Once you have this space, you can use the tactics discussed above to help you score the goal. Finally, quickness is one of the most advantageous physical traits in endzone offense. Often times getting that single step of separation is all you and the thrower will need to score. Train to improve the quickness of your first step and you will be a much bigger threat by the endzone.

huddle Issue 12 Endzone Offense

Tuesday, December 1st, 2008

Timing Is Everything
by Max Cook

Exploiting Defensive Adjustments
by Nick Handler

Know Your Thrower, Make It Easy
by Kris Kelly

What To Do When The Field Shrinks
by Peri Kurshan

Pretty Versus Efficient
by Brett Matzuka

My Favorite Move
by Miranda Roth

Field Quadrants
by Steve Sullivan

Scoring Without Breaking A Mark
by Ben Wiggins

Decisiveness Leads To Glory
by Ryan Winkelmann




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