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Beating The Pack From Below The Canopy

by Brett Matzuka

Usually being the shortest guy on the teams I play on, catching 50/50 (jump ball) discs from my perspective is a different game altogether. There are two situations you can encounter with a 50/50 disc. Either you are in the eye of the storm, in which case you were the initial receiver or your the first defender to get into the play, and a multitude of others are collapsing down upon you from all places. 

This case is the hard one for people of my stature as you will get caught up in a group of people obviously taller than you. In this case, there are a few steps you can take to maximize your chances of getting a play on the disc. 

The two most important parts to me can be summed up with: play smart, play tall. 

Play smart just means don't try and out jump or play a game of 500 with a group of people who already have a huge advantage in height. Instead of attempting to sky Shaq, try and get to the position where you believe the disc will first be playable. This is especially important as most packs of people are rarely in the spot the disc will first be playable, but will stumble there as the disc floats by. This is your chance to take advantage of all those trying to battle for immediate position on one another to get a good chance to get into position for the disc. Getting in position for the disc is defined as getting to the point which maximizes your personal chance of making a play on the disc, while getting position on an opponent is defined as getting in a position to minimize your opponents chance of making a play on the disc. 

Defensively, this second definition is important since for someone short like myself, you can lure your opposition out of his best position to make a play on the disc to a less advantageous position; this may not immediately benefit you in terms of making a play yourself, but it does cut their chances of receiving the pass which is realistically your real objective on defense. For our sake, we will be trying to catch the disc at all times. With that, once you have got to a position you believe is best for you to play the disc, next it is time to play tall. 

For someone like me, this means one simple thing: Go up early! Like I said before, you are not going to sky Shaq, but you can catch him off guard before he begins to make a play. If you go up early, not just will that give you a better chance, but it also will increase your chances of getting fouled. A taller guy thinks he can take another second to set up as he already has the height advantage. By going up early, you have already established your position in the air. If the opponent then jumps later and into you, there is a decent chance his contact will result in a foul which results in your possession. Since this is your overall goal, taking any advantage to accomplish it is worthwhile. 

The second case that comes up is the group has already formed and you are running in to join the pack. In this case, being my height, it isn't about joining the giants as much as predicting the final outcome. Most likely, the disc will get mac'd (mac = mid air correction) around, and your job is to predict where it is to finally finish its flight. This is more advantageous than joining the pack because 1. you will probably not be able to follow the steps from case one which is probably your only chance of realistically having a play, 2. because jumping from outside the pack into it almost always results in a foul whether you accept it or not, and 3. the best outcome personally from your position is being the scrapper. 

So, for this second case, instead of joining the mayhem, read the disc flight pattern, the wind, the group and try and place yourself outside the pack in a place the disc most likely will finish if no one explicitly catches it. This sounds easy enough, and it is, but you will be surprised at how many times a few players join a pack with no realistic shot at receiving the disc just to watch as it gets mac'd to where they were before they decided to jump in. If you watched Rhino's highlight videos from Regionals 2 years ago, they got 3-4 completions/goals by having players stand outside the pack and make plays on the scraps after large numbers of big men mac'd it. 

All in all, when the disc goes up and you think you can make a play, whether you are the intended receiver or the dump for that throw that jump went up, put everything you can into making it a completion. Whether it is a complete jump ball, or a one on one contest, if you play smart and play tall, you will surely come down with more discs than before. 

huddle Issue 23 Catching 50/50 Discs

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Getting The Advantage
by Kurt Gibson

Catching Priorities
by Lindsey Hack

Make Them Make A Play
by Morgan Hibbert

Positioning & Approach
by Greg Husak

Avoid The Pile-Up
by Ray Illian

Beating The Pack From Below The Canopy
by Brett Matzuka

Retain That!
by Miranda Roth

Winning On Both Sides Of The Dis
by Chase Sparling-Beckley

How To Get Into The Sky Club
by Kiran Thomas





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