Watching NW Regionals a week ago, I was struck by a small and simple thing that separates the great teams from all the rest: they threw to open people. More importantly, they never looked off open people, which is what I saw a lot of other teams do. And while it is that simple, there are some hidden elements to making it happen for your team.
The great teams are functioning with purpose and clarity. Their throwers and receivers are on the same page to know what cut should happen under what circumstances. The thrower looks for it and the cutter provides it. Additionally, great players are really good at knowing what their teammates are capable of and factoring that into their cutting. A typical situation will offer several cutting options and smart players choose the one that they know the thrower can hit. Lesson: know your team’s plan and know your teammates.
There is an obvious technical element to this. The great teams are loaded with great throwers who can seemingly hit cutters everywhere on the field. Hucking gets a lot of attention, but it isn’t as difficult a skill as breaking the mark. While superstars’ ability to throw gets a lot of attention, it is one that almost anyone can attain with work. When you watch someone throwing amazing throws, you are watching someone who has invested a lot of time getting better. The resources are out there (Kung Fu, Zen, disc golf) but the simplest thing is to put on the cleats and throw every day. Lesson: If you want to be great, you’ve got to put in the time with the disc. Throw.
The last piece is the simplest and the most difficult. When someone is open, you have to throw it to them. We make barriers in our minds (particularly about break throws) that keep us from throwing to open people. If it is a short throw and the cutter has a step of separation, you have to throw it. Period. It doesn’t matter what the marker is doing, you have to hit that cutter. Looking people off because you don’t trust them or they’re on the break side or you want something better leads to the slow constricted death of your offense. Lesson: When your teammate has separation, throw it to them.