Great Throwers Don’t Pivot

by | December 8, 2015, 7:15am 0

They don’t. They don’t pivot over and fake backhands. ever.

“But I pivot!”


“But Big Flick Fred pivots?”

I said “great”.

The funny thing is that half the people teaching ultimate teach people to pivot as if it is central to being a good thrower. And the other half that don’t stress pivoting aren’t stressing not pivoting… they’re just ignoring it. But often times when you watch those same teachers, they don’t pivot. As far as I can tell, good throwers don’t teach people how to throw, and the ones that do don’t know why or what they do when they have the disc.

I’ve talked about the gratuitous faking that goes on, especially in the college and women’s game (not hating, just reporting). I don’t understand how people don’t see it. Imagine if a basketball player faked as much and pivoted a much as the average ultimate player did when they received a pass. We’d all notice it and laugh. But the faking and pivoting is so endemic to ultimate, we hardly blink when somebody does it.

I have a somewhat lazy style. As such, from the beginning the idea of pivoting with the disc just didn’t jive. Never has, never will. Never understood why it was useful… all this extra movement. You learn how to break the mark… and you do it. When I would coach, we’d run break-mark drills where faking/pivoting was not allowed.

Midwesterners… Andrew Brown does not pivot.
Southwesterners… Parker Krug does not pivot.
Northwesterners… Jeff Cruickshank does not pivot.
Southerners, Easterners, everybody else… insert your most favorite thrower… they do not pivot.

I don’t intend this to be a complete how-to explaining how pivoting adversely effects your balance, timing, etc. But if you just stop pivoting, you’ll be 90% there. Maybe I’ll explain why another time.

The point of this is to simply point out that exceptional throwers that don’t pivot are not an exception to proper throwing technique, they embody it. The problem is that people have been brainwashed to think pivoting can help make up for shortcomings in throwing, when in fact it just makes it harder. (If it really did make things easier, if it really did help, wouldn’t good throwers pivot to make breaking the mark and throwing open side passes that much easier for them? Or is throwing just soooo easy for them that they need the challenge?)

Some quick additional notes:

  • I’m talking about pivoting for pivoting/faking’s sake… not when you go to throw a backhand and at the last second don’t throw it for some reason.
  • I’m not talking about when the marker is crowding/fouling you.. and rather than call a foul and stop play you pivot over to brush them back… or to show your true length that they need to respect.
  • I’m not talking about short players, whose low center of gravity makes it advantageous for them play the game differently… like pivot frequently (I think we’d all agree basing fundamental ultimate technique on a 5′6″ male or 5′ female would not be in the best interest of the masses)
  • And I’m not talking about catching a swing pass where your momentum is carrying you towards the backhand and you send the defender flying further to the sideline by a quick fake with your momentum, before coming to a rest.
  • I’m talking about catching the disc, looking upfield… and then throwing in a pivot, for no good reason other than you think it is helping you, even though it is hurting you.

This piece was initially published on Idris’ personal blog, Frisbee Spew, in 2008.

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