Space and Angles in Stubbs’ Lean Lefty
So, someone posted the gif below on /r/ultimate the other day and I saw a few things right away that I thought were worth pointing out about angles and spaces. This is a bit of a preview to a serious of posts I’m going to have on ‘throwing to space’ and how to understand / visualize the concepts therein.
Here is how the clip plays out from an overhead perspective, with the players in position shortly before Stubbs’ throw is released. There are two flight paths outlined for the disc. One (light yellow and shorter) is the one in the clip, the other would be the flight path if Stubbs were to throw a low release righty flick (with the current hip/body position and angles he has in the clip).
One concept that needs to be understood, is how the flight path of the hypothetical righty flick would take more time to reach its target (at least given the constraints we have in the given moment frozen in time). In addition, it is probable that the throwing motion for the righty flick would take longer, also delaying the disc’s arrival to the targeted space.
As you can see (and verify in the gif), the defenders don’t even get to the disc flight path when the disc is caught. There was plenty of space for Stubbs’ chosen throw given the release point and time of release.
You can see here that the cutter’s defender (less the marker, who is relatively stationary and not in motion) can make up more space in the hypthetical flick example. The receiver would almost have to reach back or wait for the disc, and the cutter’s defender almost certainly gets a ‘d’ (I slightly adjusted the path angle the defender would take to try and get a ‘d’ in this example (oval shape)). You can also see that Stubbs could try to lead the receiver more with this hypothetical flick to get the disc past the defender in question, but then he’d be throwing dangerously close to the marker, also likely resulting in a ‘d’
Up to this point in the discussion it seems like a cut and dry case that Stubbs’ throwing choice was optimal, and that may well be. However, if we loosen the ‘time’ and ‘hip’ restriction we have put in place until now, we free up a working possibility for the rightly flick. If Stubbs wanted to, he could align his hips more directly to the space he is targeting (as I discuss here), and he could then step out and throw his righty flick (see the adjustment in Figure 5 of the ‘blue bar’ representing his hip alignment).
This would bring the release point for his righty flick very close to the release point of the ‘lean lefty’ backhand he uses. If you look at the clip, you can see Stubbs’ choosing the lefty backhand at one point (you can go to the gfycat and analyze in slow mo and you’ll see this from about frame 72-78). Had he chosen to throw a righty flick at or shortly before that time, he could have gotten it through with a comparable level of risk to the lefty he ultimately chooses (At least, that is what I’d argue given the clip we have, it may have required him releasing the disc a split second earlier). This isn’t a critique of Stubbs’ choice, it is a great throw and probably is the better choice here for a variety of reasons. But it is important to understand how throwing and body angles change what is possible on the field and how one can use movement to open up options. I’ll have more soon on angles and understanding space on the field, hopefully with less rushed Adobe Illustrator work 🙁
There are a number of more obvious ways to give oneself throwing options on the field (better throwing skills, more awareness / vision, integration with your teammates, knowing the onfield situation, etc.). But I wanted to show how something as ‘simple’ as position (in this case, hip alignment ala Figure 5) can open up new options, not to mention a more nuanced understanding of angles and spaces. Thanks for reading.