There are lots of ways to make a terrible cut, and essentially only one way to make a really good cut. Here are some of the mistakes to avoid when cutting:
Almost every single new player I’ve ever seen does this (yours truly included, once upon a time), and it’s the exact opposite of what you should do. Instead of making a decisive, hard cut, a player will make about one hundred tiny little cuts right in the middle of the field, waiting for the handler to see you and throw your way. It looks like you’re dancing instead of cutting.
This is the worst thing a cutter can do; not only have you made it exceptionally easy for your defender to guard you, you’re clogging up the middle of the field, effectively preventing anyone else on your team from making a cut.
No Curved Cuts
This one is actually pretty self explanatory, as a “curved cut” is an oxymoron. This throw is extremely difficult to make. For one thing, the handler really has no idea where the cutter is going to end up. Remember, handlers don’t throw to people; they throw to area on the field where a cutter is going to be.
Predicting the arc of this curve is hard enough, but if the throw is actually made, the flight of the disc is almost parallel to the cutter’s path. That’s a tough catch to make for anyone.
No Horizontal Cuts
A horizontal cut is the easiest cut to defend; that throw is desperately hard to make for the handler, and it’s probably going to be tough for the receiver, too. If you make a horizontal cut, you’re not going to get the disc, and you’re more than likely clogging up the cutting lanes for everyone else.
Although there are many ways to make a bad cut, every good cut looks about the same: A hard, straight line, likely preceded by a good fake. There are a couple of basic cuts you can employ to significantly improve the value that you bring to your team as well as garner more touches for yourself.
One is a simple straight cut. Another one is the upline cut. Upline cuts are often employed near a sideline, and if you get a step on your defender, they can help your team speed past a defense by generating better upfield opportunities. An upline cut looks about like this, with the cutter actually cutting away from the handler instead of towards him. Often, two handlers will play this give-and-go game with each other.
Juke! Juke For Your Life!
The difference between a terrible cut and a great cut, being covered and being open, is minimal. However, the players that figure out those minimal differences are the ones that get the disc and help their team.
One of the major components of a good cut is the fake. Think about it: Your defender is watching you, waiting for you to make a move. If you cut without faking, the defender’s job is easy—all she has to do is chase you, and chances are she’ll be right in your back pocket, preventing you from getting the throw.
On the other hand, a player who throws in fakes during most cuts will have her defender always on her toes. The defender can never fully commit to chasing you if she’s worried that you’ll cut in two steps and then bolt in the opposite direction, for example.
A good fake is one where you make your defender think you’re going in one direction and then end up going in another direction. The most difficult players to guard are the ones that employ fakes liberally.
One of the LUDA commissioners, who shall remain anonymous (let’s call him S. Frohn—no wait, that’s too obvious—let’s call him Scott F.), is a master at shaking defenders. What he’ll do is either cut in to the disc or out for a long throw, and he’ll really sell it by taking 2-4 full-speed strides. Then, he’ll cut back suddenly in the opposite direction, but by that time, the defender has committed to pursuing him in the original direction he was headed and ends up way out of position; OR…he’ll do a little double move (slowing down for a split second before accelerating again) while making that first cut, leaving you two steps behind; OR…he’ll cut hard one way, then the other, then cut back in the original direction, forcing you to bite on one of the fakes or else get burned; OR…
…you get the drift. He’s hard to predict, and that makes him difficult to guard. It’s quite annoying to cover him, really.
If you add in a good fake, your cuts should look something like this:
One more thing: A major reason why bad cutters get D’ed all the time is that once the disc is in the air, they slow down and wait for it to land safely in their hands. Thus, no matter how precise the throw, that inevitably allows a defender to catch up to you and pick off the throw.
You have to keep running full tilt all the way through the disc—you can never slow down and wait for it. Essentially, instead of waiting for the disc to come to you, you need to propel yourself on a collision course with the disc, and when that collision happens, that’s when the catch happens.
If you endeavor to develop good cutting habits, you’ll find yourself getting many more touches in every game. Furthermore--and most importantly--you will become an indispensable asset to your team.