Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Not the man, what to do

I get lots of handlers coming up to me asking what they need to do once they become offside handlers (let's call them beta handlers). The basic premise is you came from team X where you were the main handler. Most of the resets go through you, you always pick up the disc first, and you're the one who throws the majority of assists. You've moved up the ranks to team Y and now you're the number two, three, or lower handler. What do you do on the field?

My first experience like this was four years ago from Pong to Grand Trunk, and I, as a handler, had no clue what to do. The other players around me had no clue what the challenge was either since we were all alpha handlers.

Four years later, my role this fall series is very similar. Instead of feeling lost and out of the place, I love the challenge of the beta handler making space, good resets, setting up continuation, and moving the disc. The beta handler has to have a better perspective of cutting and flow and has to be aware all the time. It also turns out that these skills make you a better alpha handler.

Here are some general themes to think about to help you adjust to the beta handler position:

  • If you're not the primary then make movement or lack of movement to allow teammates to get open.
    • As simple as this sounds, to make space you need to predict where people want to go. This requires visual spacial calculations (still love video games for this training), which in turn means lots of looking and awareness.
  • Always position yourself to reset, setup continuation, or balance the field. If you're not doing one of these three and your defender can poach you are killing your team.
    • Your reset position needs to be good and set quickly.
    • To balance the field you need to be prepared to be a cutter as much as a handler.
  • I've discussed this earlier, but remember to keep the disc moving on early stall counts.
  • A break side swing is the best look (in most cases) on a backwards reset cut.
    • Some people tend to automatically fake (the swing among other throws) when they first get the disc. A good defender will catch onto this and take advantage of it.
  • Move.
    • This one is simple and hard, but you always need to be a threat. As soon as your defender looks away then make an attacking movement.
  • Work on your reset cut and throw incessantly. These are two of the most fundamental and important parts of your game.
The reality the beta handler job is challenging to get good at, but at the higher levels of Ultimate the lines between a beta and alpha handler are very small. Movement, disc movement, and spacing will serve a team well regardless of your position.



Pascal Mickelson said...

"the lines between a beta and alpha handler are very small"

I think what you say here is really important: a lot of times the defense will start to focus on the alpha handler. A good beta handler will be able to take advantage of this and have some very good looks down field once he/she has gotten the reset or the swing.

I'm not always a handler for my team(s), but when I am, I almost prefer being the beta handler because it allows me to do more on the field than if I'm "limited" to a particular role.

DJ said...

Cheers to the beta!

Really no reason not to be open all the time. What else do you have to do?

Nice work last weekend.