Tuesday, May 27, 2008

More about fakes...this time without the disc

I watched UFC 84 this weekend, and one of the fights was Tito Ortiz versus Lyoto Machida. One of the comments during the fight was how Lyoto's style was elusive, because of all the fakes. I started thinking about some people I've defended in the past. Some were elusive, but were any of them elusive because of their fakes?

Pictured Above: Phil Watanabe making a big cut (though it could be reversed) to commit his Johny Bravo defender in the opposite direction of his cut (photo courtesy of Lisa Di Diodato)

If you dominate in terms of athleticism (meaning you can simply out sprint your opponent), then straight cuts work, and fakes are unnecessary. If you can't outright dominate in athleticism, and you're either matched or potentially outmatched then fakes are a useful tool in getting open.

Before cutting fakes come into play, the basic step of getting open is making your defender commit to something while you're going or doing something else. For example, simple V cuts (or boulder cuts) work on the principle that the first cut is a legitimate option that the defender must commit too. As the defender commits, the second part of the V cut is the reversal.

The main problem with simple commit cuts is that human defenders adapt and learn to predict. They learn to guess where your cuts will go and your particular movements the more you play them. This adaption against a good defender can happen during the first point you match up against them. This is where things get interesting and you need more options to get open - in comes fakes.

As with all fakes, they're a means to an end. Faking for its sake alone is useless, but with team chemistry (needed so that the thrower understands your fakes), fakes can open up the field. The cutting fake comes from jukes, body position, eyes, head movement, and arms among other moves. The problem is, nobody that I know of has studied or broken down the good fakes and how to use them. My guess is cutting, like fighting is a stylistic art, and I'm not sure you can develop a Lyoto of cutting, since each person will develop their own arsenal of fakes.

The thing I'm really interested in is the coaching progression of fakes. How do you teach individuals or put them in the right environment to increase the quality of their fakes, quickly?

When you get matched up against an opponent who you can't seem to shake using your current bag of tricks, then you try new things to see if it works. Each time something works you might add it to your arsenal and improve that new move. Your opponent learns your trick, and then you have to adapt again.

My first thought to teach this is to match players up with smart, athletically equivalent (or better) opponents and allow simple evolution of skills (including the fake) to improve. This seems to make sense, but I'm not sure the progression will be fast enough.



andy said...

that's actually josh markette of chain lightning.

Coach Becker said...

When I cut (and this is what I tell my highschoolers, too), I'm always watching my defender's hips. If I have some room to work, say I'm cutting as a mid or deep in a standard, three-handler zone offense, I just keep doing the opposite of what his hips are doing. Make him constantly be watching and adjusting to your position and movement. Eventually, one of two things will happen: he'll make a mistake and commit in a direction you don't want to cut in, in which case the opposite cut is yours; or more often, he'll check on the person holding the disc. Paying attention to what his eyes are doing is just as useful. As soon as he checks back, you can have almost any cut you want, if you time it right.

So, hips and eyes . . . sounds like a new R. Kelly song.