The luxury of calm, controlled conditions make for an ideal environment to workshop some new throws.
January 19, 2016 by Tad Wissel in Opinion with 16 comments
Take a long deep breath of stale, recycled air as you survey the turf field covered in youth soccer players.
Ahhhh… indoor season.
There are no elements. The field is a flat uniform surface. There are quirky rule variations like two pointers, make-it-drop-it formats, and hockey substitutions that are designed to maximize gameplay.
If you consider yourself a thrower, indoor is the Cadillac of ultimate.
Regardless of how you identify as a player, this is a good time of year to rediscover and fine tune your throws. No wind and no rain means the conditions are a non-factor. Tighter windows, shorter stall counts, and tiny endzones make it more challenging and accuracy more critical. The glory of this adaptation of ultimate is that the disc is going to fly true, it’s going to go where you put it.
Really, indoor is a great time to work on all of your throws, but the conditions are ideal for crafting throws that, while cheeky, can be very effective. If you can master these unconventional throws in indoor conditions, you are on your way toward incorporating them into your game wherever you play.
Flick Blade & Heavy OI Bender
Distance: 10-50 yard
Best Application: Either force
With tighter windows because of the smaller indoor field, it is often imperative to get the disc to a spot as quickly as possible and accuracy is paramount. Blades, or flicks with heavy outside-in bend are a great way to get the disc where it needs to be.
- Can be placed in a small space over traffic
- Quick release
- Easier to keep in bounds than a normal deep flick
- Takes advantage of receivers in position
Big hucks outdoors do not necessarily translate to the confines of indoor. Throwing out the back when a cutter is streaking deep is a common and frustrating problem. By learning to accurately throw forehands with far more tilt on the disc, you can better control distance and take advantage of shorter away cuts. Japan’s Buzz Bullets are notorious users of precise flick benders and blades when attacking the deep space.
This is a good throw to warm up with. Try adding five or 10 to your pre-game routine, releasing as high as possible with your normal flick grip. This translates well outdoors as another option to go over a zone.
Double Helix Hammer
Distance: 10-50 yards
Best Application: Force backhand
Like everything else, there’s more than one way to throw a hammer. Brodie Smith has a video that touches on two different but equally successful variations of hammers from former Florida teammates Tim Gehret and Kurt Gibson. Here’s Gibson’s:
- Two point score ability
- Elite placement
This is the longer option to the Nick Lance scoober, which can travel full field indoors, but may be too slow by the time it arrives. Overhand throws like the hammer are just more powerful and will get there faster.
Notice in Gibson’s hammer the shallower flight path than the more traditional up-and-down, single helix throw. Practice this by releasing lower and flatter to achieve the second cutback.
Goofy versions of the indoor game like make-it-take-it and subbing on the fly can leave people open deep frequently. Sometimes a throw — any throw — just has to get there. A hammer is a great option, if calibrated accordingly.
Double Helix/Nick Lance Scoober
Distance: 10-30 yards
Best Application: Against force backhand
Has there been a more popular “new” throw over the last five years? Nick Lance really put it on the map in his 2012 Callahan video and double helix scoober has only picked up steam since.
- Utilizes the width of the field
- The counterpoint break throw to the hammer
- Quick release
Indoor is usually a force backhand world to prevent the hammer. Developing the double helix scoober will give you an upside down break hrow threat when the hammer option is gone.
Holding the disc with the same grip you would a forehand, turn the disc over and pivot to your backhand side. Winding up to approximately even with your back shoulder, whip your arm forward and release once the disc has passed your forward shoulder but before your arm is fully extended. The angle of the disc as it is released and the amount of spin generated by the flick of your wrist will determine how quickly it double helixes.
Look at how high Lance finishes his throw in the clip above. Even if the mark had gotten there in time, his release point ensures that this scoober would have found pay dirt.
Experiment with different angles of release and, like the clip above, the maximum height you can achieve while still being accurate.
Skyhook/Over the Head Push Pass
Distance: 5-15 yards
Best Application: Against force flick on the goal line
Many people have used (or at least seen) the short push pass to the shallow up line cut or the borderline handoff to the streaking offender at the force side cone. The skyhook is a high release push pass over the mark’s head to the break side.
- Attacks the shallow break space in the shadow of the mark
- Slow and floaty for cutters to read and catch
- Extremely difficult to block
One place there’s always room in indoor is right behind the mark. It doesn’t make a lot of sense for a defender to play his or her person super tight in that space, which leaves a lot of opportunity as a thrower.
Hold the disc with your thumb on top, forefinger along the rim, and the rest of your fingers tucked underneath the rim (like any push pass). Arc your arm back and up before releasing with a flick of the wrist forward. Try to release it as high as you can with the front lip tilted down to guide it; by coming out almost behind you and still traveling up as it passes over the mark’s head, this throw is nearly impossible to point block when executed correctly.
Short marks. Tall marks. It doesn’t matter. Once you hone the motion, the skyhook is the ideal slow toss to a cutter who is being face-guarded and is a goal mint near the endzone.
These unconventional throws are primarily useful indoors… until they’re not. Note that all of the clips were from outdoor settings.
“Useful” is in the eye of the beholder. Here’s a clip of Furious George’s Jeff Cruickshank, who is widely regarded as one of the best throwers ever, dropping an absolute mortar shell of a thumber in the finals of Northwest Regionals in 2004. The confidence. The fearlessness. For the love of god, the stage! Do you think Cruickshank might have thrown that a couple times before he decided to dust it off in a game-to-go?
Not everyone needs a 50-yard thumber. But if you want one, or any other throw, workshopping the motions can’t start at Regionals. The weather-controlled luxury of indoor field space is usually pretty expensive. Get your money’s worth and start finding out what you might be able to take with you when you head back outside.