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Cutting (Basics)

One of the most confusing things about ultimate is cutting. How are you supposed to get open with all these people running all over the field? If you cut, many times you will be getting in the way of a teammate. If you donít cut, youíll never get the disc. How will you know when to cut where?

Watch what is happening in front of you. If someone else is cutting, donít cut. Look behind you. If someone else is cutting, donít cut. If the coast is clear, go for it.

Of course, if everyone does this and sees that no one is cutting, they will all cut at once. If you think you have the best opportunity, keep going. If a teammate has a better cut, pull out.

Avoid the herd instinct. Cutting is like buying stocks: if you can figure out what will happen next before anyone else does, youíve got it made.

Watch what is happening. If you see someone else cut, evaluate their chances of getting the disc. If you think they wonít get it, stay put and wait for them to clear out.

If you think they will get the disc, cut to where they will want to throw. Time the cut so you are open after they have caught the disc and are ready to throw. If you can predict the future, no one, not your teammates, not the defence- no one -will get in your way.

Run at your defender, fake one way, then run the other way.

This will usually work if you do three things. First, fake hard. Take a hard step in the fake direction. Step like you are going to run so hard that way that the defender is going to look silly if they donít catch up.

Second, turn hard. After you plant that foot on the fake, use all of your muscles to tear yourself in the opposite direction.

Third, run fast. Run as fast as you can in a straight line to a spot where the thrower can easily hit you. If you donít get the disc, run as fast as you can to the back of the stack.

This works best if you fake to the break-force side then run to the open side.

Short Cut (Flash Illustration)
The animation below demonstrates the basic principles of the short cut, just mentioned above. This tends to be used most for handlers and in situations where there is less room to cut.


  1. Cutting Towards the defender is crucial to make this work. Obviously you can't run into them, but you want to make them backpeddle a bit and reduce your distance from them.
  2. Making your fake cut believable is important, a simple one or two step usually won't do. The best way to make it believable is to actually make it a viable cut, even if your thrower can't "break" the force, the defence may not know this :).
  3. Lastly, don't look away from your thrower unless you have really been shutdown by your defender. Being thrown to when you're not looking is one of the biggest causes of turnovers.

When someone catches the disc, the first thing they do is look upfield for a mirror cut. This is a cut made by a teammate who anticipated that the catch was going to be made and is now open for the next throw. If you see a teammate cut and it looks like they are going to get the disc, do a mirror cut. Donít wait for them to catch it- anticipate and cut.

Please refer to the stack section how does it work to see an example of a mirror cut.


  1. Anticipation also involves clearing out of the lane and making space for other players who may have better opportunities to cut.

There are two times to go long. One is a strategic strike when you are actually hoping that someone will huck it to you. The key to this is timing. You have to wait until someone who can huck has the disc, or is just about to get it. Then run as hard as you can and donít look back. Once you are in the clear or hear an up-call, look over your shoulder for the disc. Read the disc, snag it, and wait for your teammates to catch up. If the disc doesnít get thrown to you, then follow the instructions for a clear-out strike.

If you donít know what to do, but feel that you are in the way, do a clear-out strike. This is different from a strategic strike because you are running to get in a better field position, not to get a huck. You do it when you need to; there is no need to wait for a hucker to get the disc. (But keep an eye open for a throw just in case.) Once you run past the stack and turn around, you will have a clear view of the game. You will be in a great place to start a cut.

Long Cuts (Flash Illustration)
The animation below demonstrates "one" way of getting open deep.


  1. Anticipating the current play and clearing the open lane is the key to any cut.
  2. Establishing yourself as the primary cutter is equally important, so you better make sure your other teammates know you're in there.
  3. Like the short cut, your first "fake" cut should really be a real cut.
  4. Lastly, although looking where you're running is important, remember to look back once in a while to make sure you're not completely being looked off.

The absolute hardest thing to do is complete a first pass after an out-of-bounds turnover. Usually the defence will trap you along the sideline. If you try to force a pass up the line, it often leads to a turnover.

The best solution to this is the Berkeley cut. The point of the Berkeley is to get the disc off of the sideline and into motion. This makes the next throw much easier to complete.

While the disc is out of play and the thrower is walking to the sideline, yell to your teammates that you are going to do a Berkeley. You have to do this, because the Berkeley will only work if your teammates stay out of the way. They will stay in the normal stack while you stand about fifteen yards horizontally across from the thrower.

When the disc is checked in, run right at the thrower. This usually gets the person who is marking you to backpedal. Then you have two options: cut up the sideline for a short pass or cut behind the thrower for a dump. Whatever you do, fake one way and go the other. Usually you will get a pass. If you donít, get out of there as fast as you can so someone else can cut.

Berkeley(Flash Illustration)
The animation below demonstrates how to get the disc off the side line.


  1. Like the shortcut, cutting at the defender is crucial.
  2. The first cut "up" the line (step 2 in the animation) should be thrown to if the cutter is open
  3. Making the first cut more than a few steps is important, you have to "sell" the fake.
  4. Ideally, on your second cut, you want to get the disc in the center so aim to cut away from the sideline.

The dump cut is similar to the Berkeley because it bails out a thrower who is in trouble. The Berkeley is used only when you are trapped on the sideline, but the dump cut can be used anytime.

Imagine you are the thrower. The stall count is at five, some joker is making back and forth clog cuts and wonít get out of the way. Youíre thinking the only option is to huck it and hope for the best. But then, out of the corner of your eye, you see your hero cut behind you and start calling for a dump. You turn around and throw it to her. Sheís saved the day with a dump cut.

If you are in the stack and see your thrower in trouble and running out of time, you have two options. If you make a normal cut you might not be able to get open. Then the thrower is still screwed. But if you make a dump cut, you are much more likely to get open. The defence is much more worried about forward throws than backwards throws. (Silly defence.)

To make a dump cut, fake hard to the open side where the defence is forcing. Cut back to the other side (the break-force side) and run as fast as you can until you are behind the thrower. Your path should take you behind the back of the person who is forcing the thrower. You should be open because your mark was expecting a cut to the open side.

Being open doesnít guarantee that you will get the dump pass. This is because the thrower, like all people who get the disc, has gone deaf. They wonít know that you are behind them unless you call their name and yell at them to dump. Stay about five metres behind the thrower and make sure that your defender has not caught up to you. Then catch the disc and bask in the safety of knowing that, if you too get in trouble, a teammate will come bail you out with their own dump cut.

If you can do the "short cut", and the "berkeley cut", than the dump cut is self-explanatory. There is no "standard" way to do a dump cut, so no animation has been provided. In addition, the dump cut really varies with your defender, a lot of beginner players make the mistake of not covering the dump, so take advantage of this.


  1. Same key points as the berkeley cut and shortcut
  2. When you're going to make the dump cut, give yourself some distance, at least 1/3 width of the field.
  3. The thrower should throw "into space", don't throw AT your cutter, but make it float a bit to space and let them run onto it (this takes a lot of practice).
  4. Look at your dumpcut at no later than the "FIFTH" stall count.