Askamatos #1: Playing tall and throwing good

Updated: Sep 12, 2019

More than ever, in a world of fake news, false flags and foreign interference, everyone needs advice they can trust. And while the truth is dead, we DO have a close living substitute.


The words of a Ladomatos. Or, in this case, A. Ladomatos.


Welcome to Askamatos*, a new advice column from InsideOut Ultimate. Every few weeks, we’ll get your burning questions answered by Alex Ladomatos - American and Australian Nationals Winner, Australian Dingo, coach extraordinaire and Man With [Good] Opinions™.


No topic is too big or too small - coaching tips, training ideas, strat chat, frisbee fashion, it’s all on the table.


*it was either this or ‘Ladvice’ and that’s a very different column.


Image credit: 175g Ultimate

We start this week with two questions and answers - one about "playing tall" and the other about "throwing good". Want more? Comment your questions on our Facebook page, at the bottom of this article or email hello@ioultimate.com


I’m kinda average height, maybe a bit below, but I hear about people who “play tall” all the time. What does this really mean and how do I do it?


This is hard. Someone who plays tall is someone I’d feel comfortable sending down to guard someone they’re giving up a big height advantage to. I think it means they have other ways of making up for this disadvantage. Things like taking away their opponents preferred jump spot, being able to use size in other areas (read: ass) and being able to take the disc at the highest point are big parts of this.


You need to have good closing speed and be good at picking a ‘spot’ (where the contest is going to occur). When you give away height, you have to expect that the huck is going up, so you have to be quick to read the disc, get to that spot and claim it, or put a strong body onto your opponent.


Some examples - Mark Wee is a smaller guy that’s great at guarding taller players. Dan Petrov nearly always guards taller cutter.


So how else can you practice or apply this? For ‘in game’ scenarios - get a read on the disc and immediately accelerate and get to the spot the contest will happen - this gives you the chance to body up OR jump at the disc from the best position. Too often people run with their player and let the offensive player dictate. If you do this, you’ll always be at a disadvantage when putting a body on or trying to jump from a less than ideal spot. SO be proactive, pick your spot and run at 100% to gain any advantage you can by getting their first.


Out of game, actually practice jumping really high! Get used to being in the air, and being up there with body contact. This can be through playing 500, or even just throwing a disc up to yourself and taking a few steps and going up. A lot of people fail in aerial contests because they’re not used to it.


A final thing that I think that players who ‘play tall’ do is go from running full speed to jumping at full height - in particular to intercept the flight of the disc. This is definitely a weird and unique skill to frisbee. I haven’t thought about this part of the skill until now, maybe you can share some ideas or I'll try to cover it in future.


I’ve been playing at uni for a few years and my throws are OK across the board, especially over about 20m. What’s the best way to get better at throwing? Should I focus on mastering one thing or trying to expand my range?


I think you have to find something that works for you, and you have to enjoy it because it’s going to take years to become elite (although probably only a couple years to be good enough to play on an O line). For me, it took all of 2015 mens season to get a solid around backhand that I now trust, all of a 2012 Thunder campaign to learn to throw a hammer, all of 2017 to throw a decent backhand huck, and all of 2018 to throw an almost elite around backhand (I think there’s still more work to do). Fun fact: I started taking my backhands back with two hands just last year!


I focus on a few different things. I think a mixture of ‘unstructured play’ and structured sets is good. Sometime I’ll mess around with various shots and shapes, or only go out and throw scoobers or just left handed for five minutes to see what happens. This helps develop an understanding of what the frisbee is going to do in the air and how to manoeuvre it. You have to enjoy bending the frisbee to your will to be a good thrower, and also understand sometimes it's really hard and you’ve got to cut your losses.


Other times I think doing a ‘60 throw set’ or ‘100 throw set’ with a punishment for turnovers is great. If you can’t throw 60 throws without turning it over or dropping it because of a loss in focus how do you expect to maintain possession in a game…


I’ll try and get prescriptive:

  • 10-15 minutes of structured short throwing - a progression of flick/backhand, around/inside/flat

  • 5-10 mins of playing with 1-2 throws and feeling free to make errors while learning (what shapes/edges/timing/release points can I create?)

  • 5-10 minutes of sending it! And I mean really sending it - any problems with technique will become very clear when you try and put force through the disc.

Specific things that have helped me are asking for help, taking footage, and physically measuring how far you can throw.


Finally, get settled in the journey. I’ve been throwing around 10 years and have had three forehand and two backhand grips over that time. I’m constantly learning and I love that.


Got a question for Alex? Comment on our Facebook page, at the bottom of this article or email hello@ioultimate.com.


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