Hucking is the finest version of throwing. Well thrown hucks are artistic, powerful, efficient and breathtaking. The ability to huck can open up entire offenses, put defenders in a bind, and is a ticket to playing time at every level. This article will show you how to read the field to increase your hucking decision making and explain the step by step mechanics of throwing a disc further.
If hucking is so valuable, why do so few players do it so well? There are many reasons, but the most common reason is that an in-game huck is so much more than just throwing the disc far. Let’s examine four important factors that have a big impact on the ability to throw a successful huck in a game.
The first obstacle is the mark. A lengthy defender in your face counting to 10, applying pressure while disrupting some of your field vision is much more different than warming up your hucks before a game with nobody near you.
Beat the Mark: Hucking in motion is a great way to beat the mark, whether you make an upline strike cut, or get the disc going to the breakside, anytime the mark is a little bit out of position you have a fraction of a second to get an uncontested huck off. Hopefully your receivers recognize and time there cut for this window.
The mark is not the only defender that makes hucking difficult. Let’s start with the defender guarding your intended receiver. Are they tall? Can they jump? Are they baiting this throw? Are they leaning the wrong way? These are all the things you need to analyze on the spot before you decide to release the disc. Not to mention we need to make sure we aren’t throwing into a help defender poaching off their player when the huck goes up.
Beat the defense: Utilize the four hucking shapes based on the position of your defender. If they can jump, try the fastball out to space. If they are fast, use the breakside fade. If you see a defender flying off the back of the stack to help, use the blade to hit the player who lost their defender.
Know your Cutter
Reading the defense isn’t the only information you need to process. You should also read your cutter and determine if there separation, speed and position makes sense for the huck. What angle are they attacking? Are they going deep or setting up an under? Are they good in the air? Are they open but too deep? Lot’s of time developing deep throws is spent throwing to a stationary partner, but connecting with a player on a full speed run is critical.
Connecting with your cutter: There are some teammates I can confidently huck to even if they only have a half a step of separation. Others need more. Knowing the players ability in the air and developing chemistry with players is an important factor when hucking. Do they like low fast hucks? Floaty hucks? Do they put their head down and go deep or do they use a move? This takes time built up from team workouts, practices and previous games.
These factors can impact the throwing shapes and the decision making of the huck:
Hucks upwind don’t travel as far, and the cutter should be extra shallow. Also, the disc tends to turn over faster and blade off, so put a little more inside out edge on the throw! Hucking upwind does have an upside where you can lead your player and use the wind as a shelf to sit the disc on. Downwind hucks are harder to control but travel farther. If you can release them with some extra touch, perhaps a little high release or outside in you can slow them down a bit. But again, just because the wind is at your back doesn’t make the huck easy, they can be more difficult then upwinders to throw with precision. Crosswinds are a little more difficult to explain concisely, but generally if the top of a disc that’s pointed down into the wind (picture an outside in right handed flick with a left to right wind) will get pushed down and drop quickly, where as if we switch the wind and expose the bottom of the disc to the wind it will carry significantly to the left.
Level of play
At lower levels of play, there is an increased benefit on incomplete hucks, as field position can be just as important as possession. At the top level, turnovers are extremely costly, so only high percentage hucks should be thrown.
Coaching strategy: Like the last example, this is a subjective factor that dictates when and where you should huck. Perhaps you are going downwind, have the taller players, or you are the underdog and need to increase the variance. These can all be coaching decisions to increase or decrease the amount of hucking incorporated into your offense.
Now that we have covered the mental and cerebral side of hucking and decision making, let’s talk about the most common question I’ve received as a player and coach, “How can I throw farther?” The answer: technique, practice, and strength. Let’s talk about technique on a full power huck. Although most hucks in games are not grip it and rip it throws, the farther we can throw our max distance huck, the more accurate and precise our shorter hucks will be.
Maximizing your throwing distance is not a gentle motion. I have started using my ear as an indicator to see if players are getting enough wrist snap. That means that you need to be snapping your wrist so powerfully that it is making a sound! (Although the sound may be the fingers snapping together, I’m not quite sure!) But you get the picture, to maximize your hucking distance, a snap from the wrist is paramount.
The elbow drive gives us the range of motion needed to set up the wrist snap. By bringing your elbow back as far as you can before it leads the charge and comes forward quickly. The wrist follows the elbow, and the disc gets released as the elbow recoils back and the wrist snaps forward, propelling the disc with a ton of spin along with power. The spin allows the disc to hold it’s shape and become more wind resistance, allowing the huck to go where you aim.
If you stand shoulder width apart and look forward, see how far you can bring your elbow back in a forehand motion without twisting your core. Now do the same thing twisting to the side. Using this motion, the core twist not only activates a lot of very important muscles and stabilizers, but also unlocks the elbow drive even more. On the backhand side, the core is just as vital, the first movement forward for my hucks once the disc is all the way back is the contraction of my abs to bring the core forward first, followed by the shoulder, elbow and wrist.
When I go out and throw as far as I can, my hips are the first thing that gets sore. That is eye-opening information for me. I’m not saying that is the case for you, or the general consensus, but it does show that a powerful huck is a full body workout. The lower body also has an important job in stepping out. Picking a spot with your non-pivot foot to allow you to stay balanced while using rotational and linear power. Take a backhand for instance, if we step horizontally, keeping our toes in a line, we can get a lot of rotational power, but can’t generate too much linear power. On the other hand, if we step vertically, we can generate power from our back foot to our front foot, but can’t rotate as much. Finding the sweet spot is a personal preference, try to move your non-pivot foot around the next time you go out hucking!
How do I keep my hucks flat?
Multiple people asked a variation of this, which happens to be the most frustrating part of developing a huck, particularly the flick huck. For many players, the harder and farther they try to throw the disc, the more the disc turns over and blades off to the side. To combat this, we need to keep the disc not only flat, but even a little bit inside out, tilted down. Now, the common mistake from this point is that many players will have the disc pointed inside out right before the release, but at the last second role their wrist forward and using their arm to drive the disc. It is only natural that you feel like you need to ‘throw’ the disc farther. However, the counter intuitive approach is to not follow through with the arm, keep the palm up and that way the disc comes off flat with plenty of spin to hold it in place throughout the huck. Excel Tip: Increase your power of both your flick and backhand in your back swing, not the follow through!
My captain won’t let me huck in games, what can I do?
If your coach or captain doesn’t want you to huck in games, then you need to build the skill elsewhere and show them you are capable. Start by going out and working on your deep throws without a mark, just working on the distance. From there, start lining up those deep throws with a receiver. Grab a teammate and work after practice, them running and you throwing. Once you get confident there, start throwing some hucks in practice. Even if they aren’t full field hucks, just 20-40 yard away shots, this is a very important step. If your completion percentage goes up, start working on those 20-40 yard away shots in games, and by this point your coach or captain should give you the green light! Excel Tip: Don’t get boxed in to a certain position by your coach! If you are the athletic deep cutter, develop your throws. If you are a pure handler, work on some cutting/ defending skills!
How can I huck when the mark is on?
First off, it is very difficult to huck with a mark, that’s why I emphasized trying to huck in motion earlier in the article. However, there are times you do have to huck with a mark. Excel Tip: Develop a shimmy before you huck. Once you identify an open receiver, use a shoulder fake to get the mark moving towards the break side a bit so when you huck there is a little more room! Excel Tip 2: Develop power in the back swing so your release of the flick and backhand huck isn’t a full follow through. Having a big follow through is tough with a mark, you run the risk of hitting them on the throw. By having an efficient throwing form and a small follow through, you can get a huck off with the tightest mark. Remember, marks aren’t trying to stop the open side throws! And if marks start to go flat to stop the hucks, start breaking them!
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