How to Dribble: The most unstoppable move in ultimate

Luke Burgess unpacks dribbling in ultimate – what it means, why it’s useful, how to do it, and taking it to the next level.

Director’s Commentary – Felix & Luke chat about this video & the parts which didn’t make the final cut (including: “Is Clap Catching Really The Best?” and “What are the actual travel rules?”) only available to patrons:

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Further resources:
Rowan McDonnell – Learn The Half-Pivot Backhand | Part 1:
Rowan McDonnell – Learn The Half-Pivot Backhand | Part 2:
Frank Huguenard – Let’s be Frank Ep 7; Dribbling redux:
RISE UP Ultimate – Give-Go Moves | RISE UP Ultimate S1 Ep6 [Full Episode]:

Full transcript:

Hi everyone, in this video we’re going to take an in-depth look at how to throw & go, how to dribble, and how to bounce the disc back to a dribbling player. We’ll be looking at the throwing form, footwork, and catching technique necessary for releasing the disc quickly, and with explosive acceleration out of the throw.

This video is suitable for players who’ve only been playing the sport for a few weeks, but also contains details which even the most skilled players can benefit from.

The term “throw & go” refers to the act of accelerating immediately after throwing the disc. This technique can be performed with any throw but is most effective when used with a short-range backhand or forehand to the open side. Immediately accelerating out of this kind of throw allows you to gain separation from your mark, and can be used to set up a dribble or power position.

To gain the maximum possible advantage over your defender, you should start accelerating during the throwing motion by lifting your non-pivot foot into the air and driving off of your pivot foot, releasing the disc before your pivot foot lifts. You should linger on your pivot foot as you push off to make it clear that you aren’t travelling.

This type of throw is known as a “half-pivot” throw. For other uses of half-pivot throws, check out Rowan McDonell’s videos on the topic, however Rowan does not explore possibilities for immediate return passes, which is our focus here.

To work up to the full throw & go technique, first practice throwing with touch from a neutral stance – applying as much spin and as little speed as possible. Then practice throwing with touch whilst standing on just your pivot foot. Finally, push off and accelerate out of the throw.

This practice should be done with backhands, off-hand backhands, and forehands for maximum utility in-game. Particularly when accelerating out of a forehand, positioning your non-pivot foot behind you will give you a lot more power than starting from a neutral stance.

After throwing & going, you will often want to receive an immediate pass back from the player you just threw to. The act of throwing this return pass is called “bouncing” and is an integral part of a successful dribble play, as we will see shortly.

To successfully bounce the disc back to the player making the throw & go move, you will often have to catch and throw the disc again quickly – before the defense moves to block the option.

If you have the time and space to do so, you should slow down into the catch so that you can establish a good throwing stance as soon as possible. In almost all circumstances you should aim to clap-catch the disc. From a clap-catch, the quickest throw to transition into is a backhand, but you should be comfortable changing grip to an off-hand backhand, as well as a forehand.

In many cases, the immediate return pass will be contested, so a convincing fake should be used instead. This will often get defenders overcommitting and open up another option.

“Dribbling” is the act of performing multiple throw & go moves in a row without stopping. It is an extremely powerful technique that can be used to rapidly advance the disc down the field in a manner that is very difficult for the defense to stop.

The key to dribbling successfully is keeping your defender behind you. This is done by either preserving as much momentum as possible during the catch and throw to maintain existing separation, or by changing direction with the disc in your hands to generate separation.

Proper dribbling technique contains three parts – the catch, the step, and the throw.

Start by performing a small jump just before catching the disc. This allows you to land on your non-pivot foot. From there you can step onto your pivot foot whilst changing grip, before releasing the throw, leaving your defender firmly in your dust.

It is important to make sure that your throw is accurate and easy to catch to allow your receiver to bounce the disc back to you. However, throwing whilst moving in this way is challenging, so throws should be kept short. Off-hand backhands are usually preferred over forehands because they are easier to throw with touch over a short distance.

Dribbling in a straight line is already extremely powerful, but this is just the beginning. The true potential of this technique is unlocked with multi-directional dribbling – changing direction during the catch and throw. The direction change allows you to completely wrong-foot your defender and dramatically alter the angle of attack to get around the rest of the defense.

The dribbling footwork can be practiced in isolation by starting from a clap-catch position standing on just your non-pivot foot, before stepping onto your pivot foot, changing grip and making a half-pivot throwing motion.

Once you are comfortable changing grip whilst stepping onto your pivot foot, get a partner to throw the disc to you to practice jumping into the catch and landing on your non-pivot foot, then step onto your pivot foot, change grip, and release the throw before your non-pivot foot touches the ground again.

Gradually increase the speed until you are able to perform the technique at almost a full sprint. You should also practice changing direction during the catch and throw. For details of drills which are specifically designed to practice dribbling, check out our training tier videos on Patreon.

To hear more about dribbling, sign up to the $1 tier of our Patreon where you can listen to a conversation between me and Felix where we discuss some topics which were left out of this video.

If you found this video useful, consider liking it and sharing it with your teammates. Feel free to leave any questions you may have in the comments. Consider subscribing and hitting the bell to be notified of our upcoming analysis and strategy videos. Thanks for watching, see you again soon.

2 replies
  1. Baden Dowie
    Baden Dowie says:

    I joined a “traditional” vertical and horizontal style pick up-the other day. The older guys kept calling travel on me as I was working through some cool give and goes! I struggled to explain what I was doing with my feet. How would you explain dribbling vs travel calls? And what is the rule for travel? Two steps,three steps, or gradually stop. Cheers thanks

    • Felix Shardlow
      Felix Shardlow says:

      Hi Baden. 18.2.2: After catching the disc, and landing in-bounds, the thrower must reduce speed as quickly as possible, without changing direction, until they have established a pivot point. However, if a player catches the disc while running or jumping the player may release a pass without attempting to reduce speed and without establishing a pivot point, provided that (1) they do not change direction or increase speed until they release the pass; and (2) a maximum of two additional points of contact with the ground are made after the catch and before they release the pass.

      You probably heard people say “you have to establish a pivot before throwing”, and some loose ideas about why what you were doing must be wrong. Largely they will be calling travel because it doesn’t feel right to them, because they aren’t used to seeing your moves. Your best defence is to have a read through the WFDF travel rules so you can be confident in discussions, and keep hitting certain key points such as “if I only have two ground contacts after catching then I don’t need to reduce speed” and “if I am reducing speed as quickly as possible then I am allowed to release the disc at any point”. Hope this helps!


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