Ring of Fire’s Hucking by Brummie

2021 USA Ultimate National Champions Ring of Fire excelled with their handler-driven offence, but their ability to strike deep caused their opponent's a lot of difficulties. Here, we deep dive on how they were so successful, and how you can take a leaf out of their book

This article is about Ring’s deep game, and the principles that underlie their success throwing to cutters going away from the disc. But in order to really put it into context, firstly we need to look at how Ring use the break side of the field. All will become clear…

Ring’s break side movement (aka “the setup”)

If I talk about “breaking the mark”, you’re probably visualising some combination of fakes, pivots or quickness that allows a thrower to release the disc around, over or under a mark to put the disc into undefended space. But that’s not the only way to move the disc to the break side. Using a player’s momentum is another way of getting the disc onto the break side; a classic example of this is the 45 degree dump behind pattern where a reset player runs across the back of the thrower, takes a short pass and their momentum takes them over towards the break side of the field, providing a small window to throw an uncontested pass to the break side.

While Ring do use this pattern, there’s another called Offset Lateral Cut that they use more frequently; it allows bigger cuts, and therefore greater momentum & a bigger continuation window. Before I dive into a few examples of how Ring use this, look for the following pattern to set up the move:

  1. Move the disc to the break side. Usually, this is entirely undefended as a swing, and where possible Ring try to lead the receiver into space which allows opportunity for immediate break side continuation; this is a very familiar pattern to most ultimate players
  2. If there’s immediate continuation, take it
  3. If not, no problem. By moving the disc laterally, any cutters or handlers who were set up in position for the initial disc’s position now find themselves over on the open side, often with their defender on the wrong side of them (before they have had chance to orbit Repositioning using Orbiting Defence). One of the handlers or cutters from the open side moves laterally towards the break side, providing the offset lateral cut. Often, the marker will have worked hard to prevent the initial continuation above, so throws into the middle of the field are mostly unguarded. This looks like a horizontal “slashing” cut across the field, from the open side to the break side, with the thrower hitting what looks like an inside break.
  4. Now, repeat the process: if there’s immediate continuation, take it.

Here's an example of that offset lateral cut with immediate contination to a cutter isolated on the break side

This one demonstrates the power of swinging the disc, then following up with a lateral cut; it's a fairly simple throw inside the marker to a completely undefended space.

This isn't the easiest to see, but Ring swing the disc to the break side and have an isolated cutter who cuts for immediate continuation, then turns deep. As he turns deep, another cutter makes the offset lateral cut which offers an easy inside throw, which leads to a quick continuation pass to that first isolated cutter for a goal.

Using multiple cutting options to the break side can make it very difficult for a conventional defence to prevent the mark being “broken” (even though none of these throws actually requires “breaking” a mark!). for more on this, see Timing multiple options. For a more detailed view on generating this type of “undefended” throwing lane to attack the end zone, see Scoring via Undefended Channel.

It is worth highlighting that the inside channel is only an option because Ring first threaten to throw continuation around the marker. This doesn’t need to be an actual fake, just that they have downfield options they are willing to hit, so defenders are aware of the need to contain break side movement; see the first example above. This, in general, tends to make sure that markers move a little further to prevent that early continuation, and therefore making any throw to the middle of the field much easier. Pivoting “inwards” helps too; in the last example above, with no immediate continuation and the marker already committed to stopping the around, the handler catches and pivots against the flow of the disc, wrong-footing his marker.

The isolated cutter

So, we’ve seen things from the handler’s perspective. What should the cutter do? Well, often they don’t need to do much, like the examples above; keep an eye on the disc swinging to the break side, then time your break side continuation. If the disc doesn’t come to you, immediately turn deep. This sets up an isolated cutter heading deep down the break side of the field. With the marker (hopefully) over-committed to stopping the continuation, this sets up a relatively easy chance to throw long.

We’ll discuss how this setup impacts the required shape of throw later, but here are examples that demonstrate the effectiveness of isolating a cutter in this way, and how often Ring were able to repeat the same pattern.

These first two examples are virtually carbon copies:

  1. Disc is on the break side of the field, with everyone except an isolated cutter on the other side
  2. Isolated cutter goes deep, clearing space
  3. Offset lateral cut from the open side to the break side collects an inside throw
  4. Upon catching, the thrower threatens the around continuation to the isolated cutter coming back under
  5. This option isn’t taken, so the isolated cutter turns deep

This next clip shows that second example in more context, with Ring repeatedly attacking the break side. Here’s a breakdown:

  1. Disc moves to the break side, with an isolated cutter who turns deep
  2. We see a cutter ready to provide the offset lateral cut, but he checks his movement as he sees a downfield cut developing. Ring break the mark
  3. With the marker on the ground, Ring throw continuation down the break side channel. Another cutter is isolated and goes deep.
  4. When the disc doesn’t immediately go up, another player makes the offset lateral cut
  5. The isolated cutter turns under (in this case, just a single step) for the immediate continuation. When he sees that isn’t going to happen, he turns and goes long
  6. The disc is thrown over the defender’s shoulder

Throwing “over the shoulder”

Let’s look at that first iso cut again from the thrower’s perspective. The deep throw requires a significant outside-in to be successful, and is thrown over the shoulder of the defender. The path of the disc therefore ensures that it is either out of reach of a defender, thrown while their back is turned, or both, while also having a more predictable flight path which makes it easier to catch. Finally, the disc is heading to a point where it can be caught towards the break side, i.e. away from the defender.

A flat throw won't cut it here

Here’s another example of the throwing shape, this time in the slightly different context of immediate deep continuation following a lateral handler cut. The throw has significant outside-in curve, is thrown over the defender’s shoulder, and is caught on the break side:

The following example wouldn’t be an easy catch if the disc had been thrown flat; it would have ended up as a jump ball. Instead, the curve of the disc here ensures that the defender can’t even attempt to make a play:

Not only is it extremely easy for the cutter to attack these types of curving passes, but the fact that they arc over the defender makes it extremely difficult for them to get in position to make a play, even when the throw isn’t perfect.

This one probably sits a little longer and higher than it would have in an ideal world, but the defender still can't make a real play on the disc

Drill this: Throwing Directly Away – Curved

A slightly different context - playing through poaches - but where the disc is put to the undefended deep space, furthest from the defender

Sometimes, of course, its more simple than that. If Ring can generate a situation where they have an isolated cutter in lots of space, then a simple outside-in to space, landing in a spot where no defender can touch it, is usually enough:

The cutter's defender here is orbiting, which leaves him vulnerable to a deep throw to undefended deep space

This angle really shows the curve on the throw; the cutter runs directly down the middle of the pitch, while the disc is thrown from one corner of the field diagonally to the other side, yet the curve of the disc ensures that it arcs perfectly into the path of the receiver

In general, Ring were more successful when hucking towards the break side. By “break side”, I really mean “away from the defender, who is on the open side of the cutter”. Take the following example; it looks like a throw straight down the field, but pay attention to the position that the thrower is in – nearly in the centre of the field – then also look at where the disc is caught – right by the back corner. While the throw is basically flat throughout its flight, it travels diagonally so that the point where the disc is caught is on the break side. The throw itself is pretty much perfect, hitting the receiver in stride, but if it were not, aiming to the break side allows the cutter more opportunity to box out.

Even against a zone, these principles work: throwing over the defender's shoulder, using significant outside in to ensure that the disc drops in a predictable place


  • Ring constantly threatened the break side of the field, sometimes directly by looking to break the mark, but more often through coordinated player movements
  • Ring did a great job of setting up situations that make throwing deep easier, namely isolating a cutter in a situation where their defender is forced to choose whether to prevent continuation to the break side or risk being beaten deep.
  • Their handler movement is a strength, so setting up isolated cutters is useful but not essential to their success.
  • The shape of the throws is just as important as the setup, arcing over defender’s shoulder and being caught in undefended space on the break side of the field; the number of examples where Ring catch right by the sideline shows how important it is for them to put the disc wide.

See all of our Ring of Fire analysis


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