The Hammer came down

I’ve made some gaffs when playing with strong people; they have moves & throws that the regular leagues I play in don’t usually have, so my default reaction can be the wrong one.

One day we were playing a pickup game in D.C., on the Ellipse in front of the White House. I was making a deep cut into the end zone and broke to the wide side of the field, assuming the disc would get swung to the wide side. Just after making the break, something reminded me: Curtis had the disc on the short side of the field, and Curtis was a Nationals level player. My mind raced back to the first time I had played Ultimate. After I had made a similar cut to the wide side, a savvy vet told me high-level throwers expected cutters to always cut to the the closest of the sidelines, as soon as they hit the endzone. Anticipating this cut let’s the handler throw the disc before the cut is made, such that the disc gets to the spot at just the right moment; a very hard play to defend. I screamed “shit!” to myself and dug into the turf for a complete 180 reversal. Fortunately I often run in a very low stance, which lets you do a much harder reversal than when you are upright. 

I made the reversal, and sure enough, the bloody disc was already coming down fast; a screamer of a hammer, but it was not going to flatten out before hitting the ground so I was going to have to try and catch a blade. Outside of my range. Inches from the ground. I only had time for a desperate layout, throwing myself to the ground, arching my body and stretching my right hand out to the max. 

The trick to catching a screamer is to let your hand travel backwards with the disc impact, giving you more time to snag it. But this screamer was already inches from the ground; I was going to have to try for The Perfect Catch. No space, no margin for error. I could feel the back of my hand scraping along the ground, but I just managed to get my hand between the edge of the disc and the dirt. Smack! The disc came down hard, right into the palm of my hand, and I clenched the fingers for a perfect catch.

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