The Flatwork Compass – Creating a Sense of Direction Part 2 | Separating the Flank From the Pass

This is the second piece in a series on the Flatwork Compasss – Creating a Sense of Direction. Part 1: Clock & Counter and Part 3: Learn How to Follow the Leader


Disc Dogs who know the difference between a Flank and a Pass are easier to handle. Handlers who know the difference between a Flank and a Pass are better at moving their dogs and making plays. A team that knows the difference between a Flank and a Pass exhibit diverse play and are more capable of purposing play towards training and performance.

The Flatwork Compass creates a clear distinction between Flank and Pass. The team does both in both directions, the handler learns to communicate either in both directions, and the dog learns to discriminate the signals for both in either direction. It’s a power packed disc dog form that delivers valuable understanding a practical abilities. You should do it.



What Is the Difference Between a Flank and a Pass?

A Pass is a movement where the dog runs by the handler at close distance. This pattern switches positional orientation with the handler by piercing the plane of play. The dog pops from working on the left to working on the right. Or passes the handler front to back switching the positional orientation from front to back. On a Pass, the dog moves towards and then away from the handler.

The shape of the movement is linear, with handler, dog and disc forming a line in their positions on the field. A pass can be lateral, from side to side, or can be performed from front to back or vice versa. The Pass has the dog pushing into and through the plane of the play. It pierces the plane of play.

A Flank is a movement where the dog is moving, to a large degree, with the handler. There are many versions or expressions of this and many degrees. Running in a circle with the handler or outrun, for instance, the movements in an intercepting zig zag, or a throw out to 10 o clock are all Flanking movements.

The Flank does not have the switching of positional orientation, the dog stays on the same side of the handler and works at a distance. The dog doesn’t run towards and away, but moves with, the handler. The dog never pierces the plane of play, but rather moves with it.

Moving With or Against Pressure

The Flatwork Compass explores and exercises the concept of positional pressure between dog and handler. By clearly separating the Flank from the Pass and performing them in purposeful, alternating fashion, the application of pressure is explored and experienced by both dog and handler.

The Pass pulls the dog into and past the handler. A well handled Pass has the handler controlling this transition, applying the appropriate pressure against the dog while coming in to choose the side or direction of the pass, and then shifting the pressure to help pull the dog by and shoot him on his way. After the dog passes the handler pressure is non-existent.

The Flank uses pressure to push the dog away or to keep the dog at a distance. From the handler in the Flatwork Compass, the Flank is at about 10 o clock and 2 o clock. This placement does create a pushing away from the handler but in the same direction. The pressure exerted in the Flanking movement is cooperative and is applied throughout the approach to the catch.

A Teammate doesn’t Steam Roller You

An uncontrolled Pass is a fly by or a steam rolling. The dog violates the rules of pressure and runs by without any input by the handler, “Throw it where I’m Gonna Be!” or “BooM! Get Out Da Way!”.

Too many uncontrolled flybys and the dog gets conditioned to ignoring the laws of pressure. Stopping or slowing the Pass maneuver to make a flanking, intercepting toss or simply slowing a dog down can be very difficult.

Put the Flank right next to the Pass and do some purposeful work and the team starts to function. The dog learns to appreciate and understand both the Pass and the Flank. Once that happens, your dog will be happy to work with you and go where you want. You know, like a teammate and Team Movement.

Both Directions

Working both clock and counter clock is really important. The Flatwork Compass gives you the opportunity to work both directions in simple systematic fashion. The simple is important because there is a lot of stuff going on. The systematic is important because you can make sense of what’s happening with the help of a pattern.

Be Present

The Flatwork Compass is a simple process. 4 throws in 4 directions. Big whoop…

This simple process is also very elegant. All the keys of disc dog are present in this simple exercise: trigger, targeting, flank vs pass, placement, reading the throw, moving with purpose, interception vs chase, reading the release, flatwork, etc – and I do mean etc.

Adding the Flatwork Compass to your training regiment as an exercise or warmup can give you a limitless number of lessons and opportunities to learn things about the game and about your dog… If You are Present and keep your eyes open.



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