xs and os of disc dog freestyle

Vocabulary of Xs and Os

Throughout this series there will be some strange and empowering vocabulary. It’s not easy to think about stuff without words sometimes. Here are some common terms that we will be using in Xs and Os Revisited.

Arcs and Lines

So often we think of disc placement as throwing to a place, a very fuzzy place “out there some where-ish…”. Seriously. Where do you throw for your dog?

While the ability to throw a disc precisely is important, it’s not everything. Knowing what pattern the dog is running — where the dog is going to be — is a vital part of knowing where and when to place the disc.

When talking about Xs and Os we’re talking about Lines & Arcs. The dog is “on that line” or has “struck that arc”. Simple, right?

Clock and Counter

Dogs tend to be clockwise or counter-clockwise dominant. It’s kind of like being left or right handed. It is easy for a dog to run in her chosen direction. When she tries to run in the off direction, the other way, it’s much harder. Patterns break down and the dog won’t hold the line or the arc.

Freestyle tends to be played in a clockwise fashion, Clock, for most players, especially right handers, as a result of a strong toss and fetch influence. Many dogs are incapable of even thinking about going around in the other direction. This is unfortunate because a dog that is not strong on clock is being run in the wrong direction. It’s like playing ball left handed. Once you start to work both directions it will be clear whether your dog prefers Clock or Counter patterns.


When the dog moves from one side of the handler to the other it is a Cross. Lifted directly from agility training concepts, Crosses are based on pressure and reward placement and create efficient and creative team movement. The handler either adds or releases pressure while giving a directional cue that changes the Working Flank and moves the dog around the field.

Front Cross

Front Cr happens when the dog shifts from working on the handler’s left to working on the handler’s right with the handler in front of the dog. Another way to think of a Front Cross is that the dog turns towards the handler in order to switch the working side.

Rear Cross

The  happens when the dog changes the working side while the handler is behind the dog as the dog is on their Line or Arc. It can also be understood as the dog switching working sides by turning away from the handler.

Blind Cross

A Go-Around is a Blind Cross. It is blind because the handler can’t see it and/or the dog and handler lose eye contact.

Checkout the Flatwork tag for a ton on crossing.


The Flank is out there, to the side – left or right. Essentially Heel or side position at a distance, typically dog and handler move and work together while on the Flank.

Set the Flank

We talk about Setting the Flank a lot in our classes, camps and seminars. It’s a super important skill. It is, in essence, getting the dog out to your side left or right, so that you can work and move together as a team.

Working the Flank

Working the Flank is when dog and handler maintain the flank and work and move together. An Around the World is Working the Flank. A well executed Zig Zag might be working the flank. Hooking up with the dog mid-outrun and moving them around out there is working the flank as well.


Just like in most sports, the term Release is used liberally. Disengagement from the handler or from the disc is a Release. The dog looking back to the handler from a distraction is “releasing the distraction”. When the dog leaves the handler, the arc or line that they strike can be called a release. Different types of frisbee throws are different “releases”. The moment you let go of the disc is the Release. I’m sure I could find a few more. The release, as a concept usually involves letting go or moving away. Good luck!


At Pawsitive Vybe Drop means a cued drop. We will talk about dropping the disc, and other things, but for the most part, Drop = “I call the cue, you drop.”

Bite (on the handler)

The dog aggressively bites the disc in the dog’s hand. It should be reinforcing and add value on the handler.


The moment a dog is getting ready to jump is called Collection. Solid collection is an absolute key for big leaping disc dogs. We use collection a bit more crudely than agility people and proper horse people. Collection can be broken down into many pieces, just like any other behavior.


When we talk about Pace, as a concept, it means the moment that the dog slows to read the situation instead of running hard and trying to race the handler.

Related Articles

Epic’s Clever Set Up Moves | Volume 1 Part I | Scoots & Fakies

Disc Dog freestyle sequences have a starting position, often it is Front Position – dog standing in front of the handler. Set Up Moves are ways of getting set up in time and space. They get the team into position and in time.
Most players have a go-to Set Up Move, or 3, but it is important to have a variety of entries into the positions that start sequences to keep things interesting and to display and enhance flow.
In this epic video there are 13 different set up moves, some are fairly standard, and some are pretty clever. Below we’ll name and define them and talk about usage and pros and cons.