Working Out of the Pivot

The Pivot happens when the dog changes direction enough to cause some kind of reversal of field, essentially a 90 degree angle or more. There is a moment half way between changing directions, a moment when the dog is almost “stationary”. That moment of balance, is the Pivot.

A Pivot combined with consistent position can create a set up move that can be harnessed to create fresh and interesting sequences and tricks. A Pivot provides a consistent “stationary” position that allows a handler to generalize a maneuver to an alternate distance and positional relationship between the dog and handler.

Major Pivots:

  • HereFront Cross
  • SquibRear Cross
  • Around
  • Through – dog must reverse field like an around
  • Recall – the snapping back to the handler
  • Backwards Through – (1/2 an around and through back to front)
  • Flip – landing of flip is balance
  • Reverse
  • Scoot

Understand Position and Placement

In order to use the pivot to your advantage the dog and handler have to have a good understanding of position and placement of the disc. You must be able to predict the dog’s movement and place a disc where it needs to be for the follow up trick, whether it be a vault, flip or big leaping catch. This is not an easy task because the pivot may or may not be in a frontal or standard position. Figuring out how to deliver a disc with the proper angle is not a simple task once the angles get unfamiliar, finding out when the disc needs to be there for a flip at 8 yards is no picnic either.

Flipping the Pivot

Reading our dog and understanding the properties of his movement and athletic capabilities, strengths and weaknesses, are a key element of flipping on the Pivot. Without this understanding and the ability to deliver the disc reliably with precision, flipping on the Pivot is a dangerous activity flipping should remain a stationary skill.

If the dog is well balanced in the pivot the trick will come off well. If the dog is unbalanced in the pivot you will get wild erratic trajectories and flailing.

Whether or not the dog is well balanced or not is entirely dependent upon the handler’s approach to establishing the pivot and delivering out of it. It is the handler’s responsibility to fully understand the time, place and position of the pivot, and to serve a disc at a particular time, place and orientation that creates a safe and successful flip. The dog can easily overcommit while working out of the pivot.

Flipping the pivot often happens during the part of the game where the dog is working in close, but rarely happens on the flat or during/out of set up moves. That’s where the freshest benefits will come from for most players.

Leaping off the Pivot

Setting a clean, aggressive starting point, with a pivot is great for setting a dog’s stride for a big catch on the run. The first several strides after the pivot happens will be standard. The handler can then choose the distance required to hit the dog on the run in stride and at the apex of his leap.

Moving from a position of balance with immediate commitment creates the right tone and timing for a Big Leaping catch. You can see this in well dialed in teams’ Go Around and through work. The set up move, in particular, the Pivot sets the tone and timing for good leaping.

The same kind of hook up between dog and handler is available to us through any of the other pivots, although planned, big leaping is rarely seen out of the other pivot moves like the rear cross or a flip. Look for pivots that make for interesting angles for big leaping.

Reward Placement and the Pivot

Dogs gravitate to where the Reward happens. If you have a history of throwing a big, Mighty Zig Zag, 20+ yards, the pivot on a reversal of field is going to be extremely aggressive, as the dog will be shifting direction and moving with serious intent to where the target normally is. If you throw a flip to a dog that is used to releasing like that, you could have serious trouble.
Throwing a bit behind the dog (making them slow down – 10 yards instead of 20+ on the Mighty Zig Zag) or breaking things down and shaping the pivot with a good solid wait and clear intent (Art of Linking Tricks) will help you control your dogs commitment after the pivot. Too strong, or aggressive, a pivot, and the dog may not be able to accomplish the skill the handler is looking for.

Too weak and slow, and the dog cannot depend on fluid motion out of the pivot to set his stride and get the most out of this dynamic position.

Related Articles

Patron’s Choice: Shaping a Leaping Catch | Creating a Late Read

Reading the disc is a skill that astute dogs and humans pick up rather quickly. The float, the spin, and the speed can reliably be gauged and predicted after several reps. Of course this changes with wind, disc choice, and throwing ability but, generally speaking, the flight path of a disc is easily predicted.

Patron’s Choice: Vaulting Principles | Disc Dog Vaulting Defined and Definitions

To vault in disc dog freestyle is to leap off the handler’s body to catch a disc in flight. A defining aspect of competitive disc dog freestyle, the Vault is a simple operation with a great many physical expressions and variations. This book aims to explore and uncover the principles and concepts of the vault and to deliver sound understanding of all aspects of the skill to players and judges for success, style, and safety’s sake.

Patron’s Choice: Shaping the Leaping Catch | Freestyle and the Leaping Catch

Shaping a Leaping Catch can, and should be a full time job. Always throw with the intent to deliver the leaping catch unless working something specific that requires a specific approach, speed or distance that is incompatible with a leaping catch. Out throws are glory, not afterthoughts.

Within a game of disc dog freestyle there are many opportunities to reinforce and shape the leaping catch and to turn the speed regulation required for the leaping catch into a habit that is ever present in your freestyle game.