I don't post much on boards but this topic caught my attention being a helper. The concerns the handlers at trials have and SHOULD have is whether or not their fast dog will be caught safe. The long bite is a very dangerous activity and has injured many dogs. I think the long bite catch has commonly been taught poorly and many helpers try to 'guess' which side a dog is coming. For a fast dog, this is a recipe for disaster..I have even seen folks tell new helpers to practice running into a pole with their sleeve on to get the turn correctly..?? What happened at a recent trial and several trials I have seen where the dog was injured was the helper trying to force the dog to one side when the dog targets the center mass. The dogs are jammed and sometimes severely injured.
Unfortunately, this exercise is where everyone "oohs and ahhs" over the fast dog but if caught incorrectly it can be tragic..
The proper technique for the helpers should be to stay square to the dog right until the final commitment of the dog. If a helper starts to commit before the dog and the dog is fast like a Mal and cuts him off there is a huge impact/ jam. Helpers need to let the fast dog commit 1st and then open up their hips to the side the dog goes and then try and place the dogs on the ground. By the time the sleeve contacts the helpers chest, the hips of the helper MUST be open to the turning side. Opening up early and backing into a side will get a dog injured as the dogs sometimes cross over at the threat of the stick. This MUST be taught correctly for the safety of the dogs and the confidence of the helpers who must catch the flyers. If a helper guesses a side ( sleeve or stick ) and the dog goes that way life is cool, but if the dog chooses the other it's a crash.
At the point of impact, the helper MUST be positioned like a linebacker, on the balls of his feet, square to the dog, sleeve out front and ready to open up to the side the DOG chooses to and commits. I present the sleeve late along with the stick to make sure the dog commits. I also have my body square to the dog and wait for the dog to commit. After some poor early training, I learned this technique from Doug Wendling who was a fantastic back-half helper.
I attached a catch on a very fast dog, Azarro de Asturbox, former AWMA champ to illustrate the technique.
Good luck with your training!