Friday, January 23, 2015

Swing it Backwards

I get asked quite often, some variation of the following: I'm stuck at X distance and I just can't work out this bracing thing. What can I do to learn the brace?

No matter how I explain it, nothing beats the following: Grab a baseball bat or a ball-golf club and swing it just regular handed. Now if you're a terrible baseball player or golfer, maybe you can shoot a hockey shot or swing a tennis racket or even a traditional bowling shot?  We want some motion that you're used to doing with your regular hand, specifically that involves bracing your weight against your instep of your plant foot.

We want a reference to feel so that we can then replicate that feeling using your non-dominant hand. When I was trying to work this out, swinging a club opposite handed hadn't dawned on me, and I regularly had the thought, "If there was just some kind of machine that I could get inside of that would put me in the right positions!"

We don't have one of those just yet.

But, the beauty of having a reference for your regular hand swing, is that you can flip it over and practice it opposite handed - which is what the bracing motion is for a backhand.  You want to develop your opposite handed swing until you're nearly as proficient with taking those swings.

What it teaches you is how to keep your center of balance inside the brace of your plant foot and hopefully the instep of your plant foot as well.

Link for mobile users: Youtube

So enjoy learning to hit opposite handed... just remember that if you're working this out in the house because it's cold outside to move your wife's favorite lamp before you start!

Lesson learned the hard way.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Journey to Controlled Distance

By Brian Castello

First off I would like to say thanks to Heavy Disc for allowing me to come on board and share my disc golf journey and other disc golf topics with you from time to time.

I am just a fellow amateur player who has been bitten by the disc golf bug and is on a mission to improve my game. I thought it would be interesting to chronicle my journey from what I think is basically the start of my adventure to better form and hopefully becoming a better disc golfer.

If you're a natural talent to disc golf; if you pick up the game and start throwing 350-400ft within few months of playing I applaud you. You're the envy of many players including myself.

My experience has definitely been different. If I could summarize my journey into a few different points/phases it would be this:

  1. Hard work
  2. Persevere through frustration (bad habits are hard to break)
  3. Small victories

The title picture is a perfect example. That is a picture someone over at DGCR ( made for me when giving me feedback for my form. I had been doing fieldwork almost daily but for the most part I hadn't been filming my throwing sessions. It can be a hard pill to swallow knowing you worked your tail off to get better, and then you look at the film/pictures and realize you got a long way to go. It really shows the importance of filming yourself during at least a few of your field work sessions each week.

I've learned there is no silver bullet. There is no magic thing that will make you instantly go throwing from 300ft to 400ft. Its a cycle of putting hard work into your field work sessions. (Be intentional with your field work. Don't just go out there and throw plastic in a field. It's most likely not going to get you the results you want.)  Film yourself throw; then get feedback from people more knowledgeable than you. Take the advice and incorporate when necessary into your form. Persevere through the bad days and enjoy the small victories. Repeat as needed.

Great minds think alike. This sums up everything quite nicely.
And I can't stress this enough: you will eat, drink, sleep, think, poop, video review, work, write, take notes, ponder upon, mull over, and of course field work these issues... until you simply want to give up and just throw the disc however feels comfortable. Some days, you'll probably want to leave your discs sitting near a disc golf course with a note reading, "FREE TO A GOOD HOME, ENJOY!"

And then the next day, you'll pick up your bag of discs and head out to the field to get back to work.     - Heavy Disc
Before I started working on form I could throw around 325-350ft depending on how good of throw it was. However, I couldn't tell you where in the world it would be going. I would play in tournaments and most of the time finish last in my division. Players that wouldn't out drive me threw with better accuracy and played smarter than me. I knew I had hit a ceiling when it came to my disc golf game.

Sometimes you have to take a step backwards to move forwards. If we are honest with ourselves we never want to hear that statement. Losing distance when trying to gain distance will hurt your pride especially when you see other players out driving you. Today, I can throw around 270-310ft from a one step/standstill shot. Most of those shots are on the 270ft side as well. However, I'm starting to throw my shots with better accuracy and hit my intended lines with a greater percentage. I will take that every time over uncontrolled distance on my shots.

I am definitely excited about my disc golf future and my journey to more controlled distance. I look forward to sharing my struggles, frustrations, small victories and (hopefully) breakthroughs. I know I have a long way to go, but it should be a fun ride nonetheless.