Monday, June 22, 2015

Nate's Road Journal Check-In

Mr. Sexton showing some textbook form.
By Jason Liebgott

After Nate Sexton sat down with us for the first interview - I thought it would be fun to check in with him along the way and see what's going on.

This question is a bit of a play on the last time I emailed you: If you could hop in a time machine and have a conversation with the pre-2015 tour Nate Sexton, what would you tell him? I have to think that you've learned some touring-life lessons along the way!

I don't think I would change much, touring with Paul in the rig that he has this season is a great way to go! I am tempted to say that I would advise my younger self to get out on the National Tour earlier but I am not sure it would have been as good an idea back then with nothing but an old car to travel in. So far I don't have any regrets!

What has life on the tour clarified for you?

Eating well can be difficult, some areas of the United States do not yet know about good food. Some days the country feels really big, and other days it feels like we could drive to anywhere and be there sometime in the middle of the night tomorrow.

Do you feel like you're seeing a plan start to form for your place in the industry as a full time job?

I am starting to think about my place within disc golf going forward. I do feel like there will be a full time job for me once I hang up the discs.

What's the hardest struggle been?

Time away from my wife is far and away the most difficult part of playing on the tour.

Do you feel that there's added pressure on you that comes with touring with Paul?

No, maybe if my face was huge on the side of the RV I would. I feel fortunate to be able to practice and play with Paul, he takes the game seriously and his play constantly reminds me that I am not good enough yet.

2016 Innova Sexton Proto (Classified)

Have you discovered anything about your game this season? Any specific shots that are needing work? Any form tweaks going on? Do you find yourself thinking less and committing more to the shot you know you have?

Somewhat, I know I still need work on my backhand power game through tight tunnels or near OB. I have made some strides but I still feel that most of my mistakes come from not fully committing to those shots.

Has anybody surprised you with their game? Maybe somebody you recently met or have seen them coming on strong this season?
Lots of people, Anthony Barela, Zach Melton, Eagle McMahon, Nate Tomlinson, Calvin Heimburg, to name a few. (Psst, I added some videos for each of these guys)

Does a tour like this have you feeling like you'd want to continue doing it next year? 

At this point I would be interested in touring again next season. I think I would need to build in more trips home to see my wife though.

Did the fundraising for St. Jude have an impact on you?

It was fun, I worked really hard at it and I am proud of the money I was able to raise. If I can be involved again next year I will work even harder to help Disc Golf make a positive impact on our world.

Music Trivia

1. Song for getting ready before a tournament.

Paul takes care of these, he has some good ones. We usually listen to Kid Ink - Hell and Back.

2. Song for driving across a never ending stretch of TX.

I like Conor Oberst in one form or another. Bright Eyes, or Mystic Valley Band.

 3. Song for beers after the round is over.

Dawes - When My Time Comes

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Putting: At the Beginning

By TAFL Hols

First apologies for the delay in getting to this post. A lot of life has happened over the past several weeks, including my mother going in and out of the hospital and my wife breaking her ankle in three places (which means extra work hours for me). The arrival of monsoon season (sooo much rain) and not making it to the course also helped put a damper on things.

The previous two posts of mine looked at what I want to see at the end of a putt and during the flight of a putt. This post looks at the beginning of a putt--the part that determines what actually happens during the rest of it.

The first thing I want at the beginning of a putt is a motion that is repeatable. Properly, a motion that is accurately repeatable. I want to be able to train my muscles to make the same motion time after time, with an absolute minimum of variance.

The next thing I want of my putting stroke is the ability to put the disc on the exact line I want. For putting without having to curve around an obstacle, that means putting the disc on a line direct to the basket. When there's an obstacle to curve around, it means being able to provide the necessary turn to clear the obstacle, using the same basic stroke.

The means I use to achieve these ends is a spin putt technique. My upper arm moves in a single plane--vertically. It begins lowered and raises during the stroke, with the amount it gets raised determining the loft of the putt. The other hinges of the arm--wrist and elbow--are used to provide the spin and angles. The wrist is the primary generator of spin. The elbow helps provide drive for longer putts and help provide the hyzer/anhyzer angles necessary for bending putts around obstacles.

So, on short putts, only the wrist bends to provide the spin on the disc. Between the drive provided by the wrist, the forward shift of weight, and the loft provided by the rest of the arm rising vertically, the disc has enough speed to get to the basket. On longer putts, the elbow bends to add power/distance. The upper arm provides the line and the elbow and wrist bend during the backswing and then snap back into line with the upper arm for the delivery.

I work to keep my torso from interfering with the movement of the disc during the backswing. It appears to me that I line up with my body closer to perpendicular to the basket than most people. When I shift my weight onto the rear leg and draw back my hips, this seems to clear more room for the disc on the drawback/backswing and less interference from the torso. Or so it feels to me.

Now, push putting, as I understand it, locks the entire arm into a single unit and uses the weight shift and some springy fingers to launch the disc on a straight line. This makes for a repeatable stroke, certainly, as there are no hinges bending then realigning. The times I tried this approach, I couldn't shape lines worth a darn and gave up trying straight away.

One can stand broadside and deliver the disc in much the same fashion as an approach shot, a technique that meets the general requirements I have for putting. Indeed, I use this style at times. I've found that it's more difficult for me to have fine control over the loft of a putt, however, so I've not adopted it as my primary putting style.

I've discounted the chicken wing approach as having more hinges moving around than I'm comfortable using. The addition of the shoulder moving in more than one axis seems to be too much work for me to lock in accurately, especially when I may go long periods without much play.

Different players find different techniques useful, obviously. There are players who consistently putt well using techniques different from mine. I offer up what I do and how I think about it as a way of helping other players think about what they do. Close consideration of how one plays is how one figures out how to get better, I reckon, so is a useful exercise.