Monday, March 9, 2015

How I learned to love the hyzer

I got the following email from a reader (Lee) who shared the following thoughts. I added by reply below his email. I love getting emails like this from readers! Makes my day, that's for sure.

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To: Jason
From: Lee
Subject: Blog Suggestions

I just wanted to tell you that I've really enjoyed reading your blog. Your honesty and dedication really ring true. I think it’s great because you aren't a top pro telling someone how to throw 500 feet. You are a regular guy like all of us out here who love playing and just want to figure out how to improve. Your backhand info has completely changed my game. I’m still a work in progress, but the gains have been obvious and I’m enjoying being out there more now that I have something to latch on to in terms of technique.

In looking at the content of your blog and noticed that a huge portion of your blog is dedicated to throwing far.  What I don’t see too much of is advice on how to actually play the game well. I’d like to hear more about how to approach strategy. Arnold Palmer once said that if he had to play against a weekend golfer and had the exact same skill set, he would still win 99% of the time. He said this was due to understanding how to score well. When to go for it, when to hold back, how to play a high percentage shot, etc. It really stuck with me. I’m probably never going to throw 500 feet, but If I can manage to play higher percentage shots decently, I should be able to beat my friends. It seems to me amateurs really need to know how to avoid trouble. I’d figure I throw 5-7 bad shots per round which isn’t a ton, but if each one costs me a stroke, then that’s 5-7 strokes I can make up if I can just manage to not throw the terrible shot. Some of these are drives, but many are approaches and putts.

So I’ve been really working on getting those 5-7 strokes back. Of course I work on driving technique too, but I really wanted to clean up my short game because that’s the quickest and most accessible area that can be utilized in game. So for upshots I’ve been I’ve been playing a game (sees attached image) where I throw 10 discs (putters and midrange) and try to park them within my putting comfort zone (You can do this at any park by just picking a tree or something). If I land in that area, I give myself a point. If I land outside my comfort zone but still within the putting circle (I’m solid to about 25ft.), then I score it a zero. If any disc lands outside the circle, I subtract a point. I play to 10 with each kind of throw (hyzer, straight, anny, forehand and backhand, etc.). I start at 125’ out and work my way out to 225’ from the target. Lastly, I count how many throws of 10 discs does it take to actually score 10 points. If I threw every disc perfectly, then I would reach 10 pts. with just 10 discs.

The effect of this game has been profound on my scores. Not only have I shaved 4-5 strokes off my score, I learned what each disc does in a very specific way. I also learned in terms of percentage how effective a shot actually is. Say, for example, I played the game three times (hyzer, straight, and anny). It typically takes me 13-20 hyzer throws to get to 10 points, it takes me 22-30 straight throws to get to 10 pts., and it takes 20-40 anny shots to get me the 10 points. This information is huge! That means that my hyzer throw is twice as effective in getting me to my putting comfort zone than an anny. I learned that if I face about 10 degrees to the right of the target, my disc on a hyzer line will land about 15 ft. to the right of the target and ultimately stop right on the pin.

I also try to play this game with obstacles. I realized that a lot of strokes that always cost me typically come from being in a weird spot and trying to throw out of it. So with that I learned what throws will work and also (maybe more importantly) when I should just toss the disc back to the fairway and know that it’s the better move.

This game has totally changed my scores and I’m beating some friends who are much higher rated than I am. It’s increased confidence in a huge way because I know that as long as I can get the disc to around 175’ or closer to the pin, I should hit par at worst. Most holes are only 300-400 feet, so that means I only need a throw of 200-300 feet and I should be fine. Knowing that I don’t need a huge dive has taken the effort off my drives and now they actually go farther and are more accurate. At most bigger courses, shooting par would be a great round (for me). If there are a few shorter holes then going under par is pretty easy.

Anyway, I know there are probably a million things that can be talked about in terms of lowering the score of a round. I’d love to see how you would approach that topic.

Also,  in addition to that upshot game, I have been steadfastly playing the "driven 1025" putt app on my iPhone. I figure the best chance I have to score well is by increasing my putt range combined with parking an upshot closer to the pin. The more the upshot landing zone and the comfort putt zone overlap, the better off I will be. : )

Keep up the great work. : )

To: Lee
From: Jason
Subject: RE: Blog Suggestions

Awesome stuff Lee, do you mind if I post that on the site?! I think it's a great game and one that's really similar to something I do with my fieldwork.

Check out the "Knowing your Strengths" section.

I've written a few times about trying to improve my strategic game, but my opinion is that once you develop a firm understanding of what your shot selection is - and fully understand your bag and how each disc mold handles wind/power/angles (which is NO small task) - then it becomes about getting out of your own way and fully committing to putting the disc in the basket WHEN you believe it's inside your ability.

I'm at a very VERY strange place right now, where I've been hitting metal from 50' almost half the time in rounds. Yesterday I hit 2 "putts" from 10-20' outside the circle at a tags match. Then I air-mailed a 60'er that cost me a long come-backer that I chained out on for a bogey. I'm trying to figure it out myself in terms of what is the better play and quite often it comes down to the consequences of the miss. Am I putting down hill or on hard-pan that'll slide the disc away from the basket? Am I in grass or snow or mud that'll eat the disc like Velcro? How hard will I have to throw the disc to be chain high without being a huge lob?

I'm very much trying to put that stuff together in my own mind.

Learning that from 250' and closer you're in for 2 at a very high % gives you so much confidence to play smarter and most importantly - knowing that the hyzer is your single most powerful shot in terms of accuracy is a complete game changer. Over and over and over, watching MPO footage - you see top card players throwing the hyzer. If it's inside of 400' - I'm throwing a hyzer if it's available. I go more nose down to add some distance or decrease the hyzer angle, but it is coming out of my hand on a hyzer - and that alone as almost completely removed errant disc-flips from my game.

know your hyzer!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Downward Tilt

A quick intro: zj1002 is a screen name that I came to know and respect very quickly as I poured through DGR and DGCR Form/Technique. I was rather impressed when I realized zj1002 was the guy that Yeti used as his example in this video to demonstrate the power of hips in your drive. Here he is blasting putters like they're drivers. He knows his stuff and puts on clinics, plays lots of tournaments and coaches other players - so I quickly jumped on the chance to have him start writing some of his knowledge down! I hope you guys enjoy this as much as I did! - Jason
The Downward Tilt - Manipulating Angles and Creating Leverage.
By Zachery Jansen (PDGA # 39386)

Hello to all my fellow disc golfers. 

I want to start by thanking HeavyDisc for giving me the opportunity to write about disc golf technique.

Sometime around 2008 I found myself obsessed with a new hobby - throwing a disc as far as I possibly could. Back then I never thought I would actually fly my dreams this far. It led to a job with the wonderful crew at Disc Nation and a professional sponsorship with the Legacy Discs family.

Everything I learned about technique can be found on the beautifully confusing technique forums(DGR). I don’t think I could write this post without giving credit to the community Blake T fostered on DGR.

So I think its only fitting I focus my first article on one of the videos that changed everything for me - my lightbulb moment. The clip below of Discmania CEO Jussi Meresmaa popped up on DGR 4 or 5 years ago.

The DGR forum hive was curious -- Why did he turn the "inside" of the disc downward on the reach-back? Is there an actual benefit to it this style?

What you see with Jussi is a technique taken to its extreme. Turning the inside of the disc downward on the reach-back creates two main advantages for the thrower when timed properly:

  1. It creates extreme nose down angles for added distance
  2. It keeps the disc close to the body so it can extend through the power zone

What I call the inside of the disc, is the side closest to the body during the start of the throw. The outside being where our hand is on the disc. Its important to understand that in an ideal throw you want to leverage the inside of the disc forward. You are using your technique on the outside of the disc to leverage the inside of the disc around until it propels forward. This means that while may it initially looks like an anhyzer angle, when you open your body forward it turns into a nose down hyzer angle.

Check out this clip of Garret Gurthie from an old Innova video:

As Garrets body moves forward, he drives toward the target with his hips, shoulders, and elbow. This brings the disc in closer to the body/chest, allowing it to easily pass into the hit zone. I find with most people, this is where things are going wrong: do not uncoil the forearm before the disc reaches the right pec area

When this happens, it becomes harder to hold onto the disc and early releases occur, zapping power and accuracy. By turning the inside of the disc downward it makes it easier to hold onto the disc through the right pec (for RHBH) and into the power zone.

The longer you can hold onto the outside of the disc through the power zone as the arm uncoils, the more potential distance and accuracy you will have. As Garrets arm uncoils the disc ends up on the exact same line it was on during the reach-back. 

This technique doesn't just apply to throwing nose down hyzers. It can be used to understand how to manipulate any angle you want to create the leverage you need to throw with more accuracy and distance. I also want to clarify that reaching back is a direct result of turning the hip and shoulder back. As you open these parts of the body forward, it brings the arm in tight to the right pec.

When trying to copy a new style or technique -- learn how the mechanics of it can help your throw. 

We all have different body types, so not every style fits every person. If you are having trouble holding onto the disc through the power/hit zone, then this should help improve. Focus on the principles of a technique, and adapt it to your own form.

Okay, Jason here again. I wanted to also share this video of Zachery. If you've watched me throw on my youtube channel, you may notice that I take a very similar motion. That's for good reason. I found this video of his, and at the same time SW22 posted this one from Shawn Clement on balance. It clicked in such a big way that balance (like Zachery was displaying) was exactly what I needed to start forcing myself to do. It really was a great moment for my form and my accuracy.