Monday, December 16, 2013

Uncle Rico's Fieldwork

I'm not an expert, I am not a tournament player and I certainly don't want to pretend I'm better than I am. I'm just a guy who wants to get better. I spend time almost everyday in an empty field like Uncle Rico and I have found that it has helped my game far more than actually playing rounds. In 6 months I've gone from absolutely zero skill and zero confidence to having some skill and feeling pretty confident in my backhand shots.
My brother calls me Uncle Rico.

No doubt, if you play rounds as time allows, you will improve. But to make big strides in your game it's going to take more than playing rounds, it will take... queue up Allen Iverson, "I'm talking about practice."

I'm not wired very well for slow progress and in terms of disc golf, it's meant I do tons of fieldwork. Also, I don't have time to play a round everyday, but I can almost always squeeze in 45-60 minutes of fieldwork. There's no right or wrong path to get better - there's just doing it and having the patience to correct the bad habits.

When I started doing daily field work, I basically went out into a soccer field and tried to throw every disc from one goal to the other. Max distance throws everyday for months. Ultimately it was pretty fruitless and left huge holes in my game because not every throw is a bomb. I did learn to whip my arm pretty good and I can throw pretty well from a stand still now, which is a benefit - but that's ALL I worked on. It wasn't until I started reading that I started to realize that I needed to work on other things like throwing hyzers and anhyzers and various length shots. The following video started my wheels turning on putting together a specific regime.

The pec drill. Wow, talk about a humbling drill. If you can imagine standing in a soccer field basically throwing lame ducks about 50' in front of a bunch of middle schoolers... yeah, it was quality stuff. 50 throws from the pectoral before I added the reach back for another 50. Immediate benefit from this drill was that I was forced to keep my hand on the outside of the disc in front of my chest.  If you're not accelerating the disc, it shows and there's no way to cheat it. Another immediate benefit is that it forces you to feel where the disc should be on a regular throw, which is in close to your chest.

Next up I go into what I think of as a weight transfer drill, and I'll let this do the talking:

I tend to focus on throwing about 150' for a good warm up and then adding more distance. I eventually get to driving drills, but for this drill I just aim for something about out 150', 200, then 250' out and get about 50-75 throws where I'm fully weighting the back leg and adjusting just my reach-back and pivoting on my heal. I'm doing all flat releases on this drill and just focusing on smoothness and stepping through.

Within the last month I've added thumbers and forehands to the drills twice a week. I start out throwing really short 50' thumbers really easy - until I've really warmed up my shoulder. Then I power them up to about 150-200'. Fantastic shot and one that I am very happy to have started developing.

Next I go to 150' anhyzers and hyzers without a run-up. About 25 throws of each and then I try another 25 with a run-up.

Finally if it's a distance day (I take a break from throwing distance every other day when I'm doing daily fieldwork) I will throw about 25-40 max distance shots. I do quite a bit less because it does take it's toll on my body and I want to be throwing well when I'm practicing not getting sloppy.

For the sake of easy reading my field work breaks down kinda like this:

  1. Pec Drill or Closed Shoulder Drill: 50x stand still (Power Grip)
  2. 50-250' Standstill 50x-flat, 30x-anhyzer, 50x-hyzer (Climo Grip)
  3. 250-300' X-Step 25x-flat, 25x-anhyzer, 25x-hyzer (Power Grip) 
  4. 150-250' Forehand 25x flat
  5. Max D X-Step: 350'+ 25-40 (Power Grip)
So most field work days I'm trying to get in 200-250 throws - sometimes more if I am doing a max distance day. I like to throw at a 300' soccer field that has a few goals around it for aiming.

I putt pretty much everyday for about 15-20 minutes. I don't do every drill each day - I mix it up and typically focus more on hyzer shots than anhyzers. I work on pec drills or closed shoulder drills if I am struggling with getting a good hit and as a way to reinforce driving my elbow and keeping my hand on the outside of the disc.

It may be the nature of forehands - it tears my hands up when I throw them over and over so I usually throw less of them. Needless to say, it's a hugely valuable shot and one that I am slowly adding to my routine.

That's it... nothing that special, just a basic routine that forces me run through a variety of shots and doesn't bore me to death. I also do these exercises every other day: pushups, planks (front and side) and a few yoga poses that work shoulders, core and hips. I take about 10 minutes to do all these exercises and I try not to cheat.

If you've got a routine, please feel free to share it in the comments - I'd love to hear about it.

Happy throwing.


  1. That's awesome, I've been thinking about the best fieldwork routine to do. Right now we have 12" on the ground with another 3-6" coming tonight, so field work becomes pretty much non-existent during the winter.

    Putting on the other hand has remained a staple in my daily disc golf diet. I aim for 30 minutes every day. I use Perfect Putt 360 in my basement during the winter for practice. I putt on a sport catcher from up to 30'(end of the basement). The 10/10 bonus is really rewarding and it's one of my favorite parts about the scoring of this. I just made 10/10 @ 25' for the first time last night and I'm still pumped up about it. I use 5 putters at a time, so 2 Trips to the basket at each distance. If I focus on stepping off and resetting for each put, I get 50 quality putts in about 15 minutes. I also try to take a break between each round...sort through my discs or something so that I can refocus.

    If the competitive thing isn't flowing, I go down to 2 putters and just work on the Mark Ellis "making putts" from 20'-25' for 15 minute sessions to build confidence and more muscle memory. Again resetting for each putt.

    1. I love the perfect putt idea. I am definitely printing out some of those today. I live in Denver, so I feel you on the snow. We tend to get storms that blanket everything and then it will often melt back to the ground. During the last snow, I just went about 50' back from a baseball backstop and that helped quite a bit in not losing discs, but still it's a massive pain.