Friday, January 17, 2014

Shot Selection: Many Ways to Skin a Cat

The author molesting the front rim.
The many ways to skin a cat or... the many ways to throw OB!

I talk with my dg friends all the time about the nerdier side of disc golf and one thing that I mull over quite a bit is deciding which shot to throw. Here's what happens... I throw one really good turn over shot and then in my head I immediately think, "That's it! That's the throw that I have to use for shots like this forever! Problem solved, look out Paul McBeth I'm coming for you!"

Pretty much that's what happens in my head. Yeahhhhhh, I know I'm delusional.

Then on the next throw, I feel like I should be throwing a forehand, but I'm thinking back to my last turn-over shot that went so nice... uhhh, now what?! What should my decision making on shot selection be based on? Just on "feel" or on what has worked out recently? When do I start putting shots that I'm less confident into play?

It's probably why quite a few players throw just backhand or just forehand. Having choices can complicate things. It's like stepping up to the bar at the local tavern and they've got Bud Light and Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro on tap. EASY CHOICE - I take the Left Hand Stout every single time. Step up to the bar and they've got your favorite 4 beers on tap... now you're stuck with some choices!

A while back I ran across the following chart in a dgcoursereview thread.


If you have Facebook rights to see the original post by John Hernlund: Here
I solve F=m*a=m*dv/dt and rxF=d(I*w)/dt (conservation of linear and angular momentum, respectively) where F is the aerodynamical force, m is disc mass, a is disc acceleration, v is disc velocity, t is time, r is the aerodynamical moment arm, I is the moment of inertia, and w is the angular velocity (spin). The numerical solution method is Runge-Kutta, 4th order. This throw is for a m=175g disc, thrown at 4 Hz rotation (which dissipates with time during the throw), 65 MPH release speed, no wind.

Over-stable disc flight, thrown with 4˚ nose up, for flight paths with hyzer angles varying from -5˚ to 5˚

Long story short... the grid above shows the paths of a 175g driver thrown 10 times. Each throw varies by 1 degree of release, from -5˚ to 5˚. So you're standing out in a field with a pile of drivers and going from hyzer to flat to anhyzer.

What I like the most about this chart is that it shows how much more room for error there is in a hyzer line. You can be off 3˚ in your release angle on a drive and still end up 20' from your next hyzer throw. Now look at what happens with the anhyzer throws. Being off 3˚ on your release means a 40-50' difference in where your disc lands.

Okay, so we know that trying to throw a driver on an anhyzer line is a tough thing to be accurate with. Shocker, right? Not for anybody who's tried learning to throw anhyzers! 

Check out the difference in distances gained. Same hand speed, same spin on a 5˚ hyzer line is going 350' and if you put 5˚ of anhyzer on it... you gain 150' of distance. Keeping in mind it's harder to impart the same spin and hand speed on an anhyzer - but if you're going for distance - that anhyzer throw is absolutely going to go further theoretically. We also have to assume your disc is stable enough that it doesn't turn over or that you rip it well enough to keep it from stalling out on you. 

The point is hyzers are easier to be accurate with and more to the point, you can be off on your hyzer line angle and have less ill effects on your final lie. There's many more aspects to take into consideration too - like shaping your shot to get around or over a tree, past this thing then turning back, OB areas to avoid, or how the disc is going to skip, roll or turn once it hits the ground.

It's no wonder you'll see a guy standing in front of his disc looking like he's trying to work out a cure for cancer while simultaneously doing long division. There's decisions to be made!!

Okay, so for me - I'm going with a basic guide line to keep it simple.

If I am trying to be accurate and trying to put it within 30' of a basket 300' out, then I'm throwing a flat back hand and letting the disc hyzer back towards the target (assuming it's a stable disc). If I'm looking for a right turning shot, I throw forehand.  I've tried the same lines many times throwing backhand under-stable drivers and then throwing forehand with a Surge or a Valk. I get the same or more distance forehand, I don't have to worry about a cut roller landing that heads back left and I can throw it with a low ceiling. 
Happy disc'n. Photo: Kyle O'Neill

I continue to try to develop a turn over in the field, but it's absolutely a difficult shot - and for me it's risky compared to a forehand.

Am I going for just distance? If it's a super wide open long hole - where landing to one side or the other is less important than potentially gaining a big chunk of extra distance, I'm throwing anhyzer with something I trust will not turn over. 

If I'm powering down for an approach shot, then the anhyzer flex shot get's more likely with something like my Star Mako. It's so easy to slowly float it in at chain height vs. trying to slow down a forehand. Forehands are great with putters (my vibram ridge is my go to) if you're dealing with a ceiling that shuts down any floaty shots and you're skidding it up in the dirt.

It's easiest if I stick with those basic guidelines so that I'm not hemming and hawing forever, but don't get me wrong - you'll definitely find me lining up a shot only to go back to the bag because I need to throw a thumber? a scooby? no a flick on annie line... a roller? Have I lost my mind?! Better just throw a putter.... but which putter?

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12 comments:

  1. My name is Matt and I'm the new Media Manager for the PDGA. This is an awesome article. I'll be posting a link to it on our Twitter and Facebook accounts some time later this week. Great stuff! If you ever have anything you want to send me, shoot me an email at media at pdga dot com.

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  2. Thanks Matt - I sent you an email! Appreciate the compliments and thank you for sharing my stuff with your audience!

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  3. An excellent reinforcement of my continual doubts on the efficacy of a reliable anhyzer in my arsenal, lol.

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    1. Very eloquently put and glad I could help Paul!!

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  4. Being a left handed disc golfer you quickly learn the anhyzer shot. It is a must if you do not have a solid forehand that can get you over 250+ ft.

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    1. Even with a serviceable forehand, I feel like being able to throw the anhyzer is a huge help. It's a great shot - it just takes time and patience to develop.

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    2. On top of that, learning the anhyzer means you are practicing disc control and flight prediction, and learning more about those helps all the other shots right?! I try to practice the anhyzer a lot, but playing a scored round? No thanks, I'll stick with the forehand.
      But then again, I am a track and field athlete who can throw an 800 gram javelin 220 ft, so the discgolf forehand came natural to me, a lot more so than the backhand.

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  5. As a lefty, I've spent numerous hours practicing right-handed throws. Sure I can anhyzer it, but as shown above, the accuracy falls drastically. I've actually gotten to the point where, even as a natural lefty, I've out-thrown right-handed friends of mine on occasion.
    Interesting article nonetheless. I really enjoyed it.

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  6. Thanks Ben, glad you liked it! I'd love to be able to throw lefty - the few times I've started trying - it's actually hurt. I think my technique is so bad left handed that it's really hard to get a whip of any kind going.

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  7. I believe the more important aspect of choosing between a forehand and an anhyzer is the shape of the line not just direction and distance. I have a decent forehand and slightly better anhyzer plus thumber/tommy with developing roller. The best way to get around a disc golf course is to give yourself options. With aspects such as hills, wind, and ceiling nothing is better then options.

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  8. Good stuff here. I love the graphic. I think one obvious omission is the use of under-stable discs that do the work via "turn" without changing your angle of release. A hyzer angle with a 175 Mamba or other "flippy" disc becomes an anhyzer 100 feet out, etc. Flippier discs, are harder to control, and this is often not an option in any but a tailwind, but great for stretching out your helix and maximizing D.

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    1. Very true. Hyzer flipping a disc is a huge help in distance and in delaying an understable disc from turning over. I carry a 167 Road Runner for that exact reason. In this post, I really just wanted to get down the big differences between throwing hyzer and anhyzer and how I go about making the choices when I'm going into the tank on trying to decide what to do.

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