Monday, June 30, 2014

Getting picky on the backhand.

So last week I posted about trying to shore up my own technique. Slow improvements, lots of drills and some feedback over on dgcr that has helped focus my efforts.

As I have been working daily on correcting or improving my back hand drives - I've had to come up with a way to put my mental imagery into action as a physical motion. Easy? No. Not even close to easy. It's difficult and frustrating to imagine your body to be in the right position, video yourself, *feel* like you're doing it right and then watch yourself doing it incorrectly.

I tend to have too much forward momentum - which throws my balance off - when in fact I want just enough momentum that I'm able to pivot on the plant foot, without falling forward. That pivot is something I've seen from disc golfers with impeccable form, over and over. I've decided to stop calling it a run-up because I don't want the imagery of "fast forward motion" sneaking into my x-step.

So let's talk first about how to transfer a mental image of what that x-step should feel like into a physical action - and I'll tell you flat out - this is a difficult thing for me. I've spent so much time working on getting my form to where it is - simply based on the results of being able to throw my max-distance - by what I thought "felt right" that now changing is proving very difficult.

I am trying to use a sound or a rhythm and some "mental key frames" during the x-step to create that correct motion. The sound could be a count (One, Two, Three, Four) or audio queues (One, Cross, Up, Hit, Turn) or it could be the sound of a locomotive in your head. Whatever you can tie to a smooth motion that helps you have a clear and sharp visual imagery of what you're trying to do.

Eventually I'm sure I won't need these audio queues - but right now - I need something to help modify my form, because my default is to bend at the waist during my reach back.

I would also like to point out that there seems to be two distinctively different x-steps that are in use among the top tier players, but they share a common theme. One X-Step which seems to be used by Mike Moser, Espen and Steve Brinster - is the x-step with a more vertical hop.

The benefit of that hop seems to be that it helps to keep me from leaning back by transferring that momentum up when I would start bending back.

The second x-step version seems to be more of what I'd call a bent knee step through. Will Schusterick is pretty clearly doing a gorgeous version of it here:

I've tried to emulate Will's X-step for quite a while, but I tend to fail during the reach back by leaning my upper body backwards where he's able to pivot around his spine as vertical axis.

Seems easy enough to fix right? I wish. I'm trying to change how I'm generating my acceleration from a bending backwards and then whipping forward to a more rotational acceleration.

So the two variations of x-steps both have quite a few things in common - but I want to point out a few things. The x-step is to put their bodies into a powerful position. By staying as uncoiled as possible as late as possible, they're creating a short window of time during the weighting of the plant foot where the uncoiling of their reach back can be magnified by their hips transferring all that weight forward.

Both versions are very upright during the reach back, which coils up their abdominal muscles around the upright spine. Also, they're almost all very slow and controlled during the x-step. It's not typically a fast step. Finally, most of these guys are spinning out on their plant foot - and ending up very balanced at the end of their drive - and not taking a long lunging step forward to regain control.

Coiling the core from top of the hop to foot plant. 
As you can see clearly here - Espen is very upright, winding up his core muscles around his spine. He doesn't start the reach back until the top of the hop.

Next he transfers all his weight into the front leg while releasing the twist, which creates an incredibly powerful action.

So today's post was really to reinforce the stuff that I'm trying to incorporate into my own form. Back to the field soon to try to put it all into practice!

And here's the running tally of form change:

Leaning way back.
Round 2: Fighting to keep it more centered.

Round 3: Reach back more centered. Follow through still off balance.
And the following is some in depth input from one of DGCR's resident form masters: Sidewinder22
Some good analysis in there and looks a little better. I wouldn't say the pros spin out, they pivot. Spin out is bad, that means there is a loss of resistance to torque against which results in a long slow spin of the foot typically. Pivot is a kinetic release of torque and is typically super fast and short. You are spot on about being uncoiled as late as possible in the x-step, I'm loose as a goose until my front foot begins striding forward past the rear foot and then my core loads down into the rear leg/hip as the upper body stays back(still in posture against the rear leg) with the front foot moving forward. 

Moser does a different hop than others like Ulibarri used to where the rear leg never crosses behind, and they do a little two hop on the rear foot. You have to maintain good balance to do this type hop move or you will fail miserably. I'd also note Moser doesn't throw quite as far as the other top guys, but he putts and approaches lights out! 

The Brinster, GG, Feldy type hop is what I've become most comfortable with although I can throw nearly as far from a non hop x-step, but I tend to spray more left and right without the hop. I feel the hop helps pivot the body back in the back-swing as you move forward, it's more like a dance move and it adds rhythm and consistency on long bombs, and more weight shift which helps direct the energy more forward. 

Will's technique seems to be the hardest to replicate, it's actually similar to a backhanded bowling technique. His technique is also quite similar to the Jarvis brothers but his posture is more folded and hence doesn't quite throw as far as them as his rotation or speed is restricted, but this maybe a compensation for accuracy as he is braced to the max like throwing the momentum of a bowling ball against the front leg. 

The first frame of your pic, looks like you are hopping too far forward, as your balance is leaning forward. The hop should be a little more vertical so you don't have to lunge your front leg forward so you don't face plant. Going more vertical also helps load your weight more back(down into rear foot as a scale would read higher than your actual weight) into the rear foot/leg/hip as you come down and then stride forward to plant, then brace the lower spine against the front leg so the scale would then read higher than your actual weight but still maintaining dynamic/athletic/upright/stacked posture (like a skier turning).
The front leg has to resist turning to torque/post against it. 

In the second frame of your pic, your arm is already hugging. Your elbow never has a chance to get forward so your release is really like a foot or two behind where it should be, see Masterbeto vid where he talks about "going from back here to up here adds anywhere from 60-100' or more". You should either have your shoulders turned back another 45 degrees with the same arm/disc position, so your right shoulder blade is facing the target, or your elbow should be forward of the shoulder with the disc near the right pec at that point. Your posture is not stacked with the shoulders over hips over knees over toes. Rear foot is flat on the heel and TOES OFF THE GROUND! Try throwing a jab with your rear toes in the air and heel on the ground, you can't move your weight forward into the snap of the jab that way. 

The third frame is massive hugging and high shoulder and rear side posture/leverage gone trying to push off the rear heel. Your upper arm should be more Barry Shultz/Nate Doss wide, so the shoulder and arm are more connected to whip a heavy momentum(sledgehammer) forward. 
Your shoulder is too high, far ahead of the arm and open around to the target, so your whip ends up around your body to the right instead of straight through your core/center target-ward from a lower shoulder position unless you are content throwing high anhyzers and rollers.

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