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 Discgolfreview.com 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.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Making a Swing Change: Part 3

Chris here. I'm back with the 3rd and final part in my series on making swing changes. In part 1 I outlined a process that works for me, and in part 2 I went over some of the mental game involved with practice. In part 3 let's talk about taking these changes from the field to the course.

Playing Rounds Slows Progress

In my experience, it's very difficult to make steady form progress while regularly playing rounds. A big part of this is that when you get on the course and want to make a shot your body is going to default back to the way you normally throw. So, if you go out and throw a round or two of golf when you just spent hours in the field the past couple of days then you may well be undoing (or at least lessening the effectiveness) all of that hard work.

This is no fun. I want to play rounds of disc golf in my local leagues, AND I want to make form changes simultaneously. There are a few different ways of handling this:

  1. Don't play rounds until your change is solid. This is probably the fastest way to improve, but it's not a lot of fun.
  2. Practice during your rounds. While not the ideal place to practice, I've found that I can take my field work on to the course with some mental discipline. The issue with this is that people generally want to score well, and if you treat your tee shots like field work you won't score well. I've had success with this by going into the round completely understanding that this round isn't about scoring. It's about enjoying the game I love and the company of my friends. This is my favorite option, and the one I think is best if you are a social golfer. If you go this route I would highly encourage you to get 20-30 minutes of field work in before the round starts so that you can get a feel for whatever the thing is that you are working on, and hang on to that feeling through the round.
  3. Practice during the off season. If you're the kind of person who plays lots of tournaments, and performing well in the is really important to you then only make form changes during the off season. Obviously this seriously limits the time you have available to improve, but it's better than nothing.
  4. Improve very slowly or, possibly, not at all. This was the option that I stuck with all of last year, and I have to say that I don't like it. I played too many rounds where my focus was entirely on scoring well, and the productive field work that I had was hamstrung by reverting back to my old form the second I played a league round. If you are reading this blog then this isn't for you. Avoid this painful cycle.
Practice to Perform

The first year I played in any tournaments was 2013. That year I did lots of field work and played lots of rounds, but I was NOT trying to change my form. Most of my field work involved taking a bag of discs to the field and trying to hit lines. All that year I consistently finished in the top few in Men's Advanced. In 2014 I decided to move up to MPO, and also start refining my form. I knew I had issues, but I hadn't really bothered to change make any big changes up to that point. In 2014 my rating dropped, and I was not performing nearly as well in tournaments as I had in 2013. My form was better than before. My putting was better than before. It took me a long time, and some reading to figure out what the main difference was: all of my practice in 2014 was focused on changing my form rather than working with the form I had.

Chances are that you are reading this because you want to change your form, and NOT just stick with the form you have. If you are like me then you spend a lot of your time in the field working on consciously changing some facet of your form. Just this morning I got in a couple dozen throws, and the whole time I was focusing on bracing and staying closed into the hit. This is perfectly fine, but if you spend all of your practice time thinking about your form then when you get on the course you are going to be thinking about your form. Playing to score well and thinking about your form don't work well together. To score well you have to trust your throw to do what you want.

Dr. Bob Rotella explains this perfectly in Golf Is Not a Game of Perfect. Dr. Rotella calls these two different ways of practicing "training" and "trusting." Training is practice in which you consciously and deliberately work on changing the way you do something. This is form work. Trusting is practice where your only focus is executing the shot required, and you trust your body to execute that shot. You can TRUST your body to produce the shot because you know that you TRAINED it to produce that shot when needed.

Paul is the picture of trusting

The other important thing to understand about training and trusting is that one of them is going to become your dominant habit, and it will be the one you default to when the pressure is on. Luckily you get to decide which one is your dominant habit by making that habit the one you spend the majority of your time doing. This means that in order to make trusting your default behavior you have to spend, for example, 60% of your practice trusting and 40% of it training.

If you don't mind the fact that your scoring ability will be temporarily impaired and making changes as fast as possible is the most important thing to you then you can spend the majority of your time training. Just understand that to score well you have to work yourself back in to a trusting mentality.  If you can manage your expectations and understand the relationship between your practice and your performance on the course then it doesn't matter how much you trust or train.

These concepts help me play and practice more effectively, and I hope they will help you too. I always enjoy feedback so if any of this helped you or you have any additional insights I'd love to hear them. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

100 Posts - Some Cool Stuff

By Jason (aka Mr. HeavyDisc)

The internet is a crazy place. It's crazy that we live this way, but we do. It changes our interactions, it changes where we meet, who we meet and how we meet them. I still chuckle about the time I was throwing some fieldwork and I saw a fellow fieldworker on the other side of a large field. I was walking out to find my discs when I hear, "Heeeeyyyyy, are youuuu Jaaaaaaason?!!"

That was my new buddy Chad. We had an impromptu form pow-wow and I forced my beliefs on him about bracing and the instep. Next thing you know we're facebook buddies and a couple days ago I get this message: "woohoo! hit ~500' with my cannon today at birdsnest on the last hole. past the pin on the right" .

I absolutely love this aspect of having a website. I started writing here as a way to remember the things that I was learning the hard way. Fellow disc golfers kept finding HeavyDisc, and I kept writing, all the while, trying to badger my friends into writing as well (though that's never easy, is it Michael and Dustin?).

Then I did something stupid: I started throwing forehand all the time and field worked it into a horrific case of tennis elbow. It was bad enough to sideline me for a couple months.

June 5, 2014 - Chatting with HeavyDisc non-attorney / part-time editor, Kyle.

Kyle had this conversation with me for a long time before I actually stopped. Ask Kyle how stupid he thinks I can be and you'll get quite a chuckle out of him.

I met Kyle through the mighty internet. We are now good friends and even do non-disc golf stuff together. Coming back from this elbow disaster, I decided that I'd put some real effort into my form. That's when heavydisc.com started becoming a real dumping ground for my form research.

That's also when I noticed that some of my articles were getting some traffic and I thought, "Hmm, Adsense is tied right into blogger - I wonder if I can slap a few ads on the site and retire in style?!" Har, har - where will I spend all these riches? [/sarcasm]

Besides the fact that Adsense never really kicked up enough shekels to make my Maserati payment (let alone buy me a coke out of our 25¢ soda machine at work), I never liked the fact that I had advertisements for random stuff on the site. But I figured that I'd put whatever coin came my way into discs to review.

Somewhere along the way, Matt Siri and I also became internet buddies. He hit me up after reading a post and we started chatting. Apparently I'm a chatty dude. I interviewed him when he told me he was about to become the owner of HyzerBomb, and now we chat all the time. He's a tournament director, an avid disc golfer, a promoter, he works in the DG industry, and he's genuinely a really nice guy. I even tore apart his backhand form and yelled at him about elbow extension. YOU CALL THAT DRIVING YOUR ELBOW?! DROP AND GIMME 20 SIRI!

So then about a week ago, I pitched him that I would ditch all the Adsense-nonsense, and we'd just barter for a couple Hyzerbomb bags in return for a year of promotion. His exact words, "I definitely like it! I’m up for working something out, definitely!"

If feels right, I like it and who doesn't love a good barter?

Matt is everything that is awesome about our sport. He raises added-cash for his tournaments to levels that will actually support professional touring disc golfers. He runs a company that makes an incredibly well built product. You'll not hear him speak an ill-word towards anyone. I couldn't be happier to announce that Hyzerbomb is the first Heavy Partner.

I hope you strongly consider them for your next bag or disc, visit their store and tell them that you're a HeavyDisc'er that is happy to support a bad-ass company. Soon you'll start to see Hyzerbomb.com's logo on the site - and as the new Flak-X hits the shelves we'll hopefully have some stuff to review.

Pretty awesome, right?! I thought so. I also wanted to share this too from a DGCR user who shared this with me:
Originally Posted by SpringDgLover  (original post)
I just have to say that I have in the past been critical of these technique forums and even stated earlier that I avoided them around tournament time. 
Well I have to eat crow today because HyzerUniBomber (aka HeavyDisc) you just fixed me.
I went out to a field today and was just spraying shots everywhere. Let me preface this by saying that I've had the weight transfer and hip part of my throw down for a while but my biggest problem was my release and namely grip lock.
Well today after frustratingly spraying shots everywhere I opened up an old video (I think he meant this one), it was one of his older ones and it was about his routine for practice.
The first thing I noticed was he finishing at 12'oclock on every throw whether it was a drive or upshot. I also noticed that I never did that, I then remembered how he had mentioned that with the proper elbow drive and hand slap that you could never grip lock. So I decided to give it a try and just stand still and focus on finishing as close as I could to 12 and guess what?
No more grip locks every shot started going where I wanted. Mind you I've thrown 550+ in distance comps but my disc golf distance had always maxed at about 410'.... well after about 50 throws finishing at 12 I lined up and threw two perfect Destroyer, disc golf shots 500'+ I was blown away?!? It was the moment I've been looking for, for the last 6years of field work.
Thank all you guys for what you do, I know I have thousands of hours of practice ahead of me but finally I feel like I'm the right track and it's all thanks to these threads!
Wow, right?! And here's the big man throwing some INSANE bombs:

I'll also say this: I appreciate the kind words and the people who compliment me - but there's a simple reality. You guys are fixing your form, not me. You're the ones in the field busting your butt, dealing with the frustration of unlearning muscle memory and hunting for discs that seem to excel at hiding in plain sight. I'm glad to help unlock some mysteries (as they unlock for me) and hopefully my self-torture helps, but you guys deserve the credit. It's hard work, it's time, it's learning your own kinetic chain and then making micro adjustments until you see the magic. So I compliment you. You guys kick ass.

Still, I thought that was really cool. Lots of cool stuff. And if you're truly bored - here's a few minutes of me throwing fieldwork, mostly from a stand-still and trying not to smash my hand into a fence and trying to show that the hit does all the work.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Making a Swing Change: Part 2

Chris here. I'm back with part 2 of making a swing change (part 1, if you missed it). Today I'd like to talk about some practical and psychological things that help me get the most out of my time in the field and make permanent swing changes quickly.


Last week I went out to the field to get some practice, and I expected, as usual, to have some good throws and some bad throws. That didn't happen. 9/10 throws were bad and the other 1/10 made me question whether or not I had ever thrown a disc before. Two of my discs are about 100' out into the middle of a frozen creek because I missed my line by 30+ degrees. I stopped throwing and tried to figure out what was different today, but I couldn't even think straight because I was so tired... That's it! I was exhausted. The night before I had slept for about 2 hours.

In my experience sleeping well, eating well, and hydration are the most accurate predictors of whether or not I will make progress during field work or play to my skill level during a round. Set yourself up for success by taking care of the basic needs of your body. And stretch. Don't forget to stretch!


Sometimes, I'm that guy. The guy that stamps his feet after a bad throw and lets a few bad shots ruin the whole round. Being him doesn't just ruin your score, he's also not a guy anyone wants to be around. When I started doing more field work, I found out that I can be that guy even when no one else is there. And you know what? I like that guy least when that guy is me.

Dwelling on bad shots, getting frustrated, beating yourself up, and generally having a bad attitude is the best way to slow improvement, get bogeys, and not have any fun at all. Steady Ed said it best, "The most fun wins!"

So what is the alternative? Ignore your bad shots, and celebrate your good ones. There's no magic here. When you throw a bad shot on the course or in the field just let it go. Don't waste a second of time or an ounce of energy thinking about it. When you throw a good shot enjoy it! Pat yourself on the back. Smile. Think "Good job. Keep doing that. I'm improving!" This doesn't have to be an external display of any kind, but it's really important to feel good about good shots.

Reinforcement and Behavior Modification

I'm going to delve a little too deep into the subject of rewarding yourself for good shots and forgetting the bad ones because it's difficult, and I see the majority of people (myself included) do this wrong. Another of my other hobbies is dog training. I love my dogs.

Dexter (top) and Toby

One of my favorite modern books on dog training is Don't Shoot the Dog. This book isn't just about training dogs; it's about how to effectively modify the behavior of any living thing using appropriate reinforcement (Applied Behavior Analysis/Behavior Modification). Using these methods zoo keepers can do crazy things like train crocodiles to go in and out of their cages on command. The example from the book that I'll retell briefly illustrates some of the core concepts, and it's something many people can relate to.

Everyone has experienced or witnessed a scene like this play out: The mother of adult children answers a phone call from her adult son (or daughter). The first words out of her mouth are "Why don't you ever call me? Do you even care about me?" If those were the first words you heard every time you called someone would you keep calling them? Nope! Although mom doesn't realize it, she is punishing her son for calling her by berating him when he does. What she should say is "I always love hearing your voice! Thanks so much for calling to check in on me." I bet he'd be much more likely to call mom if that's how she answered the phone. This is deep, primal, behavioral psychology.
*I just want to mention here that I love my mom, and have a great deal of respect and appreciation for all mothers.

What on earth does this have to do with practicing disc golf? In the example above, the behavior taking place is "calling mom" and the response to that behavior will either increase or decrease the likelihood of that behavior being repeated. In the context of this article "throwing a disc as intended" and "not throwing a disc as intended" are the behaviors and you get to choose the response you have to those behaviors.

The way this played out during my field work for the longest time was something like this:
  • throw a good shot -> ignore it or take it for granted
  • throw a bad shot -> tell myself "You suck at disc golf. You'll never make progress." etc.
I bet you can guess that this is not a fun or productive way to practice. It's painfully obvious how backwards that kind of attitude is when you break it down. When my fieldwork is most successful and enjoyable it goes more like this:
  • throw a good shot -> smile (I actually smile), think about how great making progress is
  • throw a bad shot -> ignore it, think about the good throws I have made and will make again
When I talk myself in to approaching practice and play this way I enjoy it more and perform better. Making positive reinforcement and a good attitude a habit will lower your scores and make your practice both fun and productive. You might be tempted to think this is too simple, or that something trivial like being pleased with yourself (smile!) won't make a difference. Try it.


Seriously. For a whole week respond to every single throw like I outline above. Embrace the good; ignore the bad. I guarantee that you will see a difference. I'd love to hear back from anyone who tries this (and I hope that you do). It's more difficult than it sounds, and takes practice.

For a much better written and comprehensive look at golf psychology I would highly recommend Dr. Bob Rotella's Golf Is Not a Game of Perfect. Most (all?) of the ideas I've mentioned here are what I have pulled from other sources and attempted to apply to disc golf.

Later this week I'll post part 3 of this series where I'm going to focus on effectively taking form changes and improvements to your competitive rounds. Let me know if you found any of this helpful. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Putting: Before the End....

By TAFL  Hols

In my first post, we looked at the end of the putt's flight. We can now move backward in time and try to figure out what the expectations are for the middle of the flight. Again, while I'm discussing the issues as I considered them, I figure they may lead other people to figure out what it is they want to have happen when they're putting.

Keep in mind that the discussion, fo far, is about a primary putting style. The approach taken for the vast majority of putts. There are circumstances where I use different techniques, certainly, though that's a topic for discussion at a later date. For discussing basic putting, we'll keep the focus on primary putting techniques.

By "middle of the flight," I'm actually referring to that part of the throw shortly after the disc leaves the hand to right before it reaches the target (or as close to the target as it's going to get). That's actually the longest part of the disc's flight, though it seems to actually involve fewer expectations.

Some of those expectations are dependent on what I want to be happening at the target, as laid out in the earlier post. I want the disc descending at the target--headed for dirt--to minimize distance on a miss, as I stated there. That means that I expect the disc to have reached the apex of the flight somewhere in the middle of the flight. Yes, even on uphill putts, I want the disc to have reached apex and be descending when it gets to the basket.

I want the disc to fly reliably, which for me means that it has to have enough spin to reliably hold the line I put it on. I've watched a great many putts that a player released on what appeared to be a good line and yet the disc just didn't fly well because it just wasn't spinning enough. It also seems to me that putts hold lines better in windy conditions when they're spinning rapidly. I want to always have a goodly amount of spin on a putt.

I want the disc to reach the basket when it begins to power down. That is, it's gliding to the pin and not breaking hard on a fade when it reaches the target. It seems to me that the disc is less predictable when it's fading at the end of the flight, especially in the wind (and I live in the Midwest with lots of wind and courses with few trees), so I want that final fade to happen close to the basket.

I want the flexibility to shape the line in any direction. I want to be able to run straight at the pin, run it on a hyzer line, OR an anhyzer line. I want to be able to minimze the arc of the flight under low ceilings or heft it on high to bomb at the pin. I want to be able to use one basic technique to attack the pin from any angle, without having to make a significant change in technique to achieve it.

One could say that most any putting technique can achieve that. I have to wonder about that claim, though, as I've seen lots of players over the years struggle with some lines--they have difficulty with anhyzer lines using their primary putting styles, for example, so when they have to bend the line around a tree, they just don't seem to manage it well. (Push putters and chicken wingers seem to struggle with anhyzer lines.)

I suppose one could just decide to develop a technique to use for anhyzer lines and something else for the rest. That seems to be a lot of extra work, though, as the techniques that work well for anhyzer lines also work for hyzer lines and straight lines. If you're gonna use it for anny lines, might as well use it for the rest.

So, I want the flexibility of choosing from among many lines to attack the basket, and the disc to have a lot of spin while flying to help hold it on the line chosen. I'm not looking to limit putting to just straight lines (or just hyzer lines) as I've seen some do (and if the folks who do that have done so because they've made a conscious decision to do so, then I'm in full support).

[On a side note: I've been working on rebuilding my driving technique. A couple of weeks ago I found that my putting ability seemed non-existent. I was spraying discs wide right and left--something I've not done in ages. I finally figured out what was going on--the changes I'd made in my grip for driving had resulted in changes to the way I grabbed the putter to putt. Before my last round, I threw two stacks putting from 15' just to review my putting grip--I use a fan grip--and got things straightened back out. Just goes to show how interrelated all parts of the game are; changes in one part can affect routine bits of other parts.]

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Making a Swing Change: Part 1

Hello, folks! I'm Chris, and after having some great chats with Jason, I asked if I could contribute to HeavyDisc, and he graciously accepted. Jason does an AWESOME job breaking down swing mechanics, and he and some other guys over at dgcoursereview can tell you exactly what changes you need to make! Their form critique has been immensely helpful to myself and others. When they critiqued my form they found about a dozen glaring flaws for me to work on.

Weeks go by, and I do field work day after day, but I don't always make the progress I would like to. Why? Practice and field work are only beneficial if you do them in a structured, focused manner. I can recall so many times when I was throwing discs in the field and on one throw I'd think "make sure to really get that elbow forward" and on the very next throw "make sure to brace properly", etc. I wasn't focusing at all. That is not effective field work.

Once I realized how flawed my field work was I decided to really explore how to make and cement form changes. After plenty of reading, chats with Jason and other disc golf friends, and more field work than I care to talk about, I've nailed down some things that have helped me. I hope they help you too!

Objective Assessment

Jason has talked about objective assessment before in this great article so I'm not going too deep in this first part, but stick with me. This is the foundation. Read the first part of that article up to "Drill 2 - Putting." These are the points that I want to emphasize: use a video camera to record yourself, you don't know what you look like during your throw, throw putters, seek coaching where you can (the dgcoursereview technique forums are a great place to start).

One Thing at a Time

So you've taken the first big steps by recording your fieldwork, analyzing it compulsively, and getting feedback from knowledgeable sources. If you are like me then you've found many areas for improvement. For a long time I would go do fieldwork and think about a different thing on every throw; or I would try to focus on multiple things during a single practice throw. This does NOT work. The fastest, best, most efficient way to fix problems is to tackle them one at a time.

In my analysis I found that I don't brace effectively or turn my hips back enough, and during my x step I get into a powerless horse stance as well as dropping on to my back heel. I'm a mess. When I tried to tackle all of these in one field session it was completely hopeless. You have to get one swing change ingrained to the point that it is your automatic way of throwing before moving on to another. How do you know when to move on to another form issue? Let's talk about that!

Stages of Physical Competence

The four stages of competence is a learning model that is perfect for understanding the process of making form changes. It's a cycle!

1. Unconscious Incompetence - Before I knew that I dropped my back heel to the ground instead of pushing off my foot I was in stage one. I wasn't even conscious of the fact I was doing anything wrong. Luckily with the help of objective assessment I found out that I had a problem. You can't fix something if you don't know it's broken.

2. Conscious Incompetence -  Now I know what my problem is, but I haven't fixed it yet. This is where the real work starts. It's time to hit the field, and try as hard as I can to keep my heel off of the ground and stay up on my toes. This step is a soul crusher. There was a week near the beginning of January when all I did was try to brace more closed. I probably did 80 throws a day, every day, and watched the video after every 5th throw. I would say it was about 300 throws before I saw even the tiniest bit of change. And I'd like to add that failing is no fun, but failing in 20 degree, snowy weather is worse. Much worse.

3. Conscious Competence - All the practice paid off, and I finally managed to keep my heel up for a few throws in a row. That's not enough, though. Repetition, repetition, repetition. Depending on your level of body awareness, athleticism, and the difficulty of the change you are trying to make, you will be in this stage for a minimum of a few days, but it's more likely it will be weeks.

This can be a very challenging time both physically and psychologically. I know that I have days where I go out and am able to repeat the change I'm trying to make 90% of the time, and then there are days where I feel like I've never thrown a disc before. When I'm struggling something that I have a hard time convincing myself of is that trying and failing IS progress. When you try, regardless of the outcome, your brain is reaching out, trying to find the right pathways to make your body do what you want.

The bracing change was so difficult for me because I had never thought about what my feet were doing during a throw. I had spent time thinking about my elbow, my hand, my shoulders, and everything else but not my feet. Never forget that failure is progress as long as you are making conscious effort. Making a change will WRECK your consistency and scoring for a little while. Embrace it. Enjoy making a positive change. Don't give up.

4. Unconscious Competence - This is the goal. You know that you've successfully made a change when you walk up, throw a disc, and you can't help but incorporate the form change you made. You do it right, and you don't even have to think about it anymore.

Going from conscious competence to unconscious competence is where I tend to get lost in the woods. Making a change permanent takes time and patience. I spent the majority of last year not getting to this point. I'd figure out some little thing to add more distance (stiff wrist, off arm bracing like McBeth, engaging the hips), but then I would move on to something else without making the change permanent. All of those changes were wasted, and I ended up losing distance because I confused myself so much. So, please take my advice: don't rush it, and don't get distracted. Once you have reached unconscious competence then you are ready to tackle your next form issue.

I hope this was a helpful explanation of a process that I've had success with. In the next week I plan to follow this up with part 2 where I'll cover some psychological and practical advice on getting the most out of your field work. Let me know if you found this article helpful, or if you have something to add. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Get your heel off the ground, sir!

So I called out Brian in today's video. He's been writing for heavydisc - and I don't want him to think for a second I'm being harsh. He's making steady progress, and I just want to smash this point home... because I used to have the exact same issue.

I was the worst. In fact, I think we should take a trip down memory lane and see where I started this trek of form fixing!

That was where I started. Out of balance, driving off my heel, strong arming... the whole pile of bad form issues.

So with that in mind - let's take a look at today's video:  Link for mobile users.

Monday, February 2, 2015

That Thing... The It.

Yours truly, well into a previous addiction. El Cap in Yosemite 1999-ish
By: Jason (Hey I got lots of writers now, so I'm using a by-line!)

I was recently watching a rock climbing video, as I still have a voyeur's love of climbing. It's just that I don't particularly want to get off my butt and actually CLIMB anything, but watching it?

I'm okay with watching from the couch.

Something was brought up in the video that piqued my inner dialog, and it shed a dim LED headlamp deep into my memory of my climbing days.

There was this thing, that climbers don't really like to talk about. It's the thrill of putting it all on the line and walking away no worse for the wear. Climbers will tell you how safe they are. They'll refuse to cop to the reality that they're putting themselves in any real risk.

They are lying: to you, and to themselves, if they really believe it. I watched with great sorrow as many acquaintances died or very nearly died. They'd missed tying a knot, they'd had gear rip out of a crack sending them into ledges, avalanched in an approach gulley. They'd gotten caught in a deluge and froze to death hanging on a rope.

Outer Limits in Yosemite Circa 2001
There's this dark aspect to climbing, that doesn't get talked about - because admitting to it creates a tacit reality that "THAT THING" is a part of what you're involved in. Admitting it is a bit too much to rationalize.

Where in the world am I going with this? Okay, let's get to the link here: there's a part of disc golf that is "there" (for lack of a better word) for many of us. It's there for me. It's not life or death, it's not risking our lives to prove something - but it's this thing, this drive, that takes our path to a different place.

I am not a guy who thinks that playing once a week is enough. I don't feel like I play casual rounds. I'm always working on the game. If I'm playing solo, I drop discs in the worst imaginable lies and force myself to dig myself outta a bogey. Leave 5 putters around every basket, everyone has to go in or they all get reset.

I find joy in mastering difficult things. I believe that at the core of my never-ending trek into the field, that it has become nearly an addiction. I find such satisfaction in cracking a pure shot that rifles across a field that I can't help but smile and laugh sometimes. It's as if those hours spent re-proving and im-proving myself are required.

I know that makes sense to many of you.

What concerns me to some degree, is that I tend to have deep feelings for sports. I dive into them with nearly reckless abandon - and then as quickly as I fall for them, I find myself looking for challenge elsewhere.

Climb it, ski it. Alaska 2011
If I am completely honest with you, there's a climbing gym that recently opened not too far from my house. That conversation in my head sounds like this, "Do you really want to give up disc golf? Because you know that there's only room for one mistress in your head."

I have a very nice full-suspension mountain bike sitting idle in my basement to drive that point home. I've got back country ski gear that is resting in a closet. Climbing ropes, harnesses, crampons, avalanche beacons - all inventoried and un-abused.

I haven't set foot in the climbing gym. It's not worth the risk.

Let's get back to this dark corner of our psyche that takes us past the casual rounds and into the battles to play our very best. It could be argued that it's a need to compete, but I find a major fault in that - because I'm not a tournament player, and I only play tags through the non-winter months, maybe once a week.

You could argue that playing with great players might kindle the fires of ruthless self-improvement. I think there may be something to that as well, but what then do you say when you're beating your friends? Do you lose the passion? And full disclosure, I am by no means beating my friends very often! My brother has a 2014 Gold Mile High Tag that was hanging on my bag just a couple weeks before retirement, just to prove that point.  But if it was about simply winning, then I'd have hung up my discs.

It's not normal to feel this way, that much I know. My friends can take their "hobbies" or leave them. They see me as a bit of an oddball with my obsessive focus. Even my buddies who like to run marathons have a hard time understanding me.

I believe that I was just born with an inordinate helping of stubborn determination. I've come to grips with it. I try to balance it with my "regular life" and be as present as I can be when I'm with my family. I can be productive at work. But it lurks there, constantly buzzing like a florescent bulb, gently nagging that "it" is out there.


A little more knowledge. A feeling of hitting the acceleration just right. That perfect flight that will hover, arcing just so, holding like it's suspended in space, and then breaking to the ground just at the spot you wanted.

Putting together a gorgeously executed round.

Adding some fuel to that invisible tank that will propel you. It's the will to continue whether there's a finish line or another mile to travel.

Saying "I love this sport" sounds too trite and maybe it's not even true. I love improving and I think it's okay to let that be.

Insane passion gets you to some cool places. Pika Glacier AK 2011