Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Alex Geisinger - Distance Beast

6'3" - 225 pounds.
Minnesota hockey player.
Strong as an oxe.

It's hard to imagine a better starting point for throwing as far as humanly possible. Alex Geisinger is one of the frustrating icons of form perfection. Frustrating?! Yes indeed.


And here's why:

HeavyDisc: How did your distance skills develop? Can you give us some idea of what kind of distance you were throwing early on, and when you started pushing into the top level?  

Alex: Well, I'll start off with my very first throw.  I'll never forget it.

Innova DX Wolf, nose up hyzer. Max distance 110ft, but within my first month - I started to hone in my form and was pressing 300.

My 3rd month is when it just clicked. I never really watched videos on technique or anything like that, I just went through the process of trial and error. I would spend all day on the course, throwing non-stop, and when it clicked... I couldn't believe what I had done. My first throw of 500+ was just three months into playing, yet I had no consistency or accuracy whatsoever.

500'+ in 3 months?! That's why it's frustrating!

 

Cale Leiviska(L) and Alex (R)

In the world of top level disc golf - it's pretty rare for somebody to step out of the shadows and truly turn heads. Alex was somebody I'd never heard of before, and I watch a ton of A-Tier and N-Tier tournament footage. When the last USDGC went down, I was watching the results of the field-events like a hawk. Word spread pretty quickly that Alex won with 739', out throwing Simon who hit 722' (http://usdgc.com/?p=1218). 

This was the recurring conversation in my circles: wait, what happened?!  WHO? Seriously... the list of guys who can throw 700'+ on flat ground is SHORT. It turned some serious heads and here's the kicker: 739' was not his best throw.

HeavyDisc: You mentioned that you feel like you are going to outpace the 739' mark. First off,  for those of us who weren't there -  this was flat ground at the 2015 USDGC field events? Can you just tell us a bit about that experience.  Simon is currently the world record holder and I believe you out threw him my 17'? What was going through your mind?
 
Alex: Yes, it was on flat ground and there was a decent wind but nothing too substantial. I was happy with my throw of 739' but it wasn't my longest throw that day and there where a few issues with the throw. 

First off, I blew out the ground on my plant foot on that particular throw, so I lost some power on it.

Second, it hit a tree nearing the end of the flight which caused it to quickly drop hyzer. I threw maybe 8-10 warm up shots before my qualifying round and had one that was over 800'. I threw earlier in the day than Simon, so I didn't know I had beat him until that night. Honestly because of that, I didn't really think much about it.
[Jason here... I can't tell you how many times I've had a 400' throw that felt like an absolute crush... he had a throw that was DOUBLE that in his warm up session. DOUBLE a 400' throw. Dear god. Alright, I'm going to shut up now and just let you guys read the interview!]

HeavyDisc: When did you start playing disc golf?  How did you get into it?

Alex: I started playing in late 2011, progressing to leagues and my first tournament in 2012. I was introduced to disc golf by a long time friend Anthony Ulrich, the fall of my freshman year of college.

Minnesota off-season training.
HeavyDisc: Can you give us a general idea of what Minnesota courses are like? What's your home course and any local favorites?

Alex: Well, I'd like to say you can find almost every type of golf in Minnesota.

Tightly wooded courses like Kaposia, and Sportsman Hill and wide open courses like Hyland SSA and Fort Snelling. 

My home course is Alimagnet Park in Apple Valley,MN. It's a fairly short 12-hole course with a good mix of shots. Although the newer Kenwood Trails DGC is closer to my house I still consider Alimagnet to be home because it's where it all began. 

Local favorites: Kaposia, Kenwood, Blue Ribbon Pines, The Valley, and Bryant Lake

HeavyDisc: I looked through your PDGA history and it seemed like you had a short stint playing Advanced (and winning)  before jumping into Open (and ranking well very quickly).  Was tournament play something you were immediately drawn to?
Alex: To be honest, I didn't even know disc golf existed until maybe 2010. But once I started playing Leagues, I quickly began to gain interest in tournaments as well. 

As many know, I had my son Owen at the end of my very first season playing tournaments. Being a dad, I am very limited on my travel while carrying a full time job and being in my son's life. With that said, I am trying to get to more big tournaments every year. 2015 was my biggest season yet. 

Grow the sport!
HeavyDisc: You're not just a distance guy. Last year you beat Wysocki, Leiviska, McCray at the Minnesota Majestic and this year you did the same thing to Steve Rico, Matt Dollar and again to Leiviska. I think playing more tournaments is a wise choice!  Assuming that you're as human as I am,  I imagine that you have hit some plateaus in distance shots.  What do you do to work through form fixes? Did you read Discgolfreview.com or DGCR to work stuff out,  or did it come more natural?

Alex: I'd like to start off by saying yes, I am a human. 

I've hit quite a few plateaus, but I always seem to break them pretty quickly.  I used to do a lot more field work than I do now due to time restraints, but that was always the fastest way to get myself from stalling. 

As far as DGCR forums and such, I never really got into that as I'm not the most tech-savvy person. I prefer to work things out myself. However, I was given some tips from other local big arms. 

HeavyDisc: Did you have any light-bulb moments, when you found that form changes really increased distance?

Alex: Personally, no. I have what most people like to call "weird" form, but it's what I found to be the most comfortable. I have a very short reach back and a lot of explosion in my hips and power coming from my lower body that helps with my distance.

HeavyDisc: Whoever calls your form "weird" doesn't know much about form. Outside of dg, did you play or excel at any sports that correlates to the backhand? 

Alex: Hockey was my life through high school and it's where I would say most of my power comes from. However, I also played baseball football, and lacrosse growing up. I still play pond hockey.

HeavyDisc: Ahh yes... HeavyDisc readers know all about my hockey hips! Go to distance disc?

Alex: Prodigy D1 for all occasions. Uphill, down-hill, distance, tail wind. D1.

HeavyDisc: Are there any thoughts running through your mind when you are throwing for distance.  Are the things you are focusing on different from when you are throwing golf shots?

Alex: Distance throwing is very different from golf throwing in many ways. For one, I will throw a disc that is considerably less stable than I would trust on any golf shot. 

It really comes down to how good you can read the wind and execute the shot - to get the most turn on your disc

I throw almost every golf shot with at least a touch of hyzer, and when going for big distance I throw even more hyzer to get the extra turn in the shot for more distance: hyzer-flipping if you will. Generally the height of the distance shot is about 3 times what it would be for a golf shot.

More Minnesota off-season training
HeavyDisc: Do you throw any ultra light discs in distance comps?  Is there a noticeable difference between throwing the light stuff from your perspective,  in terms of distance?

Alex: I tend to struggle with the light weight discs and prefer discs in the low 170's for distance throws. However, I have never thrown a light weight disc in high wind situations like they have at Big D in The Desert. 

I would be interested to see if I could get a light weight disc to come back for the full flight with those winds.

HeavyDisc: Do you have a set style of fieldwork or is it mostly playing rounds?

Alex: I used to go throw max distance shots out in the field and then throw them back to a target on golf lines. But as I stated earlier its been some time since I've been out for field work. Generally my practice these days comes while playing courses.

[Jason again]... so that was really great. Awesome to see a fellow Minnesota kid representing some serious skills. Alex is going to try to shoot some slow motion footage soon and I'd like to do a dedicated form breakdown similar to this one I did for Tyler Liebman

Can't thank Alex enough for his time and looking forward to seeing what 2016 has in store for him.

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