Tuesday, September 6, 2016

ZÜCA Cart Review

Check one out now: Shop Link

ZÜCA - what is a ZÜCA? A disc golf cart. Why the umlauts? Because fancy. How do you pronounce it? Your guess is better than mine. Internet says it's an acronym for Zee Ultimate Carry All. Dubious web site though.

Do you need one?

Of course nobody NEEDS a disc golf cart. In fact, nobody NEEDS a disc golf specific bag. We could carry around a putter and a Slurpee and have a pretty good afternoon playing some disc.

So let's just agree that we're talking about things that are nice to have. I've run the gamut of bags: a camera bag, hand me down quads, various odd-ball back packs, some very nice Hyzerbomb bags. Each iteration getting nicer and making life just a little easier.

And now I bring you the latest and greatest in disc golf toting: (Link for mobile)

I hope you can tell that I was having a little fun in the editing booth with the video. And I'm going to keep this short and sweet: I played 3 rounds of rather swampy hot tournament golf this last weekend and the ZÜCA was outstanding. ZÜCA's carts were all over the place - people are adopting them quickly because of the fundamental benefit of the cart: the weight is off your shoulders and you have an easy seat all the time.

Prior to the tournament, I'd rolled the cart over 25-30 miles of various terrain and time and again I came away really happy with the ZÜCA.

I'm not going to over-sell this, but it really does take a substantial wear and tear off your body and I'm sticking with carts from here on out.

If you're in the market, please consider purchasing from Infinite Discs who also has the frame version of the cart: seen here. Full disclosure: I have setup an affiliate program with them, where I get a small % of the money spent at their site that gets directed to them from HeavyDisc as store credit. Obviously I'm not getting rich, but I do get to buy a putter or two every so often.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

DGA Pipeline Review

By Jason

Link for Mobile: YouTube
Link to Buy: Get One A Few

DGA has been kind enough to send me some discs to review in the past. You may recall the DGA Sail Review where I tested their understable speed 11 driver. I guess I didn't screw that up too badly, because they asked if I'd throw their Pipeline and share my review. Ohhhh indeed sir, I say yes I shall review any disc you wish.

DGA has an almost cult-like following for a number of their discs. The Gumbputt seems to be in at least one guys bag on every round I play. The Breaker has been my brother's OS driving putter of choice for years. He sold me on it and I in turn sold a number of other players on it. The Rogue and the Hurricane started showing up in lots of bags as of late. DGA is making some moves.

Their ProLine plastic is beefy. Full on curb strikes, trees and gravel landings have not left a scratch.

DGA is making strides at creating a full modern bag and to be honest, they have created fans for a reason. They make some fantastic molds. As I saw the first chatter about this disc, I was extremely happy to see these magic numbers come up:

8 / 5 / 0 / 2

That's the holy grail of fairway driver numbers in my book.

Speed 8 means the rim is thin enough to leverage the snot out of. In the land of high speed drivers, holding the rim through the hit gets harder and harder as the rims get wider. Speed 8 is extremely easy to get a full ejection out of, so I really like it.

Glide 5 means you can let the disc do the work of getting down the fairway. 

Turn 0 means I can release it full power and flat.  Put the disc on a line drive and not worry about the disc working right and into a tree. 

Fade 2 means I can put some anhyzer into the release and it will fade back predictably. 

The Innova TeeBird is 7/5/0/2 and has been a staple of my bag for years because of those traits. The Pipeline has been able to do all the same things, with the added benefit of letting the disc stay up an extra 20' with that slightly faster shape.

The Pipeline does appear to come in 3 pretty noticeable flavors:

The Weights:
165-169g This disc does in fact have some noticeable high speed turn. 
170-172g Straight as an arrow with minimal fade with a full power shot.
173-175g You'll see some fade past 300'.

I felt like there is a spot in my bag for the 170-172g Pipeline as either a flip to flat and fade fairway driver or a pipe it down the fairway flat with minimal turn or fade. At the 173g-175g range, I felt like I had the headwind version of the disc. It could flip to flat on a slight hyzer in the wind and get back to the ground. In a headwind, the 170-172g version would certainly turn substantially.

Without wind, the max weight version can absolutely take 100% power shots and fly predictably 350-400', even on a slight anhyzer release.

DGA has really nailed it with this mold, especially in the 170-175g weights for me. The lighter options would be better suited to a smaller arm or for throwing uphill, as it will turn under power and as seen in the video - makes a fantastic option for a roller disc.

Link to Buy: Get One A Few

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Mail from Norway

By Jason

When working on form, we get to a point, sooner or later, where we have questions. Some of these questions are relatively easy, and sometimes there’s a whole bunch of “it depends” in the answer.

I recently received an email from a reader hailing from Norway, and he had more than a few queries. I thought this would be a great place to flesh out some answers and hopefully help some fellow form hounds.

Nicolai, my Norwegian friend: Hopefully this gets you going in the right direction.

I’m really new to disc golf, started in early May this year. But as a former scratch golfer, I’ve taken to disc golf like a duck to water. What I loved about golf – the difficulty, the mechanics, the analyzing and constant search for “more” – is exactly what I now love about disc golf. I’m hooked.

While I’m certainly not a scratch golfer by any stretch, I also love ball golf. My grandfather sawed off one of his old drivers and re-gripped it for me when I was about 6 years old. He set me up at the driving range and very quickly I found a swing that worked. Finances have typically kept me from playing ball golf very often, so when I found disc golf I loved the fact that I could dive into the underbelly of progression and have lots to work on. And it’s almost always free!

When you take Heavy golfing!
I’ve made really good progress compared to others I know who started with me, and although I’m not fully consistent yet, I am getting the disc over 300 feet just standing still and I’ve got a good touch in and around the basket. I’ve made a comprehensive list of everyone from Dan Beato, to yourself, and all the best pro clinics on YouTube, and I’m also lucky to know one of the best players local to me. But while he chucks a Destroyer a long way, he struggles as a teacher. I asked him about what I’m about to ask you a few weeks ago, and he just looked at me blankly.

Welcome to the world of “good players, bad teachers.” I’ve had the exact same experience. I won’t out anybody, but many sponsored players that can throw a disc a country mile will say things like, “You just need to throw it harder!” I came to my swing by analysis and fieldwork alone. My initial ability was a hot mess, so figuring out all the little secrets was imperative. Unfortunately for me, I forget lessons I learned the day before, so I kept notes on as much of the little secrets as possible. I strongly suggest keeping notes during field work. Even just having a notepad on hand to keep track of how accurate your various shots are is a huge help in learning your own game.

So, here are some questions to start with: When you throw, what strength of pressure are we talking just before release? Are you gripping with equal pressure with all fingers and the thumb? What pressure equivalent are we talking? An analogy often used in regular golf is a toothpaste tube with the cap removed; If you’re squirting the paste out, you’re gripping too hard. But when I read or watch disc golf instruction, words like “overpower” (especially with the thumb) are thrown around, but getting an actual read on what this means is difficult. Grip too hard, and you grip-lock. Too soft, and you lose power and accuracy. But just knowing you have to grip “about this hard” would be cool for newcomers.

Grip pressure is going to change depending on the distance of the shot. A short touch shot at 80 to 120 feet will be held lightly with the index finger hooked in slightly, so that as the disc ejects forward you don’t accidentally pull it right of your intended line for a right-handed backhand thrower. Most players will have a natural feel for this type of shot developed from playing catch. I think of this as letting the index finger slip over the rim without much hooking.

As we move from a 100 foot shot to a 250 foot approach, we firm up the pressure point around the index finger and the thumb pushing down on the flight plate. A huge key is that the disc will be held firm enough that somebody can’t knock it out of your hand, but that you do not flex the forearm. This mantra needs to be repeated: Loose is fast. Imagine flexing your arm muscles and trying to throw a baseball pitch. It would be impossible. If you over-clamp the grip, you will at some point develop tennis elbow because you’re tightening tendons that are going to need to be loose or else they will develop micro tears.

Jared Roan digs into the hook upon release.
From 250 to 500 feet, we dig into the hook. That’s how to hold onto the disc through the ejection point. Imagine your index finger as a hook that digs into the inside of the rim and the thumb as holding the disc on that hook. As the disc ejection becomes more powerful, you’ll have to hold that grip more firmly or risk blowing off the rim early, but with the thought in mind that you want to keep the “hook” in the rim.

Spin is obviously important to the flight of the disc. If I understand the mechanics correctly, does it mean that if I throw a disc flat, with no hyzer or anhyzer – say, a Valkyrie (with flight numbers 9, 4, -2, 2) – if the flight of the disc is fairly straight out, then a fade (instead of high speed turn to the right, then fade back center), does that mean I’m not developing the necessary revolutions on the disc to give it its “normal” flight pattern? And when I overpower the disc (I take this to mean with spin), that the same disc will fly straight then turn right or hard right?

Spin happens when you’re throwing properly, but it is not a goal. Trying to spin a disc in any sort of shot, other than a specific touch shot, is putting effort into the motion that isn’t needed or helpful. For the sake of the vast majority of beginner to advanced players, the turn of a disc is a product of nose angle, ejection speed and hyzer angle, and of course the flight characteristics of the disc (which you can’t control).

Just for the sake of argument, where in the motion above could we imagine David Wiggins Jr. adding spin? Hint: He’s not. But the disc is coming out spinning properly. He’s adding power to the disc, and the way we properly throw discs will spin it. There are three important components to meeting this end:

  1. Nose angle: Drivers need to be thrown nose down in order to get their full flight. I often refer to this as “pouring a cup of coffee” – which I nicked from YouTube form master MikeC. Possibly the easiest way to gain 50 feet on a drive is to tip your wrist down in the backswing and keep it down through the ejection. You can adjust your trajectory or the height of your shot so that it’s flying 10 to 15 feet off the ground, but trust me: All discs will fly best when thrown nose down. Midranges and putters can tolerate being thrown nose up more than drivers, but more on that in a bit.
  2. Ejection Speed: Just like in ball golf, you don’t hit further by swinging your arms faster. You throw further by improving your weight shift, your brace and keeping the hook in as long as possible. As the disc speed increases to a proper level, the flight characteristics of the disc start to ring true. This can be extremely confusing for new players who have a disc (like a Valkyrie) that may be overstable or understable depending on plastic, weight, or level of wear.
  3. Hyzer angle: Another slightly confusing issue is that a hyzer release – even a relatively small amount on certain molds – can stop your disc from turning at all. It may “flip to flat” and then fade. A hyzer flip is just a shot that is throw with a hyzer angle that turns to flatten the disc. Some hyzer flips will have enough turn to flip to flat, then turn more. This confused me for some time because I thought I was getting “late turn” in my putter’s flight, but I was just releasing with enough hyzer that it was slowly flipping to flat and then turning late in the flight.

Taken together, those three elements are the contributions that we can add to get a disc to fly with its intended characteristics. There are other things, but those are the ones to start with.

In the same clip you talk about release angle (pouring coffee) but that the “nose down” applies to stable drivers. This is probably my biggest issue at the moment because when I get the odd one right I find I can hit 400 feet. But as I’m new and find using understable or just stable discs easier to throw, I’m wondering if understable drivers are even more sensitive to release angle and can’t or shouldn’t be thrown in a nose down attitude?

If you throw a disc nose up (so that you can see the flight plate of the disc while it’s in flight), you are effectively adding stability to the disc. I know it’s not making the disc more stable, but it’s an easy way to think of it. You’re slowing the disc down and it will behave with low speed stability sooner in the flight. Throwing it nose down, it will fly faster and behave with its high speed stability characteristics for longer during the flight.

So, if you want a long flight from an understable disc, throw it nose down with enough hyzer and good ejection speed. It should flip up to flat, turn to some degree and then, hopefully, fade. If you want a short straight shot, try taking a putter and throwing it nose up on an anhyzer line. That particular shot is a great tool for getting a disc to stall and drop out of the air.

What’s your take on blizzard type discs and throwing lighter discs? I get that they’re not as good in wind, but am I right in thinking that if my arm is not strong enough for a max weight disc then I can choke down and get better results on lower weight plastic (and even overpower them eventually)?

I like to have a lighter disc in my bag for substantial uphill shots, or if there’s a legitimate tail wind that’s knocking discs right out of the air. I carry one Star Teebird at 159 grams for those specific shots.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Heavy's Discs

I get asked from time to time about what I'm throwing: weights, plastics, molds and so I thought I'd do a run down on the most regular occupants of my bag. It changes quite a bit with wind conditions, but this is what I'm throwing. 

I own 2 bags - and like them both quite well.

Flak X - (Shop Link)
Price: $199
Recap: Great bag for fieldwork artists. Super easy to get a ton of discs in and out quickly. Well though out design - but lacks straps for stools or umbrellas. I use this bag most often because of the amount of fieldwork I do.

Flak 4 - (Shop Link)
Price: $199
Recap: Cushy, great room up top, straps for stool. Knock this bag over and the discs will not fall out. I use this bag for long courses where comfort is at a premium.

Gateway Organic Wizard - (Shop Link)
Recap: This blend is money for my putting putters. I have nothing but good things to say about wizards - like way they fly, but organics seem to be tackier than most other plastic types. They beat in fast and stick to chains - and you'll pry them from my cold dead fingers. Max Weight (175g)

Prodiscus Jokeri - (Shop Link)
Recap: Throwing putter. 170g Prodiscus Premium plastic. This disc isn't quite the glideless brick that DGA Breaker is - but it can take quite a bit of wind without any concerns of flipping. That's not an insult. I love a glideless brick: nothing is worse than staying up when you want to go down. Accurate upshots all day with the Jokeri. The premium plastic will take years of abuse without changing flight characteristics. I have hit plenty of trees and it looks like new.
Speed: 4.0
Glide: 3.0
Turn: 0.0
Fade: 2.0

MVP Ion -(Shop Link)
Recap - If ever there was a putter that thought it was a mid-range, it's the Ion. MVP plastics across the board, kick butt and simply take abuse for years. I like them around 170g, with the max weights being slightly more stable. I bought 5 Ions and 5 Anodes at the beginning of my fieldwork season of 2014 and threw them a million times. At this point, I give the nod to the Ion over the Anode mainly for being more predictable.
Speed: 3.0
Glide: 4.0
Turn: 0.0
Fade: 1.0

Innova-Gator - (Shop Link)
Recap: My buddy Ian Millard turned me onto the Gator and for that, I'm ever grateful. A 175g Champion Gator will stand up to any wind and get to the ground safely. You can MASH a Gator with 400' of power and it'll drop out of the sky at 300' over and over. This disc makes a 300' hole absolutely brainless and has lowered my score by at least 2 strokes on windy days. ABG... Always Be Gatoring.
Speed: 5.0
Glide: 2.0
Turn: 0.0
Fade: 3.0

Emac Truth - (Shop Link)
Recap: FINALLY Dynamic Discs has fixed the Truth. The EMac Truth is everything that the original Truth was known for. I like to joke that the Truth thinks it's a fairway driver. Predictable, long, and fits in the hand like magic. Love this disc at 173g in Lucid.
Speed: 5.0
Glide: 5.0
Turn: 0.0
Fade: 2.0

Innova Roc - (Shop Link)
Recap: Tried and true the Roc is impossible to ignore. I bag an older DX Roc that is warped to the point of absurdity for low power hyzer flips and anhyzer shots. I also bagged a new KC Pro Roc 168g that has beat into a nice turning midrange disc very quickly. KC Pro will take more more abuse than DX so I would give that disc the nod.
Speed: 4.0
Glide: 4.0
Turn: 0.0
Fade: 3.0

Discraft Comet - (Shop Link)
Recap: If beating a KC Pro Roc until it turns to your liking is too much of a pain, the Comet is the turning midrange of choice. The glide on a Comet is like nothing you've ever seen. In a tailwind they will stay afloat like the goodyear blimp. Having a midrange that will turn under power or flip to flat is essential for shaping shots.
Speed: 4.0
Glide: 5.0
Turn: -2.0
Fade: 1.0

Innova TeeBird - (Shop Link)
Recap: I typically have 3 TeeBirds in my bag: OS Star 175g, Neutral GStar 171g and turny EchoStar 159g. The Brinster touring TeeBirds and the AJ TeeBirds are going to be seriously overstable. GStar makes for great laser straight shots and a lighter EchoStar will be great for uphill shots.
Speed: 7.0
Glide: 5.0
Turn: 0.0
Fade: 2.0

Legacy Phenom - (Shop Link)
Recap: If you want to try something other than the TeeBird - the Phenom by Legacy is slightly longer with a touch more turn off the shelf. I've been very impressed by the Icon plastics and 171g is a great weight.
Speed: 8.0
Glide: 5.0
Turn: -1.0
Fade: 2.0

Innova Tern - (Shop Link)
Recap: Champ plastic... 175g... this disc will go far. They fly like a well beaten Destroyer but with more glide. This disc feels like cheating. I've gone as low as 165g for tailwind shots and been very impressed.
Speed: 12.0
Glide: 6.0
Turn: -2.0
Fade: 2.0

Discmania DDx - (Shop Link)
Recap: Newest disc to my bag. Discmania NEEDS to get more of these on the shelves. They're playing the "build the suspense" game and it's stupid. People want them - let us buy them. Stable and long. Very long. I bought 2 before they went out of stock and I wish I would have bought 10.
Speed: 12.0
Glide: 6.0
Turn: -1.0
Fade: 2.0

Innova Destroyer - (Shop Link)
Recap: I wish I could say that all Destroyers were created equal, but that's just not true. I think that's one of the reasons that Legacy created the Outlaw. They wanted a consistent destroyer! I have been bagging a Star Destroyer (Avery Jenkins mold with the signature) for about 2 years. It's overstable and can take full power in 15mph headwinds. If you play in the wind, you know how important it is to have a driver that can take power and not decide to turn into the ground. 175g for my wind disc. Echo Star and G-Star Destroyers are nothing like star or champ destroyers... it's a shame there's not more consistency, but there's still a ton of great Destroyers to be had.
Speed: 12.0
Glide: 5.0
Turn: -1.0
Fade: 3.0

Innova Firebird - (Shop Link)
Recap: REAL WIND? Get a fire chicken. Thumbers? Flat-top 159g Champion FB will make you a believer. Meat HOOK city.
Speed: 9.0
Glide: 3.0
Turn: 0.0
Fade: 4.0

Latitude-64-XXX - (Shop Link)
Recap:  171g Opto - hands down the longest thumbers of my life have been with this disc. I'm no thumber master, but 300' consistently with the XXX is pretty common for me. (Video) Probably the best thumber disc I've ever seen.

Speed: 7.0
Glide: 2.0
Turn: 0.0
Fade: 5.0

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Water Bottle Drill

By Jason

By using a water bottle with a finger loop lid,
you can start to feel how a disc should act upon release.
The first time I threw a disc and it felt noticeably heavy, I knew something was different and, judging by how much further the disc went, it was a good thing. I’d stopped playing rounds in order to take to a field near my office and try to emulate Will Schusterick’s form, which he’d been kind enough to post on YouTube.

I’d stumbled into the process of changing my own form. For those of you that have spent time trying to fix form problems, you know how hard this can be. If you are new to the sport and want to do things the right way from the get go, then welcome aboard.

What I didn’t know at that time was the size of the can of worms that I was opening. I didn’t have anybody to take lessons from, so I began to head to a field each day, armed with a stack of putters and a stubborn streak to keep me from giving up.

I started documenting my findings during each fieldwork session on note cards. Sometimes my cryptic hand writing would say “SLOW” or “HOLD THE RIM.” At others I’d just draw a picture of a hammer and then lay awake in bed at night, trying to imagine what would be the best way to throw a hammer as far as possible.

No joking, I dragged a hammer out to a field and most likely scared the high school kids who were busy smoking cigarettes and nervously laughing at me on their lunch breaks.

It turns out that the correlation between a disc and a hammer is very strong. The way we throw a disc is more like applying leverage to a lever than it is flipping a beach Frisbee. Once you start visualizing things like levers and hinges, it actually makes quite a bit more sense. You can see it pretty clearly in this slow-motion Paul McBeth drive:

One thing that slowly (and I do mean slowly) started to click in my head was that just swinging the hammer alone was only going to eject it at a certain speed, and that speed wasn’t impressive. In order to accelerate the hammer, I was going to have to use my arm in a way that would bring the hammer head inward, toward my right pectoral. The hammer would load up substantially as I caught it on the inward pull if I timed it with bracing my weight against my plant foot.

The inward pull would max out with my elbow in front of my leading shoulder, and if I then opened my shoulders and extended the hammer forward I’d created a strange little physics experiment. The hammer would eject forward and – here’s the kicker – it would fly twice as far.

I even inadvertently pinged a putter off a car in a parking lot by getting the physics experiment very right. I’d been intending to hold the disc, but it turns out that was impossible. Luckily, there was no dent.

I realized that grip lock could not be an issue for me any longer because, quite simply, I couldn’t hold the disc anymore. It was coming out, even if I clamped down on it. It was violently ejecting from my hand.

And that’s where “HeavyDisc” was born. When a disc redirects properly, it feels very heavy for a split second.

To be perfectly clear, I’d watched all the videos I could find and read Disc Golf Review’s archives over and over trying to grasp what was happening, but it was a bust. I was lost and frustrated. The existing information on the internet was not helping me, and so I started my own site in order to document what I was trying.

I’d spend hours in a parking lot near my office recording videos, trying to slow down this little physics magic trick and pull it apart. I started teaching it to my disc golf buddies and spent countless hours hemming and hawing about what I should do with my wrist and how best to grip the thing. We debated it endlessly on DGCourseReview.com, drew diagrams, and conversed with people all over the country who’d emailed me asking for more help.

Most commonly I refer to it as “hand on the outside of the disc at the right pec,” assuming you are throwing right hand backhanded. It is the single most powerful mechanism that a disc golfer can develop. It is the bow to our arrow.

All of the rest of the back hand motion is about adding power to the physics experiment, or the “magic.” Whatever gets added, it must be added in a way that protects the magic.

So let's get to the goods (direct link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mv8TijwSIJ0)

The easiest way to feel the magic for yourself is to grab an empty water bottle that has a loop on the lid for your finger. Find a nice open area where you don’t have any TVs or windows to hit and start by swinging the bottle back and forth.

Keep your arm and shoulder loose and get a feel for what kind of pendulum you have for an arm.

Initiate the swinging motion with your hips, with your knees squeezed together, and leave the arm loose. It’s key to learn what this initial motion feels like.

Next, bring the bottle inward, as if you want the bottom of the bottle to hit your right pectoral. As the bottle gets to the right pec, the forearm begins to extend forward, redirecting the bottle and unleashing the momentum forward.

In this case, the water bottle emulates the inward pull of your drive, where the disc comes into the right pec. The outward ejection finds the disc redirecting to extend forward.

The reason I said empty bottle is because force equals mass times acceleration. We are now accelerating the snot out of the bottle, and if you have water in it, that force is going to be big. I inadvertently did this drill with a half full bottle and nearly took my index finger off.

What’s truly shocking about this drill is how distinctly we can feel where the acceleration takes place. It has nothing to do with the back swing and everything to do with the arc that happens from the right pectoral forward.

I’d like to address the many versions of the “snap the towel” drill that have been suggested by some prominent names in the disc golf world. I personally don’t think it is a good idea. A disc is basically a lever, not a loose towel. A water bottle and a hammer are levers. How a lever redirects and accelerates is very different from snapping a towel.

Finally, I will strongly suggest that you don’t do this drill in your office, house, or near a Ming vase. As you start hitting the angles right, that bottle is going to start taking on some serious force, and I don’t want anybody putting a bottle through a window on my account.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

"Feet Together" Drill Brings More Balance To Your Swing

By Jason

It’s fun to throw a disc, pure and simple. The better I can throw, the more I enjoy it and, in my not-so-humble opinion, improving at something is where quite a bit of the joy happens. Plateaus and stagnation are not fun.

Let me be clear: I am also a work in progress. I am not touting myself as having perfect form; I do stupid stuff all the time, but I do work on it and I try to catch my issues and fix them. As is very common, I will improve in one area, only to give up gains in another area. With that in mind, the drill we’re talking about today has helped me to battle an issue that I have struggled with for ages and, hopefully, will be a tool for you.

Working on form is a bit of a catch-22. What starts as a casual foray into a soccer field with stack of putters to work on your swing can be an emotional roller coaster of frustration. It is tough and counter-intuitive to develop a reproducible, controlled, balanced, and powerful shot. As we start messing with form changes, whatever consistency we had will dry up like a wet thing in a dry place.

Metaphors are not my strong suit.

So let’s kick off this series with a video that focuses on forcing you to do a couple fundamental things correctly. This is the “Feet Together” drill and you may have seen similar instruction for baseball or ball golf to promote a balanced front side plant foot to brace your weight against.

I really like this drill.
(Direct Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pleUjYKwf0g )

When I’m giving a lesson, I use this drill to force a player to find his plant foot instep and to stop him from swaying from behind his back foot. It also helps with learning to brace your weight to stop you from catapulting past the plant foot.

Let’s break down the “Feet Together” drill and five fundamentals that it promotes.

1. Shifting into the brace, leading with your backside

Lightly moving from having weight on the ball of the back foot to the toe of the plant foot is not just a forward movement. You want to drive the hips forward with the trailing hip moving forward, then as the plant foot goes “toe down, heel down,” the hips brace up against your femur. This is easier to see and do than it is to describe.

2. Braced weight against the front side

We focus on staying inside our invisible A-Frame so that we don’t tilt our spines forward or backward. By bracing our weight against the instep of the plant foot with our plant leg being firmed up, we should be able to push as much power as needed into the system and remain balanced and in control. A vertical spine from the top of the backswing through the extension will help tremendously with balance. Note that this doesn’t mean that you don’t lean over the disc to various degrees to throw hyzer or anhyzer. This just means that you don’t want your axis of rotation smushing back to front.

3. Weight on your insteps with the squeeze between the knees

How we connect to the ground is a fundamental aspect to generating power and staying balanced. I’ve personally worn out the phrase “back heel OFF the ground” while giving lessons. I know it feels comfortable and balanced when you’re standing still to use all of your back foot, but as soon as we turn this into a dynamic movement, flat feet wreck the whole burrito. This drill will force you to squeeze the knees together and keep your weight on the inside of your feet.

4. Posture with your booty out to counter-balance your upper body

As I noted in point 2, you can see that my spine is tilted forward and over my disc. Sticking your butt out with bent knees creates a solid lower body counter-balance to the upper body that is rotating. If you’re trying this drill and you can’t maintain balance after you extend your arm forward, then stick your booty out.

5. Balance from start to finish

Once your brain knows that the body will remain balanced and in control from start to finish, it stops worrying about “What will happen next? I’ve got to protect the body. Where am I going?” and it relaxes to let you focus on disc angles and trajectory. Most importantly, it lets your muscles stay loose and fast. Next thing you know, you’re throwing accurate shots and your muscles are nice and chilled out.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Training for Tournaments

By Jason

Hodge-podge post!

Got an interesting email from a woman in school for massage therapy that is doing a project on disc golf. (Hey Erin and Justin!) She asked the following:
  1. What (if any) training routines/techniques would someone use to prepare for a disc golf tournament?
  2. What are common injuries, short- or long-term, that result from playing disc golf?
  3. What muscles are used? What muscles are over-used or over-compensated?
  4. What self-care habits do you recommend for disc golfers? (ie. diet, fluid intake, stretches, massage, etc) 
I'm a major slacker when it comes to real preparation - most of my warm ups look quite like Ryan's!

I do have a generic core set of principals that I use - that are shared below:

1. Training for tournaments. 

Tournament play can be extremely slow and have you on your feet for a big part of the day, probably carrying a well-stocked backpack, umbrella and stool. It's most similar to training for technical trail hiking in terms of training. A stroke or 5 lost at the end of the round due to fatigue is very common - so having the reserve strength to play as well at the end of the day as the beginning comes from being physically prepared.
  • Aerobic Endurance
  • Anaerobic Endurance
  • Upper Body Strength
  • Lower Body Strength
  • Flexibility
If the player had the ability to play a tournament style day once a week - meaning 2 full rounds, at a tournament pace - that would be ideal. It's slow, it's painful and it is the best way to adjust yourself to the physical demands and pace of play.

3-4 days a week, I'd hike for an hour over varied terrain - this could be joined with playing disc golf as well, if possible.

Jogging / treadmill / elliptical trainers used in an interval style training would improve cardio and general fitness.

2. Common injuries: 

  • Tennis Elbow: Over gripping the disc too early in your swing, poor form, over use
  • Neck Strain: From strong arming the disc instead of driving the power from the ground up, incorporating your hips. Also caused from "over-opening" the shoulders (which is also caused from not building the throw from the ground up.
  • Plantar fasciatas - this comes from wearing out your feet. Planting and twisting on your plant foot can cause a tearing of the bottom of your foot's connective tissues.

What muscles are used

Your entire body is engaged in playing disc golf, but the throwing arm side of the body is going to over develop. Your neck, shoulder, back (upper and lower) are going to overdevelop on the throwing side compared to your non-throwing side. This has a nasty habit of causing neck strain, nerve pain, back pain in the long run. Hands down best thing I can suggest is a general floor exercise routine of push ups, sit ups, squats, stretching and pull-ups and chin-ups. Having a general fitness level will help keep the muscle groups in balance.

Diet - specific to tournament play

You want to have a huge amount of calories available on a tournament day. If you've ever played a long, hot tournament - you'll see guys DEAD TO THE WORLD at the end of the day. I don't ever suggest eating when throwing, but I do suggest finding down times to eat as often as possible. The goal is to not be hungry.

Fluid intake is massive. 5 liters would be a fair estimation depending on heat / sun. I would try to find ways to have water stashed at pre-determined check points because nobody wants to carry that amount of water - but hydrating from the time you're awake is key. 


I personally stretch the following: Neck, Back, fingers / wrists / elbows (the opposite way they naturally bend), hips, hamstrings, calves. I'll do these when I'm sitting around watching TV at night, and I'll add some basic stretching to my pre-round routine.  

I also wanted to talk a bit about the St. Jude's Research Hospital. My internet buddy Marty G - who works at the PDGA asked if I wouldn't mind sharing some of this information. Of course!

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the PDGA urges you and your friends to join us as we pursue our partnership in supporting the kids of St. Jude. It's that time of year when disc golf is seen "in giving color" and we need you and your club to become part of this effort! It’s totally FREE to join (unless you are actually competing in the tournament)

By helping the kids of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, you will be honoring our sport and helping it immensely. Join the PDGA in helping fulfill St. Jude’s unique mission in the fight against childhood cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. Be part of the answer — St. Jude is a place of hope where no family ever receives a bill for treatment, travel, housing, or food.

Individual Fundraising Incentive Items

The St. Jude Disc Golf Charity Invitational event committee is excited to announce these fantastic incentives that are available to every fundraiser. As you’ll see, the more you raise for the kids, the more great stuff you’ll get.

Special thanks to Wright Life for providing gift certificates that may be redeemed for anything in their online store, including a great selection of disc golf products.

Important Note: Fundraising will continue through June 30th 2016, a full month after the tournament so you have even more time to ask your friends and family to support the kids of St. Jude! We'll send all of your incentives in July.

Create Your Fundraising Team Today

Together. Everyone. Achieves. More.

Create a fundraising team with friends and members from your club. Encourage your fellow disc golfers to join you in promoting the sport we love by fundraising for the kids of St. Jude. Go to our event page at stjude.org/discgolf, click "Become a Fundraiser" and start a team today.

As you’ve seen, there are terrific incentive items for all fundraisers. Beyond that, special items are now available for top performing teams/clubs and their captains.

Form Teams + Raise Money = Win Prizes

Above and beyond the incentive items available to all fundraisers, the St. Jude Disc Golf Charity Invitational event committee has put together a list of additional prizes for next week’s Bang The Chains - Team Challenge. Listed below, are the contests and prizes that will be awarded each day of next week. Each prize drawing will occur on the following day and the winner(s) will be announced on the St. Jude Disc Golf Facebook page and notified via email.

If you haven't signed up and started a fundraising team, do it now! Become a Team Captain and start recruiting!!

Bang The Chains - Team Challenge

All times shown below are in Pacific Daylight Time.

Monday, April 25: Build Your Team!

For each fundraising team member you’ve signed up, before midnight April 25, the Team Captain will be entered in a drawing to win a $50 Southwest Airlines gift card plus a set of three (3) Inaugural St. Jude Disc Golf Charity Invitational golf discs (2015 collector's item). 20 members = 20 chances to win!

Tuesday, April 26: Get The Word Out!

Every Team Captain, whose team uses the St. Jude fundraising tools to send out at least 20 emails (between midnight, April 25 and midnight, April 26) will be entered in a drawing to win a set of three (3) Inaugural St. Jude Disc Golf Charity Invitational golf discs. (2015 Collector's item)

Wednesday, April 27: Donation Sensation!

The Team that receives the highest number of individual online donations (between midnight, April 26 and midnight, April 27) will win a portable 6'x6' disc golf warm-up net, courtesy of Rukket Sports ($130 value) plus a St. Jude Golf Flag, signed by all of the 2016 St. Jude Disc Golf Charity Invitational winners.

Thursday, April 28: No One Left Behind!

Team Captains who at midnight April 28 have no members with $0 (zero!) funds raised, (minimum 5 team members) will be entered in a drawing to win a St. Jude Golf Flag signed by all of the 2016 St. Jude Disc Golf Charity Invitational winners.

Friday, April 29: Raise The Roof!

The Team that raises the most money during this 5-day program will win a custom set of DG Magnetics for 18 baskets, courtesy of DG Magnetics ($365 value) plus a full set of 6 St. Jude Unity Discs signed by all the 2016 winners. (Courtesy of DGA, Gateway, Innova, Legacy, Prodigy, and Vibram)

Get Your Unity Discs While You Still Can

For the first time in recent history, manufacturers have agreed to put their competitors' names on their own discs, uniting their efforts to raise as much money as possible for this amazing organization. They all know how important this effort is.

DGA, Gateway Disc Sports, Innova Disc Golf, Legacy Discs, Prodigy Disc, and Vibram Disc Golf have all teamed up to produce rare runs on premium plastics available online for $20 each. Full set’s for $120. Get them while they last!

For tournament info:
John Heaton #4409
Event Chair

For sponsorship info:
Annabelle Udo-O'Malley #70843
Sr. Regional Event Specialist / St. Jude

For silent auction info:
Leonard Muise #3974
Silent Auction / In-kind Chair

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

DGA Sail Review: Glide Monster

By Jason

Buy it here: https://infinitediscs.com/DGA-Sail

The numbers: Speed 11, Glide 5, Turn -5, Fade 1

Pop Quiz for my discing amigos:

What would you say you do here?
Screen cap #1: is this disc going to fly on a hyzer? Flip to flat? Tough call right?! I'll give you another hint.

I deal with the goddamn customers so the engineers don't have to!
Screen cap #2: ohhhh, this will be a hyzer shot. Final answer. HYZER SHOT.

[Loud buzzer sound] No, sorry friends - let's go to the tape.

DGA has made a driver that is an absolute glide monster. Big glide = big lift and if you're a player that has slower ejection speed, then high glide discs will keep you in the air for a nice long time. Players throwing 300-325' are going to see a gorgeous S-Curve if thrown high and flat - or a flattening anhyzer that could easily push them to the far end of their max distance.

Younger players and folks that are new to the disc golf scene will benefit the most from high glide discs like the Sail. If you were hoping to talk your girlfriend / wife / boyfriend / husband into joining you for a round - this would be a great option.

(I do not suggest inviting all 4 to join you for the same round. Drama.)

When powered up, the Sail can absolutely roll for days. I threw a high sky annie and it knifed to the ground about 250' out and rolled an additional 200'. Heavy tail winds? That extra lift is going to keep you in the air way better than a TeeBird. Imagine a spinnaker on a boat.

It's gonna go far.

Can you hyzer flip this disc for distance shots > 400'. Not without some substantial tail wind.  I managed to get a couple shots to flip and stay flat enough for a full flight, but I did have it powered down to about 50-60%. Most players throwing those distances will appreciate more stability.

As always, DGA plastic is some of the best on the market. An over-powered hyzer happened to flip into a parking lot and take a direct curb strike. Not even a scratch.

TL; DR; Amazing glide, newer players will love it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Full Hitting: Heavy vs Simon

By: Jason

I've had a few break through moments lately that seem to be sticking. And yes, let me just say that beard is in full and glorious effect.

Bringing the disc to the right pectoral, while having the hand on the outside of the disc

In the last couple field sessions, I was able to throw my Buzzz and Truth about 350-380' pretty consistently and had 2 shots that were just shy of 390' with Truths. All shots thrown about 12' off the ground.

I often get asked how I measure:
Google Earth has the ability to "Measure Distance"
I also use a 150' long tape measure if I am setting up for a field session.

The things that increased my distance from about 300' to 350'... I THINK are the following.

1. Disc getting deeper into my right pec, with the hand on the outside.

The benefit of getting there, seems to be that the extension / pull around the nose, happens on a shorter arc. I could be wrong on this, but it seems that by delaying the pull-around the disc will be forced to move faster during the conversion of the angular rotation to forward ejection. (probably saying that wrong)... If I start extending with the disc more "center chest" - the arc feels slower and less powerful at the ejection.

It seems to put the horse power in the right place.

2. The deeper right pec seems to help with an "Active wrist". Holy smokes, I know this is a can of worms - and it may in fact be something else, but it feels like I'm hammering the disc to the right during the end of the pull around. I don't know if it's potentially the counterweight of my body rotating against the disc/arm - but when I come into the right pec, I'm thinking "No power" - and at the right pec, I hit the "extend and hammer the disc" button in my head. Since the disc is bending my wrist into the right pec due to the redirection, the wrist is loaded and tight.

It will often feel like a spring pulled tight, and I feel as though I can add to the un-springing of the tension by "hammering the disc".

3. All of the above is the collapsing, tensioning, unspringing mechanism that rides along on the right shoulder. Queue up the dingle arm. I imagine that the leading shoulder has a base of weight that gets driven open by my lower body and that you can drive the above mechanism to hammer harder by keeping tension against that shoulder as it rotates.

I have a tendency to bring the disc into the right pec and then extend, NOT being pulled through by the shoulder, which can feel more accurate - and easier to hit a specific line - but to get the full power, I have to sync the extension to the shoulder rotation.

If I'm doing it right, then my extended arm is very close to 90 degrees from my shoulders if I screen cap the ejection. Above, you can see that 90 degree angle on Eagle McMahon's form.

When I'm throwing like this, I've been able to push 450'+ with distance drivers and a slow x-step that sets me up to uncork off my back ball of the foot. Whenever I try to throw it harder, things get worse though. The only place I really allow myself to put more into it is the grip gets a bit more firm and I try to hammer the disc deep and keep the whole thing "forward".

I was able to get some video of myself this last weekend and I wanted to compare myself to Simon Lizotte. Long story short: his angles are just BETTER.

I got lazy with my off arm. Simon keeps it tighter. He generates power with his lower body better and can get lower than I can.
Off arm getting lazy. Need to keep it tighter.
Screen Cap #2
Notice in screen cap #2, he's keeping hand more on the outside longer, giving a faster ejection. It's pretty noticeable at this point. His hand is waiting longer to pull around.

Screen Cap #3

Screen Cap #3 - By delaying the hand, he'll pull around further than I will - which will make it eject faster. Let me makes sure that I explain: if the hand has to travel further in a set amount of time - then the disc will move faster to make up that distance. Delay the hand.

Keeping the hand on the outside longer is tough. Right now, it's a variable I can't control very well.

I do move my thumb in and out towards the rim - to adjust nose angle, but on this shot, I was keeping the disc more nose down (thumb towards rim) to shape my shot to flip up.

Also notice that he opens his plant foot sooner.

For reference, I threw that wizard 290' on a hyzer and about 5' uphill. More work to do... as always.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Throwing for Distance: Why?

Nate's wide rail crush.
By Jason

Like moths to the flame, anytime there's a thread / post / conversation about:

How far you can throw?
How far is far enough?
Best things to practice?

... there's players that come out of the woodwork to say:

Nobody is really throwing as far as they say they are.
Throwing for distance is a waste of time and energy.
Drive for show, putt for dough.
Distance driving and golf driving are totally separate shots
Throwing far doesn't equate to useful golf skills

I've responded to about 20 of these conversations before, but I wanted to put my thoughts down on the matter once and for all.

Discgolf courses are notorious for bad signage. Who knows how the guy making the sign measured or if he measured at all. Elevation drops make some 400' shots - relatively easy putter shots. Did your disc fly 400' horizontally? Yes. Did you throw a 400' shot? Sorta. Will that same shot, thrown on flat ground, go 400'? No chance in hell.

So issue #1 - if you threw to the basket on a course that's listed as 400', you can't accurately claim to have thrown 400'. Sorry, it's just not that easy.

Then how do you know if you can throw X distance?

Purchase one of these (150' tape measure) and some of these:

Next, find some flat ground.

This isn't as easy at it would seem. Even the recreational soccer fields around my house are slightly up or down hill. Your best bet is to find some wide open spaces that have proper fields on them. Throwing on concrete will give you potentially a long slide - adding 50' of skittering, so don't think that a nice flat parking lot is a good place to measure, unless you have a spotter who is dropping a marker where your disc hits the ground.

Okay: issue #1 is resolved. You have your distance. Congrats, you're a winner - now go tell the internet.

Issue #2: how far is far enough?

For what? To win the USDGC in MPO? 500' of golf distance would be a good ball-park. Why? Because Paul McBeth, Ricky Wysocki, Will Schusterick  can all throw that far - and if you are throwing only 400' you're going to need to be able to putt lights out from 100' to keep up with them on a 500' hole.

We've seen this become a reality in the last few years. The top MPO players have stretched the high percentage circle out to 40' and have controlled distance that makes par 5 holes eagle-able.

Do they park a 500' hole everytime? Absolutely not, unless it's a really wide open course - and that's extremely rare. There are trees, doglegs, OB and mandos that make the game spicey. But if a top MPO player needs to pipe a laser beam 400' or get 500' down a wide open fairway, they can and will do that.

Will hitting some magic number mean that you can compete at the highest level of tournament play? You have to be delusional if you think that's the case. It's just one of the skill-sets, OF MANY, that are required to give you a fighting chance.

To complete in your local B/C-Tier tournaments and cash? 400' of usable golf distance will most likely keep you in the cash all season long. Putting 90%+ inside the circle and avoiding any bogey's will most likely keep you from donating your tournament fees to the guys on the top-card. I play with a number of MPO players that fit this bill. They are consistent and it literally pays to be consistent.

To compete in Intermediate / Advanced and take home some plastic, 300-325' of golf distance should be enough. You've probably heard this before, but in ADV it's all about playing par golf and screwing up the least. I didn't play a single tournament in 2015, but in 2014 I played a few in ADV and I felt that to be the case. The guys who won, stayed in bounds and didn't bogey. There were a few that could throw 400'+ but it rarely gave them a big advantage.

Last week, I finished out the year playing "Last Tags of 2015" and tied for 1st place with about 20 other players. NONE of the long drives that I could throw 400'+ netted me a stroke on the field. My putting did, as I missed just one putt inside the circle and I didn't have any bogeys.

I practice distance drives about once a week, with the other fieldwork mostly playing solo rounds where I can throw multiples and putt multiples. My distance drives are not "pure distance". Pure distance drives are thrown much higher, trying to break right as long as possible - hopefully getting a long stretch of flattening flight.

Claim: Throwing for distance is a waste of time and energy.

Are you having fun doing it? Yes. Then it's hardly a waste of time. There's certainly worse things to do: punch kittens, meth, yoga. I'm just saying - throwing far is fun. It may not shave strokes off your game like putting, but who cares. We didn't feel that sense of awe the first time we saw somebody blast a drive because it was boring. It's AWESOME.

I like it, so I'm saying claim is FALSE.

Claim: throwing far doesn't equate to any real golf skill.

What we're doing at the core development of max-d or golf distance, is to maximize our form for it's ability to impart controlled powerful force on the disc. The key concepts that heavyDisc readers are probably sick of hearing about: hand on the outside at the right pec, balanced and braced... mean that it takes less physical wear and tear to throw the disc.

If I can throw 18-21+ drives during a round that don't wear me out because I'm using my form to do the work, then playing a second round in the afternoon is much less difficult. I'll play better longer and I'm much less likely to find myself waking up with a stiff neck and sore muscles.

Spending time throwing "far", reviewing our footage and altering our form to match the best in the world pays dividends in all our shots.

This is my claim: if you want to improve, and I mean work on your whole game to be the best you can be... all aspects of your game need systematic and regular training.

Drive for dough, putt for dough, upshot for dough, get out of jail for dough, step around a tree out of a gully for dough. You get my point, it's not enough to just putt and think that because you're a world class putter - that you'll be leading McBeth in the final round.

He's spends his time putting too - but can uncork some monsters and works on it in the field to stay at the top.