Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Lizotte vs Wiggins - both are ridiculous

Let me be clear, throwing for distance is a completely different thing than golf shots. They're goal is to impart maximum speed on the disc, but just as importantly - to throw the disc very high so that it has as much time as possible to ride the wind to the ground. If a distance thrower tried to use these shots in a round, they'd likely end up on a different course!

But throwing far is fun! It's okay, I'm not some kind of skill snobbist that thinks the pursuit of one type of disc competition is better or worse than another. I think it's all really awesome. I also want to say that I can't throw a 360 and rarely work on true distance lines. Most of my time goes towards accurate distance, so I'm just a guy who thinks this stuff is cool.

I wanted to point out a few of the variations between the two biggest arms in distance throwing: Simon Lizotte (current distance holder for disc 863.5' and a mini 527.9') and David Wiggins Jr (previous record at 836').

You can watch them throw some tandem 360's here: and some great footage here:

What I think is interesting, is that they time their hit in two very different places.

If I would have simply guessed, I would have thought Wiggins would have been having the longer drives - because his shoulder rotation is faster. Look at image 1, specifically how closed Wiggins's shoulder is vs. Simon's. By image 2, he's almost caught up, meaning he had to accelerate his shoulders more to get there.

One thing that you can't overcome though, is the length of your arms. Simon's got long arms that create more leverage than a shorter arm.

There's also an untold number of other variables, from disc selection to grip strength. Holding the disc 1/1000th of a second longer at these power levels can mean the difference in total distance and height, meaning you're in the air in a better place to take advantage of wind.

Both guys, phenomenal displays of agility and power.  Simon blew apart his shoes he was putting so much force into his plant. Wiggins, by the way, set that previous record 2 years ago... AT THE AGE OF 16!! Boggles the mind, right?!

This conversation has been evolving over at DGCR and via email with my buddy Ed regarding shoulder involvement in the backhand. Over-opening is an extremely common struggle, where somebody is facing the target at the point they're releasing the disc. The following is my thoughts on the difference between what we're seeing above with the different levels of shoulder involvement in the pulling around the disc:

There's really 2 worlds for the beto drill that teaches 2 different things: Dan's way is to show where the pulling gets to start, which is at the right pec - and in the video he's blasting those shots.
My world: I couldn't blast it. It was seemingly impossible. Slowed it down to the point in the original video I posted, and that's where I felt the levering action. You are just swinging the door open and pivoting the disc out and from the right pec - you can very easy float a Mako 200'.
My point was that at no point do you want to feel like you are using muscle to throw the disc. The point of the drill is, at least in my view, to force yourself how to feel the levers of your arm collapse into the right pec position and then extend forward.
That was the turning point for me, where I started to experience the loading wrist and holding the disc much later and by a result of that, more forward in my extension. By building on that mechanism, you have a baseline for everything before it. 
Am I doing stuff that helps that mechanism? shoulder lag and a pause, I think has been around this concept. 
I think of the right pec position as being a sliding shelf that starts out extended (open) and we brace our weight which slides the shelf into the closed position.
From that closed position (right pec), the disc changes direction a bit as it begins the arc. The wrist loads even more and at this point the shoulders CAN* start opening.
*This happens so fast that it's very confusing to try to make it happen - but you will see lots of players with immaculate form use the shoulder rotation to speed up the pulling around the nose of the disc. You certainly can throw without the shoulder rotation, it's common in many players who have a stockier build (like my buddy Ryan, who I post videos of) and in my slow motion elbow extension video.
Some players like JohnE McCray - start the leverage from left pec or center chest (he's RH). You're not imagining it. I believe that players are trying to find a balance where our body can take the most amount of leverage and still have control of the pull around the nose and the hit.
How much or how little you start to open your chest BEFORE the right pec (for my RH)... affects the hand being on the outside. If you open the shoulders, the hand moves forward around the disc. So I try to time it that I stay shoulders aimed at the target to the right pec, and then in about 1/100 of a second the arm extends while the shoulders blast through - hopefully contributing to the pull around. 
You can feel it when the shoulders pull around versus when they do not. In my experience it's an added feeling of right facing force on the nose of the disc.
So ultimately the shoulder is either going to contribute to pulling around the nose or that the shoulder is going to be aimed at the target through the extension more static.
If you really wanted aim over acceleration, I'd extend with less shoulder interference.
Finally, a very exciting package arrived yesterday! My son walked  into the kitchen holding a box and asked if I bought a bowling ball!? Uh, no! I'd had a short correspondence with Gateway about potentially reviewing their discs. Hadn't known anything was coming in the mail and suddenly:

So, expect some reviews to start coming in shortly and please head on over to to have a look at their discs and thanks again guys!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Slow Motion Drives

Jerome Knott blurring the lines of reality.
Played a tournament in New Mexico (Pendaries) and had a fantastic time. I played 2 rounds to warm up and learn the course on Thursday. We threw multiples off each drive and I played awesome during the warm up. First round on Saturday I felt pretty good, threw a ton of shots OB... twice on one hole! But by the end of walking the first round, I was cooked. Second round, shot the same score - felt like I was playing safer, but was completely out of gas. Nothing left in the tank.

Sunday I awoke to gusty 20mph winds and my game fell off especially on upshots and putting. Twice I three-putted by floating long over the basket in a headwind and missed the long comeback. Shot 6 strokes worse in the 3rd round (going 69,69,75), but ultimately kept my cool through all the rounds and walked away with a huge smile and a very tired body. I bag almost exclusively turny discs, so I was suddenly experimenting with driving a Firebird that I hadn't thrown in 6 months for upshots and eventually putts.

It's tough to not play, "if only I would have" - but I want to learn from this mistake. I completely over-did it on Thursday. I could have thrown just single or double shots, instead of 4 or 5 and probably had much more endurance through the weekend.

Playing a new course is always difficult, but doing it with nothing in the tank is even worse.

My brother shot 3 great rounds and ended up taking 2nd place in Advanced (out of 19) and I lumped into the middle of the pack at 11th place.

Shot some video of a few of the guys from our practice rounds and did a quick edit of some drives:

In case the embed doesn't link out: Youtube Link

These guys all epitomize the last post I put up about bracing and rotational force. Try to visualize an axis during the slow motion drives that their bodies are rotating around during the plant to extension.
All these guys are 500'+ throwers, and they all get there slightly differently - but remember that the commonalities are what we care about. And Jerome has one of the sickest FH's I've ever seen. He throws like a big league pitcher and it's an absolute crusher.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Why We Brace

Some things are just easier to explain with some video, but I wanted to get this down. I wrote the following during a longer conversation on DGCR (where I post as HyzerUniBomber). If you want to skip all the words, the video is down below!
I think that the single biggest issue for the Beato drill is that with no step and no arm, most people look at you like you're insane when you say "Put the disc here and throw it."
It's like a bar trick or something.
And the trick - the way Beto does it in the video, is that you have to actuate the torsion in your hips and spine by dragging your back foot to get your hips to twist your spine.
The way that I promote using the drill, is more like this: do the drill slowly, not anywhere near as hard as you can. It's how I was able to discover the feeling of late acceleration by slowly moving the disc into the right pec, which requires you to allow your wrist to stay loose enough to bend in order to keep the hand on the outside. 
From that position, the elbow smack/ hand smack out front extension should let you hit 200-250' with basically no hips, no backswing, no real arm muscle involvement. 
It's just the collapsing and then un-folding of the levers and hinges that make up our arm/wrist/grip.
Just based on distance, that part of the system accounts for at least 50% - 65% of the force.
Adding in a way to increase rotational force around your vertical axis - at least the way I've come at it, is not by dragging my back foot to actuate my hips, but by more of a ball golf back foot - that rolls into the back instep from the ball of the back foot. SW22's video is the definition of this, you will see a crease in your pants pocket as you create the torque. It's more controlled for me than dragging a foot to kick off the hips.
The bracing of the plant foot, timed with guiding to the right pec - that should add force into the elbow smack and also load your wrist. From that position, the hammer pound should be so forceful that you can't hold the disc.
You should be able to do all of this as slowly as you want, and add in various amount of pressure to the system to add distance.

So it was with all this on my mind, that I started to shoot off some suggestions for some form requests that have been coming in. And I saw the same issues that I started trying to overcome earlier this summer. Failing to brace in a useful way - specifically in a way that would add some load to this elbow extension / hand on the outside.

A big part of why the loose wrist slams towards the forearm in the first image above, is because we are bracing our weight against the plant foot as we guide into the right pec.

So that's when the idea hit me to try to show and explain the fundamental reason that we're attempting to brace in a way that helps the overall throw. So I made the video below.

This video isn't just a response to "beginner requests", but one that I see showing up in guys who can throw 400-425'. The reality is that in disc golf, you can get pretty good results and still be doing the following:

1. Leaving usable force on the table, that can add more distance or make shorter distances easier to hit.
2. Putting more force than is required into the system which screws up accuracy.
3. Generating the forces for your shots the hard way which can injure you.
4. Using disc stability in order to compensate for coming over the top of your disc.

Soooo, enough with the text - let's go to the tape.

And if you're still not bored by this post, here's me throwing some kinda strange high hyzers with putters in a parking lot. Last shot I caught myself coming off the back foot kinda strange after the weight shift. 270-290'

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Magellan Disc Golf Bag

Price: $30

Free shipping at $40, so I threw in a shirt.

The really short review: This bag will be a pain in the side of disc bag manufacturers. It is impossible to compete at this price point for anybody not using very cheap labor. The build quality is surprisingly good. I had a PVC frame already built for my previous DIY bag - and it makes the discs stand up nicely. Enough of the text... let's watch a video!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Gentlemen, we can rebuild him

Ian (PDGA #49138) is a good friend of mine - and has one of the best forehands that I've seen in Colorado. He's able to shape shots forehand that I would have said were impossible and his game is pretty much 100% forehand for drives, and backhand for short approach shots.

The last couple years he's played very well in the Open Division - and has cashed in most of the tournaments. He's a very solid player and sadly for anybody who wants to beat him, he wants to develop his backhand. After a round yesterday we spent some time working on some fundamentals.

I really wanted to see if I could share some of the hard fought battles that I had worked out in my own form with Ian.

Now, first off - this was maybe a 45m session. He's incredibly flexible and to be honest I was shocked at the improvement we were able to make, mostly because it took me months to make adjustments that he made in less than an hour!

He's still not hitting, but he's getting into the right positions. By hitting, I mean that when your hip shift weight loads your arm extension properly, your wrist stretches tight and the disc explodes forcefully forward due to this leverage. But to hit, you almost certainly have to be in the right positions.

This term keeps popping up: leverage.

Specifically we are leveraging a round piece of plastic with our body weight. It is much easier to move our hips forward, and then stop them - and let energy move up through our spine, into our arm than it is to stand static and just use our muscles to swing our arm.  The way we hold the disc during this transfer is important, because it can take advantage of the fact that our shoulder, elbow and wrist are all hinged.

We want to get as much of the leverage from our body weight transferred through that series of hinges, so that as the last hinge extends - the force of the previous hinges gets added. By extending our elbow forward of our shoulder, we get to add the weight of our arm into the system as well.

The x-step, backswing, all the motions that we incorporate into throwing are revolving around this key mechanism, and it is one of the best techniques for transferring that leverage of our weight into actual acceleration of the disc: at the very end of those hinges swinging open.

We want to pull a little and accelerate a bunch and the more distance that we get to pull around the disc, the more leverage we can get at the end of the motion, and that's why we keep our hand on the outside as long as possible. All these systems are intertwined.

Once you really start to understand that leverage is the mechanism that lets players throw 400' to 500'- and more, you start to change the way you think about the whole system: whatever parts we add to the system, we must protect our ability to get the elbow leading the shoulder and our hand on the outside of the disc. Arranging our bodies into the best position to multiply the leverage comes next, but the core concept is where we start.

So let's start with leveraging a disc, without an x-step.

Feet: Do you think a javelin thrower, a high jumper or a long jumper is flat footed? Nope. Athletic posture starts with your feet - specifically from getting up into a balanced powerful position on your forefoot and toes. You get to be involved with this post now. Grab something heavy: a gallon of milk, a water bottle, a 5 pound weight.

Stand flat footed and take one foot off the ground and then raise the weight straight out to the side, then out front. I imagine you had a hard time trying to keep that foot in the air. Now try again, but this time get up on the front of your foot. You don't have to have the heal off the ground, but the weight should push into your toes and the ball of your foot. It's more balanced, it's more controlled, right? Find the balance where the control is greatest - too far forward, you get out of balance. Once you find the sweet spot, with a bent knee - you should have substantially better control of your center of balance.

Here's a quick video of this drill:

A quick note on the video: you'll want to release the torque on your knee by pivoting on your heel. I didn't release the pressure in the video, but if I'm throwing I sure do.

Rocking back and forth from the balls of your feet, your weight should feel mobile and accessible. From this position you should be able to shift your hips side to side, while keeping your upper body completely upright. As you rock onto your back foot, compress your leg a bit doing a little 6" squat and push it out into a forward motion.

We are keeping our nose between our toes and just focusing on shifting our weight into the plant foot.

Once you are feeling a good balanced motion, add in a back swing which is simply going to twist your core staying upright and this time you take the plant foot off the ground. As you want to avoid putting the disc directly behind you, make sure you keep the arm out away from your body - this will let you guide the disc back flatly to the right pec without the disc changing directions.

As your weight shifts to the plant foot this time, you are going to move the plant foot about 6" forward and plant your weight on the inside of the plant foot. If you were on skates, you would be engaging the inside part of the blade. Moving the plant foot forward gives your hips some space to shift forward.

Now, I want to share a really cool drill that comes from SlowPlastic on DiscGolfCourseReview:

Keep your wrist loose during this process. Do the first diagram until you feel the disc fling towards your forearm. Once you have that feel (you feel the weight of the disc), then try again, but as the feeling begins then open your elbow. The wrist should bounce open. This drill should automatically get you in an elbow-forward right pec position in order to get the disc to slam your wrist shut.
Keep in mind this is a drill and things are exaggerated a bit. But once you have this feeling, try it in a throw with a smooth follow through. Once you can get this feeling in the throw the disc should fly straighter/glide longer. Then, all other form issues come into play as usual to get real distance.
I think that his drill when added to the elbow-smack/hand-smack drill is a great way to start feeling the loading wrist.

Lastly, the USDGC: what a heart breaker for JohnE McCray. JohnE was such a patient and kind guy when I met him in May and I've been pulling for him ever since. With the benefit of hind sight, we all could play our rounds differently - but we're human and we make mistakes. As I watched with my jaw on the floor, a comment that he made stuck in my head. I had asked him how he decides when to layup vs running it... if for example it was a putt into a basket right in front of water.

He didn't blink: "The chains will stop the disc." JohnE is a full throttle player until the last disc is thrown.

Johne gives me hope because I'm a spring chicken next to him at 39... plenty of time to make my run at the Championship!

(I just gotta stop three putting from inside the circle!)