Monday, January 19, 2015

How does this work?

I received an interesting message from a young player who asked point blank, "How did you learn so much?" That's a pretty flattering question, and one that I think I need to address.

First off, I feel like I don't know that much. I may have found some better ways to do things, but I'm far from a form master. I lose rounds all the time, because I am still a fledgling disc golfer. I do feel though, that with lots of work - I was able to improve my skill set. I also feel like I throw in a way that will allow me to throw for another 10-20 years without injuring myself.

So how did I learn so much? Let's first change that question to "how did I learn what I learned?"

The easy answer, is that I spent time nearly every day throwing shots. Short shots, mid range, drives. Hyzers, flat, anhyzers, stand-stills, from a knee, various x-steps. I took lots of notes about what worked and what didn't work in a notebook. I'd shoot video of every round of field work and then look at the differences between my form and McBeth's form.  If I could see something different, then I would stand in that exact position and try to mimic his form without moving.

Just trying to mimic the Champ. I was rounding.
Total disaster. TOTAL disaster.
Once I could get into what I thought was the correct position, I'd add just a little bit of the shot back in. I was going about 5-10% of full speed. My wife would laugh at me all the time as she walked into the living room to find me standing there with a disc trying to move my hand back and forth.

Then I would also ask specific questions with screen caps like below at DiscGolfCourseReview's Form/Analysis and get feedback from guys who could spot my issues.

Back in the early days, with so many issues.
So much of my time was spent just trying to feel what those key positions felt like while standing in my living room. Then in the field, it was trying to reproduce those positions. As I started adding in more momentum into the form, I'd get some really amazing results.

Trying to fix over opening my shoulders. (Thanks to Sidewinder22!)

The magic of getting it correct, to my best way to describe it, was shared in this post:

I found a big help in developing form was realizing that the feeling I wanted was like hammering the disc forward, and pulling back on the rim as it ejects from your hand. It's a strange sensation, but very much like trying to hammer a nail into a board that's way out in front of you.

I also think that as much as distance is chased after (we all like to throw far) - accuracy and putting will win more rounds than anything. When I practice now, I look for small areas to throw through from 100-150' away. For example, if you had a tree that had big branches hanging down - try to get it under the tree consistently. Those are the shots that save par and really improve your score.

This went on for ages.
And I can't stress this enough: you will eat, drink, sleep, think, poop, video review, work, write, take notes, ponder upon, mull over, and of course field work these issues... until you simply want to give up and just throw the disc however feels comfortable. Some days, you'll probably want to leave your discs sitting near a disc golf course with a note reading, "FREE TO A GOOD HOME, ENJOY!"

And then the next day, you'll pick up your bag of discs and head out to the field to get back to work.

I also wanted to take a quick moment to welcome a couple new authors who are working on some articles sharing their own path along the road. I look forward to reading about their learning curves, struggles and success.


  1. Another great HD post. And YES, those 100 to 150 footers! Here is a cool drill that should help anyone who owns several discs. If you don't own the 2 baskets, just go to a course or two until you find the layout described.

    Place (or find) 2 baskets about 100' to 150' feet apart. Choose basket locations that are well guarded. Look for trees, bushes, hills, obstacles, etc etc.

    Round 1: Throw several mid/approach/long putter discs from one basket to the other, trying to 'end' the hole by getting within 10' or so. Bring along some putters to finish any putts more than a few feet out.

    Round 2: Before those putts though, throw back to the first basket from each lie. By all means choose even tougher lies that may come up in a real round. So it will be much harder to par out the 2nd round. This imitates what it takes to get a tough par save on a tough par 3.

    When you are able to routinely save every par, move to tougher terrain and longer shots. Along the way, you may learn new utility shots, like anhyzer flicks, short tomahawks, full layout shots and spike hyzers. Practicing from these 'realistically nasty' lies to save par should cut a few strokes off most player's scores.

  2. "...was realizing that the feeling I wanted was like hammering the disc forward, and pulling back on the rim as it ejects from your hand."

    I've always had trouble understanding the "pulling back on the rim" part of this. Do you mean holding on to the rim to the 3/4/5 o clock position? Or are you saying that you actually pull back with the wrist or something? Thanks for your posts and all the time you put in to them.

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