Friday, January 30, 2015

The Importance of Feeling (the Brace)

By Brian Castello

Along the way from playing for many years, learning from all the great feedback I've received, and basically living in the form/technique section on DGCR, I've developed at least a general understanding of the major hallmarks of good throwing form. A mental understanding is great and will help spot issues for yourself in your videos of your throwing sessions, but that's only half the battle. Your mind and body have to sync up in order for you to execute your throw properly.

One of the most important things I've learned so far in my disc journey is the importance of feeling. One issue that quickly was pointed out to me in my form feedback was that I was bracing incorrectly. My upper body was coming over my plant foot. I also needed to be throwing from instep of my foot. Being over your brace point is a nasty habit to break. I knew I was over my brace point. I saw the issue on video. However, I would compare myself to the pros then go out and do field work and I wasn't able to replicate what they were doing. I knew what the end result looked like, but I just couldn't feel what it was like to get/be in the proper position. Fortunately, from the feedback I got came this awesome video to help out with my issue.

Link for mobile users: YouTube

If you're having trouble being over your brace point, trust me when you do this drill you're upper body is going to be flying over the tire block. (The tennis ball drill in the video is also good to do especially when it comes to feeling weight shift on the instep of your feet.)  It will quickly become apparent how much energy you are wasting keeping yourself upright so you won't face plant into the ground. Once you feel that you're bracing incorrectly you can begin down the road to discover what proper bracing feels like. 

Feeling what it's like to get/be in the proper positions of the throw is a crucial part of the learning process. You have to replicate the proper feeling over and over again slowly working toward incorporating that into your form until you it's second nature. You don't want to be thinking about bracing, weight shift, etc. during your throw.

I'm not all the way there yet, but I feel have made some good progress. 

We sure do love talking about bracing here at Heavy Disc. It makes sense though; its the foundation of your disc golf form.  Brace poorly and everything else is compromised. Here is some other awesome resources for learning proper bracing.


  1. Excellent article! The batting video is so helpful! Can't wait to incorporate these into my re-tooling process!

  2. Great article. I have been watching your videos over the last two months and back reading your blog and I have to say that you have added a new layer to my game. I have been dialing back and focusing on different parts of my throw because of it.

    One thing that I did notice in your first bracing blog was the video of the 4 side-by-side throws of McBeth, Koling, Feldberg, and Schusterick. What I noticed was that all except Feldberg brought their left arm to the apex of the left and right legs before they pulled the disc into the chest. This seemed interesting and something that I hadn't really ever paid attention too. In this and other videos it even looks like McBeth makes a semi-fist with his left hand and it looks like he is punching through the space between his body and his left arm before he hits with the disc.

    Trying this with a towel at home I have noticed a huge difference. The sense of hitting and torque were incredible (couple with bracing). I can't wait until the snow clears to try it outside. Any thoughts?

  3. Hey man, Jason here (Brian wrote this article)! Really glad to hear that you're digging into the form and seeing some progress!

    the left arm can be used to create some rigidity in the upper body to brace against. I've seen guys use that to great effect, but it can also throw things outta whack pretty quick.

    I've not messed with too much yet, mostly because I think I feel like my non-throwing arm has a natural spot that it goes to and when I mess with it I screw up my shot! haha.

  4. Thanks for the reply. I agree it needs to feel natural, but the more I see the top professionals the left arm is not just following the shoulder rotation but initiating it even before the bringing the disc into the chest. Just look at the bottom two videos on this post. The left arm comes almost to the top of the left thigh before the disc is drawn in. Different pros do it differently. Paul McBeth is almost a more extreme example, but the arm definitely come to the outside or inside of the thigh for most pros before the disc is drawn in. To meet it feels like this slight refinement winds the core ever so more to allow the rip to happen with less power from from the right arm. I can see how it aids with bracing as well. I normally would just allow my left arm to naturally coming around after the disc was already to the right pec and beyond. Just another thing to explore.

  5. Look at at these:

    Mike C:

    Paige Pierce:

    Paul McBeth:

    Ricky Wysocki:

    At the time that they all reach the furthest back and are in the process of bracing their left arms are either neutral on the outside of their thighs or in the case of Paige Pierce and Paul McBeth they have quickly brought that left hand towards the crotch area accentuating the torque of the upper body. I saw Paige Pierce last year and was amazed at the fluidity she has and how far she can throw. This is not muscle power but hitting it just at the right moment with torque.

    1. Exactly, I think McBeth is pushing the envelope with off arm bracing. Mostly I'm seeing guys pulling the arm in tighter to allow for easier /faster rotation - but additional torque is never a bad thing (so long as you can still hold onto through the hit).

  6. I agree. But I wonder if that movement of the "off" arm to the inside or outside of the thigh before drawing the disc to the chest actually engages the core muscles. The iliopsoas muscle runs from the lower back through the pelvis girdle to the thigh. Perhaps by engaging the core and the iliopsoas you are able to prevent breaking over the bracing foot. Yes Paul McBeth and Paige Pierce are the extreme of this but I can't wait for better weather to try this out.

    Here is even a better look at Paige Pierce. Her left hand actually comes perpendicular to the disc when she draws back and then she quickly drops in to the inside of her thigh. Look at the engagement of her core in this shot.

  7. Great progress. I've been watching your thread on dgcr, and it's cool to see people making effective swing changes. When I first started trying to learn form stuff 3 or 4 years ago bracing was not something I often saw emphasized; it seemed like it was all about arm mechanics.

    1. Exactly, and I think that as you stay inside the brace - you get this huge benefit of fixing this common issue of coming over the top of the disc. When guys start "coming over the top" by tipping over the brace, they often think they're over-powering a disc's stability - but they're really just accidentally throwing it too nose down. Throwing a disc flat, with power and a clean release - you'll get a much more consistent and true flight (like the intended flight numbers).