Monday, April 30, 2012

Asking the Pros: Do you remember reaching 400'?

While sitting around thinking of new material for the blog I began to wonder if the pros had the same goal way back when, or was it like reaching 300' for a lot of us – one day it just happens. There's no real celebration. It just absorbs into our game and helps us card more birds.

I decided I was going to log on to Facebook and throw the question out to as many pros as I could and hope that some of them would respond. The following responses are in the order in which I received them.

"Honestly John it has been so long since I reached that. I cant remember too much about it.... I will say this that just being able to throw that far is nothing without control. You have to learn the precision that it takes to be successful. Good luck with your quest!"

– Nate Doss 

"Honestly I cant remember the disc it was, maybe an eagle. I know i wanted to reach 400 before my 14th birthday. I out-threw Garrett Gurthie in a Distance contest @ am worlds 2002! Post that up! yeah he was like 12 years old... so what! GG bombs. I think I threw it like 407'. This is memorable.. because i don't think i'll out throw GG again!"

– Gregg Barsby

"I have been playing this game for over 26 years and can't remember the day or even how old I was when I broke 400' or what disc I threw. I was not so concerned with how far it was, I just knew that I wanted to throw even further.

This probably took place in my backyard at my parents house in Ohio, I would throw drives all day long crushing them into the back woods behind the house and past the field.

But I can tell you the day that I threw 800'....

All the Best!!"

– Avery Jenkins

Hey John,
 Ya dude that's an awesome topic. It really is a milestone in disc golf to control a disc to fly 400' plus.

I remember fairly well when that happened. Ive been playing since 2001 or so. Really consistently since 2004-05. Candy plastic was new in disc golf, at least it was to me. I had been playing with cyclones and roc's. Really slow or under stable for a big arm. When the CE Valkyrie and tee birds came out that's when i hit that mark. Id say maybe 2002 or 3??

I was at oak grove in Pasadena on the field warming up and a local had a new Valkrie. I had never thrown anything that stable before. It was an awesome feeling to really see the disc glide. Early in my disc golf career I didn't have much control. But as the disc became more stable and predictable, throwing 400 feet is less a challenge than before. If you have the ability, technique and arm speed.
Thanks for thinking of me for your blog!

– Philo Brathwaite

I'm still waiting to hear back from more people, but I decided to post what I have so far because I've been sitting on this entry for a while now. If I'm lucky enough to receive more responses I will post a follow-up.

Thank you for responding Nate, Gregg, Avery and Philo!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Rediscovering DX on an Easter Day

I mentioned before that I started throwing Innova discs back in 1996, but felt like my game progressed when I threw my first Discraft mold. I only threw plastic for about a year back then so I never had the chance to delve into a disc-buying and trying phase. It wasn't until recently that I finally started throwing Innova molds.

My wife likes the game and owns her own bag of discs. Usually, when I'm ready to buy a disc or two I find myself wondering what new disc she might like as well. Tee Birds were on my mind at the time, so when I added a Star Tee Bird to my Internet cart I went ahead and clicked the tiny box for a 150 DX Tee Bird for my wife.

I started thinking about the old days and wondered what DX plastic I threw back then that made me feel like the entire Innova brand wasn't for me.

When the exciting day arrived we opened the USPS package and removed our new purchases. I couldn't wait to finally throw the Star Tee Bird, but I found myself equally curious about my wife's DX mold.

Fortunately, she let me try it out. The plastic actually felt OK. I knew the rigidness would have to take some getting used to, but I figured that wouldn't be a problem. After throwing hers a couple of times on a serious hyzer line I decided I was going to buy a heavier one for myself one day.

That day came extremely quick.

When my blue 170 DX Tee Bird arrived I went out to the field and started experimenting. I immediately found out it was going to be a great under-stable disc. I knew I would be able to hit some nice lines down tight fairways, but there was one thing I didn't know right away.

I didn't know I was going to start driving this $8 disc further than my go-to distance drivers.

On Easter I hit up a course in Redmond, WA called Juel. It's a wide open park with nine baskets and 18 tees. It's a great course to practice long precision drives and putting. Unfortunately the ground gets saturated after heavy rains, so most of the course was unplayable since I didn't feel like wading through ankle-high rain water.

I played the few dry holes over and over again and a couple of them were around the 350 foot mark. At one point during my practice the Nuke started pissing me off. I couldn't accomplish a good flight. After I had thrown my two Nukes and a Star Tee Bird I grabbed my DX plastic in anger, stepped up and tried to puncture the atmosphere with it. I stood in amazement as I watched it slowly stand up from the hyzer line, start gliding right and then slowing start gliding back left as it made its way back down to the dirt.

"I just out drove my Nukes," I said to myself. I couldn't believe it. I only threw about 345 feet maybe, but it was further than my other weak drives with premium plastic. I felt like I knew even less about this sport than ever.

Since then I've been using the cheap Tee Bird in my game more and more. I've noticed that I need to throw with good form to get it to go far, but that's OK because that's what I'm really trying to accomplish.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Drive Analysis

I took my wife and daughter to my secret throwing ground when the rain let up yesterday. There's a problem though – I don't think it's so secret after all. When we arrived I noticed a man practicing his form while throwing a disc, but his disc looked a bit heavier than mine. He was practicing his discus technique. It was cool to watch.

I also saw a boy and a man playing with a remote control airplane. This field was full of flying objects. With all the activity around there was still plenty of room for me to practice, so I went to work.

I asked my wife to shoot some video using my phone so I could break everything down later. This will be my first video analysis for this blog.

Many of my drives felt good, and I may have broken the 350ft barrier. I've decided to save up for a range finder so I can know for sure. Are there any brands I should stay away from?

I focused on two aspects, my grip and my non-throwing arm. I realized my grip could be stronger and that my left arm usually swings wide while I'm pulling through. Below is a picture of me teeing off from hole three on the backside of La Mirada in California. I believe the picture was taken sometime in 2010. It was this picture that made me wonder about the positioning of non-throwing arms.

I started to notice in videos that a lot of pros kept their non-throwing arm close to their body. I sent out a bunch of questions to random people over the Internet, but couldn't get an answer. Finally, I saw the Disc Golf Monthly TV episode on YouTube featuring the clinic with Garrett Gurthie. He used the analogy of an ice skater spinning to explain the reason behind keeping your arm close to your body – it creates a faster spin of the body.

I knew for sure I needed to incorporate it into my drives.

I believe it helps a lot. The combination of that and a tighter grip made me feel like I made progress yesterday.

Now, here's something I want to work on next:

Pictured above is the moment when my right foot plants on the ground. It's completely sideways. I'm wondering if I'll generate a better heel pivot and more power if I turn my body so that my right foot almost matches my left foot. 

Overall, I'm extremely happy with the small bits of progress. If you have any critiques please share. I would love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading.