A look at two of disc golf's best and what you can take from their games
March 14, 2017 by Gary Vigil in Instruction with 1 comments
Jeremy “Big Jerm” Koling and Nate Sexton are two of my favorite players, both on and off the course. They are known for their fun personalities and strong sidearm games, and for these reasons they are the first subjects of this side-by-side technique critique series of articles.
In this series, I’ll highlight a specific aspect of the game and analyze what two pros are doing: what they are doing similarly, what is unique, and what we can learn from it to apply to our own games.
Let’s take a look at the steps of each player’s sidearm technique.
Without much run up, Koling takes a step with his right foot toward his target. He then takes a left step, building his momentum. Next, he takes a shuffle step forward, barely lifting each foot off the ground, with his left foot still ahead. He begins his rotation by pushing off with his back right foot. In a straight line, he brings his arm around, keeping his elbow close to his right hip, and keeping his wrist relaxed with a tight grip on the disc. He extends his arm into the “hit,” bringing his wrist around like a rubber band snap while keeping his palm upward, which produces the counter-spin on the disc. In his follow-through, Big Jerm lets his wrist naturally rotate and lets his body naturally swing his back leg forward around his body.
Sexton takes a large step with his right foot while bringing the disc back. He skips, hopping forward on his right foot while bringing his left foot to the front and building forward momentum. He plants his left foot in front, with his toe pointing at his target line. At the same time, he lowers his upper body by bending forward at the hips and knees, and shifting his weight onto his front leg during his rotation. Next, he brings his arm forward into the hit, creating a whip-like action from his shoulder, elbow, and wrist, then snapping his wrist at the moment of release. Sexton also maintains a tight grip to generate counter-spin on the disc. He relaxes his arm into a follow-through and brings his right foot back down as he stands up straight.
What they do similarly:
Both players are masters of sidearm fundamentals and share many similarities in their form. Here are a few key similarities that are worth noting:
- Shuffle step / Hop step – Both players use a shuffle step to quickly build momentum and power into their sidearms.
- Wrist – They keep their wrists relaxed to get that whip-like snap and also maintain a tight grip on the disc so it explodes out of their hands.
- Face the line – Both players line up their shots by targeting the basket with their left foot planted forward. They rotate their hips, bringing their bodies around to face their targets.
- Relaxed follow-through – They allow their right arm to rotate naturally and their bodies to relax into the follow-through to prevent arresting the momentum and possibly causing injury.
What they do differently:
Every player is a unique, and there isn’t one method for anything in disc golf. Here are a few key things that Koling and Sexton do that make their throws unique.
- Koling keeps a consistent upright posture throughout the throw, while Sexton lowers his shoulder more and gets lower into the throw by bending his upper body forward. This allows Sexton to transfer more weight into his throw, while Koling relies on his speedy rotation and his height for power into a shot. (Koling is 6’6”, while Sexton is 6 feet tall.)
- Sexton takes fewer, larger steps in his footwork, while Koling has one extra step in his footwork, but he takes all of his steps at a much faster pace.
- The intensity level of the players is also unique, with Sexton throwing a mean fastball and Big Jerm slinging a quick dart.
What we can learn from it:
My own sidearm game can use a little more distance and a lot more accuracy, so here are a few takeaways from what I learned.
- For more power: Try adding a shuffle or little hop into your run up. Footwork can be awkward to come up with on your own, and there is a much higher chance of developing a bad habit, so take a look at the pros or one of the more experienced players at your home course to lock down your footwork and tap into more distance.
- For more accuracy: Try to keep your throwing elbow closer to your body to project your shot on a straighter line. After developing a consistently flat throw with your elbow in, all you’ll need to do to target a hyzer or anhyzer line is to keep your elbow closer or farther out from your body while maintaining a consistent angle between your shoulder, elbow, and wrist.
Sidearm shots are a valuable asset to anyone’s game, and Koling and Sexton make it look easy. Now get out there for some field work!