Three ways to get on the road toward repeatable throws
June 13, 2017 by Alex Colucci in Instruction with 1 comments
A few weeks ago in this same Tuesday Tips space we explored the important relationship between disc stability and release angles, and how they work together to create certain flight paths. A simple equation was proposed: stability + angle of release = flight path. Then, a week after that, we learned all about how wind affects discs in flight and how the angle of a disc changes how it interacts with wind.
If it wasn’t clear already, the angle at which the disc leaves your hand is pretty significant. So, because disc golf is a game of repetition, the question becomes this: How can we make release angles something that are consistently repeatable?
Practice, of course. But it can take quite a while to unlearn poor form while trying to instill proper technique when practicing any sport — disc golf is no exception — so we also have to practice the right tricks so as not to build bad habits.
Below is a series of tips to help you release the disc at the angle you intend so your throws aren’t fading out too early or turning over right out of your hand.
1) Keep the disc and your forearm parallel.
Just like every throw in disc golf, the throw itself starts well before you’re actually even throwing it. You have to hold it in your hand first, and how you hold it will affect how it comes out of your hand later.
We’re borrowing this idea of disc orientation from Disc Golf Review, and the pictures there do an excellent job of showing how the disc should be in your hand so that it is parallel to your forearm. With the disc parallel to your forearm you can avoid issues specifically with nose-up releases, which often coincide with the dreaded “n00b hyzer,” or throws that “hyzer out” quickly upon release.
The idea of disc orientation is no different for backhand throws than it is for forehand throws. To preserve the release angle that you intend, the disc and forearm must be parallel. Let’s see how Paul Ulibarri keeps his forearm and disc parallel when throwing forehand:
Now that we can see how to hold the disc properly so that we can release it on the angle we want, let’s explore how to adjust that angle once it’s time to throw.
2) Waist, not wrist.
The angle of release is dictated by the bend at the waist, not by adjusting your wrist angle.
Attempting to adjust release angle by manipulating wrist angle doesn’t work because of what we learned in the first tip above: Moving your wrist disrupts the disc being parallel with your forearm.
Bending at the waist, either forward or backward, allows you to maintain the parallel disc/forearm relationship, and release the disc at various hyzer, flat, or anhyzer angles. Bending over at an acute angle allows you to throw a hyzer; staying straight up-and-down at 90 degrees allows for a flat release; and bending backwards at an obtuse angle creates an anhyzer release.
Let’s take a look at what bending over at an acute angle for a hyzer release looks like. Because bending at the waist can be rather subtle, we’ve chosen to take a look at Matt Bell, who has one of the more exaggerated hyzer releases in the game:
Here’s another example of a hyzer release. Notice how Steve Brinster stays bent at the waist with an acute angle and his shoulders over his hips:
It’s not quite enough to just bend at the waist at your desired angle and let it rip. The throw continues even after you’ve let go of the disc, and staying on that angle is just as important then, which takes us to the final tip.
3) Maintain release angle through the throw.
It’s not just enough to release the disc on the correct angle while bent at the waist. You must also maintain that bent angle as you follow through, as well. In other words, you have to commit to the angle throughout the entire throw, and the follow through is where that happens.
To do this, you have to follow through on the same angle, and your front shoulder and release point must act as a kind of mirror. For example, if you bend over at an acute angle to throw a hyzer, and maintain that angle as you follow through, you will follow through low to high. If you are bent backwards at the waist to throw an anhyzer your follow through goes from high to low. Your arms stay on the same plane around your body.
Let’s see what this kind of follow through looks like in action. Here’s Nate Sexton throwing a backhand roller:
A backhand roller often requires an exaggerated, steep anhyzer angle with a noticeable obtuse bend backward at the waist. This provides a good example of how, after you pull through across your chest, your lead and trail arms follow through from high to low, while your waist maintains that same angle on which it began.
For another great example of maintaining the release angle all the way through the follow through, go back up and look at the Brinster clip again. Note how he maintains the same bent angle at the waist throughout, and — importantly for follow through — see how his right arm comes up, following the angle of the disc in flight, and how his left arm follows his right arm as it comes around to mimic the plane on which the right arm came through.
All too often one or more of these three axioms are not followed by players when attempting to throw with a certain angle on the disc. Next time you’re out in the field practicing, or on the course for a causal round, experiment with each of these tips. Try discs of different stabilities with different angles of release, too. With enough repetition and listening to the feedback your body and disc flight give you, you’ll be throwing consistent lines in no time.