This article was inspired by a series of questions from Erin Faylona, an ultimate player living in the Philippines, who is currently taking her masters in human movement science. She is working on a paper (for Biomechanics) and has decided to dissect the hammer throw. Below you’ll find my response to her questions.
(A fast-freestyle playing exercise/guide for learning and practicing disc handling skills used in ultimate)
In the early days of Frisbee before disc sports, the original attraction was just to watch the Frisbee fly. At first, this was enough; the sheer joy in watching the Frisbee fly, not at all like a ball. Then, learn more because it’s in our nature to compete, came the Frisbee games. If you enjoy playing one disc game, chances are you’ll enjoy all the disc games, because they all have that one common attraction: unlike the ball, the disc actually flies. Each game demands unique skills but also shares common skills used in other games. If you become skilled in one disc game, you’ll quickly excel and most likely enjoy participating in other disc games.
When I was learning to play Ultimate, I didn’t have a coach, mentor, or Ultimate Rob videos. I had to teach myself the game and whenever my friends learned something new, we’d spread the knowledge with each other. I was one of the slower learners on the team and required as much assistance as possible, so putting me on the handler line wasn’t the best option. I was a cutter by default. When I came to college, my throws were naturally better than most because I had been playing for a while, and my team was brand new. So my journey began from moving from a cutter to a handler – yet again without a mentor. Teaching myself this aspect of the game was incredibly difficult. Here are 10 guidelines for rookie handlers that helped me learn to be a handler.
For me, I approach throwing practice for ultimate much like practicing hitting balls/putting for golf. You want to focus on repetition, different throws (forehand, backhand, hammer, scoober, etc), different lengths (short, medium, long, hucks and pulls) and different situations (like inside out/outside in).
The best way to describe throwing a forehand is comparing it to a vertical jump. As we know, vertical jumping ability is directly influenced by the speed of the force exerted against the ground during a fixed span of time; the faster the application of that force, the higher the jump. To translate this concept into throwing a forehand, we can infer that the less time it takes to apply a given amount of snap to the disc, the more rotations will be yielded per ‘x’ amount of time. With this, if you look at an exceptional thrower like Alex Thorne, you’ll notice that he has one of the quickest releases out of any thrower in the nation. Furthermore, those quick releases all generally look more or less the same, regardless of the distance of the throw. Such quick releases coupled with a strong snap provide for a throw that will fly through the air with very little observable disruption from wind.
This post was in response to a fan who had a few questions about handling and marking both on offense and defense.
Rob, I’m a combination handler/cutter for I just had a few questions about handling against tight marks and vice versa, marking tough handlers.
I’ve only been handling for a few months, and I’ve found that in the three tournaments I’ve played at I feel like I’m usually just cycling the disc back to an upline handler or dump rather than making throws to cutters. I’ve only turned the disc once across those three tournaments while handling, which I guess is good but most of the throws I have made haven’t been that long of a throw to get turned, if that makes any sense.
The goal of this study was to determine if certain throwing techniques for the sport of Ultimate Frisbee were advantageous relative to other techniques. The defense can attempt to force a thrower to utilize a specific throw; knowing the advantages of different throws can influence a defender’s decision to force the thrower to use a certain throw. Motion capture was used to monitor the flight of a disc (Discraft Ultrastar 175g) for three throwing techniques. The two main groups of throws were backhand (BH) and forehand (FH) throws, with the forehand throws divided into a closed forehand grip (CF) and a split forehand grip (SF). Sixteen participants were recruited with experience ranging from 3 years to 8 years based on survey. Throws were analyzed with regards to linear velocity, angular velocity, precession, and accuracy. Players threw a total of 45 throws: five throws for all combinations of the three throwing techniques combined with three objectives: accuracy, maximum spin, and maximum velocity. The order of the nine throwing groups was randomized. Throws were analyzed for linear velocity, angular velocity, precession, and accuracy. Linear velocity was calculated by measuring the distance traveled in the first 0.02 seconds of flight, and angular velocity was measured by calculating the time required for four unique points on the disc to complete one rotation. precession was measured by calculating the average angular deviation from the average normal plane of the disc, and accuracy was measured by the distance between the center of the disc and the target at closest approach using a quadratic fit to the known flight path. There was a very strong linear correlation between linear velocity and angular velocity. There was no difference in linear velocity between backhand and forehand throws, although the closed grip forehand had a higher linear velocity than the split grip forehand. Backhand throws had higher angular velocities than forehand throws for a given speed; there was no difference in angular velocity between closed grip and split grip forehand throws.
This post was inspired by a question on facebook from one of my fans. Let me know if you have any questions related to o-line handling.
Q: Hey bro,could you give me some pointers on how to be an O-Handler?
A: Sure thing! Here are some tips on being an O-line handler:
1. Your role as a handler is to move the disc up the field and score a point. What this means is that your biggest focus should be on valuing the disc. You cannot score if the other team has the disc. So, you should only be throwing high percentage throws (a 50% throw is not a high percentage). Think 75% or higher. Ideally you should be throwing to a cutter who is open, within the range of a throw you can consistently throw.
Along with the most common throws in ultimate, we have the ability to throw a bunch of other throws which aren’t very common or never ever used in a game…but they’re throws and learning to throw them is a good way to improve your snap, your field awareness and your overall throwing ability. I would not recommend using these throws in a game, unless absolutely necessary.
Whether you’re new to the sport or you’ve been playing a long time, there are some throws which are crucial to being a good handler. Some of these throws you will use far less often than the standard forehand and backhand but it’s good to know how to throw all of these throws.
The Zen Throwing Routine, developed by Ben Wiggins, is a combination of a group of exercises that he found to help develop his own balance and versatility in throwing. He was inspired to put this into a cohesive form as a partner-slash-alternative to Lou Burruss’ Kung Fu Throwing, which is a very effective plan with very different goals.
Kung Fu Throwing is a system developed by Lou Burruss and Mike Caldwell in 2005. He wanted to come up with a structured throwing plan to help developing throwers. As the only two Seattle Sockeye players who lived on Capitol Hill at the time, Mike and Lou would meet often to throw. Lou solicited Mike to help him with this and to their surprise they found that it was an excellent system for established throwers. (They were in their 7th and 9th years on Sockeye.) They did KFT once a week the entire season and Lou’s throws were more consistently on than any other year.
Over the years, there have been numerous instructional videos produced – some good and some bad. On Facebook a few days ago, I shared a post that said “just because you are a good player does not mean you can teach“. I was referring to a few people because I think there is a real issue and a real concern with people who teach others to throw the wrong way. Learning to throw the wrong way is inefficient and can cause injuries if that player practices a lot throwing the wrong way.
Many of you know me as Ultimate Rob, the guy who writes articles and makes videos teaching you how to play ultimate better. However, for about a year and a half, I’ve also been competing in dog disc, disc golf and overall disc sport competitions. I’ve become known as Frisbee Rob to many people and as such, I wanted to share with you my latest accomplishment.
Oer 18 years ago, on October 12, 1994, Mark Molnar threw a disc to Cheyenne Whippet and set the World Record for Distance to Canine Catch at 130.03 yards. Since then, many have come close to breaking the record but none have been successful.
As Michael Jordan said (and we can apply this to throwing a frisbee):
You can practice throwing (shooting) eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, then all you become is very good at throwing (shooting) the wrong way. Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.
Today I turn 30. I started throwing a disc 12 years ago and started playing ultimate 11 years ago. In that time I’ve played on roughly 19 teams in 3 different countries, been to over 50 tournaments, have met thousands of ultimate players, started a website dedicated to teaching players more about the game of ultimate and have been flown around the world to share my passion with others. Today I mark my 30th birthday with 30 quick tips about ultimate. Each of these tips could easily warrant an article and video (and in many cases multiple articles/videos); some of which have already been done, some which I’m planning on doing. Read on:
This post contains a simple bit of advice that I have often found very useful for players who are working on their throws. Generally speaking, control and distance in a throw comes from making sure that the disc is spinning. Spin is added to the disc via a good wrist-snap, but how can you improve your wrist snap?
One way is to make sure that you’re cocking your wrist when setting up for your throw. If you pick up a disc in either a backhand or forehand grip it is unlikely that you will naturally cock your wrist. The “natural” way to hold the disc (in either grip) is to keep your wrist straight, in line with your arm.