Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Hucks. Booms. Bombs. Rips. Biscuits. Headshots.
My favorite part of the game is throwing it deep.
I've been learning to throw an ultimate disc for 12 years now and I'm still discovering new ways to improve; still experimenting within the smallest of intricacies to find ways to toss a perfect biscuit. Every day is different and each day provides a new challenge of "relearning" how to release a perfect throw. Which edge holds best in today's air?
I tend to think of a disc flight in the same terms as a disc golf. There is speed, lift, turn, and break. For almost every pass, I have an idea or plan for the entire flight of that specific throw. I'm in love with my IO edge. It lasers fast into space, lifts ever so calmly with the same speeding velocity. It catches the edge and fights with every rotation of spin, before turning sharp over the defender. The most import ingredient to this 4-part approach is putting enough Z's on the disc to turn it over in soft air.
My backhand is all bark and no bite. It floats rather than kills. It will wait for a receiver though, like an open elevator door at a two minute stoplight, it will rise and sit. But to be fair, the backhand has more power and can be thrown consistently farther. I attribute this phenomenon to a single receiver - former roommate Andrew "Skywalker" Mahowald. A rock climbing jump snatch specialist. The catch of preference: Float. Big and floaty. At 6'2, lanky and able to single hand snatch dunk out the planet, then big and readable hucks are just fantastic. I always try to get feedback from my cutters -- so we both know beforehand when the defender is going to get pwnd!
If you haven't had the pleasure of watching the boom headshot video, for shame. It started as an inside joke at Wisconsin about hucks that slowly matriculated into my favorite slang word -- murderballs. The word choice is both funny and appropriate as these long distance throws are game-changers, point-enders and momentum swingers. They are one shot kills, headshots in first person shooters, executed with a long range sniper rifle. I have spent a fair amount of time evolving my throws and searching for the best angle and power combinations for the disc to travel maximum distance. It's like the power-up meter on Tiger Woods golf. You must find the sweet spot between the full red power bar and the release point angle.
As a casual poster on rec sports disc -- I found one thread particularly interesting this past summer. The BroMan was posting his usual onslaught of instructional throwing videos. Hall of Famer Mike Gerics, relentless poster on rec sports disc, made a comment about the power and coordination of a backhand throw. Eventually, my curiosity drove me to trying out "Mike's Tips." What I realized is that Geric's had indeed been correct on his analysis. Instead of rotating the disc in a curve around the torso, there was more power generated by bringing the disc way back and then directly forward in a straight line and snapping your wrist like a wet towel. Over several weeks, I began experimenting with this slight variation and discovered that my distance increased by 10/15 yards and the time in air another second. The difference between warning track power and the Mannywood Free Hamburger's Jackpot Home Run! This subtle change of technique adds valuable air time on pulls and a formidable difference in overall distance.
I was comparing forehands with Ron Kublanza at Poultry Days one year, seeing who had more power and how the mechanics of each thrower differed. I still owe Cash a nice ass golf disc. However, Ron is a slippery fish to disseminate information from. Ron has had the pleasure of playing club in Madison, Chicago, Boston, Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco and now Minneapolis. (Side Note: Chicken still has a ways to go before he overtakes Ron as HOF'er most-traveled journeyman). I was able to wiggle a couple concepts out of Kubz, most interestingly the prowess of his forehand and excelling in different systems. Ron has a huge "shoulder jerk" as his elbow comes far past his torso, making for a fearsome elbow jerk. It seemed to me that the movement between the elbow and shoulder was twice as far than with my lightning release. The increased overall distance that the disc traveled before release had the "Gerics Effect" with more spin and superior distance. It was like the wind-up distance actually accounted for a bigger and more powerful release.
Another aspect of developing a murderbomb is learning how to rip a disc golf disc. My sophomore summer I lived with Ted Tripoli, Grank Zukowski, Nate Hurst and Rodrigo Valdivia - all avid disc golfers and I was eventually allowed to tag along and "learn" how to play. It took a summer or two to really identify the benefits of power and control the disc golf game evolved into my ultimate throws. I bought myself 5 Roc's all weighing over 175 grams and went nuts. When the pins were down during winter, I would throw 3-4 drives each hole. I can still feel the difference in my ultimate pull after a solid round of 15 drives.
The second big development of my deep game was thanks to 2006 Hodag captain Tom Burkly. Bearclaw was able to convince me to only look deep out of solid positioning and advantageous situations, helping me change my deep throwing decisions and cutting down on my turnovers. It was a necessary change as I had loose trigger finger in my high school days. As a primary deep thrower, it decidedly took a large share of the reps and essentially disc-hogging as I nearly bombed it every time I held the rock with determination on my mind. In many cases, I trusted myself to take the shot rather than trust my teammates to make the right decisions with the disc. I wanted the responsibility to win the game and I didn't care what other people thought. I was going to make sure it was finished.
One final consideration while jogging down the field is to let your opponent know that they need to fire up, after delivering your best looking biscuit by reminding your opponent that, "Muffin is the shit!"