Forehand/Sidearm Fundamentals?

Information, Questions, Discussion about Throwing Mechanics and Technique

Moderators: Timko, Solty, Frank Delicious, Blake_T, Fritz, Booter

Forehand/Sidearm Fundamentals?

Postby JHern » Sun Jan 25, 2009 2:01 pm

I'm compiling information on the forehand (or sidearm, or pistol, or flick, or whatever you would like to call it), which doesn't receive much attention in this forum. Of greatest interest to me is identifying the fundamental elements that make for a good form and productive technique. There are a variety of very brief descriptions of the technique available on the web, some on this site, but they are always short on specifics. Like the backhand, there doesn't seem to be many reasons why, in principle, you can't develop accurate distances of 350' or more with this technique simply by learning proper form.

I have watched and had discussions with players who perform this throw well, and I have been compiling as much information as possible. In the "Player Throw Analysis" section of this website,
http://discgolfreview.com/resources/throwanalysis.shtml
there are videos of sidearm throws from Brian Donahue, Timmy Gill, Tony McGibbon, and Luke Redfield. While these do not show all the variety of throwing styles that I have seen in real life, they do show a lot of common elements that one can begin to distill for key technique principles.

Here is my preliminary list of things that seem to make for a good forehand throw...

General:
1-Forehand throws with good distance and accuracy can be performed with very little effort. Most of the force is generated by the legs and torso, and very little force need be applied from the arm. In fact, forcing the throw with the arm will cause the disc to fly very poorly, and will be difficult to control
2- Learning the forehand will dramatically improve your disc golf game, because it allows you to release the disc with a spin that is opposite in direction to that of a backhand throw (with the same hand). It therefore gives you the ability to throw on lines that are a mirror image of your backhand throw. So, for example, with a forehand and backhand throw you could obtain a flight with a left or right natural fade at the end of the flight, and use either according to the geometry of the disc golf hole you are facing at the time.

Basic Grip:
1- The pad of the tip of the middle finger is laid against the inside of the rim.
2- The disc is seated deep in the webbing between the thumb and index finger.
3- The thumb is placed over the top of the disc in an extended position lying on the opposite side as the middle finger. The thumb may also be pointed slightly more toward the center of the disc for throws requiring added control of the disc's orientation at release.
4- The index finger is either on the flight plate, or is also on the rim under the middle finger at a level closer to the thumb webbing. If on the flight plate, it can either be pointed toward the disc's center for better control of disc orientation, or stacked directly on top of the middle finger for more flicking power.
5- The ring and pinky fingers are sometimes tucked away from the disc as if they were in a fist position. However, these fingers can also be placed next to the middle finger over the nose of the disc to provide a more firm or controlled grip.

Footwork:
1- For maximum weight shift and momentum generation, your plant foot is always the opposite side as your throwing arm.
2- The main foot motion involves pushing off your other leg onto the plant leg, much like a baseball pitcher's motion on the mound.
3- Little or no run-up is necessary to generate maximum power. Run-up is typically only used to develop a rhythm to help calibrate the timing of the throw, or to increase the pace of the throw for more power.
4- Relaxed and light footwork are important for the forehand throw, just as it is with the backhand throw.
5- The final step can be short or long, but if it is longer your knees should be more bent and your body should be closer to the ground at the point of release. A plant leg knee bend allows you to shift your weight forward.

Body/Torso:
1 - Your chest should be directly facing the target at release. Some players stick their chests out in an exaggerated way toward the basket to help obtain the correct motion.
2 - There should be a rotation of your hips and torso driven by the back leg push during the reach back stage of the throw. This rotation begins with a brief "spin-up" prior to the point at which your arm begins to move the disc forward toward the target. When the disc is moving forward, a fast shoulder turn becomes important in generating power at the snap.
3 - The torso can be vertical or leaning slightly sideways toward the throwing shoulder, depending on what is most comfortable. Adjusting the sideways lean (i.e., dropping your throwing shoulder) can also be used to help control the hyzer angle of the disc at release. One should lean slightly back upon release to throw a disc high in the air, or one can lean forward to keep the disc on a flight that stays low to the ground.

Arm Motion:
1- A backswing can be used or not. This does not need to be a straight reach back. Many players start their reachback with the disc higher behind them with the bottom of the disc facing opposite the throwing direction. The disc then comes straight down as the thrower begins to shift weight to the plant leg and spins up the torso, during which time the elbow is moving forward which causes the disc to rotate until it is oriented on a flat throwing plane. When the disc drops to the level of the throwing plane the momentum generated in the torso spin-up is transferred into rapidly propelling the disc forward.
2- The elbow starts at a position that is back and away from the torso at the furthest point of the reach back. The elbow then moves in close to the side of the torso as the torso rotation begins and then it continues to move past the torso and forward so that it is sticking out in front of you and the point where the disc begins to move forward rapidly from uncurling of the forearm in a forward direction. Your elbow should be bent and lead the forearm during the pull through. When the elbow angle reaches nearly full extension in front of your torso it will be forced to stop and your forearm will suddenly whip forward with even greater speed.
3- The arm is nearly fully extended at the point of release, at about the 1 or 2 o'clock position (with the target at 12 o'clock). The orientation can be changed slightly in order to accommodate varying degrees of flexibility.
4- The follow through does not need to be exaggerated, just enough to relax and allow your limbs to uncoil back into their natural rest positions.

Wrist:
1- Wrist remains cocked (i.e., wrist bent back in direction opposite the forward motion of the arm) from the reach back up until the point where the arm is nearly extended.
2- As the arm nears full extension the momentum is transferred up to the wrist like a whip, and the disc is propelled forward in a rapid acceleration by the rapid flicking motion of your wrist as it uncoils forward.
3- The wrist bends forward in its natural direction, and is used partly as a spring. As the arm whips its momentum into the wrist during the forward pull though portion of the throw, the wrist bends back and stores energy for the snap. The wrist then flicks hard forward just as the wrist opens completely upward. Much of this forward snap is a natural consequence of the arm motion itself, and the transfer of momentum from the torso and shoulder rotation from the upper arm, into the lower arm, and then into the wrist.

Hand:
1- The disc pivots through the thumb crease during the snap and is propelled into a spinning motion by the opposing force of the middle finger pushing off the the inside of the rim, in a kind of finger-snapping-like motion. In fact, your middle finger may snap hard off the rim of the disc at release and into your palm as in a conventional finger snap.
2- Stacking the index finger behind the middle finger can help add more force to this motion, but makes controlling the disc angles/orientation at release slightly more difficult.

General Tips:
1- Don't increase your arm speed beyond the swiftness of your wrist flick. The disc will otherwise become difficult to control, or may flutter unstably and dive wildly into the ground. Very little force is needed from the arm itself: much of the power comes from the torso rotation during the spin up and the whip-like action of transferring the forward momentum from the upper arm to the lower arm and then into the wrist.
2- If you are ever having trouble with the throw, relax and then practice by slowing down your arm speed until the snap is working well enough for the disc to fly flat and straight without a lot of wobble. One should gradually build up speed with time, but only as the essential timing elements of the throw improve to match the greater momentum.
3- Practice using a catch Frisbee with a partner. This is the fastest way to learn how to make minor adjustments to your throw that will eliminate poor flight characteristics. Also, if you can learn to throw a catch Frisbee well then you will have a head start when you begin playing with a broader range of disc golf discs.
4- Any disc can be used for the forehand throw, with similar behaviors and trade-offs as for the backhand throw. The stronger your snap, the more flexibility you will have in choosing discs. In extreme cases where snap is very poor, an overstable disc might be sought as a temporary crutch in order to help compensate for a weaker spin rate on the disc.
5- Some people having trouble learning this throw the first time are helped by the skipping stone analogy. Just propel the disc forward from the inside of the rim in the same kind of motion you would use to throw a skipping stone.
6- In Ultimate Frisbee, the forehand is often taught and used a bit differently than in disc golf, reflecting the different purposes and applications of throwing in that scenario. Some of these other techniques may be useful in the short game (e.g., putting) in disc golf. One example is the use of a grip where the finger pad of the middle finger is not on the inside of the rim, but rather is against the flight plate while the side of the middle finger is pressed against the rim. Such a grip is not useful for throwing with distance and accuracy in disc golf, but may allow for greater control at shorter distances with large rim discs more similar to those in use with Ultimate Frisbee.

So there it is, for now. I'd love to hear comments, feedback, suggestions for more information and/or edits to the above. Feel free to wiki it.

PS: I've done several edits of this so far based on responses to the original post. I realize more and more that this could use some good graphics to illustrate some of these principles.
Last edited by JHern on Thu Apr 01, 2010 12:35 am, edited 5 times in total.
Japan bag...
Drivers: Starlite Wraith (158g), Gummy Champion Leopard (150g), 1st Run Z-Talon (150g)
Mid-Range: Star Classic Roc (146g), R-Pro Roc (157g)
Putt/Approach: Legacy Protege Clozer (158g), Glow DX Aviar (150g)
JHern
Please ask me about my insider info on pros! Oh GOD please ask me!
User avatar
 
Posts: 2620
Joined: Wed Dec 03, 2008 1:50 am
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Favorite Disc: Clutch

Re: Forehand/Sidearm Fundamentals?

Postby Blake_T » Sun Jan 25, 2009 2:14 pm

i went over a set of "elbow safe" sidearm fundamentals in texas. maybe one of the guys that were there could cover what i went over.
Blake_T
Super Sekret Technique Jedi
 
Posts: 5824
Joined: Mon May 31, 2004 12:44 am
Location: Minneapolis

Re: Forehand/Sidearm Fundamentals?

Postby curt » Sun Jan 25, 2009 2:46 pm

1- Plant foot is opposite side as the throwing arm.


I may be wrong about this, but i know when I throw forehand, my plant foot actually changes based on if I am standing or running up. During the run up I transfer my weight completely to my foot on my non-throwing side, while I keep it entirely on my same foot when throwing a standstill shot.
curt
Fairway Surgeon
User avatar
 
Posts: 602
Joined: Sat Apr 05, 2008 4:39 pm
Location: In a cave
Favorite Disc: Rawww!

Re: Forehand/Sidearm Fundamentals?

Postby JHern » Sun Jan 25, 2009 3:15 pm

curt wrote:
1- Plant foot is opposite side as the throwing arm.


I may be wrong about this, but i know when I throw forehand, my plant foot actually changes based on if I am standing or running up. During the run up I transfer my weight completely to my foot on my non-throwing side, while I keep it entirely on my same foot when throwing a standstill shot.


Yeah, putting is different. But that kind of goes without saying. Well, probably should have something on that too, but there are a lot of things different with a FH putt than a drive.
Japan bag...
Drivers: Starlite Wraith (158g), Gummy Champion Leopard (150g), 1st Run Z-Talon (150g)
Mid-Range: Star Classic Roc (146g), R-Pro Roc (157g)
Putt/Approach: Legacy Protege Clozer (158g), Glow DX Aviar (150g)
JHern
Please ask me about my insider info on pros! Oh GOD please ask me!
User avatar
 
Posts: 2620
Joined: Wed Dec 03, 2008 1:50 am
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Favorite Disc: Clutch

Re: Forehand/Sidearm Fundamentals?

Postby curt » Sun Jan 25, 2009 3:39 pm

I'm not really talking about putting as much as long approaches.
curt
Fairway Surgeon
User avatar
 
Posts: 602
Joined: Sat Apr 05, 2008 4:39 pm
Location: In a cave
Favorite Disc: Rawww!

Re: Forehand/Sidearm Fundamentals?

Postby JHern » Sun Jan 25, 2009 4:21 pm

curt wrote:I'm not really talking about putting as much as long approaches.


Let's see if this makes sense to you...

When putting forehand, with no steps or run-up or anything, I face the basket with my feet a little wider than shoulder apart, face the basket directly, rotate my torso back a tad, swing back with a torso rotation (leading slightly with the hips). My elbow is nearly affixed to my hip and my arm is like a stiff spring. The hip turn/thrust comes to an abrupt stop, and this sends a little whip momentum down my arm, letting the momentum cascade down from my shoulder to my wrist.

In this motion, I'm still slightly pushing off my non-plant foot (i.e., same side as throwing arm) but I don't need to shift all my weight onto my plant foot...it is not necessary. Instead, my final weight distribution is about even between the two legs.

...are we talking about the same thing? If so, I guess in this case I would say that there really is not much of a role for a plant foot per se, but the push off from what is ordinarily the non-plant leg is still present and maybe we're mixing our language a bit.
Japan bag...
Drivers: Starlite Wraith (158g), Gummy Champion Leopard (150g), 1st Run Z-Talon (150g)
Mid-Range: Star Classic Roc (146g), R-Pro Roc (157g)
Putt/Approach: Legacy Protege Clozer (158g), Glow DX Aviar (150g)
JHern
Please ask me about my insider info on pros! Oh GOD please ask me!
User avatar
 
Posts: 2620
Joined: Wed Dec 03, 2008 1:50 am
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Favorite Disc: Clutch

Re: Forehand/Sidearm Fundamentals?

Postby JHern » Sun Jan 25, 2009 4:28 pm

Blake_T wrote:i went over a set of "elbow safe" sidearm fundamentals in texas. maybe one of the guys that were there could cover what i went over.


This would be nice.

I once played with an old veteran whose body wouldn't let him throw backhand any longer, and his forehand had been killing his elbow, so he had to make adjustments. I recall that his motion was adjusted as follows to alleviate the elbow problems:

The elbow was not kept as low as most players would do, but rather was maintained up at about chest level throughout the throw. This means his elbow was not very close to his torso and his arm stayed more straight in the pull through. His reach back was short and the disc was actually behind his head at the furthest reach back position. Leg work was the same as usual, as was the torso mechanics. He could still get about 300' distances on his drives, which were also fairly accurate.
Japan bag...
Drivers: Starlite Wraith (158g), Gummy Champion Leopard (150g), 1st Run Z-Talon (150g)
Mid-Range: Star Classic Roc (146g), R-Pro Roc (157g)
Putt/Approach: Legacy Protege Clozer (158g), Glow DX Aviar (150g)
JHern
Please ask me about my insider info on pros! Oh GOD please ask me!
User avatar
 
Posts: 2620
Joined: Wed Dec 03, 2008 1:50 am
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Favorite Disc: Clutch

Re: Forehand/Sidearm Fundamentals?

Postby j_mardis » Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:51 am

That is a pretty darn comprehensive list for the basics. I am sure there are more subtleties and advanced techniques, but I am not one to tell you what they are. Anyone here a sidearm guru?

Jordan
j_mardis
Tree Magnet
User avatar
 
Posts: 176
Joined: Sun Dec 31, 2006 2:27 am
Location: Boise, Idaho
Favorite Disc: Flat top Roc BABY!

Re: Forehand/Sidearm Fundamentals?

Postby Jesse B 707 » Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:20 am

ive got a 400 foot or so flick, if anyone wants to post a video id be happy to take a look
http://ufosdg.org/
XXX,PD2,BOSS,KATANA,PD,ROC,VP,RATTLER,MAGNET
Jesse B 707
Rocstar
User avatar
 
Posts: 8225
Joined: Sun Dec 23, 2007 9:29 am
Location: *NorCal*
Favorite Disc: ROC

Re: Forehand/Sidearm Fundamentals?

Postby tumpsi » Mon Jan 26, 2009 1:39 pm

I would like to hear/see some pointers about a long forehand shot. What does a 400' throw have what a 350' doesn't? I throw 350' on a good day, comfort zone ends somewhere after 300'. I'm planning to get my forehand comfort zone at least 350' before june, and more doesn't hurt.
Max Boss Teebird Roc Wizard
tumpsi
1000 Rated Poster
 
Posts: 1129
Joined: Thu Feb 07, 2008 11:16 am
Location: Finland

Re: Forehand/Sidearm Fundamentals?

Postby JHern » Mon Jan 26, 2009 5:01 pm

tumpsi wrote:I would like to hear/see some pointers about a long forehand shot. What does a 400' throw have what a 350' doesn't? I throw 350' on a good day, comfort zone ends somewhere after 300'. I'm planning to get my forehand comfort zone at least 350' before june, and more doesn't hurt.


Indeed, this is what I'm hoping to incite as well. I think most people have heard the things I listed above, or already put them into practice in their forehand throw. But there is surely more to be added, in terms of technique, to get more distance and accuracy.

A lot of tricky stuff happens around the hit in this kind of throw, and getting the right feeling for it seems to be the most difficult thing to describe in words (much the same can be said of the backhand throw and the details of the hit).

Jesse B 707 wrote:ive got a 400 foot or so flick, if anyone wants to post a video id be happy to take a look


A video is a good place to center discussion. I went to make some yesterday, but there were puddles all over the field and the only place to throw there were people, so I couldn't get any good natural throwing in. I'll try again soon.

Maybe tumpsi has video to post?
Japan bag...
Drivers: Starlite Wraith (158g), Gummy Champion Leopard (150g), 1st Run Z-Talon (150g)
Mid-Range: Star Classic Roc (146g), R-Pro Roc (157g)
Putt/Approach: Legacy Protege Clozer (158g), Glow DX Aviar (150g)
JHern
Please ask me about my insider info on pros! Oh GOD please ask me!
User avatar
 
Posts: 2620
Joined: Wed Dec 03, 2008 1:50 am
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Favorite Disc: Clutch

Re: Forehand/Sidearm Fundamentals?

Postby MIdiscgolfer » Mon Jan 26, 2009 9:01 pm

j_mardis wrote:That is a pretty darn comprehensive list for the basics. Anyone here a sidearm guru?[Jordan


Judging from this thread I'd say if JHern ain't the guru he's on his way. I love it when I'm searching for technique descriptions and I find a thread that has this many answers all in one place.
"Wise men don't need advice and fools never take it." ....................... Mark Twain
MIdiscgolfer
Tree Magnet
 
Posts: 234
Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 6:57 pm
Location: Mid Michigan
Favorite Disc: Wasp/Buzzz/Comet

Re: Forehand/Sidearm Fundamentals?

Postby Jesse B 707 » Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:08 pm

For me the difference between a 350 and 400 foot FH is how i grip it, I usually see people grip like this
Image
just your normal power stack FH grip, i can only squeek out around 350 maybe a touch more gripping like this.
I found through experimentation that gripping like this works best
Image
Image
I just do a regular power stack and then let the wing of the disc rest on my ring and pinkie fingers. I find this makes your release A LOT smoother and eliminates the flutter i see on alot of players forehands and makes it alot easier to transfer your arm speed to the disc. If you try gripping it both ways and shake your hand around while holding the disc you'll notice it is WAY more secure resting on your fingers than without them there to steady it
http://ufosdg.org/
XXX,PD2,BOSS,KATANA,PD,ROC,VP,RATTLER,MAGNET
Jesse B 707
Rocstar
User avatar
 
Posts: 8225
Joined: Sun Dec 23, 2007 9:29 am
Location: *NorCal*
Favorite Disc: ROC

Re: Forehand/Sidearm Fundamentals?

Postby edrift101 » Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:15 pm

Is there anyone local (Twin Cities) that could demo proper sidearm form and fundamentals for a video? This is something I would REALLY like to get on video.
edrift101
Tree Magnet
User avatar
 
Posts: 152
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2008 12:18 am
Location: Roseville, MN
Favorite Disc: Star TeeBird

Re: Forehand/Sidearm Fundamentals?

Postby masterbeato » Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:57 pm

edrift101 wrote:Is there anyone local (Twin Cities) that could demo proper sidearm form and fundamentals for a video? This is something I would REALLY like to get on video.


Brian Donahue

i know him and i can point him out to you if i ever see him at a sundog league. he has retarded awesome disc skills so you will have to play some sundogs and ask me and see if he is there or not.

he usually never misses a sundog at lakewood hills at the beginning of the summer/spring.

or Timmy Gill
My PDGA - Dan Beto

Frank Delicious wrote:and now we know the secret to your power. You are more machine than bear!
masterbeato
lol Z predator
 
Posts: 1906
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2007 12:37 am
Location: Twin Cities, Minnesota
Favorite Disc: Pro D X2

Next

Return to Technique

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests