Sidearm vs. Backhand

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Sidearm vs. Backhand

Postby dray03 » Thu Jul 08, 2004 9:44 am

I'm just starting to play the game and have many areas to improve. My question is on drives and mid range throws, is there any advantage/disadvantage to throwing backhand vs. sidearm? I simply have not had any success throwing backhand (no distance, no accuracy - it's just plain ugly) but when I throw sidearm I get a much better, somewhat consistent throw.

Since the sidearm motion it feels better and gives me better results, I'm refining and drilling with this motion. The only time I use a backhand motion is when I'm putting - and it's more of a push motion than a backhand.

I don't want to have to relearn my throwing technique later down the road, are there other players who use these same techniques? Would it be better for me to learn, no matter how painful it may be, a backhand throw?

Thanks,

Dray
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Postby garublador » Thu Jul 08, 2004 10:23 am

It depends on just how far "down the road" you plan on going. ;) Either way having a strong forehand throw will not have a negative effect on your game. You won't have to relearn anything if you decide to learn how to throw backhand, you'll just be adding to your arsenal of throws.

My strategy as a beginner has been to start with working on my naturally stronger drive, which for me is backhand and get that to a point where I can do reasonably well on most holes. Now that I'm getting comfortable with my backhand throw a little, I've began experimenting with sidearm for some shorter drives that require the disc to go right (I'm right handed.)

If I were you I'd continue with working on your forehand technique until you reach the point where you are happy with your drive. For me that point will be around 350'. That seems to be a common plateau and good goal to work towards. I also understand that being able to throw that far sidearm is also very attainable. After that I'll still work on the distance of my backhand, but may concentrate more on my forehand as well.

The big advantage to being able to throw both ways is being able to get the disc to fade in both directions. For me, it's hard to get a disc to reliably turn right. I can get some discs to do it, but not with the predictability of the fade that most drivers have. If I throw sidearm I get to work with my discs and let them do what they do naturally and well and my throws will have a predictable fade to the right. In other words, some shots that are hard for a backhand thrower are easy for a sidearm thrower and vice versa. Knowing how to throw both ways will give you more easy shots.

One question, though. Are you right-handed or left-handed? If you're right handed you may find that there will be more holes that are difficult for you as a righty sidearm thrower (there are more left curving holes than right curving holes.) Lefty backhand throwers have the same problem. If you're left handed sidearm thrower, though, this won't be an issue.
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Postby AciDBatH666 » Thu Jul 08, 2004 11:52 am

i throw a good mix of backhand/sidearm throws.
Id say i throw about 70% Backhand, And 30% of the time its a sidearm. WHen i started learning to really control my sidearm throws it was pretty horrible looking. Discs wouldnt do much of what i was trying to do. So i started throwing really overstable discs and shot about 40 feet or so to the left of what i was aiming at. Started working really well. I threw a monster a lot just Fyi.

ONce i was able to start placing it where i wanted I started throwing my 2 longest drivers sidearm just to see how they would work. My XL, and my Valkryie. I feel that I get a lot more spin when i throw sidearm, cuz the disc is a little farther from my body, and just the wrist motion at the end tends to feel like it gives the disc a good yank to get it moving.
So i started throwing these 2 discs with different amounts of HYzer and they would turn over just a tad, and then come back really nice at the end of their flight to the right. LOts of distance at the end. SO i was getting stoked cuz i was getting some good techniques down for controlling throws that i needed to turn right.

Only problem i have with this throw now is that it tends to wear my arm out. Its almost like throwing a baseball sideways, and just seems to really take its toll on my muscles. Because i tend to use a lotta force on this kinda throw, i dont use any of my really light discs that i use on Backhand throws.
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Postby Blake_T » Thu Jul 08, 2004 1:31 pm

Dray,

i think garu hit it on the head.

a few things to keep in mind:
1) backhand throws ALWAYS have more distance potential than sidearm throws (world records are 820' and 517').
2) a strong backhand technique is a necessary part of your arsenel since a lot of finesse shots and most putting forms are modelled after a backhand throw.
3) a sidearm is a very nice luxury to have.

that being said,

i will say, yes, it is worth it in the long run to struggle through learning a backhand technique.

if you (or someone you know) play guitar, i compare backhand and sidearm to learning guitar through traditional instruction vs. power chords. while power chords will yield a much better result at the beginning and will keep you playing and entertained, the real ability comes after you learn the fundamentals. however, even after you learn the fundamentals, you will still use power chords when they are appropriate/necessary.

while sidearm may give you the best short run results, the plateau comes much faster. it's never bad to have a good sidearm. it's always bad to not have a good backhand, but backhand will also take a much longer time to perfect and hone.

my recommendation is to work on the backhand but still throw the sidearm when appropriate (behind a tree, dogleg right shots, etc.). however, i would say to try to stay out of the habit of falling back on it as a crutch. i know a lot of people who made the transition and every time their backhand started to go awry, they would immediately default to sidearm for the rest of the round and this hindered their development. also, defaulting too often to a sidearm often will neglect learning a good anhyzer shot.

if you reach a point where you are equally good at both of them, then use whichever you feel is best for the situation.

i will give the warning though, that 400' sidearm technique is prone to blowing out the elbow, an injury (which i have had 3 times) that takes ~20 months of rest to heal.

let it be known though, i wish i had a better sidearm :)
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Postby AciDBatH666 » Thu Jul 08, 2004 2:25 pm

sounds about right. I think i use more sidearm throws than some ppl just because of my home course. Lots of woodsy holes with tight spots that need right fades instead of backhand left fades.

BUt i dont depend on it. I went shot today on our new course, which is Longer, WAYYY more open holes and i tend to stay away from sidearm throws on this course cuz i know it'll kill my arm by the time im done with 18 holes.
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Postby boru » Fri Jul 09, 2004 6:53 pm

Blake_T wrote:my recommendation is to work on the backhand but still throw the sidearm when appropriate (behind a tree, dogleg right shots, etc.).


I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with some of that. I too, had a much easier time with forehand when I first started, so I used it for almost every drive. It didn't take long before I had developed both distance and control. I think I've hit a plateau, distance-wise, at about 400', but I'm still subtly refining my technique every time I use it.

For the past few months, I've been working hard on my backhand. Since January, I've thrown forehand only in tournaments and when I needed a lot of distance. In the beginning, that meant sucking up some seriously worse scores. I've come a long way, and I have a long way to go. But I'm starting to feel like I have the makings of a complete game.

On the other hand, most of my friends learned backhand first. Watching me, they see the advantages of a good forehand shot, but they don't do what's necessary to learn one. They only throw forehand to get out of trouble, then wish they had one when they step up to a dogleg right.

My point is that when I was starting out, playing almost all forehand, I always knew I'd need a good backhand. Sure, I did - and still do - fall back on forehand in important situations, but I've stuck to my goal. Once you've already got a good backhand, the incentive to do what it takes to learn forehand - namely throwing it on almost every shot - is very weak.

So I say go with what works. Have fun, and if you like golf enough, you'll learn backhand when you're ready.

400' sidearm technique is prone to blowing out the elbow


Maybe if you overdo it. You'll likely be sore after a long day of throwing forehand, but listen to your body and you should avoid long-term injury. I've messed up my rotator cuff playing baseball, but never had any problems with discs.
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Postby Blake_T » Fri Jul 09, 2004 11:59 pm

On the other hand, most of my friends learned backhand first. Watching me, they see the advantages of a good forehand shot, but they don't do what's necessary to learn one. They only throw forehand to get out of trouble, then wish they had one when they step up to a dogleg right.

i'll agree with this one. i'd say a lot of people don't like practicing in general, let alone something they are bad at and don't want to look bad trying. committing to learning any technique requires the full extent of the learning curve. practicing 100' sidearm approaches, etc. is going to be of great benefit.

Maybe if you overdo it.


as for the injury aspect of it, the king of sidearm, scott stokely blew out his elbow twice using his standard (and often considered the best and most fundamental) sidearm technique. i had the same injury from baseball from throwing 3/4 and sidearm deliveries. it's a nasty one. what i was trying to get across with what i wrote before is that if your sidearm is your max D throw, you are putting a lot of strain on your elbow tendons, and players who default to the sidearm for distance are at a much greater risk. ~300-350'ish should be doable without much risk. but i don't know too many people who are content with this as their peak D.

going back to the sidearm vs. backhand debate, basically, backhand has more distance potential always (given that you have room for a run-up and follow-through). given these circumstances and the ones above, i just believe the backhand to be a better choice as a default throw. however, having various sidearm approaches and a 300'+ sidearm drive will always shave strokes.
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Postby boru » Mon Jul 12, 2004 1:28 pm

the king of sidearm, scott stokely blew out his elbow twice using his standard (and often considered the best and most fundamental) sidearm technique . . . if your sidearm is your max D throw, you are putting a lot of strain on your elbow tendons, and players who default to the sidearm for distance are at a much greater risk. ~300-350'ish should be doable without much risk.


Hmm . . . I didn't know that about Scott Stokely. I have his book, though, and I've always found the sidearm technique in it to be a bit awkward. Great for imparting snap, but I just don't feel like I'm using my body as efficiently as possible.

My technique is somewhere between pitching from the stretch and throwing javelin. A javelin is pretty light, but if you don't pull straight through its length, it doesn't go anywhere at all. On my best forehand throws, I'm able to start with an X-step and pull my entire arm, from the shoulder down, through on a straight line. This kind of delivery is good for 400' or more of distance, and while my shoulder will feel it the next day, it's a muscle soreness, not joint pain.

My biggest problem is that I can't always get everything hooked up smoothly. In that case, I scale my motion way back, to more of a flick, which gets me 300-350'. I feel like I could do that all day - way longer than I can last throwing backhand the same distance.

Anyway, I think it's possible to throw a long forehand with very low risk of injury, but anyone interested in learning should definitely be aware of potential problems.
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Postby xdck83a » Mon Jul 12, 2004 4:47 pm

I'm another old baseball pitcher (seems to be a lot of us throwing discs) that hurt his arm. But I seem to be the opposite of most, the forehand throw is the only one I can really rip. I'm only in the 350 range but on the courses near me accuracy counts for as much if not more than distance. My arm does get sore more than most backhanders I play with, but it is muscle soreness, not joint pain, especially no problems in my elbow. As long as you are using good technique you should be able to huck it from the side forever without a major blowout. There is no doubt the backhanders can throw farther. But I also think forehanded throws are more accurate. I would love to be able to throw both ways but I don't feel I give up too much having to go forehand on anything over 50 feet.
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Postby Blake_T » Mon Jul 12, 2004 5:42 pm

sidearm drives can always be more accurate than a backhand drive since your eyes never leave the target.

however, for a player who can drive 450' backhand and 350' sidearm, they will probably throw backhand on finesse shots since they can throw slower discs. i.e. 250' backhand putter drive vs. sidearm midrange or driver.
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Postby DrFelatio » Mon Jul 26, 2004 4:21 am

I started out as a backhand thrower and its still my primary throw however I'll agree with just about everybody here: variety is the spice of life. I started to develop my forehand about 6 months ago and having another throw in my arsenal has been one of the single most effective ways to lower my score. Its great for those dogleg rights (for us rightys at least--if your left handed DEFINATELY learn the sidearm since most courses are designed with us rightys in mind), long S-curves, and for getting you out of a tight spot. Since a forehand requires much less body motion, it's a powerfull weapon when you're kinda stuck in the woods.

For beginners I would say stick to your guns for now and continue with the forehand, but know that if you plan to compete, we backhand throwers know how to throw forehands too, so its to your advantage to learn that throw! It's to your advantage to learn every type of throw out there! Having more than one weapon in any one given situation will open up new options for you that you may not have thought of before. When you do start to learn backhand, don't expect a lot to happen in such a short period of time. Backhand is certainly much more difficult to learn than a forehand. After reading Stokely's book I dramatically increased my forehand accuracy and D practically overnight. However, no matter how many times I read the book or watch his video, my backhand progresses at a MUCH slower rate.
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Postby Jobuu » Wed Jul 28, 2004 12:35 pm

if you're struggling with backhand i suggest getting the 1st tape from scott stokely. it's great. goes over it step by step. just by watching this tape i gained a good 30 ft on the first outting with much better consistancy. that was last year. this year i added another 20 ft just from practicing (once a week mind you)
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