New Article - Aiming with the body

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New Article - Aiming with the body

Postby Blake_T » Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:54 am

Looking for feedback on this if anyone has any.

Building Consistency: Aiming With Your Body

This article is part of a series titled “Building Consistency” that is targeted at newer and developing players. Many of the tips in this series may or may not be displayed by many of the top pros, most of which have spent years developing and honing their own technique. The purpose of this article is to provide a foundation of fundamentals on which lesser-experienced players may build and hopefully help elevate their games in the long run.

Some of the most frequent questions I am asked are “How do you aim?” and “How can I throw more accurately?” The largest part of throwing accurately is being able to consistently execute the mechanics dictating the lines you wish to throw on. It sounds simple, but many players fail to put themselves into a position to consistently hit their lines due to inconsistent body positioning during throws. An easy, but often over-looked factor in throwing is to aim with your body.

Disc golf is a game of repetition (with variation), and with any repetitious sporting activity, a way to increase your consistency is to remove factors of variation that can negatively affect your performance. Aiming with your body is about dictating the process of your throw using your body placement and direction. This is relevant to all types of throws: drives, approaches, and putts.

A couple of examples of this in other activities can be drawn from basketball and billiards. In basketball, nearly every action is dynamic, and while shots are often taken off balance, on the move, or while changing direction, great shooters will nearly always get their shooting shoulder and elbow squared to the hoop. This dictates the left/right accuracy of the shot and gives them the best chance of it going in. In billiards, while there are dozens of variations on the shot, a good billiards player will nearly always have their body positioned the same way, even if they are shooting a draw, with “english,” etc.

With disc, the same principles apply. When driving, I use three factors to aim with (other than my eyes) that I know will aid in success of my throw and likely cause my throw to fail if I do not adhere to them. The three factors are as follows: pointing with the shoulder, leading with the feet, and locking the head into the shot. I will describe these but I encourage you to search for your own factors that work best with your throwing style (although do keep in mind there are reasons I use these ones in particular).

Pointing with the shoulder means that at the start of my drive, my upper body is perpendicular to the target and I have my throwing shoulder pointed at the target. I consider this to be the neutral position of the throw since it bisects the range of motion of the upper body during the portions of the throw that affect aim and stills allow for an athletic run up. At the peak of the reach back your chest will be pointed away from the target and at the point of full extension leading into the follow through your chest will be pointing at the target. This position also reflects the body positioning during much of the pull.

Leading with the feet means that during my throw, the direction of my first step will dictate the path my body will follow. If your first step leans you to the left of the target, you will be more apt to push the shot to the left. If your first step leans you to the right of the target, you will be more apt to pull the shot to the right. This can be used to your advantage when trying to manipulate your shot and push/pull a specific shot type vs. attempting to throw straight at the target.

Locking the head into the shot basically means I want my head down and following the direction of the shot. If your head is leaning in the wrong direction, your body is likely to follow.

I know for myself, if these three body aim factors are in place, my throw is much more likely to succeed than if I ignore them. Putting is much less dynamic of a motion and can usually get by with fewer reference points that are usually stance and alignment oriented. Ideally, with sufficient practice, the factors you choose will become integrated into your natural throwing routine.
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Re: New Article - Aiming with the body

Postby garublador » Wed Jan 11, 2006 8:00 am

Good job. That's definitely an interesting read and very timely for me at least. I've been experimenting with different ways to aim and this will help give me direction.

I do have one comment, though. I'm not sure I fully understand the "Locking the head into the shot" concept. Can you elaborate on this paragraph?

Blake_T wrote:Locking the head into the shot basically means I want my head down and following the direction of the shot. If your head is leaning in the wrong direction, your body is likely to follow.


Thanks!
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Postby TexasOutlaw » Wed Jan 11, 2006 9:51 am

Blake, I think one of my problems is perhaps over coaching. I was playing with a visiting player back during the Holiday break.

He gave me the following advice. He said that I needed to take my x step in the opposite direction of my shot, i.e., if I am throwing a hzyer to step towards the right hand corner of the tee pad (starting from the lower left) and vice versa for an anhyzer.

Really how it affected me was: it took a natural process (muscle memory) and turned it into a cognitive process (thought process).

It sounds like you're suggesting the opposite. What do you think?
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Postby presidio hills » Wed Jan 11, 2006 1:36 pm

one thing... i'm not exactly sure how to explain it but i'll try: i know that when i throw a hyzer it comes out better when my weight is to the side the hyzer angle is happening. for example, if i was a righty throwing a backhand hyzer stepping on the tee pad from back left corner to the front right corner then my follow through would take me to the front left of the tee pad.
this is proper technique, right?
i guess this would be concerned with 'aiming with momentum'
i'm still not sure where my momentum should be with anhyzer or flat releases...

i really like the using the shoulders suggestion this article has... since reading it i've always noticed the point in my run up where my shoulders are pointing right where i want to throw and it's helped me out a lot. really gave me something to use as my crosshairs. i think it's a great article.
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Postby Blake_T » Wed Jan 11, 2006 9:14 pm

it's not really over-coaching, it sounds more like you did not transfer the coaching.

i had a baseball swing instructor that would say things like "now this time, bring your wrists through a split second earlier and lower the bat head 2" on the swing plane" and i would do it.

coaching leads to learning. learning leads to practice. practice leads to mastery. mastery leads to subconscious.

they are correct that if you are ripping a big anhyzer, or any shot that turns, you want to go back right to front left. etc. you should just tuck the info away until you can practice it, then bust it out.

what i am saying is to build a throw around general rules. over time, those rules become automatic. an example are some high level pro players that throw with their left hand resting on their left thigh. that is something they at some point in time probably had to concentrate on but now it likely happens automatically.

as for "locking the head into the shot" it means keep your head down and when the throw is leaving your head should be facing the direction of the shot.

presidio:

sounds like you aren't finishing THROUGH the shot. if i throw a big anhyzer, i generally continue forward and slight left. when throwing a big hyzer i generally continue forward and slight right. this is indicative that you are getting a full upper body rotation.

the reasons for the directions on hyzer/anhzyer is because of how your left shoulder comes through during the finish. anhyzers need the left shoulder to come over the disc to keep it nose down and turning.
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Postby Blake_T » Wed Jan 11, 2006 9:15 pm

btw, i just realized i posted the wrong version of that article. here is the current revision.

Building Consistency: Aiming With Your Body

This article is part of a series titled “Building Consistency” that is targeted at newer and developing players. Many of the tips in this series may or may not be displayed by many of the top pros, most of which have spent years developing and honing their own technique. The purpose of this article is to provide a foundation of fundamentals on which lesser-experienced players may build and hopefully help elevate their games in the long run.

Some of the most frequent questions I am asked are “How do you aim?” and “How can I throw more accurately?” The largest part of throwing accurately is being able to consistently execute the mechanics dictating the lines you wish to throw on. It sounds simple, but many players fail to put themselves into a position to consistently hit their lines due to inconsistent body positioning during throws. While your eyes do play a part, an easy, but often over-looked factor in throwing is to aim with your body.

Disc golf is a game of repetition (with variation), and with any repetitious sporting activity, a way to increase your consistency is to remove factors of variation that can negatively affect your performance. Aiming with your body is about dictating the process of your throw using your body placement and direction. This is relevant to all types of throws: drives, approaches, and putts.

A couple of examples of this in other activities can be drawn from basketball and billiards. In basketball, nearly every action is dynamic, and while shots are often taken off balance, on the move, or while changing direction, great shooters will nearly always get their shooting shoulder and elbow squared to the hoop. This dictates the left/right accuracy of the shot and gives them the best chance of it going in. In billiards, while there are dozens of variations on the shot, a good billiards player will nearly always have their body positioned the same way, even if they are shooting a draw, with “english,” etc.

With disc, the same principles apply. There are many parts of the throw (other than the eyes) that can be referenced for aim, but three of them stand out for aiding in success and consistency in execution. The three methods of aiming are as follows: pointing with the shoulder, leading with the feet, and locking the head into the shot. I will describe each of these but I encourage you to search for your own factors that work best for your throwing style (although do keep in mind there are reasons I promote these ones in particular).

Pointing with the shoulder means that at the start of the X-step, the upper body is perpendicular to the target and the throwing shoulder is pointed at the target. I consider this to be the neutral position of the throw since it bisects the range of motion of the upper body (during the portions of the throw that affect aim) and still allows for an athletic run up. At the peak of the reach back your chest will be pointed away from the target and at the point of full extension leading into the follow through your chest will be pointing at the target. This position also reflects the upper body positioning during much of the pull through.

Leading with the feet means that during the throw, the direction of the steps (and first step in particular) will dictate the path your body will follow. If your first step leans you to the left of the target, you will be more apt to push the shot to the left. If your first step leans you to the right of the target, you will be more apt to pull the shot to the right. This can be used to your advantage when you are trying to manipulate your shot and push/pull a specific shot type vs. attempting to throw straight at the target.

Locking the head into the shot basically means that during the latter part of the throw, you want your head down and facing the direction of the shot. If your head is leaning in the wrong direction, your body is likely to follow and you will have greater tendency for errant shots. Ken Climo is one of the best examples of this. His head is always under control and on target and I believe this is something that contributes to his tremendous consistency and balance.

While people may choose different reference points for body aim, your chances of having an accurate throw are higher with these factors in place even if you are not conscious of them happening. Putting is much less dynamic of a motion and can usually get by with fewer reference points that are usually stance and alignment oriented. Ideally, with sufficient practice, the factors you choose will become integrated into your natural throwing routine.
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Postby Thatdirtykid » Wed Jan 11, 2006 10:15 pm

another thing to consider in the over coached though is a problem i have to overcome occasionally while trying to learn something new. Over thinking.
Simply Just relax, and slowly attempt to pick up a new technique.
If your mind is thinking about nothing but the motions or thinking about what is right.
What the trick is, is learning that if what feels right is accually wrong, you have to re train yourself to what is right, and do it until it feels right.
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Postby Mark Brunner » Sun Jan 22, 2006 8:27 am

When you are trying a new technique, please dont try to work on it during a round of golf because it is likely to get you more frustrated with your progress. Once you practice it in an open field and take it to the course you shouldnt be worrying about the new technique, you should just be executing what you have practiced. You have to trust it. Thatdirtykid put it well too.

Blake, I think the article will be helpful to many players. It is along the lines of the same "aiming" advice I have given other players.
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