In search of the "sensation" of the hit.
OK so I'm not one to give up, and I've been trying to "find" the popping sound that Blake T was producing in his video, and I believe I've found it. They key came in combining another part of "the hit" with what Blake was describing in his "how to" video.
Blake's instructions tell you to hold your fingers "loose enough to move but tight enough to stay in place." As I stated earlier, as I experimented with this, if my fingers were too loose, they flopped open and stayed open, not slapping back against my palm at all. If my fingers were too tight, they never opened at all and my grip just stayed closed. Either way, there was no snap.
But then I read (elsewhere or in the same article, I forget which) that when you are actually throwing a disc, your grip is to be loose (to allow your joints/levers to move freely and build momentum) until the precise moment of the "hit," at which time you clamp down on your grip as hard as possible.
So I tried incorporating that concept into Blake T's wrist-flick drill.
And voila. All kinds of pop. Fingers slapping against palm (or more accurately, the meaty part of the base of the thumb).
If I make a conscious effort to clamp down on my "grip" at the same time as I do the wrist-flick thing, the "pop" that results is far louder than the pop I can make by simply closing my grip as hard/fast as possible without flicking my wrist. Then, following Blake's further instructions, I can begin to manipulate various amounts of pre-snap "muscle/grip looseness" and I can clearly hear the effect that this has on the loudness of the pop. In this way I think I was successfully able to get the feel of "the hit." And, as Blake T predicted, as soon as I tried to add a full reach back, I could no longer find the pop. This will be the focus of my practice, I guess.
So for anyone attempting to accomplish this, I would revise Blake T's guide thusly (my modifications in bold):
"For those who do not have 400' of power, it may be difficult to conceptualize and really feel the hit. Stand with your feet perpendicular to an object (or other point of reference), shoulder of your throwing arm facing your imaginary target. (Basically line up like you are about to throw a disc at your target.) Point at your target with your throwing hand so that your throwing arm is more or less where it would be when you release a disc. Hold your upper arm (from shoulder to elbow) more or less in place, and give your elbow a little bit of bend. Keep your elbow, wrist, hand and fingers loose enough to move. (OMIT: but tight enough to stay in place.) Your hand should be oriented as if you are gripping a disc (choice of grip isn't important). Now act like you are snapping a towel at your target object (chances are your natural motion for this will involve a little bit of shoulder rotation). Start small - just a little bit of bend at the elbow and wrist as you draw the "towel" back, then fling the towel towards your target by snapping mostly from the wrist but also from the elbow a little bit. If you've held your "grip" loose enough, this flinging motion will cause your fingers to flex open a little bit when your hand starts to move (due to inertia, thanks Ike Newton). To actually SNAP the towel that your are flinging, you must abruptly STOP the flinging motion of your arm and wrist, right about at the time when they are fully extended. At the same time, you want to clamp down your grip on the imaginary towel (so that it doesn't go flying out of your hand). Your goal in this is to coordinate the timing of the movements (and the subsequent stopping of those movements) so that you hear a popping sound of your fingertips slapping against your palm. If you are getting the sound but it is very soft, your hand is too loose. Increase your grip strength a bit. If you are not getting a sound, your hand, forearm, and wrist are too tight. Try loosening up a bit. Search for a happy medium of muscle tension that gives the loudest pop. If you're doing this correctly, the popping sound of the closing grip WITH the fling will be orders of magnitude louder than the sound you can produce simply by attempting to slap your grip closed WITHOUT also flinging the elbow/wrist. The exact point at which the pop happens is the "would be" hit. After you have been able to achieve this, attempt it again but this time bend a little bit more at the elbow before flinging. See if you get the same sound. If you can, gradually increase the amount of elbow bend "pre-fling." Your shoulder and upper arm will likely get slightly more involved as well. Make sure not to loose any of the volume of the pop - if you lose volume, you're losing the force of the snap and doing something wrong. Figure it out before continuing further. When your elbow is bent all the way back and your throwing hand is basically at your chest, congratulations, you are now doing the "Right Pec Drill" without holding a disc. Grab a real towel and you are now doing the "Towel Drill." See if you can get the real towel to snap. NOW try with a long reach back and see if you can get anything even close to the same result. Chances are the answer to this is no."
ANYWAY... I'm quite certain that I am not breaking ANY new ground with this (considering Blake's orginal article was written in 2002, all this shit has been figured out long, long ago), but it was a small victory for me, so I thought I'd share.
The next time I went out in the field, I can definitely say that being able to feel that snap, and trying to replicate it while throwing a disc, produced noticeable results in my actual throws. I won't say that I went from 280' to 400', but I bet I went to 310' or 320' while actually not throwing as hard as I do on my "normal" throw. And the flight characteristics of the discs I threw changed noticeable as well, which was cool.
Then, of course, I got cocky and tried to really launch one.... and we all know how that ended up.