Should old guys stop throwing hard?

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Should old guys stop throwing hard?

Postby Mark Ellis » Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:48 pm

The October, 2012 issue of ESPN The Magazine is called the Age Issue, so the theme of the various articles is about how age affects sports performance. One article by Shaun Assael featured NY Mets All Star knuckleball pitcher R.A.Dickey, who at 37 years of age has extended his career by his primary pitch which relies upon technique rather than velocity. To quote one paragraph:

So how does the knuckleball help Dickey defy science? The pitch requires less velocity than a fastball to be effective, so the arm experiences less stress. "Ligaments and tendons are like rubber bands," (according to Glenn Fleisig, research director at the American Sports Medicine Institute). "Stretch them as far as you can and over time they'll develop small tears until they break. If you pitch at submaximal effort, the rubber band doesn't tear at all."

If you compare a smooth, clean, balanced throw (ie.. submaximal effort with good form) to full-out effort the difference in distance is not that great. I'm guessing maybe 10% across the board. While throwing harder has the potential to fly farther it also is more likely to miss the line and burn out early. What would the AVERAGE percent loss in distance be if we gave up throwing hard? Anyway the submaximal effort throw is also more likely to be accurate.

So for old guys does it make sense to throw hard? What if we limited our drives to say, 80% effort? Could we keep most of our distance, improve our accuracy and extend the durability of our body?
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Re: Should old guys stop throwing hard?

Postby discmonkey42 » Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:23 pm

Mark, as a guy whose body doesn't do what it used to (and has punished me with repeated injury for trying to force it to), I give the idea a big thumbs up.

I'd also add that I think distance is overrated. Maybe that's my jealousy in not being able to throw 400-500 ft. or further, but I've come to realize that accuracy, course management, putting, and shot making are infinitely more important. I think most people would, on paper, agree with this. Yet if you look at the bulk of this forum almost all talk of technique is about distance, snap, and throwing far.

Hopefully older also = wiser. And I think the wiser players benefit much more from the other aspects of the game than distance. I can relate this to ball golf pretty well. All ball golfers have played with that older guy who the starter put in their group. He hits it 200 yds arrow straight, is deadly around the green and out of the sand, and can putt lights out. His game goes like this: 200 yds straight, 200 yds straight on the green 2 putt, par; 200 yds straight, 150 yards, chip, putt, par; 200 yds straight, 150 yds on, putt, birdie; and so on. Meanwhile you are trying to kill yourself on every shot especially the drives. At the end of the round, you shoot a 90 (well I do anyway), he shoots a 75.

I can think of only a handful of holes near me where sheer distance gains strokes. I can think of countless holes where accuracy with moderate distance gains tons of strokes. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to be able to throw further, but there is no reason in my mind to kill my aging body trying to throw super far. I reap far greater rewards working on other stuff.
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Re: Should old guys stop throwing hard?

Postby Agricolae » Fri Nov 16, 2012 12:26 am

Stop?!?! Geez, Mark...I just started!!

Seriously though, I'm finding your comments about the 80% to be true. Trying softer, throwing smoother, have resulted in the greatest increases in both accuracy and distance for me. The accuracy part of smooth and soft, I understand; the distance part still seems like magic sometimes.

I started this sport only 1.5 years ago coming in as a GM. I like to challenge myself and need to see personal improvement; if not, I'll find something else to do. The best thing this old guy has learned is to try for smooth, soft, and slow(er) off the tee. That's counter to what my instinct would tell me. So far, it's working pretty well.

I don't throw 400ft. I don't throw 350ft (often). But 300ft (and often less) takes care of most of the wooded courses around here. Accuracy is cool. Accuracy with precision is a thing of beauty!

Now that I've written this, I realize I'm disqualified. Honestly, if I try to backhand or forehand at 100% power I get less distance and less accuracy. If the question was, "Should old guys stop throwing thumbers for distance?", I might have to say, "maybe...probably", but they're just too darned useful and deadly in the right circumstances! But yeah, I feel those, and I suspect that there are only a limited number of max power thumbers left in my arm and shoulder. So, I use 'em sparingly, and try to use 'em wisely! I doubt I'll ever be competitive in Pro Open; I do, however, plan to kick ass in Legends 20 years from now.
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Re: Should old guys stop throwing hard?

Postby Chuck Kennedy » Fri Nov 16, 2012 10:09 am

Throw more rollers. You can get more distance with the same effort as an air shot when the ground conditions allow it.
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Re: Should old guys stop throwing hard?

Postby itlnstln » Fri Nov 16, 2012 10:24 am

Chuck Kennedy wrote:Throw more rollers. You can get more distance with the same effort as an air shot when the ground conditions allow it.


I agree. Unfortunately, Central Texas' ground conditions don't often allow it. I love rocs, but in the ground when I'm trying to throw a roller.
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Re: Should old guys stop throwing hard?

Postby JR » Sat Nov 17, 2012 2:55 am

I've never thrown farther with pulled power as long as i do not mess up my full power form. Which happens. But i've trained in an odd way as rehab. I've thrown way too many full power throws than beneficial for my development as a player. In order to be able to play until you die pulling power is a must. Lucky us that there are light discs these days. A totally uselessly flippy 154 Air VIP King thrown with slow x step and reaching back only to the left side. 370'-380'. I need something more HSS even for that because it was a high rear wind throw from more initial hyzer than my achy back likes. Hyzer flip to flat.
Flat shots need running on the center line of the tee and planting each step on the center line. Anhyzer needs running from rear right to front left with the plant step hitting the ground to the left of the line you're running on. Hyzer is the mirror of that.
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Re: Should old guys stop throwing hard?

Postby archimedesjs » Sun Nov 18, 2012 7:13 am

Distance does not win tournaments, although it helps. I was playing in a tournament this summer that utilized a temporary course in Conrad Weiser park. Most of the holes were 325'-450'. I played with an older Pro by the name of Robin. I ended beating him quite easily that day, and winning the tournament, because I was throwing controlled mid-range shots, while he was relying on his longest distance drivers. He was maxing at about 300'. He hit his lines everytime(unless he tried to throw far), threw perfect upshots, and didn't miss putts...but he couldn't get out past 300'. There were just a bunch of birdies he couldn't get...fast forward to a few months later. We played in another tournament at Hickory Run, which is a tightly wooded course, with only a couple holes longer than 300'. Needless to say, he destroyed me there. He kept his drives down the middle, and made his putts. The guy is very smooth, and I believe if he wanted to, he could throw farther...even stated that he did throw farther when he was younger. Point is he relies on consistency, not distance to still be competitive with guys 20-30 years his junior, and he hangs in there...and wins more than he loses. I'm assuming at some point my hips, shoulders, and other joints aren't going to allow for the violent arm speed I use now, so yes...I think it's more beneficial to save your body by not pushing the limits as you get older, and focus on the finer aspects of the game.
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Re: Should old guys stop throwing hard?

Postby Monocacy » Sun Nov 18, 2012 8:42 am

I used to start pulling hard from the moment I stepped on the tee pad. Results: 300' and an aching shoulder. I am learning to relax on my reach-back and throw easier. Results: no loss of distance, shoulder feels fine.

I would probably accept a few extra aches and pains for an additional 50' off the tee, though.

Archimedesjs - yeah, I'm trying to become the older Pro that you played with. I prefer tight, wooded courses so accuracy trumps distance (although accurate distance trumps all, assuming equal putting).

Mark - To answer your question, yes, saving wear and tear on the bod = more disc golf. Last week I played two days in a row for the first time in a couple of years, and felt fine afterwards.
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Re: Should old guys stop throwing hard?

Postby CJ1998 » Sun Nov 18, 2012 9:51 am

I've always thought that 80% is the way to go. A smart engineer will never tell the boss just how much a system can do, because the boss will simply run it until it breaks, then replace it. All the while, the increased productivity coincides with an increase in defects and mistakes. At 80%, the system yields more consistent quality and also lasts longer.

In my practice I try to realize what that optimal power is. My concept is that it is quick, assertive, powerful, yet balanced and smooth. If I try to throw any softer, I lose control. Any harder, and it would require extra oomph from somewhere, so the technique changes, and therefore becomes harder to control.

So I don't think it's just for old guys to learn how to back off for the sake of control. Everyone's game can benefit from such an approach.
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Re: Should old guys stop throwing hard?

Postby martinb » Mon Nov 19, 2012 9:21 am

Mark Ellis wrote:So for old guys does it make sense to throw hard? What if we limited our drives to say, 80% effort? Could we keep most of our distance, improve our accuracy and extend the durability of our body?


meh, you still have to throw hard and heres why.... compared to your younger self throwing 100% you will most likely be at 80% throwing distance. so if you back off another 20% to "save your body", you will be at 60% throwing distance with all things considered. if you can throw 100% with perfect, or near perfect technique you will beat anyone else throwing 80% trying to save their body within our age group. yes we are getting older so if you want to play at a high competive level, i think its more important to exercise and keep your body in shape to account for the wear and tear disc golf does to you. and you need to throw with all you got to offer.
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Re: Should old guys stop throwing hard?

Postby JR » Mon Nov 19, 2012 2:25 pm

Actually powering down some doesn't drop the distance at the same rate thankfully. Especially if you disc up to a low fade longer disc. Possibly using a lighter disc too.
Flat shots need running on the center line of the tee and planting each step on the center line. Anhyzer needs running from rear right to front left with the plant step hitting the ground to the left of the line you're running on. Hyzer is the mirror of that.
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Re: Should old guys stop throwing hard?

Postby smarkquart » Mon Nov 19, 2012 3:18 pm

Going on 37 has often given me thought of age-related changes in my game. I have fairly accurate 350 foot power and can push it out to 380-400 with relatively good accuracy. Every so often I feel that I need to wear an elbow brace, but that is more precautionary than anything else. With the constant fear that I would have to alter my game as I grow older and start breaking down, I have worked on throwing smoother, using more my whole body than just elbow and arm. The was especially true 3-4 years ago when I was cranking on Champion Bosses with the intention of getting them to fly flat, thinking that the easiest way to get distance was by throwing the disc on the shortest line from Point A to Point B. That is when my elbow started acting up. The result of working on a cleaner, more fluid form that does not require 100% power is that I have maintained my distance over the last four years but with less aches and pains. Time will tell if I can keep this up.

I think the idea of 80% is a great idea, especially if for no other reason than to promote accuracy. On a great day for me, 90% or higher nets only a few more feet. I really do not have an open field maximum distance shot because for me shaping that max line is no different than shaping a distance line around an obstacle or two. Since there is no real tremendous upside for me to power completely up, I might as well concentrate on hitting my lines, allow the disc to do some of the work for me, and take my 380-400 feet and be glad that I have that and that it has not vanished as I have aged.
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Re: Should old guys stop throwing hard?

Postby Monkeypaws » Mon Nov 19, 2012 5:01 pm

I think proper form is the key - I'm 50, a noob, and I play every day, often twice, and the only time I feel sore is if I'm out there trying to throw bombs, most of which turn and burn or burn the worms. My best shots feel rhythmic and easy, which is what I'm hoping to master.

I also don't think snap is necessarily bad for older arms, provided it is applied correctly.

I was looking at Team Discraft the other day, and a lot of those guys are my age or older, and granted, they are awesome at what they do, but age doesn't seem to be slowing them down.

Also, I think we are in a silver if not golden age of gear. 150 class discs have been a huge boon to my game, and save wear and tear on the old flipper.
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Re: Should old guys stop throwing hard?

Postby CloudySkyJedi » Wed Nov 21, 2012 10:37 am

This is kinda a dilemma I've been having as well. I'm working on trying to increase hit power and "find" big snap. So here's my question: is it possible to get big snap (full hit) with 75-80% power? Or is big snap something that can only happen when one throws with max power or a certain threshold of power?

I understand that the "disc pivot" concepts and techniques can be utilized down to even short approach shots. But to get the extra bang on drives using the hammer pound and rail techniques that are discussed here so often, do you have to throw with max power?

My guideline for big snap is mids out to 350' and teebirds to about 400'. I can currently put mids about 300' and teebirds / C•FD's to 375' on a 90% throw. (I never throw 100% hard as I can.) What I want to do is keep my same distances just not have to throw as hard while utilizing better technique.

Maybe there's some big snappers out there that could help with this. If one has power to spare, what is it that they do to power it down? Just not hit as hard in last 12 inches of throw? How does this affect timing?

It seem like most local pros around here advocate "disc down" instead of power down. But I'd rather have a deadly finesse game than develop a max power throw that I will only be able to use while I'm in my prime athletically, just to have to relearn how to throw later in life.
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Re: Should old guys stop throwing hard?

Postby iacas » Wed Nov 21, 2012 2:08 pm

CloudySkyJedi wrote:It seem like most local pros around here advocate "disc down" instead of power down. But I'd rather have a deadly finesse game than develop a max power throw that I will only be able to use while I'm in my prime athletically, just to have to relearn how to throw later in life.

Others will comment better than I can on the other stuff, as I'm still learning too, but I wanted to comment on this. I don't think you'll have to re-learn how to throw. The mechanics will be the same. Your arm speed and thus the disc pivot speed might slow down, but the timing, the grip, etc. will all still be the same, I believe.
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