Throwing a frisbee is a truly beautiful activity; a simple thing that has the ability to captivate for hours. But for something so simple, it can be hard to become a great thrower, especially as you try to transfer this skill to dynamic game situations. It’s a skill that has no ceiling; you are only limited by your desire to progress and expand.
Through these articles I will explore throwing and in-game decision making as skills, and suggest ways in which you can work to improve your skill sets to help you become a more complete thrower.
Throwing is a skill. Learning a skill is an investment, one that takes time. In this day and age, especially if you are out of high school or university, time can be particularly scarce when trying to find balance with training and life. As a kid I would throw at recess, lunch and then straight to the park after school, sometimes even heading out alone with 20 frisbees to throw against a baseball net. That time spent mindlessly throwing has given me countless repetitions that I am thankful to have under my belt today. Ideally, everyone would have the time to throw for hours every day however, but with the short amount of time available to most of us, here are a couple of thought processes I’ve found to be useful in accelerating my development as a thrower. Create a feedback loop By creating a feedback loop you are opening up lines of communication to more efficiently spot errors and identify potential improvements. Acquiring the necessary information to get to a desired objective is precisely what rapid skill acquisition is about. Here’s how you do it: every single time you complete a throw with a partner, or perhaps after a set of ten, quickly analyse what went on with that throw and what you/your throwing partner can improve or change during the next set. As you become better, more practiced throwers this process will be quicker and almost automatic. By actively recognising errors or ‘areas of improvement’, you will be able to identify and apply solutions to smooth out the throwing motion, and make it more efficient.
Make practice deliberate
Focus very deliberately on the sub-skills that make up a complete thrower. This ties in with the feedback loop, but should be applied before you start throwing. Before you start any throwing session, it’s important to choose a specific goal for the set (eg. reducing the time your hammer spends airborne, or removing wobble from your IO flick), and then clearly identify which sub-skills are important to master to help achieve this goal (release angle, wrist flick, flight trajectory, step out, pivot, fake, recovery).
Slow and steady
Deliberate practice is hard, and requires constant high level concentration. Don’t be surprised if your sessions are shorter, or you struggle to maintain focus through the first few sessions. If you need, keep the 'deliberate practice' element of the set short, and then move on to less prescribed practice and repetition. A great way to initiate this during a casual throw with a friend is simply announcing “I’m going to work on XX” this session. This holds you accountable, encourages your friend to focus on one element of throwing and opens a feedback loop between you both. Be as specific as you can with this goal and be sure to reflect on it after the session with your buddy.
Plan your sessions
We practice throwing to improve the skill of throwing, just as we go to the gym to get stronger and the track to get fitter. With this in mind our throwing sets should have intent and be well prepared (eg. always wear cleats, just as you would always wear gym shoes in the gym).
Hopefully these points will add focus and direction to your throwing practice and help you achieve your throwing goals more efficiently. In the coming weeks these articles will focus on the more technical and structured side of throwing and skill sessions and also dive into becoming a better in-game decision maker. Until then, enjoy being creative.