Get Your THROWS On
I get asked about throwing routines sometimes. I thought I’d share a basic mnemonic cue I have used at times during my career. I found it particularly useful when I was throwing in a less structured basis or when I’m trying to get a simple throwing session in before a game or tournament. Beyond that, this seemed a good time for me to type up some notes regarding my opinions on the highly recommended Wiggins’ Zen Throwing Routine and Caldwell/ Burruss’ Kung Fu Throwing. Both are excellent, and worth linking to if for no other reason then the fact someone may stumble here and not have seen those two routines before. But first, that mnemonic….
This is just a little cue you can memorize and use as a trigger whenever you want to go throw. Most people will have (or will develop) a pretty good feel of how much of their throwing time they want to spend in each of the following ‘areas’. The main goal is to not neglect any of these areas over multiple throwing sessions/weeks. In particular, I find many players neglect one or more of these phases before game time or tournament time, whereas I find all of these areas (at least to a minimal extent) good to fit in whenever possible before competition.
Touch – As discussed in a few of my videos and demonstrated to some extent here, the ability to get a disc to sit softly is very useful in throwing to space (particularly when breaking mark or hucking out in front of a receiver). Working on ‘touch’ doesn’t require slow disc speed (though that is often used and may help), but spin is definitely a key component.
Huck – Self explanatory, work on your hucks (whatever that distance is for you, flat 30-40 yard throws may be your current capacity/goal).
Release Points – High and low and in between, definite emphasis on low release points and stability
Overhead – scoobers, hammers, blades, etc.
Short – Short distance throws ( <5 meters…sometimes just 1 meter), how close can you get and still throw a soft low release to someone’s chest? how quickly can you release a short backhand to a nearby target? What about lefty? What about releasing it as soon as possible after you catch it? etc.
Work your fakes, smooth movements, quick movements, and visualizing game situations as you work in the areas above. You can even take your favorite pieces from the Zen and Kung Fu throwing routines and meld them into this framework. You can also (obviously) tackle a few of the mnemonic areas at the same time (ala Aidan and I here….Release points, Touch, Short)
A few comments on Wiggins’ Zen Throwing Routine:
- As you’ll find if you become more familiar with the general themes that appear in my work on skill development, I’m a huge fan of visualizing game situations when one practices throwing. I can’t agree enough with the general thrust in which Wiggins drives home this point in the ‘Theory’ section of his article: “I’ll just end by saying that no routine or doctrine can ever take the place of the most fundamental throwing skill. That skill is in making every practice throw as game-like as possible, both mentally and physically.“
- I didn’t come up practicing Single Leg Throws (#8), but ended up hacking my way to the same concept by trying to isolate different parts of the throwing movement. I have great love now for this concept and really recommend it. I recently stumbled upon a great way of teaching low-release throws to novice players (particularly backhands….I hope to have a video on it soon). As it turns out, it ends up multiple people are using the same concept as the method I stumbled upon (not surprisingly). Here is a comment from K-Dub that references a method similar to mine. These methods have some similarities (perhaps oppositions in a sense) to Wiggins’ Single Leg Throwing. Blocking one’s lower extremities with the ground can really help players develop their throws, just as Wiggins SLT forces players to control their body segments if they wish to have control over their throws.
- As mentioned in the mnemonic cue above, I am a big fan of Wiggins’ R&D Throws (#10). Not only for relaxation and to develop new throwing techniques, but I think it really teaches a player a lot about how to control the disc, and throw from different angles and release points. It even helps players (especially if they visualize on field situations when they are throwing) see the field better and differently. As a developing thrower, I found R&D throws actually helped improve my forehand and backhand, as well as kinesthetic awareness. This exercise will do more than just help you develop your ‘trick’ throws.
- I never did Throw Hard (#11) enough in hindsight. The ability to add more power to the disc (and hence more distance and a quicker release) becomes significant when one is trying to get the last 10 yards or so on one’s huck (or get the huck to its destination a split second faster). The Big Flick (Tim Halt) was a master of the fastball. Tim would regularly gun his flick during games of catch to work on it (and to work on your hands), or rip a 15 yard flick to a cutter who was open for a split second in the endzone. It was obvious the effect this had on Tim’s deep flick when you spent enough time watching him play. Plus, it leads to amusing anecdotes, like the time 2 years ago when we were playing masters and going upwind into the famous Sarasota wind at nationals. At this point, the wind was brutal, most upwind offenses were just trying to get off a clean huck look versus the zones and straight up marks they were seeing. Even a 50/50 45 yard huck was often seen as a good choice. Anyway, our opponents (heading downwind) turned it over most the way down the field on our flick sideline. Tim walked the disc back to the sideline, trapped against a 4 person cup. As the disc was being checked in he says to the players at the top of the cup, “You might want to duck”. Disc in. Tim immediately rips a flick right between the two of them, head level, in a blink of an eye. Whether it was completed or not isn’t really the point 🙂 Entertaining, and fast enough they didn’t have a chance at it. You can see how quick Tim’s release was in this video from back in the day (Machine losing to DOG, 2004 CHC finals). In particular, check 0:48 and 1:54 (I know, these needs to be gfycat’d). Yes, that 1:54 is one hell of a quick release, fade, flick huck – all the way to the back left corner of the endzone. I’ll stop chatting up Tim (he does a good enough job himself)…but he is a great guy and very entertaining…..the point is, Throw Hard. I had full field hucks with both throws and I still should have spent more time doing this.
A few comments on Caldwell / Burruss’ Kung Fu Throwing:
- As stressed in the article, this is a workout. If you don’t feel taxed, you weren’t doing it correctly.
- I’m a big fan of the ‘Rinky dink’. It has a lot of parallels to some of the themes I find common in my work and some parallels with some of Wiggins’ routine (R&D for example). In particular. the comments section that goes with ‘Rinky Dink’ has a key principle underlying it. When trying to improve, you shouldn’t always worry about completion percentage (or other common standards). This is a principle I often use when trying to help people develop throwing skills, particularly with team wide drills where there is a tendency to worry about ‘making a mistake’ in front of others. I talk about this a bit in my utalkraw interview and in this breakmark drill video.
- As you’ll see in my videos, I’m a very big proponent of the ‘Pivoting and Focus’ section of Kung Fu throwing….especially working on quickness and a fast grip change (two areas that often limit throwers who can throw low release throws, but can’t seem to get off breakmark throws).
Ultimately, I think there is a lot to draw on from both these articles. In fact, there is tonsof value in the principles these two articles discuss / demonstrate, even if you don’t need or use the prescribed routines. You can take these principles (visualization, focused repetition, creativity, isolating parts of the throwing motion, throwing with different speeds, critiquing your throwing form, etc.) and apply them to your own routine, or mish-mash exercises to build something that fits your fitness, goals, and time available. Now, go get your THROWS on.