Skill WOW 15: Quick and High Backhand Breakdown
Note to selves: Yeah, we took a slight audio quality and video stability step backward in this one….#unioncameraguys (it’s a joke, relax #formerlivingwageorganizer)
1st point: Short, quick backhand drill.
- I can’t recommend doing this enough. Should help with all your backhand release points and motions. There is some good evidence (again, check out Daniel Coyle’s work) that ‘hard skill’ gains can be made most efficiently by breaking a skill down into ‘chunks’ and mastering those component pieces. While there may not be 100% agreement on this point in the research, I have found it useful in my own coaching and skill development. It seems to pass the smell test.
- Since this ‘drill’ is a useful on-field skill in and of itself, working this into your regular throwing routine is a no-brainer. If you want to see how useful short, quick release backhands can be, you don’t have to go very far. Watch Sockeye’s ‘small ball’ offense at work this past season or the ‘throw and go’ work utilized by many elite teams. A good progression once you have begun mastering quick backhands is to use them in drills such as my ‘throwback give and go’ box drill (though as demonstrated in the drill, you should try to develop a variety of release points).
2nd point: Shift. Set. Serve.
- Work on smoothing the motion out over time, but I find moving through these three distinct ‘chunks’ and pausing at each to be a good starting point and ongoing reference (I try to demonstrate these three phases with a short pause when I throw with Aidan at the end of the video). You can develop power, distance, variability of release points, and control with this basic setup.
3rd point: Owning the space (previous video on issue).
- It may appear that I am ‘elbowing’ Aidan out of the way in the video (I was a bit too demonstrative to make a point). You should (of course) familiarize yourself with the disc-space marking violation in the current USA(PA)U rules. My arms in this situation (absent the previously mentioned exaggeration of the motion with my elbows, and possibly even then) are within a disc space from my pivot point and my torso. I should be able to move freely without any contact with Aidan, assuming I am not causing the contact “solely by movement of the thrower”. I obviously have a clear path to do so in the video, so if Aidan encroaches on that path as I pivot; he likely will commit the disc-space violation (or a marking foul). Understanding these rules and spatial dynamics (and being able to calmly reference the rules to your opponent or an observer) will greatly improve your ability to be an effective thrower on the field.