Are you turning too far?


A recent piece on Brady’s excellent Pulled Disc site talks about the problem of the ‘standing-up follow through’. That inability to maintain posture throughout the whole throw will, as he rightly says, contribute strongly to inconsistency. On the backhand, it’s very likely to drag the disc to the right and turn it outside-in.

I’d like to make a related point about the shoulders. Generally, that standing-up follow through gets you very square – chest-on to the direction of the throw – even before releasing the disc. And this might be a bad thing in itself.

Think about the rotation angle of our shoulders, and how our front shoulder moves during a throw. Let’s imagine we’re throwing a power backhand, with a big wind-up, such that our chest is facing away from the target (as in the first of these pictures). As we turn our shoulders through the throw, our front shoulder – the one connected to the arm with the disc – will come forwards. That’s a good thing; it’s clearly adding impetus in the right direction.

20140108_155800 20140108_155810

But only until we’re parallel to the direction of the throw. When we’re completely side-on, so that a line between our shoulders is pointing at the target, that’s as far as we can usefully go. If we keep turning our trunk beyond that, our throwing shoulder will start to go backwards…

Of course, we have to go a fair bit further before our shoulder goes significantly backwards. At that point in the rotation, the front shoulder is travelling sideways much more than backwards. But that sideways movement is an issue in itself – we’re dragging the arm across to the right. We’ve stopped gaining anything from our shoulder turn at that point, and instead we’re making things worse.

Either our release point will be dragged right – yanking the disc in that direction – or we’ll be forced to release it earlier to achieve the desired direction (which will cost us power; a shorter throwing motion has less opportunity to accelerate the disc).

I think this over-rotation of the shoulders before release is part of the reason that these standing-up throws get dragged to the right. And I think many of the problems you see when people try too hard to generate power on backhand hucks come from this same issue – they lose the timing, over-rotate before release, and end up with less power and control.

And you could make a case for applying this same idea to all of your power backhands. Can you get more power and control by avoiding over-rotation in those shoulders? If you focus on pulling your shoulder through rapidly but then stopping near parallel and allowing the arm to whip through, would it help you?

To be clear, I’d expect your arm and shoulder to continue to rotate through to some extent after releasing a power backhand, as all that rotational momentum in your core has to go somewhere. I don’t expect you to stop dead at the release point. But trying not to over-rotate can be valuable.

My experience is that some people benefit quite a lot from thinking about this concept. As with any coaching tip, there are also lots of people who don’t – but you might want to try it and see. Certainly if you find yourself trying very hard and not gaining much from it, then this tip might just help you to attack the throw with better timing.

Brady suggests ‘freezing’ after release, holding your position to demonstrate your balance and avoid standing up too early. Thinking about your shoulder rotation can have a similar impact – it will force you to maintain your position at the point of release. When I head out with a bag of discs and practice hucking, this is my go-to cure for those occasions when I’m trying too hard and losing the timing. Try it, and let me know if it works for you

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8 Responses to Are you turning too far?

  1. Tom Abrams says:

    To further your point, I’ve found that when coaching for backhand power/distance, there is often an over-rotation in the drawback/backswing, which can lead to an over-rotation as you describe in the follow through. This causes the disc to follow a rotational (as opposed to linear) path prior to release.

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    • Absolutely. One of the things I worked with our guys on just last week in preseason was the concept of a reach-back (a disc golf term) rather than a back-swing. Don’t rotate round, holding the disc a constant distance from your core, to where you’ll start the throw; instead, just reach backwards and put the disc there. Rotating on the back-swing tends to result in the disc ‘hiding’ behind the body (it has some sideways momentum at the end of the swing, so it carries on past where you want it), which forces you to have a similarly curved throwing motion – since your body is plum in the way of a straight-line throw. All this straight-line stuff is another post in itself though…

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      • OK! Now we are talking! Finally something Benji and I (might) be able to fight about 🙂

        I actually don’t know what I think about this, but I ‘feel’ like my ‘reach back’ has some roundness (not an ‘over-rotation’ (Tom’s concern) and I’m not always equidistant from my core (your concern)….but definitely not “straight back”). I think in terms of pure power/distance, straight through may be correct (see disc golf as you mention)…and it is totally possible this is how I do it (I really gotta tape my backhand huck and see…..damn winter….) I feel spinning around here in my room that I have more rotation then you imply should be used.

        I definitely would argue there is an adjustment that needs to be made to some extent (at least some of the time) to the ‘straight thru’ model. I feel the rotation let’s me get around straight up marks in a way ‘straight thru’ doesn’t (and still put a good 80 yards into it if I’m on). Is that just how it ‘feels’ or am I actually doing it that way(?)….to be researched.

        Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in between these different lines of commentary (as it often does) and you and I are actually in agreement.

        Good stuff, B!
        – B

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        • There’s a bunch of stuff there – I think you’re talking about both the reach-back and the throw itself at different points. For the reach back, of course it doesn’t matter too much how you get there; it’s just that for most people the rotational way of getting there tends to put the disc in the wrong place. If you do it that way but do it right, there’s no issue, but when coaching I find it much much easier to get people to put the disc there directly. You could argue there’s a time saving element to it as well – it ought to be quicker to get the disc there, ready to throw, by moving it in a straight line.

          For the throw itself, there’s some variation – a roll curve throw has a bit of rotation in the throwing motion, and an I/O might actually come /inside/ the straight line – but I find it generally best to base all this on a solid ability to pull the disc through straight. I guess we’ll see a bit more about that if we ever get the finished data from that research I was doing!

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          • Got ya (Need to re-read my comment…I was very possibly unclear). Thanks for clarifying, it would seem to make sense that the ‘throw’ is variable based on ‘need’ (as you indicate). Really will have to see how I bring it back…

            Get to work on data… 😉

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  2. Good stuff Benji (thanks for the shout out). I always cue this as “you are opening up the chest”, similar thought. I like your way of talking though it though, something to add to the toolbox.

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