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.
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