Thoughtful Thursday 4/27/22: Video your throws to improve your form

What was your reaction to seeing yourself throw a disc on video for the first time?

For most of us, it’s surprising. “I had no idea I did that when I throw,” or “Do I really look like that?”

But it shouldn’t be surprising, really. We think we know what our throw looks like because we can feel it. But so much happens over such a brief moment during the throw that we don’t see or feel much of it. The parts of the throwing motion that we can’t see or feel in real time are subconscious, and we won’t be made conscious of them until we can see it for ourselves.

Of course, this is where video comes in. With video, you can see every aspect of your throw from any angle, and you can take as much time as you need to dissect it properly by slowing the footage down, pausing, and rewinding as needed.

And videoing yourself takes very little effort, equipment, and time – just whip out your phone, set it on a bench or a pile of discs and away you go. Looking at it that way, why wouldn’t you film yourself throw?

Because videoing yourself can be scary! Especially if you’ve never done it before. Neither the backhand nor the forehand throw are natural motions, and it’s extremely difficult to make them look good. And for many of us, not looking good can be stressful or embarrassing, especially if we have to spend much time watching it over and over. So to help you reap all the benefits of filming your throws, let’s talk about four ways to take most of the intimidation out of filming yourself.

Film somewhere without other disc golfers. Whether it’s an empty soccer field, a trail through the woods, a power tower clearing, or your own backyard, it can be comforting not to have other disc golfers around when you’re throwing and filming. In fact, seeing non-disc golfers during these sessions can be a surprising reality check – and sometimes we need that! Several times I’ve been practicing standstill upshots in a soccer field and had people tell me how impressed they were that I could throw so far – about 115’. But for someone who is unfamiliar with the game, even a terrible shot or a short range shot for our standards is quite impressive to a passerby, and the passing compliments help put everything in perspective. We are almost always our own worst critic!

Don’t track the disc in the video. When you throw a disc, you’re trying to get three things correct: The release angle (e.g., hyzer, flat, or anhyzer), the height, and the aiming point. Within the first one-quarter (or less) of a disc’s flight, you can determine whether you got all three of those things correct. Anything that goes wrong after the first one-quarter of the flight is almost always due to a mental error (for example, misreading the wind, misjudging the distance to the target, or choosing the wrong disc) which has nothing to do with your form. So don’t zoom in on the disc until it hits the ground! Let the disc fade out of sight. This will make you less worried about filming the perfect shot and less embarrassed about shots that went astray. If you have the first 50’ of the flight, then the disc will tell you everything you need to know about how good the shot was without anyone else having to know, because no one else knows where you were aiming!

Have someone else film you when you don’t expect it. Sometimes knowing that someone is filming you can rattle you – or worse, it can make you do things during your throw that you don’t normally do when you’re comfortable. If you are playing a round with someone you trust, ask them to film you for 2-3 shots throughout the round, but to do it secretly. In return, you do the same for them. This way, you (and your friend) never know you’re being filmed, and you get accurate footage of your typical throws. You can even give your friend your phone before the round starts so they don’t have the footage on their phone, if that makes you more comfortable.

Repetition! The best way to get comfortable watching yourself throw is to do it early and often. Track your progress – the first videos will always be the hardest to watch, but once you see that first bit of improvement, it only gets easier. One of the biggest fears of watching yourself on film for the very first time is the fear of the unknown – of not knowing what you’re going to look like, but knowing it may not be as good as you hope. Repetition removes the fear of the unknown by increasing your familiarity with your throw – every type of shot, from all angles and all distances. And the more familiar you are with your shot, the more comfortable you’ll be watching and critiquing it!

Get outside and play some disc golf this week! Let me know about the parts of your form that you are happy with and the ones that you are working to improve upon.

Alex Pelletier

PDGA #91113

Team Disc Store