Thursday, May 18, 2006

more on hucking practice

Last week, I discussed a hucking practice session I planned to do. I set up stakes at 35 and 45 yards away and tried to land a leading pass at the stake, and measured how far the throws missed the target. First, some observations on my success:
  1. 35 yard throws were gimmes
  2. 45 yard throws had unacceptably wide variation (i.e., I shouldn’t be throwing them, if that day’s results are my true level)
  3. Error was attributable both to initial line and to curve
  4. Forehands and backhands were about the same
  5. Variation in range was less than variation in accuracy


But the main conclusion was that this isn’t the way to structure the practice. A huck isn’t a golf shot that has to end up close to the hole, but a 3-D throw where time is just as big of a factor in the catchability. While for every cut there may be an ideal throw, there are a variety of distance/speed/hang time combinations that result in sure completions. Also, the acceptable margin of error is not symmetrical, with more margin long than short. Finally, it doesn’t really matter where the disc lands, it’s where and how long the disc is at a catchable height. Without sophisticated equipment, I don’t think you’d be able to measure that.

So, I’d propose a slightly different setup. The setup is similar, with the thrower attempting to throw a pass that comes down to, say, 6’ high at a set distance. However, instead of measuring how far away the disc lands (a condition that is exacerbated by differences in disc stability), rank each throw on the following scale of 1 to 5:
5: pretty much as I planned
4: not quite as planned, but a sure completion
3: a throw where the receiver has a reasonable chance to come up with the sky or to chase it down if he’s really fast; a 50/50 throw
2: catchable, but not a throw anyone would be expected to come down with
1: uncatchable

For anything except a 5, make a note of how you missed, and see whether any patterns develop. You can also apply the same scale to your long throws in a game, although you also need to consider not just whether the throw did what you wanted but whether it was the right decision.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

i'm not entirely convinced at the usefullness of such a drill without some modifications. i realise that it's a drill of sorts that you can do on your own, without a partner to receive your throws. i guess in that respect, it's better than nothing, but still, i'd bet you get more out of playing a round of disc golf with a 175.

however, maybe with some modifications to your hucking session, it could become more benificial. the drill clearly becomes more difficult when placing an object directly in front of you that resembles the size of a marker or even a marker's reach (which will certainly vary in any given instance in a game.) thinkin' aloud here without much thought given to this, but it seems like you'd want the object to be around eye level and not be something you'd hurt yourself on an over-extended follow through...ending your season. maybe it's just a cardboard box with a broomhandle through it. it really just wants to be something that forces you to step out and extend, i'd imagine. that's a different throwing motion than warming up with a teammate before a game and working on long throws because though i think you're stepping out in some regards, it never seems to be the same throwing motion as in a game with a mark (moreso with the backhand.) knowing your distance (given your time variable as well, which i think is a good point), will give you an idea of your range given a similiar game situation. without some inanimate object that you need to throw around, it seems it could quickly become something short of a pulling practice of long, flat throws. i guess you could even choose a tree to throw around in a park.

another change i would suggest in this drill is similiar to your stake idea but creating more of a 'zone' to throw into. layout a box/rectangle at various distances with different sizes even, and try putting your throw into this given receiving area. smaller windows of reception closer and larger windows the farther downfield you go. obviously you can change the size of the throwing windows depending on what throw you're looking for. say you've chosen to work on a throw that needs a little heat for 25-30 yards but can't be too low and needs to land within 10-15 feet off the sideline around a 6 foot height. it doesn't need to land in that zone so much as it should cross that given plane under the above conditions. or, simply landing a disc just beyond those 35 and 45 yards zones (even if it's out the back) should give you some perspective as to the height and distance of your throws through the desired receiving zone.

changing the location of release for your throws could be valuable practice as well. maybe that inanimate object becomes a bar stradled across two objects, where you're forced to throw below the bar and into those zones as previously mentioned. yet again, better than playing long toss with a teammate and something you can do by yourself when your teammates are at the bar drinking.

i'm sure i've been more than unclear in some of this and it's even possible these ideas suck. i think it gives you a better idea of where to rate those throws on the scale of 1-5 however. it gives a bit more tangibility to the time variable by allowing yourself some breathing room for those throws. did you hit your cutter in stride or did you leave it to the front end of the receiving zone and require the receiver to stop (hence allowing a potential 'defender' to come into the mix.) how short must the thorw be before you get comfortable putting the disc where you want it with some regularity?

dar.

Anonymous said...

Great thing to do is get a LX goal and use that to throw into. It is roughly the same size as a player making an in cut. You can start trying to locate your throws to one side of a defender by aiming for the upper right or left corner of the goal. You can simulate angled throws by turning the goal and pretend that the cutter is moving and the goal is where you want to hit them in their cut. You can also obviously back up to make it a longer throw and if it gets to the goal at ankle height it might not have been a good throw. If you are accurate the netting will make disc collection easy, if not you get a good conditioning workout racing to collect your misses.

Anonymous said...

if you want a marker for the above drill do it behind the football goal post.

parinella said...

Dar,

Good suggestions. Anything you can do to make it more game-like is good. Another suggestion might be to make it more aerobic. Before each throw, jog or sprint 10 yards.

As I usually do when throwing, I was visualizing a marker and a cut. But it's probably better to use an actual object to throw around so you can figure out the real flight path. I occasionally unexpectedly hit trees in golf when attempting a rescue shot because I have only a vague idea of the flight path with a particular club.

So, maybe the solution is to do this drill in an area with a few trees or other large objects, and use those trees to learn the flight path. One situation that this would help would be when you're on the line and all of your teammates and opponents are crowding the field but you still want to throw it.

Another thing you could do would be to build a track like the one that NFL sideline cameras run on. Or maybe just put your riding mower at full speed and try to hit it.

Jackson said...

"when you're on the line and all of your teammates and opponents are crowding the field but you still want to throw it"

You may want to throw it, but it sounds like you shouldn't.

parinella said...

Yeah, you probably shouldn't, but if you know at what angle the disc is going to leave your hand and how quickly it will get above head height, you might be able to make a more informed decision on this throw instead of just hoping.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a remarkable waste of time. I knew there was a reason that I don't read your blog...

~fm

parinella said...

Anonymous ~fm, please detail how you manage to complete nearly 25% of your hucks (of which there are many) so we can all learn.