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Elements of Becoming a Better Thrower

What factors are involved in becoming a good thrower? Obviously you need to have a lot of practice. But is there more than that? I believe that there are 2 elements to becoming a good thrower: determination and the ability to be coach-able.

This involves not giving up when you’re having difficulty with a throw. It can take years to become good at a throw so don’t become frustrated if you can’t pick it up right away. It’s all about throwing enough so that your muscle memory will take over and it will become second nature. However, this doesn’t happen right away. You must not only practice throwing a lot but you must also practice throwing the right way too. If you’re going out and throwing and not really thinking about your throws, this isn’t really beneficial to you improving. When you go throw, you need to be trying new edges, new throws, new grips, and the whole time be thinking what is working, what isn’t working, what feels right and what doesn’t. Through this process of analyzing your throwing you will be able to self coach yourself and will develop the ability to fix/improve your throws continuously over your playing career.

Being a good thrower is fun. It’s fun to be able to throw the disc the length of a football field. It’s fun to have people love watching you throw. It’s fun being able to teach people how to become a better thrower. It’s not fun to have your throws not go where you want them to. It’s not fun to be the weak link on your team because your throws aren’t strong. It’s not fun to have the other team shut your team down because you don’t have people who can throw in really windy conditions.

Just like fitness, throwing is something that you have complete control over. The effort you put in to becoming a better thrower will be directly reflected on the field. Although it may be a slow start to improving your throws, if you stick with it then the possibilities are endless as to how good your throws can be.

You will need to practice. And practice some more. There was one period a few years ago when I spend 2 hours everyday for 4 weeks practicing throwing. For me, throwing is like my form of meditation. So not only was it helpful to my throwing to go practice, but it was also beneficial to my mind to go throw. Find your balance and it’s surprising how much fun you can have practicing throwing. Not so sure? Ask me some of the drills you can do when you’re in a field throwing on your own to become a better thrower.

When I talk about coach-ability, I mean not just being receptive to input from others, but more importantly, yourself. You need to develop the ability to learn and improve based on watching other good throwers, based on the mistakes you make with your throws and based on the playing conditions, whether it’s windy or rainy or cold.

Developing the ability to receive input from others will go a long way in becoming a good thrower because many times they will be able to notice what you can’t, such as a problem with your mechanics, a tendency for you to look at certain throws more than others and how the markers are defending you (ie if they are able to read your fakes).

By watching good throwers throw, you can pick up on what they have learned that helps them be a good thrower. Everyone has a different technique since your technique depends on your flexibility, strength, height, past injuries, etc. But, it’s what you can learn about their technique and then apply that to your own technique that will be the most valuable. How they get more power out of their throw, how they get more reach, how they fake, how they see the field, etc. When I first started learning to throw, watching videos of people throwing was more valuable than I could have realized. Looking back, it really shaped the way I throw today and has helped me continuously improve on my throwing.

In developing a coach-able attitude, you can also self correct your own throws when you make a mistake. By understanding what the core elements are of your throw, you will be able to feel when something isn’t feeling right, when you have to correct an element of your throw and when you have to adjust based on how the other team is marking you. I have changed my throwing technique several times in the 8 years I have been playing but the mechanics of my throw haven’t changed much. The stronger I get, the more flexible/less flexible I get means I have to adjust my throw to match those changes.

The other component of coach-ability is the ability to recognize the playing conditions and to adjust your throw accordingly. If there is a strong wind, you will have to be aware on every throw. You will want to practice throwing in all conditions so that when you’re faced with a strong wind in a game, you’ll know what to do. Or if it’s raining, you will want to know how to throw a wet disc. Good teams are good no matter the conditions they’re playing in so become an all weather player.

Develop the ability to be determined and coach-able and you will see results in your practice efforts to become a better thrower.

19 thoughts on “Elements of Becoming a Better Thrower”

  1. “Ask me some of the drills you can do when you’re in a field throwing on your own to become a better thrower.”

    I really want to become a better thrower, what kind of drills would you recommend that I could do on my own? Thanks in advance

  2. LOL I'm glad you asked Jay.

    For me, I approach throwing practice for ultimate much like practicing hitting balls/putting for golf. You want to focus on repetition, different throws (forehand, backhand, hammer, scoober, etc), different lengths (short, medium, long, hucks and pulls) and different situations (like inside out/outside in).

    A few drills I love doing are:

    1. Go to a field that has a soccer net. Bring several discs with you (I usually take 6-8) and some cones or something to use as a marker. Set up the cones in a line about 5 yards apart and you can place them either across the front of the net or facing the net leading away from it. Start at the cone closest to the net and throw all of the discs into the net using one throw. When you make all of them, you can move onto the next cone. I find this is an amazing drill for developing consistency of your form, improving the spin on the disc, increasing your speed of release and improving your accuracy. Try to pretend that you have someone marking you to improve your handling skills.

    2. Another great drill works on improving the speed of your release. Stand 5-10 yards away from the soccer net and put the discs in a pile. What you want to focus on is to throw the discs as fast as possible in the net so you want to step out and throw, reach for another disc, throw that, and so on until you've thrown all the discs.

    3. A third drill that is great for working on your distance, power and accuracy is to pull. Practice pulling over and over. Take your pile of discs and try to have each throw be the same so by the time you throw the discs in the stack you should have a consistent pull; if not then by doing it over and over you will develop a consistent throw. I find this great for developing the muscles which you depend on for throwing as well so your throws will become longer the more you do this drill.

    4. Corner 'kicks'. Much like in soccer, stand in the corner and practice curving the disc into the net – this will help you develop the edges on your throws, the distance and the accuracy. By learning how much edge you need to put on your throws in order to have them curve into the net, this will help all of your throws overall.

    There are more drills I do but those are some of the main ones. I will be posting a forehand video which will illustrate a few elements of these drills.

    Hope that helps!

      1. Oh, if that’s the case..
        I’d also like to ask about this certain problem.
        I am an ultimate frisbee player here in the Philippines and I am a part of the group that is building up a school team. This group aims to uplift the sport of Ultimate here because it is not yet recognized by our school.
        Right now, I am assigned to teach our new members on how to play the sport, specifically in the basics. Problem is, I don’t know how to convey my knowledge especially that I have only over a year of experience. Can you give me any advice on this?

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