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.