Disc Dog Freestyle: How Many Releases Do You Think You Have?

While with my latest student, we were working on various aspects of the game of disc dog freestyling (or Frisbee dog acrobatics). After chatting about the basic of freestyle, we tried our hand at her pup catching tosses with a preliminary over-the-shoulder flip catch. Those aren't hard once you find out if your pup is left or right foots, then tossing a few tests to find the sweet spot on how far and high you need to place the disc in relation to the dog.  (If it's close enough to entice the pup to chase it into the air, that's most of the battle. Then you have to figure out how short of far to toss it to make the catch look pretty cool.)

We then checked out thigh vaults and the pup's tendencies with a back vault. Remember, disc placement is critical in getting the dog to plant their feet firmly on your thigh and back. Too low a shot placement and the pup won't get quite the right angle and they won't get optimal traction. Also, after some testing, you need to find the right spot to have your dog launch from, because usually you don't want the pup too close for vaults.

Also, rear-end awareness training comes in handy for vaulting. Or at least it can't hurt. But then again, something to keep in mind is that you don't need a lot or any vaults to have a good freestyle round. Vaults are not a requirement.

Hero Disc USA products.

Then we talked about the different kinds of throws and throwing techniques for both the Toss & Fetch (T&F) field and freestyle (FS) performances. One of the primary premises with freestyle routines is to try and not deliver the same release more than once, or at least avoid repetitiveness. If all you do is the same backhand, back and forth, that will diminish your score into a less exciting realm and hurt your overall day.  Plus, too many backhands in a routine becomes a toss and fetch demonstration. Boring! And you don't want to bore the judges.

When I mention I have at least 100 different releases, that statement seems to inspire a raised eyebrow or two. So let me explain and suddenly it will all make sense.

The variety of freestyle throws or releases include the..

backhand (classic Frisbee toss release),
forehand (flick),
the tomahawk, sledgehammer, blade (hammer),
"shield" toss (chicken wing, overhand),
reverse "shield" toss,
pizza throw,
reverse pizza throw,
air bounce,
airbrush (mack),
footbrush (kickpass),
dad's backhand,
football hike!

Now that we've put out a set of potential example releases, let's talk about the number of releases.

The list above demonstrates 10+ releases. With your dominant hand. If you switch all these to your non-dominant hand, you now have 20+ releases. But to extrapolate a little farther, let's look at one release and how that can explode into many releases:

If we look at the backhand release and think about the different ways to throw that one with your dominant hand:

Normal, classic release,
behind your back,
through your legs,
under your lifted left leg,
under your lifted right leg,
dad's backhand.

Now add those throws to your non-dominate hand, and that one release accounts for 12 different throws for a routine. Right?  If we add up a straight, hyzer and anhyzer tosses (straight, right arc, left arc) for each release, you have just turned 6 throws into 36 possible throws.

All from just your backhand release.

Hence, if you can muster up 36 releases from your backhand, and then add up the other releases, the possibilities are endless.

Obviously some of the releases have restrictions on how they get released. An airbrush has specific components that might be harder to execute between your legs or behind your back.  (Or not... but I can barely muster up the basic airbrush! LOL) But that is how you can get your arsenal of throws up to 100 or more releases!

It's a technicality, but if you get good at these throws with both hands, then add a few variations, you will suddenly have enough releases to fill a 90-second to 2-minute freestyle routine. EASY!

Pick the shots that are easy for you to master right away and you can develop your routine from that starting point, then branch out through time.

And to think, we did not even touch on delivering any of these releases with an upside down grip, or combination releases that involve more than one disc in the air at a time. Not every shot is a good candidate for upside down deliveries, but feel free to disprove me!

So as you see each throw can have a myriad of options. But the thing to remember is that if you get excellent with your backhand delivery, the rest will fall into place and you will be just fine.

When practicing your releases, remember that most freestyle deliveries do not require much distance. Keep in mind you only really need to have 5-30 foot tosses for FS. Keep your dog close and rested so they can keep up throughout your routine. Unless he berserk. The last thing you want is a tuckered dog and their funny antics that come out when they are tired. My pup likes to not let go of discs or go around me instead of over me for vaults when he starts getting tired.

Which leads me to my next point...

Even if it seems cool to start out small and build up to big jumps, you might not get those big jump/vaults consistently if your dog is tired. Therefore, I've had it recommended to me a number of times to get the big stunts out there first, keep it mild in the middle then try to finish with something that can seem flashy but not too strenuous.

But that's my spin on things, no pun intended.

- - -
Stuff to check out:

Brodie Smith Instructional Videos

Remember when you watch these videos that Brodie is an ultimate Frisbee player so he comes from the basis of how to get a good, quick, competitive throw out there. Disc dog freestylers like us don't necessarily need to execute the same way, but the premises that Brodie touches on are sound.

How to throw a backhand

[ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mlf7nfKYK40&index=5&list=PLFBB3F4C59E94D401 ]

Here's a video where Brodie Smith goes through some interesting advanced tosses:

[ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdlpyazJxfQ&list=PLFBB3F4C59E94D401 ]

Man, I'd love to see him man-handle a dog disc and toss for my pups! I wonder if he'd find the sweet spot for my dog's catching?