Spring time across the United States brings many things for many people. It’s traditionally a symbolism of renewal, rebirth, rejuvenation, and ressurection of life. From the cold drumming days of Winter, disc golfers always eagerly enjoy the coming of Spring and this year in Austin, TX it was especially welcoming.
This year, with the warming temperatures, Austin, TX was honored to play host to one of the first Southern U.S. stops on the instructional Disc Mania – “Deep In The Game” U.S. Tour.
The traveling roadshow of impeccable talent allowed Disc Mania to follow up on it’s highly viewed “Deep In The Game” web series by providing hands-on instructional tutorials and clinics that showed disc golfers how to improve their game no matter what level of play they were currently at. It simply showed that there is always something for everyone to learn.
The tour event instructional sessions and clinics were promoted and led by the industry’s disc golf champions Avery Jenkins and Simon Lizotte.
Pedigree of Experience for the tour…
Avery Jenkins is a member of the Professional Disc Golf Association (#7495) and from the United States. His accolades include the following: 2009 PDGA World Champion, 2006 Players Cup Champion, 3x US Distance Champion, 2000 Rookie of the Year, and the 2009 Iron Arm Champion. He has also received his college degree from the University of Oregon in 2007.
Simon Lizotte is a member of the Professional Disc Golf Association (#8332) and from Germany. His accolades include the following: 2012 Disc Golf European Champion, 2013 PDGA EuroTour winner, and he also holds the unofficial record for the fastest throw ever recorded at 144km/h (89.5 mph) from 2013.
As most players know, disc golf is a very unique sport. To outsiders it may even look odd and unnatural when compared to other sports, but whether you are an observer or player Avery and Simon do their best at these clinics to provide the best teachings to your ability and display the skill techniques that benefit everyone in attendance. Avery and Simon never forget, and they always understand, that they too started with less experience at one point in their career and every little bit you can gain will only improve your game. Additionally, they are always open to learning something new at every opportunity since a good teacher is always the perceptive student.
The duration time of these clinics may vary from location to location since they depend on the amount of participants and the many other variables for that days clinic as a whole.
For the session I attended, it easily lasted a few hours. It started in the evening at the end of a workday and went into the beginning hours of dusk. If it would not have been for the restrictions of illumination, I am most confident that Avery and Simon would have continued much further without hesitation. They were simply committed to ensuring that everyone in attendance had the opportunity to be satisfied and walked away with a memorable experience.
Avery and Simon were able to break down the clinic into:
– General tips
– Mechanics and shot selection, basic and advanced
– Techniques, basic and advanced
– Visualization, disc flight and shot selection
– Physics and Energy, both with strength and finesse
– Practice, Skill Training, Performance Conditioning
– Feedback and community learning
There are many things that every disc golfer can do to improve their own game, and most of them are very particular to your own specific playing style, but there are some “general” tips that can be applied to every player individually.
– be confident in your disc selection and know how it will perform when YOU throw it (not someone else)
– be confident in your grip selection for the type of disc and shot that YOU are making (not someone else’s)
– throw from the energy and motion of your arm (drives and approaches), do not insert wrist movement (or tweaking) into the equation. Keep it simple.
– settle yourself into a comfortable stance of confidence (mentally and physically)
– always perform a smooth reach back, keep your arm level, uncoil the energy during the throw, and follow through in one fluid motion until the disc is released. This helps your throws and your body as it absorbs all of the motion generated.
Mechanics and Shot Selection
The mechanics of a throw depend on the type of throw you will be performing. The types of throws that were covered were: the Drive, the Approach, and the Putt.
– for the “run up” use a good controlled pace (not a full sprint)
– run up on a line for your target, do not try and change direction during a run up
– once you start a “run up” don’t stop or interrupt it. Keep it fluid and comfortable
– pull back in a straight line and release in a straight line
– throws are 90% technique and 10% power/strength
– reach back using your major muscle groups, keeping shoulder level and throwing arm close to the body
– know the wind directions as it always effects flight and performance
– line up for your targeted flight so that it corresponds with the disc selection and intention
– throw your Approach so that you know you will have a better next shot
– know the terrain of the approach and always try to land flat
– match the angle of slopes and hills with the finishing flight of your disc to reduce the chances of a roll
– aim for your “circle of confidence” around the basket. (see below for more information)
– Confidence is key
– know your “circle of confidence.” This is the area that you can regularly make the putt from and you feel most comfortable with. The circle will grow with your experience.
– throw through it, not just to it (aim to a point behind the chains)
– consider the putt that is best for the situation; push putt or spin putt
– putt high so you can expect the drop
– extend and reach your throwing arm towards the basket
– lift your push-off leg during the finish to keep balance and propel your energy towards the basket
– tee box position and run up
– disc grips: power, fan, modified
– Hyzer, Anhyzer, Straight, Side Arm
– field position/angle (at your marker)
– field stance(s) (at your marker)
– disc grips: power, fan, modified
– Hyzer, Anhyzer, Straight, Side Arm
– Mental aspects of observing your options
– Shot thought process
– Variables in consideration
– Preparation and stress reduction
– Body physics and dynamics
– Disc flight model characteristics
– Disc flight in changing conditions
Practice, Skill Training, Performance Conditioning
– Muscle memory improves your game
– Practice is key to success and improvement
– Field work is needed to hone your technique
– Utilization of training tools (flex bands, etc.) and exercises
Feedback and Community Learning
– Help each other out
– Play with more competitive persons/groups
– Gain experience by competing outside your area
– Learn more by playing with others outside of your expected friends/group
Overall, the information listed above were simple highlighted topics of interest and there is so much more that was discussed. I could not simply contain it all into this piece and it would not do Avery, Simon, and Discmania any positive justice if I posted it here. I must simply say, go out and attend these clinics and make the commitment to learn your craft and enjoy this experience.
If you play disc golf with a casual appeal, you will still learn and it will be at a very slow self-taught pace, but even then, you could still be learning incorrectly. Clinics like these are growing and becoming more a part of the great disc golf culture. These are grass-roots learning opportunities with world class pro’s, champions, and instructive leaders in our sport.
Many clinics can be found through your local clubs, disc golf businesses, at disc golf events, and even during national tours like this one.
Knowing what you understand and knowing what I have highlighted cannot simply replace the great opportunity you get with a 1-to-1 situation with champions like Avery and Simon. They closely examine your style, your performance, and your techniques to help you improve your skills. In the process you also learn about your strengths and weaknesses and you make a friendship connection that will always be a memory. Additionally, you directly benefit the sport by supporting the touring pro’s. Disc golf is not yet at a modest caliber for great income opportunities with touring players, so every little bit helps them and helps the promotion of disc golf everywhere they go.
The real “human” connections you make at these clinics can never be reproduced or taught, you have to be there in person to invest into it and earn the rewards.
In the end, we can read a book, we can read this blog, or we can watch a video on our sport to learn about the best techniques from world champions, but remember, nothing can replace the opportunity to get out there and simply do it. Experience is the best teacher you can have.
The clinics hosted by Avery and Simon are truly bringing the best of disc golf wherever they travel and whenever they occur. These events not only showcase the abilities and leadership of champions, but also shows their solid honest character and commitment that they hold for our sport.
It’s not everyday that you have the opportunity, and low cost, to meet a champion of your sport and learn directly from them. This clinic was not a media opportunity or other opportunity to gain favor in the world of disc golf, it simply showed that they had the knowledge of a champion and they wanted to share it with those in attendance.
Disc golf is a great sport of equals. Some people have more talent than others in some ways, but we all have a talent that is better than everyone else’s. Knowing this, and learning from each others teachings, we can all grow to become great disc golfers.
With the knowledge that you are just as great as the champions in our sport, apply the techniques and skills learned from clinics like these and you will soon match their game. Work hard, commit to your increasing your skills, and always stay an observant student and will find yourself a future winner and champion no matter what division or level you play at.
I highlight the items of this blog based on my personal experience. In no way do these notes substitute direct instructions from the clinic leaders or sessions; this is NOT a “how to.” The information is merely interpreted. Some of it may not be exactly as stated during the clinic, so I would highly encourage you to attend clinics for yourself so that you may develop your own experience and highlights while getting the information first-hand. These are no SECRET techniques or spoilers. Go out and join these clinics, then go out and throw, so experience will be your teacher.