Right Pec and Some Grip Answers

Video time! Direct link for the mobile users: youtube.com/watch?v=fEo754f7aKg

Some very interesting field work sessions (in between sub-arctic temps). Below are 3 very blurry screen caps from some video review.

What's been nagging at me to various levels of insanity, is why I can hold the disc later easier with the wide rail (More on the wide rail here). I do believe it is somewhat related to hand speed, but I think also there is something more under the covers.

The 3 screen caps:
Wide Average just trying to throw a regular wide rail shot. It just ends up holding to 4:00 nearly every time. Wasn't squeezing at all hard, just typical feeling grip.
Straight Bad was just a very normal shot, squeezing hard from start to finish and lose it right at 3:00.
Straight Better was a intended to be the same as the previous shot but  I would keep my grip loose until I started extending the disc forward and straightening the wrist, where I'd squeeze hard.

On the good news front, I have been able to stop the problem of slipping early with a straight pull. How I fixed it was by altering my grip pressure and timing, which was because of a great email from Joshua:
"Your grip strength is determined mainly by your forearm muscles. Your wrist extension and flexion is also determined by these muscles. If your wrist is flexed, your forearms are utilizing a portion of its strength, taking away from your grip strength."
So I grabbed a GripMaster hand strengthening thingy, and gave it a go. Squeeze with wrist straight - no problem. Bend your wrist like you're flexing your bicep, and there goes about 50-60% of your strength. Now extend your wrist open and squeeze, definitely losing some degree opening as well, but substantially less than when the wrist is closed.

Light bulb flickering for sure!

I would set my grip pressure during the back-swing. Then the wrist would bend at the right pec, and I would lose my grip strength.

Re-squeezing at that point was out of the question, I'd already set my squeezing limit and the gig was up because the pressure I had on the rim was too low to hold during the redirection of the disc.

But by focusing on squeezing after the wrist un-loads, all the sudden I was back to holding to 3-4:00 with the straight pull. The later squeeze seems to happens naturally during the wide-rail because of the redirection. You don't even try to squeeze hard because of the direction change.

I do believe that a straight pull backhand is a very useful shot, as is the wide rail - but as I am learning the wide-rail, it's nice to have know that I can be a little bit more accurate throwing on a line. I won't ever stop throwing a straight back-swing, as it seems to do certain things easier - and I'm just really happy that I've worked out why I was slipping off the rim!

The Best Coast

Ian and Mini-Me plotting to overthrow the world.
Ian Anderson (ccdg.discgolf.io & youtube.com/user/CentralCoastDiscGolf) has become one of the most laid back voices associated with disc golf videos. Tournament video was once the realm of VHS & DVD's - edited & printed long after the winner's cash was spent. But with the advent of the longer format youtube videos, suddenly there was a new market: a guy with a camera could follow around any card, recording to his heart's delight, do a little editing and release coverage of the event within hours!

The problem: even a die-hard disc golf fan might glaze over without some commentary to spice things up, give some insight, and in true CCDG fashion, be honestly amazed at what the best players in the world can do with a disc. And that's what had me instantly hooked on Central Coast videos: it was two friends clearly mesmerized by 550' drives and players who seem to miss putts only from outside 80' (from a knee/blind/uphill/buried in a bush).

So without further pre-amble, I give you the greatest news I've had as a disc golfer: I got to do some commentary with Ian on a true super-card! Ian was kind enough to offer me a seat at the virtual announcer's booth for Round 1 of the Worlds: McBeth, Lizotte, Doss and Brinster.

"Enough talking, let's watch some disc golf!"

2014 Worlds MPO Round 1 Super Card

And, in true HeavyDisc fashion, I couldn't let Ian slip away without sitting him down for an interview!

Okay Ian, let's start off with a nice soft-ball question. How long have you been playing disc golf, who do you play rounds with most often, and how did you get hooked?

I've been playing since 2003. I play the most with my buddy Brett Camack, and my buddy Derek Kurtti (u/The_Warwolf). I met both of them going to college at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA. Funny enough I met Derek playing racquetball which I think has some decent crossover to disc golf with the whole snap thing. I play with a bunch of other awesome people on the Central Coast when I visit there. My partner in crime, the spokesman for the forehand shot, and the guy that helped me get this whole CCDG thing going Kevin Estrada being one. I'm hoping to record some more commentaries with him around Christmas time.

I got hooked the first time I played. My roommate in college Ben dragged me out, and it was love at first flight. It reminded me of growing up and throwing the aerobe around a soccer field with my cousins. It also reminds me of all the hiking I did as a kid with my family. My parents were big on backpacking, so we did a ton of that growing up.

You've shot a ton of footage of the best players in the game, what would a couple of the biggest lessons that you've learned bet (in terms of your own game)?

Things I've learned from watching the pros. A lot of form things. Reaching away on your back-swing, not opening up too early, staying in, and over the hit. I think those are some big ones. It's really amazing to watch them throw in person, they're on a whole nother level. Another thing you can see when you watch them play is their mental game, and how that affects how they play. The players that can forget that last not so awesome shot will have the best chance for future success.

Is there a tournament that stands out as work that you're really proud of (commentary or filming) and let's clue in some of the more green camera-ops with some hard-learned lessons in terms of shooting good coverage?

The tournament I'm most proud of the product is probably the Wintertime Open, or the Masters Cup. I feel like I covered those events really well. Hopefully that answer will change to 2014 Pro Worlds once I'm done with it! With the help of Juha Alkkomaki (lcgm8), Stu Dunn, Alex Olguin, Ben Baker, and Ran Szulczewski we covered that tournament like no one else has. We filmed close to 25 rounds, many of them dual camera, and filmed the final 9 for MPO, FPO, and the Masters division. The Masters division came down to the last shot, and we were the only one's to film it, so that's pretty cool.

Lessons learned. The big things I like are:
  • Film drives from behind the Tee
  • Film putts from the side, or at an angle so the viewer can gauge the distance
  • Bring lots of extra batteries and SD cards
  • Use a monopod, or some kind of shoulder mount

In the world of the MPO, there's a pretty wide swath of personalities and sometimes players go on full-tilt and lose their tempers. There's been quite a bit of conversation about the filmer's responsibility to edit out various amounts of ribald language (nice SAT word!) before publishing tournaments to the web. Any interest in putting your opinion out there?

I think it's nice to keep the vids clean. Kids watch them, and I don't want to be a bad influence. That said I think you can put some of the onus on the disc golfer that swears while he's being recorded. I've dropped some s bombs, so I'm not innocent either. I don't blame Marty at all for leaving it in. It's a lot of work to listen to the whole round for random swears, and he puts out those vid fast!

Let's talk about discs that you've known and loved. Any surprising discs that are in the bag?

Discs I've loved. I grew up (disc golf wise), as a one disc chucker, and that disc was a champ sidewinder. I loved that thing. I could bust out the most ridiculous hyzer-flips. I also loved my original barstamp buzzz. I got an ace with on my first drive with it(13A at Morley).

Surprising discs... My bag is pretty boring I think. Enforcer or Destroyer for my drivers. Teebird/River/Firebird for my fairway. Drone/Buzzz/Comet for my mids, and I putt/upshot with an Ion or Judge. I've got some other stuff in my bag, but that's the core.

Last question, and I saved this tough one for last: I know you have helped many players on r/discgolf with form requests. You know where I fall on form, as I have written probably more than I should have - but what would be the biggest break-through in your own form and what was it that helped it click?

O man backhand form is such a complex thing. To get it perfect is a serious accomplishment. My biggest aha moments were:
  • Weight transfer.
  • Reaching away from yourself on your back-swing (enables you to pull on a line)
  • Pulling on a line and not rounding (early or later releases are still mostly accurate)
  • Lead with a high elbow (helps you pull on a line and not round)
I think those are the biggest, and have helped my game the most. My form is far from perfect, but it's worlds better than a couple years ago!


Okay, Jason here again. So, that's that! I would definitely ask that if you like Ian's videos (and why wouldn't you!?) please subscribe and give his videos a "thumbs up" and you can do what I do, which is to buy Ian a virtual beer by actually clicking on his video advertisements during the lead in to his videos.

Those ad revenues can definitely help put a little extra coin into Ian's hands so he can pay for gas, camera equipment, buy his kid a stack of putters, or to just get out to a never-ending list of tournaments.

Happy Disc'n Amigos!

Nate Sexton wins big!

Innova Team Champion & Discmania Tour Team member Nathan Sexton is known as one of the most skilled players in the game. Originally hailing from the great state of Oregon, Nate has recently found a new home on the east coast in North Carolina. While Nate doesn’t always have the time to hop on the full-time tour life, he is known to finish very consistently on top of the leaderboards in regional tournaments. Last weekend in Rocky Mount, North Carolina at the Spike Hyzer Invitational Championship was no exception.

Boasting a field filled with touring pro’s like Ricky Wysocki, Jeremy Koling and Barry Schultz, bringing home the win from Spike Hyzer Invitational was never going to be an easy task. Nate started the tournament somewhat modestly, shooting a 1015-rated 52, leaving 5 strokes behind Jeremy Koling going into the 2nd round. “I was struggling with some of my drives on the long Sunset Park course and to my disappointment carded too many OB’s to really put myself on top of the leaderboard after round 1″, Nate explains.

The 2nd & 3rd round carried a very different kind of groove for Nate, as on both rounds at the Farmington Park course he was able to keep his scorecard bogey-free, carding a pair of 43’s, rated 1061 and 1063 respectively. The hot 2nd and 3rd rounds lifted Nate from 7th place to tied 3rd, 2 shots behind then leader Barry Schultz and 1 stroke behind Jeremy Koling on the 2nd place. The final round turned out to be the most eventful in the whole tournament, so we decided to give the recap in Nate’s own words:

“The final round was out at Sunset again and I started well making birdie on the first 3 and then throwing a huge drive over the trees to make birdie on the par 4 6th hole. Barry and Brian both made bogey on the 6th against the birdies from Jerm and myself. I made the only birdie on #7 taking the teepad on the pivotal island hole #8. It was about 220 downhill with the most clear line being a spike hyzer. I agonized a bit over whether or not I should lay up for the safe 3 or take the risk and go for the green. I decided to go for it and parked the hole with my Glow Firebird, Brian also made birdie, while Jerm and Barry missed the island and made bogey 4s. I made a few more birdies and after everyone in the group birdied the 12th I think I had a 3 shot lead” says Nathan, while also explaining that he was not aware of this during the time, as he tends to keep his focus on the game rather than the scores during the round.


Nathan Sexton at the United States Disc Golf Championship. Image credit: Stuart Mullenberg / huklab.tumblr.com

“Moving to the last 6 holes, I lost a stroke to Jerm on two back to back holes, the 14th being a 430 island hole that Jerm parked! I layed up and played for a smart 3 there. 15-17 were forehand shots for me and I knew I would need to birdie them all. I ended up throwing all 3 to inside 20 feet and making the putts. I then asked my wife (who was holding the scorecard for me) what the situation was heading into the 18th. She told me I had Jerm by 1 so I knew a birdie would win the tournament. The 18th hole was a 400 foot blind shot with both a backhand and forehand gap. I threw the forehand and hit the only tree in the middle about 250 feet away leaving me 150 short behind a wall of bushes. I then threw a thumber (not my strength!) to 12 feet and saved my par. Jerm ended up hitting his pressure 25 footer to force sudden death.” Nate recaps.

Finishing with the hot round over Koling, Sexton was the first man to tee off on the first playoff hole. “My drive left me with about a 30 footer on a fairly easy hole, while Jerm flipped his drive over a little too much coming up 45 feet short. He missed his putt and I had a chance to make a 30 footer for the win. Despite feeling quite a bit of pressure I took my time and drilled the putt with my trusty D-line P2! The best win of my career easily when you consider the competition and a great boost to my confidence for next year!” Nate celebrates his victory at the highly competitive A-tier event.

Check out the video coverage from the event here:


You can also check out Nate’s recent “In the Bag” video here:

If you want to learn more from Nate, go follow him on Facebook and check out his recent interview on the Heavy Disc blog.

Image credits: Stuart Mullenberg / huklab.tumblr.com

Nate Sexton – A Player and a Gentleman

Photo: Stuart Mullenberg
Nate Sexton (PDGA # 18824) has been racking up wins against top level pros for over a decade. He just won his first A-Tier of the season at the Spike Hyzer Invitational, and if you haven't watched the footage yet - you're in for a real treat. (McFlySoHigh Coverage) He's sponsored by Innova, Discmania , huk lab, Grip EQ,  and Keen Footwear.

I'm a Nate fan. Flat out I'll say it, I'm a BIG FAN. I always love watching tournament coverage of Nate because I know I'm in for three things: sportsmanship, skill and a world class putting clinic that borders on the absurd!

Nate, thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions. You've been cashing and winning in tournaments for a decade now (says my in-depth research of your PDGA page!) If you could hop in a time machine and have a conversation with the 2004 Nate Sexton, what would you tell him? Any advice that you know now that would have made the last 10 years easier?

This is a great question! (editor's note: yes, it is) I would probably tell the scrawny 19 year old me to practice his weaknesses (the backhand, versatility around the green) more than his strengths. I would tell him to enjoy the climb up through the ranks of professional disc golfers. Confidence is vital to success in a game as mentally difficult as disc golf and you have to work to be inwardly confident and outwardly humble. I don't think I would change much though, it has been a fun 10 years!

Typical fare for one of the sickest putters in the game.
To follow that, are there some discoveries that you're still making about your game? For those of us that are in the first years of disc golf, it feels like we're always on the cusp of a new discovery: proper form, gaining distance or accuracy, how to handle different wind, learning molds, or what disc weight to throw. It helps keep the hunger strong to stay out in the field working out new skills, but it's also a very slow process. I have to believe that after playing competitively for so long - discoveries come much more rarely?

I don't discover things about my game very often anymore, although I do work on adding new skills. To me at this stage in my disc golf career I feel like I find things to key in on that help me commit to my shots and execute consistently. Every type of shot has dozens of aspects you can key in on and it is impossible to focus on all of them at once. Each little thing (like breathing out on the release or picking up my chin on the follow through) only lasts so long before I have to move onto something else to keep me sharp. Hopefully focusing on one or two aspects for a few weeks or months ingrains them into my routine so that I won't have to think about them anymore.

No trees were harmed in the making of this birdie.

Third question and already I'm hitting with the hard stuff: the USDGC. You've been going there for a long time! A couple open players that I throw rounds with have described it as the hardest tournament they've ever played, by a wide margin. This year you really stepped up and played a fantastic tournament and ended up taking 5th place. Do you have a mental strategy during the tournament? I am always very impressed with how cool you stay during high pressure situations. It's a real breath of fresh air, especially when it's becoming more common to see very vocal melt-downs.

The USDGC is the most difficult tournament to play mentally. The Winthrop Gold course is so demanding and punishes mistakes brutally.

This year I focused on a detailed game plan making sure I knew exactly how I wanted to attack each hole. This included picking certain holes where I planned to play for par each round. I putted well and did not go out of bounds until the 31st hole of the event. Getting out to a fast start help my confidence and throughout the event I went from T3rd to T4th to 5th to T5th with each round so I stayed consistent and executed my plan. I had my dad, Jay, fly out to caddy for me for the 2nd time and that was a great asset to have him not only carrying my discs but making sure I was eating throughout each round and staying hydrated. He also helped me stick to the game plan even when I had a bad hole and was tempted to try to force the issue and get the strokes back with risky play.

Professionalism has always been important to me and I strive to stay calm even during a terrible hole (like hole 9 in the 3rd round when I took a quadruple bogey 8!) I certainly feel nervous in pressure situations and feel frustration when things don't go my way but I refuse to give up and allow that frustration or nervousness to ruin my round, or worse, the rounds of my card-mates or the image of the sport I love!

Alright, let's get to some practical advice. You're playing a tournament: walk us through your routine between waking up and throwing that first shot.

I like to get up and shower if I have not showered the night before, get some breakfast and get out to the course. I usually start with some putts and then a game of catch with my trusty R-pro Dart if I can find a willing partner. I then go out and play a few holes, usually preferring to play the holes where I will be starting the round so I can re-enforce my confidence in the game plan I have for those holes. Getting out to a good start is the easiest way to have a stress free solid round!

5. Putting. Holy smokes.

I'll just leave that there (Youtube Link) for folks to get some idea of what you can do with a putter. Can you talk about how you developed your putting game? I watch a metric ton of tourny footage, and your putting is such a strong suit and a treat to watch. Was there a point when you made it a real focus or has it just evolved with the rest of your game? Do you practice putting daily now, and if so how much/what kind of practice?

Putting is the place where most players lose obvious strokes during a round. I used a putting drill where I putt 2 putters starting at 5 paces from the basket. I move back a step if and only if I make both. If I make 1 I stay at the distance I was, if I miss both I move in a step. This drill allows me to spend the majority of my time at the edge of my consistent range.

Over time that range expands and you can get farther out on the drill. I used to practice putt more often when I had a basket, now I live in an apartment but I still try to get out to the course and use that drill to stay sharp. This off-season I plan to work more on my putting than I have in the past. I feel I am in my prime and coming off the best season of my career I am excited to see what I can do when I work harder than I have in the past 4 or 5 years.

Has there been some players that have had a big impact on your disc golf career? Any advice that has stuck with you?

I have learned from a lot of players over the years. I think everyone at the top level of the sport has some aspect of the game that they are better than me at, I try to learn from my competitors even to this day. I learned a lot from playing against elite players like Climo, Schultz, Feldberg, and Jenkins when I was starting out as a pro.

This is a question that I've asked before, but it is such a good one... The Rico brothers asked Ken Climo what he thought the biggest aspect of his mental game was and he said that over the long haul in his career it was to have patience.  Do you think you've had patience with your disc golf game? What does it mean to you to have patience with your career?

I think I do have that trait, I think I am patient both with my career and in my style of play. I pride myself on being able to manage a difficult course and play to my strengths. I think my career has been largely a very serious hobby up until this point and I am very happy with the success I have had. I know that I can take my career and my game to the next (and highest) level in coming years!

Last question, and since this is HeavyDisc and I write mostly about form - let's end it on a form question. Driving for distance - what were the biggest keys for you to start tapping into the really long drives? 

For me throwing long is about being explosive. To be explosive you have to be as loose and relaxed as possible in the back-swing and the follow through. I always try to make the moment of exertion as quick and powerful as it can be, only exerting maximum effort for a fraction of a second. Before and after exertion I try to stay loose and smooth.

Anything else you want to expound upon or ramble about? If there's one thing I'm good for... it's rambling.

Thank you for reading! Check out my facebook fan page if you would like to keep up with my disc golf career or ask me a question!  https://www.facebook.com/sextondiscgolf

A Reader’s 400′ Plateau and Spin Putting

Last week I got an email from Stevie, asking for a little help.

I am an avid golfer, every weekend at least and also from Colorado! If you're ever in the springs email me we can throw a round.
I have enclosed two slow-motion videos of me throwing. I throw the driver about 350 consistently and my roc 300. I have been playing two years and I can't seem to break the 400 mark, but only 1 or 2 times both in Wisconsin.
I want to see what part of my throw is killing my distance the most.
Thank you for your time!
And disc on brother!

So, Stevie has clearly put some effort into trying to do things correctly. Still, there's a few issues that will be almost insurmountable to push past 400' - at least until they're addressed. I'll break it down as painlessly as I can.

Capture 1 :

Get the disc on the angle of release in the back-swing. You've lined up to throw a hyzer, but your shot is a flat release. Changing angles during the reach back is work for no benefit - and can add torque into your wrist that's off-angle from your release (wobble). Your stance is too wide. http://heavydisc.blogspot.com/2014/10/why-we-brace.html - Watch the video at the bottom of that post. Shortening your plant stride will allow you to add what's missing, which is your hips.

The disc is off still not flat, which means you're going to adjust that by straightening the wrist later which can screw up your release angle. Watch your video in slow motion and keep an eye on the back foot. It gets dragged forward, sliding with you, instead of driving your hips open. It slides forward about 6". 

Now you've slid the foot back up onto the toes, and you never engaged your back leg in a way to add any torque into your hips. This will make you fully reliant on just your weight moving forward into the plant - zero hips which means you are out of power. I'll add that your shoulders are off angle as well - they should be nice and flat. Tilting your entire spine and head forward will put you over your disc and into a better posture.

Spine tilted forward, over the disc.

This is a timing issue, called over-opening. Your shoulders and head are facing the target, which is a sign of putting the shoulders before the hips. You open your hips, it brings through the spine, the shoulders, the arm, finally the head.

See how I've got the shoulders aimed at the target there.

Because of the hips not driving the power of the shot, you're using your upper body to throw versus planting hard and opening the hips like a baseball player taking a cut. Your plant should end balanced and with the ability to just stand up straight.

... Alright, so that got Stevie headed down the right direction. He's going to check in later with some updates.

I wanted to also drop the following video about my never-ending battle with putting. I've currently adopted a version of the short arm spin putt that has worked pretty well for me.


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