Distance throwing is a highly complex skill. The entire body is in action and must work in concert: the feet set up the hips, the hips move the arm, the torso follows and pushes the hips, the arm catches up and the hips power through, then the torso/arm/hips finish. It is not a simple mechanical operation.
We like simplicity at Pawsitive Vybe and we have come up with a 4 step process for distance mechanics:
1 – Reach & Step
Step 1 is Reach & Step. Stand 90 degrees to the target with the throwing hand closest to the target. Step backwards with the throwing side foot (right foot for right handers) in front of the left foot. This will be awkward and you should feel all coiled up. Despite the awkward feeling is important to reach back as far as possible.
This position closes the hips entirely and will be the center point of the X step or crow hop. This is the essence of the X step or crow hop concept and is a good starting point. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a crow hop is the thing a baseball outfielder does before throwing the ball, and an X step is the disc sport equivalent. Google the terms and check them out.
2 – Cha
This is just replicating the Hip Isolation Drill except we’re adding a bit of scale in terms of movement and power and starting with the hips entirely closed to the target. It is critical to stay back with your arms and upper body so the “Cha” concept remains intact. Stepping forward or letting the hands come forward and lead will cost power as the hips, arms and torso will not be functioning in concert.
stay on the back foot – keep 2/3 or more of your weight on the rear foot
The Cha is the starting point of opening the hips. It’s designed to open just enough to get some momentum to the body and arm so that when the hips are fully activated the arm has a running start and all of the power generated can be applied to accelerating the arm instead of wasting energy trying to get it moving.
3 – Half Way
Here’s where the throw starts to happen. The hips are opening a bit more (rotating clockwise – popping quick! – for right handers) and the hand is slightly in front of the center of the body speeding towards the target. The disc should remain in the track or channel, with the rim opposite the hand pointing down and away.
4 – Finish, Bottom Out & Release
The hips finish their rotation and the arm bottoms out towards the target and the disc tears out of the hand upon release. The rest is follow through. That’s it. 4 simple steps.
One thing that is important to keep in mind is that these are athletic positions and they are representations of movement. A common mistake, especially for dancers and unconfident athletes is to treat these positions as static. They are not poses, or rock solid positions, they are approximations of movement and should be thought of as such. This drill should look rather choppy and broken up when done instead of smooth and graceful.
Avoid the Dreaded 23
When two and three happen together the mechanics fall apart. The Cha becomes a step and the hips slide forward winding up too far forward for the hips, torso and arms to work in concert. Essentially you wind up locking up your hips half way through the toss.
The finish of the throw has the hips and torso accelerating the arm to maximum velocity. The moment of release happens, when the arm can’t go any further forward. If the hips and your torso is not working together you are getting a half opened Christmas present and are cheating yourself of all the hard work done to this point.
By getting a solid separation between 2 and three it is far less likely that the hips will slide forward and kill the hip rotation. It also provides the proper sequence for the hips to really drive the throw.
Once you build a little muscle memory on these 4 steps you can move on to the next drill, the PVybe Two Step.