Thursday, March 26, 2015

Disc Dog: Practicing Disc Throwing For Your Dog

The other day I put up a piece on some discs I tested for Hero Disc USA and in that piece I was talking about a few ideas about practicing or competing. Since these tidbits were buried in the meat of the piece, I thought I'd focus on a premise or two I came up with while testing.


My Practice Premises

The premises I hit upon came about because I noticed that the different models of discs had a bit of a difference in weight between them. This weight impacted the performance I was expecting while testing.

As expected, the heavier discs tended to travel farther on average than the lighter discs.

The heavier discs handled crosswinds a little better than the lighter discs, meaning the heavier discs drifted less when hit by one of those rude, errant breezes we disc doggers tend to encounter out in the field.

Don't get me wrong, they still drifted, and if you found yourself getting hit by a 30mph crosswind, your entire arsenal would end up in the same cornfield, regardless of weight.

I probably threw these discs about five hundred times between the 12 of them and I was starting to spot some personality traits out of the different beasts.

Different weighted discs do different things. And after talking to a plastic molding expert, I learned and noticed that even different colors can introduce their own variability. Which I did not expect.

My observations during the test tended to cement a sort of OCD thing of mine, and that is to use the same brand, model and color discs when competing or performing. This way, the only variables you have to deal with is yourself and wind. Plus it looks good.


Vader the Disc Dog says: Be aware, Be The Wind.


Toss and Fetch

In Toss and Fetch and other distance efforts, you are chucking your disc down the field, making the execution and dealing with the wind.  Sure, you may have had a practice round to warm up earlier, but wind can be a fickle mistress.

As an example, at my practice field the wind can hit me from two or three distinctly different angles during my hour of practice.  I can start out with a tail wind, then find myself facing a head wind. And during that time, still be hit by a cross wind that does not match up to either.

Be ready. Even after picking the end of the field you want to throw from, stay aware of the wind. It can be crucial in your throw. In my case, I use flexible and light discs. If the wind picks up, it scoops my disc and in the past I have suddenly seen my disc crater itself at the 10 yard (30 foot) mark!

I needed to "be the bleeping wind!" Then I can at least watch what my disc does during the throw and adjust on my subsequent throws accordingly.

Having similar discs in a competition will help you adjust smartly and not be wondering if what just happened was you or the disc.

Why should you worry? Because I've seen certain brands and disc models and even a specific color disc want to always turn to the right on me, despite my natural tendencies to coast straight or arc a little to the left with my throws.



Wind is not as huge of a factor in freestyle as it could be in Toss and Fetch, but if that "30 mph crosswind" is there, well, it will be a huge factor.

Again, I saw that the heavier disc I was testing was more wind resistant than the others. Meaning in a crosswind I didn't see coming, (Wait... you can't see wind!) my lighter discs might drift a foot away from where I want them during a short maneuver while the heaver discs stabilized a little and only drifted six to nine inches out.

When you are reaching out to grab or catch a disc in a routine, a few inches can make the difference between keeping in tune with your dog or having to look away and step out to snag that disc that you were expecting. That will throw off your timing and could very well throw off your dog's timing for a moment.

Having the same brand, model and color... blah, blah, blah. I think you got the message.


One other aspect about practicing...  and this can apply to you or not, but I recommend practicing your disc tossing without your dog. I love practicing with my dog, but there is only so much my pup can do and I can throw quite often and quite far for practice and I do not want to injure my pup, so I have a high value on practicing by myself.


In retrospect...

Practice your disc throwing alone and save your dog the wear and tear. The better you get with your disc skills, the safer your dog will be in the long run.

Use the same brand, model and color disc in your performances or competitions to eliminate unpredictable side affects.

Heavier discs are more stable in light winds while moderately heavier discs LOVE tail winds.

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