Saturday, August 20, 2005


Freshman Gestation, Old Dogs and New Flicks

College freshmen stuggle mightily with everything on campus. Sympathetic professors understand this, often giving B+ grades to students with only a mediocre grasp of the material. For example, if you *do* understand integration, even though you might not get the exact answer on a question, you certainly wouldn't set up the problem wrong. Setting up the limits of integration completely wrong is really a failing effort, but we (the professors) often take off only a few points. Normally, I wouldn't want to participate in such a skewed valuation, but for a phenomenon I call the Freshman Gestation.

See, they leave campus for the summer and spend that time hanging out with friends as much as either work or the need to pad their resumes allows. But no matter what they actually do, they come back to college greatly matured as academicians. Basically, the Freshman Gestation is the time when the material just "sinks in."

What does this have to do with disc? Well, a similar thing happens when rookies return for their second year. Suddenly, they're significantly less clueless (and not just by comparison with the new class). But another example of the Freshman Gestation happened to me unexpectedly when I threw some forehands after the track workout on Wednesday. (Unlike other bloggers, my times showed no dramatic increase; nor did I vomit.)

We have on my team a fellow with a cannon of a forehand: we'll call him "Schulzie." A moment of praise: "cannon" is not really apt, since cannons do not sail the disc upwind, far past the defense, then apply the brakes so the receiver easily can run under it. Well, people have asked Schulzie how he throws it, and he usually says something like, "you gotta put the squeeze on so you can torque it!" Schulzie knows what these words mean, but few others do. (Is he keeping his lifeblood a secret? I don't think so.) Translation (my own): align the pads of both fingertips along the inside rim so that the fingers flex in the direction of flight when bent at the knuckle. This gives more power.

Anyway, for a while I tried to practice this throw after some instruction from Schulzie, but to no avail. Then, after a year in another country, a marriage and a birth, I returned to Chicago to find others praciticing this same grip/throw. I tried again, too, and to my surprise what felt awkward and unnatural only a year ago suddenly felt entirely doable, possible.

I'm still practicing it; it probably won't even be game ready this year. But if this old dog can learn a new flick he just might be able to make himself worthwhile to his teammates through some of his inevitable gerontological decline.

Could you say a little more about Shulzies grip/throw?
Well, as best I understand it, you have the pads of your two fingers on the rim and pointing forward. This is different from most flick grips, even those with two fingers on the rim. In most grips, the pads of the fingers are not exactly pointing along the rim, pushing the disc forward. Also, with Schulzie's grip, more of both fingers are aligned along the rim, contributing to the power of the throw. But we'll have to wait to see if the master logs on and comments. Schulzie?

Note, too, that many people have long flicks but sacrifice touch at the expense of length. This grip gives you length pretty easily, at no expense.
Whoever said that a picture is worth a thousand words never tried to describe how to throw a flick! It sounds like his fingers are straight along the rim? Do they bend at some point during the throw? Is the index finger in first, then the middle finger over it?

Thanks for any clarification that you could give. I've been struggling with my long flick for a while so whenever I hear of someone who has an excellent long flick, I try to see if I can pick up something that'll help.
I think clamping down on the top of the disc matters a lot as well.
I always had trouble with Schulzie's grip. I found the disc slipping out of my fingers...but I sure could put it quite a ways :)

When I was learning the grip, I never asked whether he uses the same grip for short throws and IO's, as that is where I had the most difficulty.

Now I have my pad of my middle finger on the rim, and the pad of my index on the problems, but not as much power either.

I'll check with Kubalanza this weekend to see if he throws it the same way...although no one I know of is in Schulzie's league, there are a few that are close.

I second the request for a picture of said grip.
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