Coaches Corner Solo Throwing by Ian French

What is the most effective way for a player to continue to sharpen their throwing skills when in isolation?

At the start of the 2019 season I was faced with a problem: Sarah Melvin was moving back home to Mayo. There’s no frisbee in Mayo and she was going to be hours from the nearest players. What was the most effective way for her to train her skills so she could lead us to European Championship glory?

The Problem

When designing solo throwing plans there are immediate drawbacks which can be summed up with this Milhouse gif.

Milhouse

However if you can design your throwing practices smartly then there are benefits too. The major benefits are:

  • You’re not constrained by anyone else’s availability
  • You can do these practices when and where is convenient for you
  • You can practice exactly what you want to practice
  • You’re only limited by your own work ethic

Useful Solo Training Methods

As there’s no standardised set of frisbee training gear, a lot of this comes down to creativity.
There’s a few things you need to start you off

Targets

Here’s a benefit that I didn’t mention above: you can set yourself significantly more accurate and more measurable throwing targets than when throwing to a static person. Throwing to a person, static, gives you a massive scope for error. People can move and stretch to create a huge window that doesn’t isn’t readily apparent.. A fixed target doesn’t and can show up your errors a lot quicker – it’s why you’ve probably been told by your coach before to aim at the logo on the jersey of your throwing partner.

It’s then also a lot easier to really measure progress – if you start out hitting a particular target 20% of the time and improve to 80% you know you actually got better. With a throwing partner it’s not so clear cut – your buddy might just be larger, or putting more effort in.

  • Crossbars – good for practicing hucks, not good for practicing any other throw as they’re too high
  • Flags/sheets. You can draw a target on it and hang it in lots of places. There’s plenty of targets made for hurling/gaelic football that work great like this one. If your throw it flat and hits the centre bounces the disc back towards you which is pretty efficient.
  • GAA/Rugby posts – can be great for practicing pulls, particularly if you pull from angles and practice getting a particular shape on your pull
  • Goalposts – these can be good for accuracy, but only if you mark the part you are trying to hit i.e. hitting the very base of a post isn’t functionally an accurate throw. Put some tape on the post between waist-neck height and you’re golden.
  • Basketball nets – excellent for practicing scoobers or blades – this one in particular is possibly better than throwing with another person. Ideal for getting good and accurate and getting the disc up and down quickly which is perfect for busting zones and poaches.

A montage of Irish players training alone using targets, obstacles & some creativity

Obstacles

The second thing you will benefit from is an obstacle. Something that will force you to pivot and release in certain ways. This is both better for your learning, with the added bonus of being significantly more mentally stimulating.

  • Throwing hurdles You can buy dog agility hurdles, or just pick up 3 PVC pipes and 2 pvc connectors. These are fantastic – light enough that you won’t hurt yourself hitting them, adjustable height so you can really work on release points while ensuring your angle of release is flat. They are FANTASTIC. Honestly we should all be using these during our normal training sessions.
  • Benches – Whopper for learning low releases

Discs

The more discs you have, the easier and less frustrating everything will be.

Movement

Static throwing, measuring your throw exactly will get you pretty far as a thrower, but you can definitely incorporate a ton of movement into your throwing. Practicing getting a disc off cleanly and quickly after catching is a vital skill. There’s a lot of ways to add this once you’re accurate with your static throws. Again, you’re probably used to this from throwing with a partner. Throwing a 20m flat forehand – easy. Throwing a 20m flat forehand after faking a backhand – harder.

You’re not limited to pivoting to create movement. Throw the disc up for yourself, then throw your flat 20m forehand – it’s harder again. Throw it further away from you, throw it low or high, throw it so you’re running away from your target – all these different setups will allow you to throw your lovely 20m flat forehand no matter how off-balance you start.

As an example, if you have spent some time throwing low release backhands at your favourite target from a static position and are able to nail it consistently 9 times out of time then it’s time to make it more dynamic. The simplest way is to throw the disc out in front of you so you have to step forward, then pivot and throw the same throw you were previously doing, this time both with momentum and a slightly increased mental challenge. There are lots of ways to make it harder: pop the setup throw from further away so you’re going faster into the catch and throw, throw the setup throw worse, catch with one hand only so you have extra gripping steps to incorporate, face different directions. But always striving to keep quality high so building up to more difficult reps.

Making a Throwing Plan

This depends a lot on what you have available. I’m happy to give people suggestions based on what you have/are willing to buy.

A simple measure that will see you improve over a season is to aim for 50 throws a day. If you can’t do every day then 100 throws some days. Bear in mind that 350 throws in a day isn’t the same as 50 throws a day for 7 days. Break each throw down into a set of 10 throws, be consistent and keep your score. If you’re not able to consistently get to 9/10 on the set you should keep plugging away, or maybe regress to something a little easier to build up your skill further.

Example with Soccer goals as a target

  • Set 1: 10 backhands, from penalty spot aiming at left-hand post
  • Set 2: 10 forehands, from penalty spot aiming at right-hand post
  • Set 3: 10 hammers, from edge of box, look to land on top of crossbar
  • Set 4: 10 forehand hucks, 30m out, looking to hit the crossbar (or very close) with the disc flat
  • Set 5: 10 backhand pulls, 40m out. Setting up 10m to left of posts, looking to clear crossbar with i/o pull

Example of Progressions

  • Set 1: 10 backhands, Tossing disc up to the left, so I’m jogging onto it, pivoting from penalty spot aiming at the left-hand post.
  • Set 2: 10 forehands, Tossing disc up to the right, so I’m jogging onto it, pivoting from penalty spot aiming at the left-hand post. This is working on catching an around dump pass and swinging it.
  • Set 3: 10 hammers, from edge of box, look to land on top of crossbar
  • Set 4: 10 forehand hucks, 30m out, looking to hit the crossbar (or very close) with the disc flat. I have a choice of progression here: I can move further away and continue static, or I can stay the same distance and integrate some movement.
  • Set 5: 10 backhand pulls, 45m out. Setting up 10m to left of posts, looking to clear crossbar with i/o pull

Conclusion

Throwing by yourself isn’t a complete training protocol for any player. It can be a useful tool for all players, and it’s one that I don’t see many players utilising. An effective season should include all the below – with the offseason and preseason heavier on block practice work and the later season moving into applying those skills to unstructured play.

Static Block Practice

Repetitive structured throwing and catching, building up a solid base of fundamental skills. Solo or in small groups to maximise reps and to ensure you are practicing the fundamental YOU need and not just a generic overall plan.

Dynamic Block Practice

Fundamental skills practice at your team trainings: these are things like break force drills, reset drills, etc. Applying your fundamental skills you practiced already in a more dynamic environment, but that’s still structured so you can get repeated practice.

Dynamic Practice

This is your game situation work – there may be a consistent setup or constraint that will allow you to practice something multiple times but it’s otherwise unstructured.

Unstructured Practice

Pure unstructured practice i.e. game work. Can be small sided or full 7v7.

Comments

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Also in Coaches Corner:

  • Coaching Fundamentals
  • Coaching a Team: Get Organised
  • Technical Discussion
  • Train Like A Champion
  • Well-being
  • Misc