3 Ways Disc Golf will Improve Your Freestyle Game (Part 2)

In Part 1, I explored how Freestyle will improve your Disc Golf game. In this article, with help from the panel of experts (list below), I investigate the reverse, how does Disc Golf improve your Freestyle Game?

Throwing ZZZs

Juliana Korver Turn AroundIn Disc Golf, long drives require tremendous grip and arm strength, yet you still need a high degree of control to maintain accuracy. In Freestyle, throwing a disc with high Zs (spin) requires exactly the same; strength and control. Juliana Korver was able to translate her Disc Golf skill quickly, “It took me about 10 minutes to feel comfortable with the chicken wing throw and I think I had a decent amount to spin on my clock throw right away.” 

Ideas for Midair Attitude Corrections (MACs)

Happy MattMuch of Freestyle is about creativity. Any time you’re out tossing some plastic (or even just watching a disc fly) there’s an opportunity for inspiration. For Matt Gauthier, Disc Golf helped him with midair attitude corrections (MACs), “I’m not a very good golfer so many of my throws would hit things. Turns out that was useful. I would throw a little too high and skip off a tree branch or too low and skip off the ground. I’d hit some surface and the disc might changes angles 180 degrees. In the beginning it meant an extra stroke (at minimum). As I began to understand how the disc would deflect I could use it to my advantage. Skip the disc in under the basket for example. Over time I started to understand that I could use my body to apply pressure to edge of the disc in the same way a tree branch would. For me, it opened up all 360 degrees, top and bottom of the disc for cuffing.”

Mental Focus

Crazy John BrooksI’ve noticed that in practice I can hit some challenging putts, but when it’s the difference between birdie and par, I often choke. In Freestyle I tend to rely on my reflexes, but Golf is really all about mental focus. Practicing this focus can help one attain “being in the zone” in any sport. Crazy John Brooks remarks, “As you may have seen in both freestyle AND Disc Golf, the situation can be similar in that when a player reaches a certain level of Zen with their mechanics and environment (on any given day), the results can be mind-blowing.” 

So it seems that playing Disc Golf can help one’s Freestyle game as well. Greg Hosfeld adds,  “I was an over-aller for quite a while. But I gravitated to freestyle and golf. To me, they’re my Yin/Yang. Golf is slow, plotting, methodical. Freestyle is quick & reactive. But, in both there are rhythms and depths of game that seemed endless.”

If you have experiences in cross training between Disc Golf and Freestyle, please share in the comments.

Special thanks to the Panel of Experts:

  • Juliana Korver (Part 1 & 2)
  • Crazy John Brooks (Part 1 & 2)
  • Glen Whitlock (Part 1)
  • Lori Daniels (Part 1)
  • Greg Hosfeld (Part 2)
  • Matt Gauthier (Part 2)

3 Ways Freestyle Frisbee Will Improve Your Disc Golf Game (Part 1)

As a five-time Freestyle Frisbee world champion, I have spent more time playing Freestyle than any other disc sport. However, I have been known to dabble in others. Disc Golf is one disc sport that I have always appreciated and admired. I used to golf on a weekly basis. Seeing Juliana Korver take up Freestyle has piqued my interest in the benefits of cross training between Freestyle and Golf. I know I brought my Freestyle skills to my Golf game, and that Golf improved my Freestyling. So, I’ve assembled a panel of experts (list below) to help explore this topic.

This article covers 3 ways that Freestyle Frisbee will improve your Disc Golf game. Part 2 will cover 3 ways that Golf will improve your Freestyle game.

Flight Path

When I asked Glen Whitlock for input, he said that learning Freestyle can help you, “…see more flight path opportunities to get around obstacles.” This is true for a number of reasons.

First, Freestyle is all about reading and controlling the disc’s flight path so you can get into position to do your next trick. Because there are so many situations (e.g., up-wind, down-wind, cross-wind, through a hoop, long throw, short throws), a player develops multiple solutions for any situation.

Second, in Freestyle one learns to throw a variety of throws, all with finesse. Juliana Korver says, “I see some players who have never thrown anything other than a golf disc. Unfortunately some of them also think that they need to throw the most overstable disc they can find. Someone with freestyle skills would have better knowledge of the flight of a Frisbee and wouldn’t get caught in this macho mistake. It takes skill, knowledge and finesse to throw an understable disc on Hyzer and let it flip up to flat and then slowly glide to the right at the end of the flight (right hand back hand shot). Having experience throwing other Frisbees will make it more likely that a person will have this shot and understand the need for this shot.”

Wind Sense

John Brooks OliviaSince Freestylers are constantly tracking and controlling the flight of the disc, reading the wind becomes second nature. No matter if I am playing or just walking around, I can tell where the wind is coming from, how strong it is, and how consistent. I am certain this helped me on the tee as I would change my disc and/or throw based on this sense. Crazy John Brooks agrees, “I found that after learning so much about the nature of the wind and different types of breezes and ‘swells’ while pursuing freestyle, I was able to comprehend a lot more of the conditions on the Disc Golf course. For instance when things were calm on the Disc Golf course, there was a need to put a little more strength and punch into the throw. This was needed to create more penetration and manage a more direct line to the target. On a windy day, I soon found success in adding things like float, stall, skipshots, an occasional air bounce putt or short tricky approach from the deep rough, and of course allowing the wind to work for me when it is in a helpful setup.”

Fitness

Lori Utl

Photo By Oren Meron

For getting your arm in top throwing shape, there’s no better way than to play speed flow. Speed flow is the act of playing catch friends with some trick throws and catches mixed in for fun. One goal is to flow seamlessly from the catch to the throw. With this style, you will attain the highest number of throws-per-hour possible, which is great training for throwing strength. Ken Westerfield says, “Just like in any professional sport, athletes look for different but complimentary training activities that will add to their playing skills and fast-freestyle is the perfect complementary exercise to add to any disc sport.”   Lori Daniels adds, “It takes a lot of stamina to walk hours through a Disc Golf course and still maintain concentration to throw with accuracy. Freestyle and Ultimate are keys for me staying in shape and maintaining endurance – which definitely makes a difference with not feeling as fatigued after playing 18 or 27 holes of Disc Golf.”

The experts agree, training in Freestyle can help improve one’s Golf game. Juliana Korver adds, “If you play Disc Golf, it must follow that you love or at least appreciate the beauty of the flight of a disc. Seems that is the perfect baseline to be attracted to freestyle.” 

In Part 2, I’ll explore how Disc Golf can improve one’s Freestyle skills. Read part 2 here.

If you have experiences in cross training between Freestyle and Disc Golf, please share in the comments.

Special thanks to the Panel of Experts:

  • Juliana Korver (Part 1 & 2)
  • Crazy John Brooks (Part 1 & 2)
  • Glen Whitlock (Part 1)
  • Lori Daniels (Part 1)
  • Greg Hosfeld (Part 2)
  • Matt Gauthier (Part 2)

How to Live Stream Your Event – Introduction

How to Live Stream Like a Pro

In this series I’ll explain how to live stream (also known as webcast) a freestyle frisbee event. I have live streamed many FPA World Championships and other events and have learned many things along the way. Though I still plan to stream many more events I just can’t get to all of them. I want to share the live streaming knowledge in the hopes that more events show up online. If you want to stream an event that’s not Freestyle Frisbee, stay tuned as this series can help you as well.

Note, links to equipment below are the current or newer versions of what I use in my kit. Your use of these links helps pay for future Freestyle Frisbee live streaming.

To deliver a successful live stream, it helps to have a basic understanding of how it all works. In the most basic form it works like this. A camera at the event captures all the action and turns it into an audio/video signal. This signal is something like what comes from a DVD player. In other words, if you connected it to your TV, you’d see it on the TV screen.

The signal leaves the camera, usually over an HDMI cable, and then enters an encoding device. This device converts the audio/video signal for the internet. In most cases this device is a computer, though there are other methods.

For a computer to accept a video signal, it needs a special device called a capture card. On one side the capture card connects to the computer via USB or Thunderbolt and on the other side it connects to the camera via HDMI. It’s sole purpose it to convert the audio/video signal so the computer can accept and process it.

Telestream Wirecast

So now that the computer has the signal it encodes it to a format that can be sent over the internet. This format is usually compressed as H.264. In other words, its smaller so it can make it across the internet in real time. It does this using software meant for webcasting. I like to use Telestream’s Wirecast.

Once encoded, the computer sends the signal to a Live Streaming service. This service accepts the signal and makes it available for anyone who wants to watch. When someone opens up the video player, the service will send the signal to their screen. This service is what takes a single audio/video signal and duplicates it so that multiple people can watch. The service I most recently used was YouTube.

OK, so the list for a basic stream looks like this:

  1. Camera
  2. Capture Device
  3. Computer
  4. Software
  5. Internet Access
  6. Streaming Service

But wait, that’s the most basic setup. What if you want to take your stream to the next level? Multiple camera angles? Professional sounding audio? HD? Video that doesn’t stutter, has good lighting, and is pleasing to watch? Audience engagement? Well it takes some effort but it’s well worth it. Here is my kit:

  1. 2 or 3 cameras
  2.  Tripod for every camera
  3. Memory cards so the cameras can record as they stream, a backup so nothing gets lost
  4. Stacks of camera batteries
  5. Macbook Pro with Wirecast
  6. Pre-recorded videos for filler
  7. Graphics E.G. to show team’s names before they start
  8. 2 or 3 Black Magic capture devices
  9. 2nd computer to monitor the stream and for backup
  10. Sound mixing board (or 2) with a line to the DJ
  11. 2 microphones to pick ambient sound
  12. 2 Microphones to talk to the Audience as the host
  13. Internet access provided by the event
  14. Youtube for a streaming service though I am looking into alternatives
  15. Batteries for the computers
  16. Volunteers to help

In the future articles I’ll go into details about each item, planning and testing, the process during an event, and give a few step-by-step guides to help ease the learning curve. If you’re interested to host your own live stream, please subscribe so you can see the articles as soon as they are released. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below and I will do my best to answer.

Equipment -or- Tools of the Trade

Matt Smiles

The Joy of Jamming

So you’ve seen some jammers and you are fired up. They tossed you some spin and a whole new world opened up to you. Now you want to practice but those damn letters on the bottom of the disc keep it from staying on your nail. Don’t fret, the following section will guide you to finding exactly what you need to shred, from the bare necessities to great training devices.

Disclosure: by using these links to purchase, FrisbeeGuru gets a small commision. It costs you nothing extra and helps support our efforts.

 

The Bare Essentials

To play freestyle Frisbee it is absolutely, positively necessary to have some sort of flying disc. Being as it’s freestyle there are no rules. I’ve been caught air brushing a cd-rom and padiddling my mom’s good china. Jamming can occur at any time, any place with any object. One of my favorite jams was in a bar in Yakima, Washington with a mini disc. All of the best players got that way because they can’t stop playing. Why let a little thing like not having a Sky-Styler or the darkness stop you? You can even chest roll a golf disc if you are careful.

Tried and True, Tools of the Trade

Ok, that was pretty bare. Here are the tools that 90% of professional freestylers use:

Sky-Styler

Sky-Styler

The Disc: Disc Craft’s Sky-Styler is the number one choice of flying disc for freestylers. It’s smooth surface, deep rim and just above average weight make it the perfect choice for delays, rim pulls and air brushing in almost any condition.

Nails

Nails
At an event near you

Fake Nails: Fake nails reduce the friction between your finger and the disc when it is spinning, especially while on a rim delay. They also provide a larger surface on which to delay the disc resulting in greater control. Most people make fake nails out of the tube the krazy glue comes in. Just cut out a piece to fit your finger. Others make the nails out of dental acrylic. These nails last longer and often come in fancy colors. To attach them ignore the warning not to use krazy glue to attach fake nails (at your own risk) and use the Krazy glue to attach the nails. When you are done just jam your thumb nail under one edge and pry them off. The first time hurts, after that it’s a cinch. Not sure about wearing fake nails? Maybe Dan Magallanes can change your mind.

Krazy Glue

Krazy Glue

Glue: As mentioned above, glue is used to attach the fake nails. Most players use Krazy Glue for this purpose. It’s what I use. Some players like to add a small dab of rubber cement. They believe this creates a stronger bond while still allowing the nail to be removed. Still other players prefer to use sports tape to hold the nail on, forgoing glue all together. To glue on a nail, place a drop of Krazy Glue on your nail. Spread it around so the entire nail surface is covered. Then press and hold the nail on for about 30 seconds. Let is dry for about 1 minute and then place a little extra glue at the back end of the nail for extra strength. Wait 5 minutes to dry and go jam.

Slick

Slick

Slick: Slick is used to lubricate the disc to allow for longer spin times. Many different types are used ranging from Silicon spray to Armor All. Most jammers prefer SprayOn brand silicon spray although some believe that a food grade silicon spray works better as it’s dryer and collects less dust. I highly recommend slicking a disc at least once before playing with it. An unslicked disc will tend to be hard to control and will damage easily. However, once that first coat is on you’ll find the life of the disc increases greatly. If you find yourself without slick use water. It won’t last long but while the disc is wet it spins seemingly forever.

 

Training Tools

Let’s face it. Learning to be a top notch jammer takes dedication. Anyone can go out, mess around and have a great time but to be really good one has to work at it. Fortunately there are some tools that make this process a bit easier.

Whiz Rings

Whiz Rings

Whiz Ring: Learning to air brush is one of the most important skills to be a good jammer. However, smacking a Skystyler over and over with an inexperienced hand can cause one to hurt more just than one’s pride. Enter the Whiz Ring. It is designed to be a promotional tool. Print an advertisement on it and hand it out to every one you see. Luckily for the freestyle community this ring floats beautifully in a light breeze with almost no spin. Add to that its lightweight design (it’s meant to be cheap) and you’ve found the perfect tool to learn the subtle side of the art of air brushing. With the lightest touch the ring can be sent up into the air and back into play. Wrong angle? Just smack down on it to bring the nose up and it’s ready to fly. After 15 minutes with one of these I guarantee anyone, beginner to seasoned pro will noticed a marked improvement in their brushing skills.

Z-Machine
Tell ’em FrisbeeGuru sent you.

Z- Machine: When learning to delay a spinning disc the first thing one learns is that the more spin the disc has the easier it is to delay. As one gets better they will realize that the more spin the disc has the more tricks they can do. It was with this in mind that the Z-Machine was invented. It is a small apparatus designed to do nothing except put more spin than humanly possible on the disc. Most anyone who has never delayed a disc before can pick it up in a mere 15 minutes with one of these. Many jammers find that they run out of moves before the disc runs out of spin. The pros use these to perfect new moves before trying them in the public eye. Nothing can compare to the Z-Machine for learning delay moves. New Z-Machines are in production. Contact John Thorne here and tell him FrisbeeGuru sent you.

 

Hard Core tools

Many jammers are happy with a disc, nails and slick. What else would you need, right? Well, some of us are so obsessed that we eat, sleep and breath freestyle. Not a moment goes by that we (yes, I’m hardcore to) aren’t asking ourselves, “how does this pertain to the sport?” This is how it pertains to the sport.

Samba Soccer Shoe

Shoes: Yes, most jammers wear shoes when they play. I’m talking about those jammers who go from store to store looking for just the right shoe. Choosing the right shoe can elevate your game to new heights. Probably most important, is to find a shoe that is form fitting. In hockey, many players will actually wear skates a size or two too small. The same is true of soccer players. Form fitting shoes offer more control, and a greater presence of your foot. It is important to consider a few different things when purchasing a pair of shoes. You will sometimes need to add spin, bump the disc up, or change the angle. Too much leather can hinder the bump and angle change, while not enough leather ruin your ability to add spin. The type of leather makes a difference too. Glossy leather can act as both the angle changer and spin adder. Suede often works best for adding spin. While talking with freestylers, I have learned this, ultimately it depends on your play and what your looking for. A trend that I have observed is the slip-on type shoe. These are form fitting but commonly all material. There is also some question as to their durability. Indoor soccer shoes work well. As you can imagine they are designed with kicking in mind. Pretty handy, but they are often lacking the cushioning that so many of us need. My personal favorites are cross-trainers with a leather outer and material top. It sometimes takes some looking, but there cross-trainers out there that meet all the criteria.

Sand Paper

Sand Paper

Sand Paper: This is one of the best hard core tools. Ever look at the bottom of your disc and frown because it’s full of groves? Worried about using that new disc in the sand? Fear not, sand paper will rejuvenate the disc to better than new. Tom Leitner expounds on the finer points of Disc Sanding.

Where to find the tools locally

Unfortunately finding supplies from a local store can be somewhat difficult. The best way to go about it is to find other local jammers and ask if they know where to go. Short of that you’ll have to go store to store until you find what you’re looking for. Another great place to buy supplies is at a tournament. That way you not only meet other players but you support the sport as most proceeds usually go back into the club that held the tournament.

Checklist for hosting a tournament

Checklist for running a tournament:

Here is a rough checklist of what needs to be done to run a full scale tournament.

Summary

___ Find a field

___ Decide on a date

___ Find a hotel

___ Organize staff

___ Create a sponsorship proposal


Detail

___ Decide on a site and a date

___ Solicit Sponsors

___ Create a sponsorship proposal

___ Decide what to say to sponsors

___ Talk to prospective sponsors

2 types of sponsorship:

Main sponsor

Possibly name the tournament for them
(i.e. The Jeep Eagle Frisbee Freestyle World
Championships)
Their name more prominently displayed on the field,
the disc, the web site, the t-shirts, in the radio ads,
in press releases, during the TV interview,
in the tournament program (if you do one),
announced over the PA continuously

Regular (non-main) sponsors

get exposure from the sources listed above,
but not as prominently

___ Secure fields

___ Speak with the grounds keepers to make sure the
sprinklers don’t come on during the event – or that
they don’t over water the field before the event

___ Hotel that will offer group discounts for the players

___ Get a web page up

___ Needs partner list

___ Announce and communicate to Players, Staff, Sponsors, and Media (each
week,
then every time you know something before the tourney)

___ Schedule of events

Consider options (all 4 event finals on Sunday or
1 or 2 of the finals on Saturday)

When to post the registration form? ________

Will there be any deadlines or late fees for late entrants? ___

When to post the event schedule? __________

___ Directions/Maps to the field to the hotel, to the parties, etc.

___ Put press releases together

___ Organize staff

___ Get the local media to cover the event

___ Call them

___ Fax press releases

___ Contact radio stations

___ PSA (public service announcement)

___ To become a sponsor of the event

___ Provide a sound system

___ Create a disc design and t-shirt designs (sponsors’ logos on the
designs)

___ Decide on what kind of trophies to have made up

___ Decide on budget

___ Form a Business

___ Start Bank Account

___ Find out how much money the FPA will contribute

___ Make sure you have all the logistics organized

___ Power

___ Sound system

___ Tents

___ Chairs

___ Tables

___ Judging sheets

___ Calculators

___ Pencils

___ 4 and 5 minute difficulty tapes

___ Boom box for diff tape (batteries or plug)

___ Check and Cue boom box and tapes

___ Talley sheets

___ Stop watches

___ Someone to announce

___ Someone to do the sound

___ Someone to do stats

___ Time keeper

___ Where is all the equipment going to be stored?

___ How will it be transported?

___ People to help with setup and break down

___ Graphic artist

___ Tournament logo

___ Poster

___ Flyers

___ Tournament program (Ads from sponsors and other businesses)

___ Web page

___ T-shirt design

___ Sponsor logos

___ Trophy designs

___ Airports info

___ Shuttle service to and from the airport

___ Rental Car info

___ Registration party (where, when, and food)

___ Tournament parties for Friday and Saturday night

___ The awards ceremony (where and when, and directions)

___ Make reservations

___ Organize demos/entertainment between rounds (K-9, hacky sack, martial
arts)

___ Get players package together

___ Organize staff for the registration party

___ Where’s the jam happening on Thursday afternoon

___ Is there a post tournament jam?

Tom Leitner (converted to checklist by Lee Harper)
#other

Don’t toss that old disc, sand it!

1) Wash the disc off to clean off any sand, dirt or
salt. Then dry it off with a towel.

2) Choose a grit of sandpaper depending on how roughed
up the disc is. (If it’s really rough start with 600
or 800)

3) Rub the sand paper in a circular motion until the
surface is smooth. (this takes some elbow grease!)

4) Go to the next sandpaper grade (If you started with
800 grit then go to 1200 next) and repeat step 3.

5) Repeat steps 3 & 4 until you’ve sanded the disc
with 2000 grit sandpaper. The disc should feel smooth
as silk with no rough spots.

That’s it!

Here are a couple tips…

a. The sandpaper will last longer if it’s wet when you
use it.

b. Before moving to a higher grit be sure to check the
disc surface for any rough spots that need extra work.

c. Don’t forget to sand the inside rim.

Tom

P.S. Here’s a places where you can buy high
grit sandpaper from…

http://www.autobodystore.com/material1.shtml

How To Put Together A Routine

Arthur catches a FrootsPutting together a freestyle routine is rarely the same as jamming. There are few players who can translate the excitement and unexpected thrills of jams into competitive formats. What that means is you’ll need to put in some time to create your routine.

Every time you create a routine is different. Every routine is a different journey. You’ll have more fun by not focusing on the 5 minutes you will have to perform the routine at a competition but on enjoying the hours of creativity and comraderie that will get you to that competition.

If you decide to enter a competition and want to put together a routine, it’s useful to think about a few questions:

GOALS

What are your goals? Your goal may be to have fun. It may be to pull off a certain move in competition or to demonstrate a style of play you love. It may be to place at a certain level, to make the finals, to win. Your goals, and the goals of your teammates will shape the way you create your routine. Without articulating your goals for yourself, you may encounter more frustration than you need to when building your routine.

For instance, if you are playing a theatrical routine at a beach shred competition, you should know whether your goal is to place well or play your style. If your goal is to place well, you should be aware that your style may be a handicap to your goal. If your goal is to demonstrate your style of play, your final placing won’t be a big factor for you.

Take a moment to identify your goals. You may have a few. What’s most important? What’s less important?

STYLE

What style do you want to play? The sport is freestyle. The moves are the same, but each player combines them in their own individual way, creating an infinite variety of play. Knowing your style of play and your style of competing can make your routine planning more successful and enjoyable.

Are you interested in more spontaneous play in competition? I am not an expert on spontaneous routines, but if you play this style you probably won’t want to bother mapping out elaborate co-ops to distinct music cues. Your time is better spent jamming with your team, learning each others’ games and getting hot.

Are you interested in a highly choreographed routine? If so, you’re probably going to have to limit your jamtime with your team because you’ll need to spend more time working out co-ops and practicing the routine.

TIME COMMITMENT

How much time can you commit to putting the routine together? Whatever style of routine you choose, it’s important to work out with your teammate. If your routine is choreographed, you’ll want enough time to put the routine together and practice it. If your routine is unplanned, you should play with your teammate as much as possible. The more you know each other’s games, the better your interactions and improvised co-ops will be.

I’ve had the luxury of living in the same city as my teammate and the further luxury that the city had awesome weather. Dave Lewis and I could play year-round. We did not work on routines year-round, but we worked on our games and improved our team play in jams. Our situation is extremely rare. It’s more likely that you will have only a few practice sessions with your team.

Whatever your situation, budgeting your time is important. If you get together at a tournament and have an hour to prepare for the first round, use that hour wisely. It’s probably more important to work out some co-ops than pick out uniforms. It’s probably more important to pick music that every team member can jam to than to work out intricate choreography. Do what you can for the first round. If you make the cut, you have more time to flesh out your routine and pick those perfect matching outfits.

Even if you practice year-round, it’s essential to use your time effectively. There have been many years that Dave and I spent more time worrying about our song choice than putting good co-ops together. If you have 10 weekends a year to prepare for a tournament, and the weather is so good on 9 of them that you just jam, that leaves you 1 weekend to prepare. You’ve just lost all the advantage of living near each other.

YOUR TEAM AND THEIR GOALS

Who are you playing with, and what are their goals? If your teammate has different goals, it can lead to tension. If you want a shred routine and the rest of your team wants something more theatrical, you may have a problem.

Because freestyle allows so many styles, you can probably work things out in a way that each member of the team gets what they want. For instance, the theatrically-minded player could get a choreographed section and the shred player could get unstructured time for individual combos and improvised co-ops.

Find out about one another’s goals early. If the conflict isn’t resolved, it may be a bumpy ride.

ENOUGH WITH THE PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS

Once you answer those philosophical questions, it’s time to put together your routine. The following suggestions use the assumption that you are interested in putting together a routine that places you as high as possible, a routine that is a great showcase for your freestyle wizardry, a routine that has the greatest chance to wow the audience.

TUNES

What song will you use? In most competitions, you can choose your own routine music. Sometimes in early rounds, music will be randomly selected, but at the world championships you are allowed to play to whatever you want in all rounds.

Choose a song that everyone on your team likes. It may not be either player’s first choice, but it’s important that the song inspires you to play your best.

Choose a song that reflects your style of play. If your routine has lots of choreography, think about whether the music has enough changes or breaks to highlight what you do. It’s more effective to catch choreographed co-ops on music breaks than at random points in a song. If your style is flowing, an aggressive song might not convey your game. Same if you are an aggressive, on-the-edge player. A Celine Dion ballad may water down the presentation of what you’re doing.

Don’t feel censored, but take the judges and audience into consideration when choosing your tunes. Choose a song that the judges and audience can handle. It’s great to find a song that both people on your team like. If you want to make your team more competitive, also consider about what the judges and audience will think.

Judges aren’t allowed to judge your music, just how your choreography meshes with your music, but music choice can factor in at the judging table. If the judging panel cannot get into your music, it may prevent them from getting into your routine. That may affect your General Impression score. If they cannot get past your music, they may not see all the great moves you are doing to the music. That can affect several scores, including Music Choreography.

If the audience isn’t moved by your music, they may not be as excited by your performance. You can never predict what a judging panel or audience will like, but if your tastes run to extremes, take a moment to think about whether the music you love is a good complement to your routine.

COMMUNICATION

Even a dropless routine is filled with errors. They may not be the kind of errors an execution judge will notice, but the routine will stray from its plan. The wind will play with the disc. A set will be off. Someone will forget the next co-op. One teammate’s confidence won’t be there for an important move. What do you do when things go wrong?

In a word: communicate. Talk. Bark orders. Claim responsibility. Give each other the evil eye. Every team communicates differently, but success depends on having a language to communicate what comes next. Teams who have been together for a while may not even say a word. They can communicate with motions or facial expressions. At some point in a routine, teams have to talk. The best time to figure out how to talk to each other is in practice.

MAKEABILITY

Shred. Choreographed. Aggressive. Fluff. Theatrical. Technical. We label teams and routines all the time based on what we perceive they are doing. Forget those labels. Whatever you plan for a routine should be makeable. If you plan moves that are beyond your comfort level, you risk distracting yourself. You may be so worried about that big move in the next co-op that you drop the previous co-op. Always push your limits and show the biggest disc skills you can, but be honest with yourself about what you can pull off when it counts. If you are building in a big theatrical section, make sure you can keep your concentration and get back to doing the moves. If you are creating a diff routine, be sure you can pull everything off.

CO-OPS

Co-ops are sequences that involve more than one player. They can be planned or unplanned, sketched out or planned to the second. You’ll want some co-ops in your routine.

What makes a good co-op? Risk. Visual style. Pacing. Inventiveness. Flair. Most importantly for you, a good co-op is one that fits your game and you can learn well enough to pull off almost every time.

How do you put a co-op together? Start with your money moves. Money moves are tricks you are known for. They are the moves that are hard for others but easy for you. They are the moves that get you a big response from the crowd or the judges. They are your favorite moves. Make sure your money moves are in your routine. If possible, try to combine your money moves with your teammates’ money moves for big, massive co-ops. Take advantage of what you’re good at.

Once you’ve figured out some of the money moves you want to perform, think about how to link them up. How can you go from your money move to set your partner up for his big move? Think of consistent yet interesting ways to pass to your teammate. Think of consistent yet exciting ways to receive passes. Figure out how many interesting passes you can do before the spin runs out. Now think of a way to end the co-op with a big catch. Remember, it’s generally more exciting for one teammate to set up the other teammate’s catch rather than one guy to set to his own catch.

Do that, then repeat 10-15 times. You will need between 10-15 co-ops for a competitive routine.

CREATING THE ROUTINE

Once you’ve got 10-15 co-ops, you’ve got the raw materials for a routine. It’s time to put them into order. If you’re doing a choreographed routine, you should have an opening sequence of around 3 co-ops, an ending sequence of around 3 co-ops, and some sequences in the middle. For some teams, the order of co-ops is the order the team thought them up. You can get good flow from co-op to co-op that way, but if you are open to rearranging them you may find some more interesting co-op sequences.

Think about these things:

Throws and catches: The player who catches a co-op will probably throw the next throw (this may not be true in a multiple-disc routine), so if Player A catches a co-op, the next co-op needs to have Player A throwing. Sometimes you’ll have to tweak co-ops to make the throws and catches mesh. It’s nice if each player catches about the same number of times. If each person is carrying an equal catching load, the pressure is not on any one player and you can work better as a team.

Music: Some co-ops will work better with certain sections of the music. You may have created some of the co-ops to the music already. If not, try to visualize which co-ops will work well with which parts of your routine music.

Balance: Routines can get unbalanced if you do too many co-ops of the same style. Are you always working close together (or far apart)? Is everything flat (or angle/windgame/turnover)? Is everything high spin? Is everything one spin? Your routine’s impact is reduced without variety. Things will blend together into a brain-deadening mush. Mix it up a little and your most important sequences will stand out.

Flow: It’s not enough to have killer co-ops or a cool theme. Your routine needs flow. Even if each player flows well in their individual combos, even if the co-ops themselves are crisp, even then the routine can be rough if the transitions between co-ops are sloppy. For good transitions, try to minimize re-positioning or awkward pauses between co-ops. The catcher should end up in a place where he can throw the disc. His teammate should have already re-positioned to the ideal catch-receiving spot. Some believe that the catcher should not even re-grip the disc. If he catches it with a wrist flip grip, he should throw with that grip. That’s a very high standard of transitioning, so don’t get too hung up on it before you dot all your other i’s and cross all your other t’s.

THEME

No matter what your routine, you have a theme. It might be Swan Lake or Spare Change. It might be “we’re going to go out there and shred like no one’s ever shred before.” It might be “we’re a new team and we’re not really serious about this.” It might be “this routine is falling apart and we don’t know how to save it.” You send a message with every performance. The key is to send the message you intend. If you want a theatrical routine, it’s going to take some extra thought to make it a special routine. If you want a choreographed diff routine, you better practice hard so you can pull everything off in sequence. If you want an improvised shred routine, it’s going to take some extra hot play to stand out against the commercial appeal of the theatrical routine and the precision of a choreographed diff routine. Whatever you do, do it well.

PRACTICE

Freestyle is a geographically diverse sport. It’s not always possible to work year-round on routines. Teams sometimes have only one or two sessions to create something special. Whatever time you have left over should be spent practicing. You can practice the co-ops to figure out how to pull them off. You can practice the sequence of co-ops to memorize the routine. You can practice the whole routine to build your physical and mental endurance. You can practice jamming with your team to learn their game, improve communication and build a team bond. To succeed in competition will require practice. The good news is that you can find a kind of practice that fits your style and goals as long as you bring intensity and commitment to each session.

Arthur