Sunny Daze! Jammin’ Craze! I was out there too much to video the dropless shredding that was going on… but, you can get a taste of it by watching some of the great moves by these folks. – LD
Crushed…My first big prelims in Vancouver 78, and I lost a half-point on the variety check-off sheet because I didn’t do a brush and another half-point for not doing a roll. I figured I better work on this, and by Fall 1979 I had basic brushes and rolls down, thanks to Corey Basso and Skippy Jammer. But it wasn’t until I became a bench-warmer for Stanford Ultimate that I jumped to the next level with these skills by brushing and rolling on the sidelines.
1. Play by yourself often, practicing rolls and brushes where you have room to run and hopefully some, but not necessarily nice, wind. Visit San Diego, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, and other good wind-spots on nice wind-days as often as possible.
2. Face the wind. Know where you are in relation to the wind at all times. Learn to feel it like a sailor.
3. As Skippy says. remember that the object of a roll is not to get it from one hand to the other (bounce, bounce), but to roll it along the body as if it’s on Velcro, pulling it along your arms by moving your body in the opposite direction of the roll with “touch-Zs,” turbo rolls excepted.
4. Step into and follow-through on all brushes and kicks, as you would in tennis, volleyball or baseball.
5. Decrease the margin of error by wearing size twelve shoes for better surface-area for kicking. I’m a size 11.
6. Seriously, try brushing the disc steeper at times, a skill I learned watching Dave Marini and JJ (John Jewel) in 1978.
7. Step into the disc when brushing so if it goes too far you can get to it, always being ready for the missed hit….be on your toes and ready to sprint.
8. Don’t plan too much. The best part of this game is to take advantage of the hand dealt to you. If you plan to do a roll off of a set but it’s there for a kick or a scarecrow catch instead, go for what’s there. Don’t force it…go with the flow.
9. When you’re indoors, compensate for no wind by running faster to make your own wind, and by setting rolls and brushes steeper.
10. The force of the brush should be inversely proportional to the Zs on the disc. For example, you’re middle-jammer in a 3-person MAC-line (Midair Attitude Correction). The disc comes to you with a slight angle and high Z’s – just meet it with your hand or body part…it’s riskier to swing at it or brush it hard when it’s not needed. On the other hand, hit it harder if it has low Zs. Learn how to adjust the disk with a cuff as needed for better options in MAC-lines..
11. Cuff often when you’re sweaty and you have a steep, high Z disk.
12. The meek will not inherit the kick. Be aggressive. Pretend you’re the batter in 6th-grade kickball.
13. Play the spontaneous wind game with your friends, but also learn when to give space to your partner for individual moves. Go on “brush runs” with your partners. . Be like Magic Johnson and make the players around you better…Set up your partners with good, easy brush/roll/kick sets and watch great, difficult things happen that you won’t remember after you do them… this is a good sign. Communicate frequently before and after you jam to enhance these opportunities. Also talk during spontaneous times (e.g. all-mine, all-yours, coming, etc…).
You know people say if you get lemons…make lemonade. Such is the way I started doing wipers (vertical upside-down rings). On a very windy day I was trying to bash flat counter, and was getting frustrated because when the nose got up at all it would blow up above my head and travel behind me really far. This technique is great to practice when waiting for a fellow jammer who is late or chronically on “Frisbee time”;-).
To get good at vertical upside down “drags” you face the wind. Keep in mind that the topside of the disc is directly perpendicular to the wind. The beauty of this technique in heavy wind is that the topside has no rim and therefore no “sail” for the wind to grab and move drastically. Also picture a person whom you have seen pass rings to another: the disc can only move forward once you contact and “hook” it. What this means is that if the throws or self-sets are set in front of you, you must have great wheels and sprint past the disc and pull it forward with you since it is both vertical and upside-down and therefore falling rapidly.
Simply put once you hook the disc you cannot move it backwards to go forwards, so it is best to start with the disc behind or to your side. If the disc is behind you, when you hook it, and it is spinning rapidly 2 miraculous things happen. First of all the wind pushing against the top “glues” it to your nail allowing a slight pulling movement and a feeling of power unlike any other in the disc world. For now you are defying gravity and doing a unique ring technique which looks mind-blowing, and leads into upside down rolls and kicks that will absorb the energy you transfer well, without moving too far away or blowing above your head! The second thing that happens is that you DISCover against the spin and with the spin moves do not hit your body parts because the disc is hanging off behind you like a ribbon!
To get started all you need to do is hold an overhand grip in front of you so you can see your thumb at 12 o’clock. You are looking at a the bottom of the disc and the nose is pointed at the wind 5-15 degrees depending on wind speed and rate of spin. Really cock the wrist and BAMM: snap it up above head slightly and look for the wind to move it back slightly- your only task is to find the top of the rim and HOOK it- but the disc must be slightly behind you at either side or behind you within arms length. The further behind you start- the more dramatic it looks when you hook it and let the ZZZs glue the disc to your nail- and play, experiment with it. It will hang as you move into the wind or as you spin around dragging it and I can turn 3 times sometimes if the spin and my technique is flawless….with the disc just hanging there the whole time!!! AWESOME!!!! Try it you’ll like it….
When you pass the disc back and forth behind your back and/or through your legs…it looks like your hands are windshield wipers…hence the name-coined by Diego Gamboa who informed me I had not invented this technique…and had been doing what he called drags for years. Left hand overhand grip is actually clock right side up-so you will doing counter UD drags-but after a while the direction of spin will become meaningless to you unless you do combos with rolls and kicks and under the leg brushes. When the disc is dragging against it will stick at really slow rates of spin allowing you to pull it in front of you to a beautiful UD roll… With high spinning discs it is easy to pull in front to a UD flat delay…and do whatever from there. For the opposite spin-grip the disc as if you were going to throw an overhand upside down throw to your partner and hold the disc at your side with your hand extended straight away from you… keep the disc perpendicular to the wind and snap… As you get good at this you will find yourself longing for your partners to throw you something you can hook right out of the air. It is especially gratifying to have it vertical, behind you close to the ground, falling away from you so can pull off the most heinest move: “Back from the Grave”. This occurs when there is no possible way you can reach the disc to even pancake save it much less do anything with it. Then PRESTO all of a sudden you are in control Back from the Grave…and you have made super duper lemonade out of a testy lemon of a throw…and the judges pencils snap off in disbelief…
For the newcomer to freestyle “bashing” and rolling the disc are essential skills to have. Of course the simple nail delay which allows you to control the disc and think, or set your next move is more essential at first…. The bash and roll will allow your game to rise to the next level.
“Bashing” or air brushing to increase the spin will allow you to regenerate spin to yourself, which is good to practice alone, or to just pass to your partner without catching and throwing. In fact if your partner throws to you as you bash to him/her you can start doing double disc routines where a disc is always in motion! For a right handed person, bashing counter spin is done at the ear level, while clock spin is done lower-more waist high. Left handed clock bashing is done high, while counter is done lower conversely. Keep in mind that a foot brush can also be done very close to the ground, with the right foot kicking towards the left foot for clock and straight ahead or to your right for counter spin. The most important things to keep in mind are 1) Keep the nose of the disc higher than the back, and the more wind in your face the flatter it can be. 2) The angle of the disc should be similar to the angle of a throw we would throw to a partner with a slight curve. A right handed backhand is usually released with the side being held higher than the opposite edge. This is due to the fact that the spin actually will “process” the disc and make it move towards flat. If you start with the disc flat in a throw or airbrush scenario, the increase in spin usually make it “turn over” and roll. That is why we keep the bashing angle in what can be known as the skip angle-that is the angle at which a throw would skip towards your partner. 3) So with the nose up and in the skip angle, hit the disc at like 5-6 oclock in a circular motion with the fleshy part of the palm where it meets the fingers. This means counter is angled away from you to right and high, while clock is angled away to left and low-for your right hand….and the opposite for your left side. 4) Practice by letting your delay go to the rim, until the disc is in the desired angle…and hit gently at first and more firmly in a circle to increase spin-do not hit through the disc but get into contact and accelerate with the force.
So now that we can delay the disc, and tip it in the middle, and then as it slows down we can bash it and speed it back up…we have another option open for more ways of controlling and playing with the flying disc. This is called the body roll, arm roll, or just the roll. If you get good enough people will yell, “Sweet rolls”. But it is not until you can roll all types front and back, plus the inverted rolls, that you may hear, “That was more rolls than in a continental breakfast!”
The body roll is a way of gluing the disc to your body and as it travels across, you are actually in control of it when it is spinning rather slowly. Therefore this move comes towards the end of a combo, after center work, and rim pulls which reduce the spin, and instead of the airbrush which would re-rev the disc. High spin or “turbo” rolls can be spectacular for passing to a partner, or through a hoop or under a leg in a 3-way jam, but at first stick with rolling the slowest of spins or your head may spin, or it may strike you on the chin.
Body rolls can be practiced by tossing the disc up in a 45-60 degree angle above your head and to the right or left-Remember to toss the left handed counter light set to your right side as it will roll to your left, and the ever popular right spin to your left as it will start on the left side but the right hand will be the last contact before it is set up for another roll or for a pass or to your own catch. Leaning back and having your chest extended up with your knees bent will help immensely. As the disc rolls you should extend the chest into it for good contact so leave some leeway in your chest to “push up”, but this same gluing to your body feeling can be created by pressing up with the legs slightly, so keep them bent. Also for a clock roll, have the disc rolling up your right hand towards the sky (away from the ground). Very often new players will roll flat in front of them, which can be frustrating because of gravity pulling at the disc. This fact coupled with the disc is not angled up causes the disc to fall to the ground. So try to roll from angled in front of you high onto your chest and back up the other arm towards the sky, and move your shoulder into it as if you were slapping someone. So for a clock roll the disc will start on the left above you falling/rolling down on your slightly back bent body, from your left arm towards the chest, and as the chest is touched by the disc begin to press up with the legs and “slap” with the right hand at the end causing the disc to glue to the chest past the shoulder up the right arm. For multiple rolls use the right hand as a flipper to send the disc back over to the left side to start it all over, or just have your partner next to you to receive the roll and continue it. As you get better, you can “weave” behind your partner and get back your own roll or even send it back to the far side to have it return to you again! For back rolls, as the disc comes past your neck and is about to go out of sight try lifting the opposite elbow and you will feel it go up in the air!
There are really only 2 basic cranks. Due to the magic of both spins and going against the spin (see Skippy’s Article) there end up being 8 different combinations. Doing the basic with the spin cranks are easy to learn.
Here’s one: delay counter on your left hand palm up. Now lift your hand up and twist at the wrist so you are delaying palm down. Continue the twisting motion until your elbow it pointing up and you are delaying palm up again (only now your hand is inverted). Now bring the disc back under your arm armpit, twisting your wrist so that it returns to the original delay position (palm up). Basically you pull the disc under your arm.
The other one is to reverse the order. This one is easiest counter right. Just rock the disc towards you and swing it under your arm. Once your hand is inverted lift up and untangle your wrist.
So taking the examples above and doing them clock makes 4. But it gets tricky when you do them against the spin. IE Doing the counter motions/hands with a disc spinning clock. Thus there are 8, 4 with and 4 against.
Here’s a tip to make it easier to get the motion. Delay a counter left. Set it up about eye level. Quickly invert your hand and let the disc land on your nail. Let it fall to the rim. It will naturally circle under your arm (hence with the spin). This will teach you how the motion works. Just remember a true crank is center all the way.
For most learning to go from a high Z rim delay to a center delay marks a whole new level of understanding in disc control. It means being able to bring most any angle throw back to the center, increased center control, and leads to understanding angle changes and off center tips. For me this skill took some practice.
To accomplish this task it helps to be able to throw a high Z steep angle to your self. To learn clock right hand throw a right handed backhand throw with tons of spin. It should come off on a steep angle, nearly perpendicular to the ground such that the bottom is pointing more downward than the top and the nose is pointing to the right. It should also be perpendicular to your chest plane. Now that the disc is in the air use your right hand and take it on a rim delay. Your palm will be facing to your left and your finger(s) should be curled under the rim. Let the disc hang in this position long enough to get it under control but not so long that it tilts around so the nose is pointing to your body. From here there are two common methods of getting to the center.
1: Give the disc an upward tug. As it lifts up hold your hand still so that the bottom of the disc rides along your finger nail(s). Once your nail is near center push hard to the left. The ideal location is it about 6 o’clock halfway between the rim and the center. As you push to the left the disc will flatten out. Once it is flat get the center delay under control.
2: Gently swing the disc forward. As the disc swings forward the rim will pull against your nail forcing the disc to level off. Once it is halfway flat move your nail to the center and gain delay control.
To learn counter left reverse the right/left directions as if looking in the mirror.
Once you become proficient at this maneuver try it on a different angle or the opposite hand. Example, once the disc is on a rim delay let it drift around on your nail until the nose is pointing upwards to the left perpendicular to your chest plane. The motions are the same. Give it a tug so it rides up your nail. Now push right at 12 o’clock between the rim and the center. It will flatten out as before. Note: you may have to duck your forearm below it to keep from knocking it off your finger.
The biggest thing to learn is that the location to press in with changes based on the direction of the nose. It’s always 90 degrees ahead of the spin from the nose. So, with clock spin, if the nose is pointing away from you (12 o’clock) push it out so the disc rides up your nail, then push towards you at 3 o’clock. With counter spin you’d push at 9 o’clock.
Once this becomes second nature try flattening the disc directly from the throw with a tip. The physics are the same. Just tip it up 90 degrees ahead of the spin from the nose. You can also try to flatten it out from a rim delay to a flat set. This set it the beginning to many moves and catches such as a scarecrow and a one and a half btb.
Most jammers will tell you that you need to learn to delay before you can jam. Unfortunatly the learning curve for the delay is very steep and often turns people off before they start to feel the rewards of jamming. Fortunaly there are two tricks that anyone can do with a small amount of practice but a huge amount of fun.
This is how I learned to jam. Mike Esterbrook would thrown me zzzs and I would let it drift onto my nail. If I felt brave I’d try to keep it in the center but mostly I’d let it fall to the rim. While it spun there it I would pass it under my leg, behind my back or anywhere else I could think of. Eventually it ran out of spin or I hit myself with it and it would plop to the ground. When I got a little better I’d use my left hand to hold it at my left side and grab it behind my back with my right resulting in my first completed series!
To learn the rim delay is simple. Find someone who can throw the disc with a good amount of spin. When they throw it to you let it float onto your index finger’s nail. The trick here is to make sure only the nail contacts the disc. This is where fake nails help the most. Now that the disc is on your nail hold your hand up with your finger pointing to the sky. Let the disc circle slowly around being sure that only your nail contacts the disc. Holding your finger bent to a 45 degree angle will help but however you do it be sure to keep your nail in contact. The disc will spin round and round and eventually run out of juice and flop over. You have just completed a rim delay.
It won’t take but 5 or 10 of these and you’ll get the feel for how the disc moves and how to keep your nail instead of your finger in contact. Be sure to try both hands. Once you are ready try passing it from hand to hand. Once that is easy do it under your leg. You are now freestyling…it’s as simple as that. Add a catch in there and you’ve completed a series. Pass it on the rim to your friend and you can co-op. Really there’s nothing to it.
This is my favorite of all moves. It is one of the easiest moves to execute yet honing this skill can take a lifetime. To practice brushing toss the disc in front of you almost perpendicular to the ground. If there’s alot of wind make the set a little flatter. It should go up a little ways, 2 or 3 feet and then come back down to you. When it’s in range hit (brush) it with the palm of your hand so as to add spin and send it back up 2 or 3 feet. Repeat until you lose control, pass it to a partner or catch it. That’s all there is to it. The real tricks here are 1: try to add spin when you hit it. Hitting it with the wrong spin or no spin will kill its flight (at least if you don’t know what your doing). 2: run after it. Even the best players can’t keep the disc in front of them the whole time. And who would want to, the fun is in the challenge. Chase it around and bash at it for as long as you can. You’ll find that shortly you can keep it in the air for quite a while.
Once you get the hang of brushing to yourself try and brush it to a friend. There are two ways to accomplish this. One is to toss the disc up with much less of an angle so that the nose is pointing towards the target. Then when you brush it the disc will float over as if you threw it there. This move really impresses non-freestylers. The second way is to brush it so that it arches over you your friend. This is akin to throwing a major angle up into the air and over to you friend. If your friend is cool she’ll try and brush it back and suddenly you are co-oping again. Funny how it always come back to co-oping.
Putting them together:
Now that you can brush and rim delay try putting the two together. Take a throw on a rim delay. If it’s clockwise spin take it on your left hand. Let it spin around until the nose is pointing to your partner. Then drop your left hand out and brush it with your right. (Reverse g the hands for counter spin). It should float over nicely to your partner who will catch a triple spinning gitosis…sorry I’m day dreaming again. As long as it gets to her you did your job.
Now try the same trick but to yourself. Take it on the rim delay and do a few moves. Once it slows down wait until it is pointing away from you on a steep angle. Then drop out your delay hand and brush with your other hand. Keep on brushing until you’re expression is complete, then go for a catch.
Last trick, go from a brush to a rim delay. This one is a bit tougher so I saved it for last. Remember how I said to always add spin? Well if you can do this well enough you should be able to take it on the rim again and do some more rim tricks. There aren’t many tips I can give on this one but I will say that once you get it you will feel unstoppable. It means that no matter what throw you get you can do something with it because you’ll be able to add spin when every you need it. They call this maneuver a rerev.
Practice, practice, practice. 🙂
Well, beyond that, here’s what helped me in the beginning. You can do
this by yourself.
1) Develop a two handed throw to your self that is flat (parallel to the
ground) and floats down gently. Start by placing each hand on the outside
of the rim, one hand close to you, the other on the far side of the rim.
Throw your hands and arms out to the sides, popping the disc gently up in
air, about a foot or two in height above you head. Practice this skill
alone, without attempting the delay, until you get the disc to float very
horizontal and with as much spin as possible. Like a spinning top, the
more RPMs the disc starts with, the more stable and easy to control it
will be. The flatter it is, the easier it will be to balance and delay.
Once your self throws are stable, you are ready to proceed. Side note: If
your right hand is the one close to you, your spin will be
counter-clockwise. If you left hand is the one close to you, the spin
will be clockwise. One spin may be easier for you to throw and one spin
will be easier to delay at first. Make observations about your tendencies
and what works best for you.
2) Make sure the contact with the disc is with your fingernail, however
small it is (artificial nails are not necessary in the beginning). Hold
you finger, slightly bent, so that the nail itself is close to parallel
to the surface of the disc. This way the spinning disc will slide on your
nail. Apply a silicon spray lubricant to the disc to further reduce
friction between the disc and your nail. As soon as the disc contacts
flesh, there’s major friction involved, usually leading to loss of spin
3) Next, connect the above two skills. After you release the disc into
the air, reach up to the disc with your delaying hand and try to make
contact with the disc as close to the time when it is transitioning from
popping up to floating down. The disc is traveling slow at this time.
Spot the center of the disc as it’s above eye level. Keep your finger
kind of springy to absorb the contact of the disc with your finger at
this time and follow the disc’s descent with your arm to slow its further
descent. If you can keep the disc above eye level at this time, you can
continue to spot your finger on the bottom of the disc and track your
centering attempt. Eventually your eye-hand coordination will develop,
allowing you to stabilize the disc below eye level, without seeing your
finger on the bottom of the disc. A clear or translucent disc can also be
helpful at this stage.
4) Finally, make small circular motions with your arm and finger, in the
same direction that the disc is spinning. This motion will help correct
any non-horizontalness of the disc and helps you track to the center of
the disc to maintain the delay. Over time, these motions become so
refined that you will not even realize that you are making them.
Eventually you will replace step 1, with that of a throw from a partner.
Make sure your throwing partner is throwing you the same spin that you
practice with or everything will seem awry. If your partner can make a
hovering throw, again try to make contact with the disc at a point in its
flight where it is transitioning from flight to fall. Let your finger and
arm give with the disc as you receive it, acting as a shock absorber to
slow its momentum to a standstill.
The whole process is learning this eye-hand coordination. Players have
reported different lengths of time to learn the skill from less than a
week to maybe six weeks. A youthful age and athletic tendencies will tend
towards the shorter time. Practice every day for at least fifteen minutes
and you will see results of increasing delay times.
Once you’re comfortable in maintaining a delay, ask questions about the
next level you want to attain.
And most of all, have fun.
Question: What is tipping? Answer: Striking the bottom of the spinning disc with your fingers causing the disc to bounce upward. You can also do an elbow tip, a head tip, a toe tap, heel tip or a knee tip. Today I’ll only be covering tipping using fingers.
Tipping above the head
When you first start to learn to tip, start tipping above your head. Begin with the two handed self set. Rev the disc up with as much spin as you can generate so the disc lifts up above your head. Look up at the disc and find the center of the disc and as it comes down, give the disc a good pop with the end of your middle finger and ring finger. Hit the disc with the pad of the finger tips. Keep the two fingers nestled together and slightly bent for stability. First try one tip then catch the disc. Then try two tips. Now three. Now go pick the disc up off the ground….OK, now try tipping off of someone’s throw. If the disc comes in high and if lofting on a nice throw try one or two tips then catch the disc. Now go pick the disc up off the ground. If you want to learn a new trick you better get used to doing that.
The basic underhand tip
If you can do a nail delay and you have mastered “the above your head” tip you’re ready to learn the underhand tip at belly level with the palm up. This is more difficult. To find the right spot to tip, clap your hands together at belly level like you were applauding an amazing combo that Tom Leitner did. The spot where your hands meet is the spot where the majority of your tipping should take place regardless of which hand you use. Get the disc on a nail delay with your palm up at the same spot I just suggested that you should tip the disc. Loft the disc up to chest level and as the disc comes back down, with your middle finger and ring finger nestled together and with your palm up, strike the disc with the pad of your finger tips.(not the nail side). Bend or curl your fingers a little bit to create more stability when tipping around belly level. Don’t tip with your fingers straight. I would suggest tipping with alternating hands. One tip with the right, one with the left, one with the right, etc., see if you can keep it going until spin runs out. The more spin on the disc, the easier and more stable the tips will be. Fake nails don’t work well for tips. That’s why I only use a fake nail on my index finger and reserve the middle finger and ring fingers for tipping.
Restricted Tips: Before you try these. Did you stretch??? Always stretch lightly before and after you play… Restricted tips are done under or around the leg or behind the back, and even be behind the brain. The most advanced tipping and the coolest tipping combos use only restricted tips. It takes practice.
List of Restricted tips:
Right hand under left leg.
Right hand under right leg from the inside (called the Figure Four or Grapevine Tip)
Right hand under right leg from the outside.
Now reverse everything above using the left hand.
Right hand behind back,
Left hand behind the back.
Bad attitude tip (tip done in bad attitude position) both left & right hand.
Right hand in inverted position, tipping under right leg.
Left hand in inverted position, tipping under left leg.
Always strike the center of the disc. Try to tip at belly level, and try to stay under the disc (I mean have your hand under the disc). There will be a sweet spot that you will find for each of the different restricted tips. Learn the sweet spot. It should be about where you clap your hands at belly level. Try some nail delay combos and throw a tip in here or there to get better at it. Then maybe throw in two or three consecutive restricted tips in a combo, .
Advanced Tipping: The most important tip is the first tip of a combo. If the tip ends up with the disc coming back down at an angle then it’s difficult to follow it up with more consecutive restricted tips without having to get the disc back on a nail delay or to do a “the” tip. A “the” tip is the basic non-restricted tip done at stomach level without the tip being done from under a leg or behind the back. So…make sure you set the disc up flat and high to start the first tip in your tipping combo. And of course, always aim at tipping the center of the disc. Having some high tips mixed with lower or medium height tips make the combo have more variety and actually can make it easier to execute. I don’t know why, but I’ve noticed that it seems to help. Having a high tip every third tip or so helps buy you time to get under the disc for the next tip. Move with the disc. If you tipped the disc too far to the left or right, or too far in front of you, move with the disc. Make your feet, not your arms, do the work to get you to the right position for the next tip. You can’t be flat footed during a tipping combo.
Tipping injuries: If you do too many high tips you can hurt your fingers. The disc can compress the joints a bit. So to avoid this problem I try to limit myself to only a few tipping combos every time I play. You could also use a smaller and lighter disc to practice tipping to limit this problem. Overdoing any one type of move or motion in one practice session can lead to injury.
Dave “Spike” Lewis
If you are a new jammer you may have wondered why so many advanced players all tend to wear some sort of extension or fake fingernail while playing. This article will explore the reasons for wearing fake nails in the first place, the materials that can be used, and how to make/apply them properly. Hopefully, by the end of all this babbling, you will be able to make a reasonably informed decision as to whether using fake nails is right for you as a jammer.
“A fake nail will be much more durable than your natural nail.”
Why Fake Nails?
If you’ve seen jammers wearing fake nails, you may have asked yourself why anyone would glue such hideous chunks of plastic to the ends of their nails. Well, this is for a few reasons. The first is durability. As the “nail delay” is on the fingernail, your own natural nails will take a beating from the abuse that jamming can cause. A fake nail will typically be much more durable and have less friction than your natural nails. Wearing fake nails will reduce the risk of chipped, bent, or torn nails. The latter can be most painful if it occurs below the fingertip and will take weeks to properly heal.
Another reason to wear fake nails is to reduce gouging. A natural nail is thinner than most fake nails and tends to self-sharpen during play. It becomes a small gouge that will rip chunks out of a disc while tipping, pulling, or even just delaying. This self-sharpening of natural nails requires more maintenance: not only day-to-day, but throughout the course of a normal jam day. Fake nails, especially acrylic, need little to no edge attention and won’t sharpen during play.
“They will give you more extension and better penetration.”
Fake nails will give you extension beyond what a natural nail can. Depending on genetics and the amount of calcium in your diet, a natural nail gets pretty flimsy once it’s about 3/16” past your fingertip. A fake nail gives you extension beyond what a natural nail can before it starts to bend or tear (ouch!). The extension of the nail gives the wearer a couple advantages: it keeps the disc a little higher off your forearm/body while delaying and allows better penetration into the rim for rimming, sets, and pulls.
Fake nails, as mentioned above, have less friction than naturals—especially acrylic. This gives you the obvious advantage of a disc that spins faster and longer.
“You don’t wear a claw-hammer on your belt when you go dancing, do you?”
Another reason for wearing fake nails (which is a matter of personal preference) is that you can take them off at the end of the day. Although there are plenty of jammers who keep nails on 24/7, it’s not for everyone. Fake nails are necessary tools for jamming, just as a claw hammer is for effective carpentry. But you don’t want to wear your hammer on your belt when you’re out for a night of dinner and dancing with your sweetie, do you?
What are fake nails made of, and how do I get them?
There have been many types of materials and apparatus used over the years from thimbles to guitar finger picks, and from Lee Press-On nails to dental acrylic—even small seashells. Finding a product or material that you prefer can be a matter of availability and personal preference. Acrylic is perhaps the most effective material being used today, but they aren’t always easy to come by. The same goes for Swedish plastic. Still today, one of the most convenient and effective materials is the protective outer tube from Krazy Glue. Not only is this a relatively fast plastic, but it is also included in the purchase of a tube of Krazy Glue. Don’t be shy about trying new stuff to stick on the end of your nails—you could discover the next best thing to happen to freestyle since judging!
“Don’t be shy about sticking stuff to the end of your nails.”
As mentioned above, you can cut nails from the outer tube of Krazy Glue. It is soft and easy to shape, but this is also a disadvantage as it wears down over time. It also has a natural curve to it already that helps fit the curve of your finger.
Acrylic nails are not only hard and fast, but for the fashion-conscious they can come in virtually any color you desire. But getting them is a little tricky. Some are made of dental acrylic such as Yar-nails and others come from nail salons. If you know someone who is a dental technician, they can make you an exact fit. Otherwise, you will have to rely on fine- tuning the fit after they have been made. The advantage of getting acrylic nails from a salon is that they will fit perfectly to your existing nails. Some players have them made in a natural color and leave them on until they break off or grow out. Salons nails will cost more, but are quite effective.
“Hobby plastic is pretty cheap, but you’ll have to go to Europe for the Swedish Stuff”
Hobby plastic is plastic that can be purchased at most hobby/craft stores. It is basically the same material (a dense polystyrene) that plastic models are made of and can be bought in sheets of various thicknesses from .005” up to .080”. The most common thickness for fake nails is .050” (50 gauge). Hobby plastic is also quite affordable and, if a couple jammers go in on buying a package, the cost goes down even more. It does require some special handling to get a curve to fit your own nails: This technique will be covered later in this article.
As for Swedish plastic, go to more tournaments in Europe and make lots of friends—especially with the Swedish players. See if they can hook you up.
Now I’ve picked a material, how do I get them to stick?
The two most common methods of adhesion of fake nails are Krazy Glue (or other cyanoacrylates) and contact cement. They each have their advantages and disadvantages. Krazy Glue adheres fast, is strong, and applies in a very thin layer. For some, nails applied with Krazy Glue have a more “intimate” connection with their natural nail and feel more like a part of their body. It also comes in a very compact container so it’s easy to tote around and can be used in emergencies like when you knock over that family heirloom vase while jamming at Grandma’s house. But these adhesives have drawbacks such as: instantly gluing your fingers or other body parts to each other, the fumes will burn your eyes and nose, nails can be exceptionally difficult to remove—sometimes taking a layer of natural nail with it, and nails can just POP OFF without warning.
“Crazy Glue has a more ‘intimate’ connection”
Contact cement is much less aggressive than Krazy Glue. It is easier to remove the fake nails and won’t take a layer of nail or skin with it. The fumes are nowhere near as nasty either. And if a nail is starting to lose adhesion, you can typically tell in advance and fix the problem. But re-application will take you out of the jam for as long as 20 minutes while the glue dries. You also need to count on that 15-20 minute dry time when the nails are first applied before jamming. Contact cement is a much messier process. Even in tubes, contact cement takes up a lot of space in your nail kit and has less of a MacGiver factor than Krazy Glue. And for some, there is a sort of “mushy” feel to the nail that feels like the nail could pop off any minute, thus losing that “intimacy” gained with Krazy Glue.
The next installment of this article will be on the making, applying and maintenance of your own fake nails.