Thread: Craig's Corner
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Old 01-14-2011, 10:57 AM
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Join Date: May 2007
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I'd love to hear you expand on your methods of shot/line selection during a competitive round, particularly where there is a moderate to significant risk/reward aspect involved (OB, heavy winds, roll away green, etc.). you mentioned being more willing to take a larger risk early in a round, for example, but i'd be interested in hearing more about the minutiae and variables you take into account when sizing up each half of the risk/reward ratio.

i'll be keeping a close eye on your thread- thanks again!
Shot / Line Selection

OK I hope this is useful, because I think this topic is very personal. Everyone approaches shot selection based on personal preferences and comfort levels. One thing I have seen develop over the last 15-20 years – as discs get faster and faster, is really a lack of line choice. People have tended towards methods that don’t really require control of line, in favor of methods that equate to – “I’ve learned to put enough energy on this disc to make it go X distance”. True control and understanding of the flight characteristics of discs has sort of been put on the back burner position in people’s learning curve. So while the newest, fastest disc might yield you some form of immediate satisfaction – there’s an essential piece of learning that is skipped – which affects good shot selection.

So when I see people discussing the concept of “discing down” this is very encouraging to me. When throwing “low tech”, mid range, slower flying discs, you are forced to learn some finer points to your throwing motion. This in turn leads to greater control and versatility, and increases your ability to execute various lines.

I guess in this vain, I was fortunate to start playing when I did. I got to go through the progression from Midnight flyers, and the subtle differences between the 40, 50, 70, and 80 mold series, and on to the first beveled edge discs. The highest tech disc in my first 5 years of playing was an XD. So I learned a lot about how to shape a shot. That said – is why I always recommend a starter set for beginning players whose highest tech component is something like a stingray or cobra. I equate it to trying to learn calculus before algebra – if you don’t understand what a variable is, the likelihood of understanding its derivative is not so good.

OK on to the topic at hand. One of the easiest ways to take control of the shot selection process is to minimize the number of molds in your bag. I carry a couple Eagles, a TL, and a couple Wraiths for drivers, 3 rocs, 3 aviars and a cobra for mids – that’s it. It matters less exactly which molds you choose, and more that you are comfortable with them in their varying flight characteristics as relates to their age / degree of beatness. So while you may want to emulate Feldberg – who carries 30-40 discs around with him – remember that he spent most of a decade learning how to use those tools before establishing the jumbo bag practice.

Limiting your disc selection forces you to learn how to create different lines with the same disc, which is essential to being a good golfer. If you do this in the first couple years of playing, your approach to the question of evaluating risk reward will be based on more tangible factors. There are many factors to consider:
  • Is there OB near the landing zone?
  • Is there OB in the flight path?
  • How does the shot have to finish? Left/right/ uphill/downhill, etc and what is you comfort level with dealing with each of these factors
  • How does the shot have to fly? High to low, low ceiling, tight, wide open, etc.
  • Is there a good viable safe option that doesn’t have an unbalanced downside?
  • Distance – where does the shot at hand fall within your comfort range?

When the risks are high, I think the things that influence me the most are:
  • Experience with the shot – having executed (or failed to execute) the shot in the past may influence my willingness to take the risk. If the flight type/distance is something I’m good at – I’m more willing to take the risk. This goes back to knowing your discs, and being able to make them perform in a variety of ways.
  • How good is the upside of success? If the likelihood of gaining a stroke on the field is minimal, then generally the risk isn’t worth taking. Of course this has to be weighed against the potential downside. If reward is high, and risk is moderate – yeah I go for it more often than not.
  • How much fun is it to try? Sometimes you just gotta – just because – risk be damned. Succeeding on difficult shots is a rush that everyone appreciates.

When dealing with adverse weather conditions or difficult footing or landing zones:
  • Generally I’m discing down. I want control over distance. I want minimal motion at the end of the flight – i.e. landing flat generally helps control roll aways, whereas overstable finishes like to skip and walk. The most common variable to this is where you are forced to finish sharply. In this case I’m still discing down – and often prefer to play the intentional skip, where you reach for a shorter landing zone knowing full well you’ll get a little extra with the skip and walk. Upside down shots can also be a frequent good alternative (if you have developed these skills).
  • Low line drive shots tend to produce more consistent results. You may not always reach the pin, but you will suffer fewer errant shots and convert more pars – leading to more consistent scoring overall. T I M’s scenario of 200 – 20 comes into play here. When you can execute a shorter game with fewer flaws, your score will improve.
  • Rollers – I think I am the exception here, as I have developed some pretty unique roller skills, and I’m not afraid to use them in a pretty wide range of situations. More often than not it’s my thumb roller – and I’m not going to explain it in this post. Instead – I intend on doing a post dedicated to this shot – and also intend on including a video lesson. It’s but one example of using what you’re confident in. For some it may be a tomahawk or thumber, for others it may be a flick. The gist is – throw what you know – don’t try something new unless you have no other choice.

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