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How Simon Lizotte Throws So Far

Brychanus

* Ace Member *
Joined
Oct 25, 2021
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Part 1 of 3.

Simon is one of the most popular players of all time, a former world distance record holder, and as of this writing, may be primed for one of the biggest sponsor deals ever after announcing his departure from Discmania [1] [2] hot off of a 4-win season in an increasingly competitive field.

Simon has "toned down" his style since the time of his elbow injury. He is a force to be reckoned with when his game is on, and many have speculated that if he valued and committed to winning more than showing off, his win record would be something to behold. Other pros sometimes talk about him being one of the most "naturally talented" golfers out there. He has lost some speed after injury and at the age of 30 his biggest smashes are likely behind him. But there have been very few throwers of the disc with his distance ability, and his form is often admired for its beauty and held up as an example for the rest of us.

Today I'm here to start answering the question that inevitably lurks in our admiration: "How does Simon throw so far?" - and the related dark thought we have in the quiet of the night: "can I maybe learn from him to throw a lot farther too?" [1] [2]

I think I have learned more about form from looking at Simon and his evolution and I enjoy watching him throw more than any other player, so I took the time to consolidate some thoughts and resources.

Advantages
-Playing history: tremendous youth advantage: began throwing plastic ~2 years old. All the body adaptation was happening while he was still developing, and he ended up with incredibly coordinated, flexible movement.

-Lever length/height: Some sources put him at roughly 6'1'', which is not enormous. However, I don't know about you, but I don't think many people have the long hands and limbs with narrow shoulders that Simon does.

-Mechanical efficiency: off the charts & evolving for many years (see below). He also appears incredibly coordinated and has a penchant for skilled, targeted actions like darts and golf.

-Training status: Maybe he doesn't have the "blood in the water" mentality McBeth does. But I'm pretty sure in terms of distance or control he's spent a lot more time at it for many more years than most of us.

Mechanics
You already know that they're world-class, and I'm not going to recap the thousands of resources here at DGCR - the details matter and they're there. But what makes them so good overall, and why did I pick Simon for this? How does it relate to other players (like you)?

On DGCR, we often discuss many pendulum concepts are common in golf, baseball, disc golf, and so on. The special thing (and in my opinion, the hardest) about a backhand as a sports move is that it is a loose, coordinated, athletic swing that happens bringing your eyes off the target and turning away from the target to drop in a direction most people are uncomfortable with, especially when they start later in life. The other part of that move (which I continue to appreciate more all the time) is that "The Good Swing" requires an exquisite transfer of momentum and landing in a way that you get an additional burst of ground force in the plant to swing from.

Simon is my favorite example of form evolution because he has one of the most extreme transitions between vertical and horizontal forces in form out there. I found it very hard to understand what this meant until I literally watched them side by side, where you can appreciate that despite appearances, the overall motion pattern is exactly the same.



Simon's extreme vertical form shows you the basis of a coordinated pendulum-like action, but what really stands out to me are:

(1) his levers
(2) his flexibility
(3) a profound amount of momentum coming into the swing. This kid is flying into the plant - in fully balanced control.
(4) his incredibly heavy crush
(5) how his transition/ride the bull move gets him off the rear foot swinging inside his posture and how quickly that crush and leverage whips the body through.

Everything about that vertical form is evident in his horizontal form, but I expect that over time he smoothed out some of what looks like slightly violent recoil (a young, light, flexible body can take a lot).

Like late-stage Simon, among other horizontal crusher specialists we can appreciate either the fast legwork of very athletic guys (e.g., Kuoksa) or the controlled and high-leveraged legwork of very long-levered people (e.g., Eagle). The levers have a lot to do with the differences in how players generate momentum

Late-stage Simon is an interesting case study in this respect because I would argue that he is somewhere between a Kuoksa and Eagle. Simon tends to get plenty of acceleration in his striding phase as he powers up before the final acceleration off the drive step into the crush (i.e., some of what he would have gotten from the huge vertical hop when he was younger has been stretched out horizontally). This is consistent with Simon's body type being somewhere between Kuoksa and Eagle, but somewhat closer to Eagle. If you take a page from Kuoksa's book and add it to Eagle's form, you get the same effect, except that Eagle's incredibly long legs and long arms relative to narrow shoulders are getting it done for him in fewer strides. This is also why players like Chris Dickerson with smaller frames and good but not astounding levers tend to run. Compare to Ezra. His arms aren't just ripped, they're very long.

Watching and listening players at full speed is important. Watch the slow video above, then immediately watch & listen to him at this moment in a casual distance contest.

That's momentum and effort there mediated through incredible mechanics.

The arm & leverage in the pocket
There are some specific flourishes that throwers gain over time. Simon and Gurthie both have pronounced pronation heading into the pocket, and pronounced supination heading out of the pocket into the hit. Theoretically this should increase the acceleration at the very tip of the whip, adding speed and likely RPM to the disc. It's more obvious in GG - you can look for it in Simon.

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Part 2 of 3.

The plant leg sweeping move generates more torque force - controversial
There has been chatter about Simon's plant, including some confusion and controversy, in many places. The first thing we need to appreciate is that the "long plant stride" is at least partly an illusion. You are ideally spending more time over the drive leg accelerating, which is setting up the torque in the hips, and a relatively compact, reflexive swing of the leg into the crush.

Sidewinder talks about this sweeping move into the crush. But what about the relative stagger in the plant, the alignment of heels and toes and knees? Joel Freeman also talks about this in an on-the-nose "one simple trick" video.

Simon gets well-seated into this plant sweep move as he transitions off his drive leg in the x-step, and he does seem to get a bigger move than most players. There's some parallax here, but you can see that he lands with quite the staggered closed move. Compare him to Eagle (that long, long guy), who tends to stretch out very horizontal and lands more door-frame like. I think sidewinder made that drill to maximize learning the mechanics exaggerated in this direction.

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We can appreciate some differences among pros and across shot types comparing drill moves like the Door Frame to live throws. There are different degrees of the out-in-out leg sweep or its variants, and there is more or less stagger close depending on the player's body type, and how they get the final leverage move off the rear leg.

So what about stagger, leg sweep patterns, knees and toes, and power in Simon's form? I submit the following. This hearkens back to when Socradeez shared this awesome article about Barry Zito's speed decline, where at the end of the article the implications of separation "East to West" (width of tee) can sometimes be just as or more important than "South to North" (along the tee). And Simon is maxing out on this dimension to generate incredible torque.

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We could take a lot from this, but I want to point out the following:

(1) Simon's drive toe is initially mostly in line with his drive foot early in the stride, which is after his drive heel has passed over his plant toe. This is part of how you can maintain closed hips heading into the plant in general.

(2) There is a tremendous out-in-out sweep off the rear leg by the time he plants, putting him in a pronounced staggered-closed landing Notice that the final vector from the rear toe to the front heel is much steeper than the early vector.

(3) This is where it starts to get really interesting. As Simon's plant leg starts to clear his front hip and the disc is swinging into the pocket, notice that the disc is taking that "out-in-out" pattern. It is "out-in" in terms of the white early stride and yellow final stride vectors. That means that the disc is about to get a bigger redirection force than if it were parallel to either of the white or yellow stride vectors.

(4) Now the really potent relationship between the leg sweep and staggered closed plant becomes clear. The curve that the leg takes into the plant is nearly identical to the one the disc takes in the redirect - perfectly unloading the torque built up in the backswing into the release. Beautiful.

(5) The final disc trajectory is much closer to the initial heel-toe alignment of the "Early stride vector." I believe this explains one of the general lessons of the Door Frame Drill, and the stride move can vary across players so long as they allow the rear knee to swing in under and behind following the primary force vector (i.e., the disc trajectory after release) in the context of the player's form an anatomy. There might be a relationship between these things and a player's "ideal" form - I have no idea.

There are more very interesting things in the final image here.

- I think the yellow line that comes from landing with the final plant stagger relative to the early stride alignment (white line) is a measure of the amount of torque built up in the stride as long as the move off the rear leg is clean.
- Notice also that the initial "out-in" move of the disc into the pocket is sharper than the stride vector, setting up the confrontation into the body before the redirect.
- VERY interesting - notice that the start and endpoint of the final arc the disc takes before release are on a line that is more or less aligned with the "final stride vector." I don't think that's a coincidence - it's an axis of that huge torque force.


Simon & Effort
We've mentioned it and people still argue about it. I don't think this is very complicated. Simon's mechanical efficiency and advantages mean he gets more out of low effort. When he adds momentum and effort, it's atop of clean mechanics, giving him more bang for the buck than the rest of us and you get grunts etc. when he's really smashing for max distance. But if you watch how his form scales in the Overthrow montage or elsewhere, it's clear that he's mastering more and more momentum transfer, and then he can put some stank on top of the force he gets from that.

Levers matter.
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Exquisite balanced flexibility & posture riding the bull in transition matters:
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Wow, that was a really long post. Why should I care?
Congratulations! You made it to the end of a Brychanus post.

I suspect that anatomically, if you want to throw far and you're built like Simon, you have some options open to you. You can stretch tall vertical, or get compact horizontal, and possibly be anywhere in between. But relative proportions and joint structure and so on all matter. So:

-I don't think it's a coincidence that many top players get increasingly more horizontal over time, but passing through a more vertical phase can teach you a lot about mastering momentum.

-You can get your torque and separation from a nice sweeping plant stride because you're lean, long, and can swing your levers and rock your body in balance at your leisure.

-For most people, you have to find and work with the stagger and postures available to you, and other parts of your form might change it. The problem is that this move is not trivial because you can't just rush the plant into a big stagger - you need to be leveraged off the rear leg during the whole transition swiveling from the rear side and nail that out-in-out sweep in balance. I submit to you that it is not easy to do with any level of momentum for most people.

-You should learn to (1) move well, and (2) learning to move well for power involves learning to move safely with (lots of) momentum. You can pile effort on top of that, but don't let that get in the way of the first two.

Interim conclusion: very few people are likely to throw a disc with as much speed and skill as Simon. But we can learn a lot from him and enjoy watching him at work and play.
 
-Lever length/height: Some sources put him at roughly 6'1'', which is not enormous. However, I don't know about you, but I don't think many people have the long hands and limbs with narrow shoulders that Simon does.

Maybe I should start building my form along the Simon basis then, since I'm pretty similar buildwise, but my hands are definitely smaller? I'll see if I can find a decent spot to do a form vid later and see what y'all think.
 
Nice, do Josh Anthon next

With a prior peak rating of 1046, the tendency to show up when it counts (4-time runner-up at PDGA worlds), and 50 career PDGA wins, Josh Anthon has a storied background in and out of disc golf.

-Playing history: tremendous youth advantage: began throwing plastic at 8 years old. All the body adaptation was happening while he was still developing, and he ended up with incredibly coordinated, flexible movement.

-Lever length/height: Hard to track down, but he does not appear especially tall. Compare to Gibson (5'9'' or 5'10) and Big Jerm (6'6''). His levers look good but not exceptional, though his shoulders appear narrow.

-Mechanical efficiency: excellent & also evolved over many years. Think his runup looks funny? Well, see below for a hunch about where he gets the power.

-Training status: The age of start, commitment to competition, and his peak performance suggest the guy has put in work for a long time.


Mechanics
At first glance he might evoke the spitting image of Fred Flintstone in his x-step, but don't be fooled that his footwork is slipping or he's not leading with his mAss. He combines Chris Dickerson quickness (horizontal component) with Avery Jenkins heavy crushing steps (vertical component) to great effect for his body type:








His levers may not be world-class, but perhaps has narrower shoulders than some of us:

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Do you mind me asking how narrow shoulders helps mechanically? I've come across how ape index is a factor but not this
 
Do you mind me asking how narrow shoulders helps mechanically? I've come across how ape index is a factor but not this


I think Navel had a nice way of simplifying the point about length here.

The shortish complete answer is that "shorter, heavier levers whipping lagged, longer, & lighter levers should yield the most speed at the tip of the whip."

Bonus concepts:
This is mostly theoretical and occasionally mentioned around here, but I think it has a good basis in mechanical systems. Compound pendula have some special properties and are their own field of study. I'm somewhat out of my depth so I'm going say just a couple things*** to suggest why it matters for lever ratios & players and maybe someone smarter than me can confirm or refute.

Here's where I first ranted about it. Same link is in reference to Simon above.

The idea is interesting to me because it has a couple takeaways.

E.g.,:

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Take that idea and think of the first link & heaviest mass (biggest circle) as your body/shoulders and the outer levers as an abstract arm connecting between your shoulder and the disc. The number of things isn't the point for this example.

In that "player", the coupled masses that can lag (blue circles and green lines) show that heavy masses leading lighter masses accelerates the disc if you allow them to lag as the force is transfer from mass to mass. Imagine that force transferring to the disc.

What does that mean for form? Navel got at that here too. In that discussion, SW pointed out that since it's all a system, form work involves a process of trying to shorten the interior levers and lengthen the exterior levers (conceptually if not anatomically! brb, going to the lever store).

But what if we (1) shortened the first couple links there and (2) lengthened the last couple links, with the last one being the longest? That is, what if I narrowed the shoulders and upper arm but lengthened the forearm and hand? Put another way, what if we made the last links like stepping on the very short teeth of a very long rake? You would get a massive uptick in lagged acceleration at the end of the system for the same amount of force coming in from the interior levers.

Practical Implications
- Better form work is about getting a system where the leverage is short and long in the right places.

- Players with longer arms relative to narrower shoulders can probably end up with form with smaller shoulder angles at the release point and still crush. Probably results in less wear & tear at the upper right pec region for similar ejection speed. People who are short-levered should be especially careful when developing distance so that their tissues near the shoulder have time to adapt to the demands.

- Players with shorter arms and wider shoulders need better form to match the distance of people with longer arms and narrow shoulders, all else being equal.

- More body mass (maybe especially talking about the upper body & arms) isn't necessarily a disadvantage if the transfer from your body mass to the tip of the whip is clean (i.e., not hindering good movement and athleticism).


PS
Interesting post about coupled masses.

***here's an awesome resource SocraDeez once made me aware of that will get you thinking.

Socradeez elsewhere critiqued aspects of the compound pendulum system, and I don't disagree, but when it comes to the body mass w/shoulder-to-disc transfer it's why I was interested.
 
Well my ape index is trash so it's nice to know I now have one thing anatomically going for me! Now I can see why Gannon Buhr, Calvin and Corey Ellis look so whippy.

Thank you so much for the comprehensive description, it's a really interesting to consider it both as a natural advantage but also something to engineer. I'm going to really enjoy reading through all of this and try to relate it to my own body.
 
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That's an interesting animation on the compound pendulum and I need to read it more carefully, but I have one possible quibble that might matter to disc golf.

The masses are connected by a massless infinitely limp string, at least that's how we did similar analyses in engineering school. Three decades ago. So the forces on every mass are gravity downwards and tension along the direction of the string, the tension being caused by a combination of the gravity force and the inertial resistance to acceleration. At least that's my guess on how they modeled it. There are no possible torque forces from a limp string.

I would like to see the animation also done with the gravity force removed from the smaller masses and inertial derived forces only remaining. I think the advantage over a stiff assembly would still exist but would be smaller. In a horizontal whip the only forces that can accelerate the smaller masses is the string tension.
 
That's an interesting animation on the compound pendulum and I need to read it more carefully, but I have one possible quibble that might matter to disc golf.

The masses are connected by a massless infinitely limp string, at least that's how we did similar analyses in engineering school. Three decades ago. So the forces on every mass are gravity downwards and tension along the direction of the string, the tension being caused by a combination of the gravity force and the inertial resistance to acceleration. At least that's my guess on how they modeled it. There are no possible torque forces from a limp string.

I would like to see the animation also done with the gravity force removed from the smaller masses and inertial derived forces only remaining. I think the advantage over a stiff assembly would still exist but would be smaller. In a horizontal whip the only forces that can accelerate the smaller masses is the string tension.

I also tried and failed to get any source models/code for the assumptions there. It does seem like it must make a difference to make it some kind of stiff connecting bar between the masses (so maybe a little more like bones in a body for our purposes) vs a limp massless string. The Hardball times post got into some of the tension concepts as well. In a real body, we also have muscles getting stretched and then contracting harder after stretching, so the real system is more dynamic and that much more variable across people...
 
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Well my ape index is trash so it's nice to know I now have one thing anatomically going for me! Now I can see why Gannon Buhr, Calvin and Corey Ellis look so whippy.

Yeah, I don't think that's just an illusion. I think they're always going to get a whipper whip effect than their shorter-levered/wider shouldered hopefuls. Their 400' will probably always be easier than your 400'. On the bright side I think "there's a form for you!" out there, and the key is getting what you can out of it!

Thinking about this stuff actually put me more at peace with my body and trying to learn how to put my substantial mAss behind the swing. Over the past year my form has evolved a pretty wide shoulder angle naturally without even thinking about it, which was pretty interesting.

If I compare it to young Paul (who also has incredible levers), camera angle is a little off but my shoulder angle is probably larger. I'll be curious if that's a "bug" or a "feature" after we fix my tilted axis - you can see I'm still coming in a little too "over the top" as of today. E.g., you can also observe he's still swinging his body in/"riding the bull" from the rear side with the top of his foot rolling under, which I'm not quite getting yet. I suspect that I'll still end up with a somewhat wider shoulder angle than someone like Paul even if/when I have similar movement overall to get maximum leverage w/ my wider shoulders and shorter arms.

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I don't personally think I'll ever physically be able to pull off the much more stretched out, high-arm slot form that Paul has now. The levers probably wouldn't work out in my favor & we have very different bodies otherwise.





Thank you so much for the comprehensive description, it's a really interesting to consider it both as a natural advantage but also something to engineer. I'm going to really enjoy reading through all of this and try to relate it to my own body.

Good to know <3 I (clearly) find this all fascinating to think about. DG is never just about DG - it can teach you so many things!!!
 
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You know I was joking about Anthon but that was very interesting! I think his mechanics are better than we give him credit for.

It also doesn't hurt to be one of the best putters of all time ...
 
You know I was joking about Anthon but that was very interesting! I think his mechanics are better than we give him credit for.

It also doesn't hurt to be one of the best putters of all time ...

I thought you might be but then I watched him again and I couldn't resist lol

Yeah, maybe driving AND putting for dough would be worth it...
 
I saw some things so I wanted to add in my stuff on video.

Its' a tad long though and..
 
These are concepts that have been said before, but I'm working on images for Fundamentals and I thought I'd share.

The image in Part 2 of 3 in this thread was missing a line showing the average theoretical center of gravity (CoG) moving relative to the rest of Simon's swing. Recall that the "CoG" moves back and forth over the feet as the player strides down the tee. One of the concepts commonly shared around here is the idea that the CoG (or mass) should lead aggressively down the tee.

One of the misconceptions about Simon (leading to "Simon Syndrome") is how the stride pattern and other movements function together. I think the confusion comes from missing the relationship between his tilted axis, CoG, and out-in-out stride pattern as he gets "seated" deeply into the x-stepping leg in transition.

I aimed to apply an unbiased method to to ask how his CoG vector relates to his plant stride and other aspects of the swing. First, I did a somewhat painful framewise analysis to get Simon's average primary CoG vector moving down the tee from the overhead view in the Overthrow montage. Then, I superimposed it on the image at the same orientation and scale from Post 2 on this thread.

Even though I expected the outcome, I was still impressed at how beautifully the CoG average vector lines up with the final stride vector. The disc comes out at roughly 20 degrees to those two (which are really the same) vectors due to his diagonal shift and tilted swing axis.

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I like how Nikko's 360 CoG is clearly divergent from the trajectory(shift from behind).

I continue to appreciate more and more why you like to ground most of these concepts with leading with the center :)

That rapid redirection & loop in the Body CoG there is not a coincidence.

I'm also finding it helpful to look for el loop de loop in real time from the center out.

I'll see if I can do a markup on Simon; in the queue.

Edit: also, as I was writing - I think one reason people get confused by "shift from behind" for the DG BH is because you need to think about the whole body tilted axis & diagonal shift for that concept to make sense.
 
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Edit: also, as I was writing - I think one reason people get confused by "shift from behind" for the DG BH is because you need to think about the whole body tilted axis & diagonal shift for that concept to make sense.

Do you think you could clarify this? "Shifting from behind" is one of those concepts that I routinely think I understand and then routinely realize I don't understand
 
Do you think you could clarify this? "Shifting from behind" is one of those concepts that I routinely think I understand and then routinely realize I don't understand

I'll try. If SW or others object I'm curious. I'll say a few things and see if anything sticks.

You want your mass moving roughly on the line down the tee on average. But since you're moving in a tilted axis and the legs are resting the ground while your CoG is moving:

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the CoG ends up moving on that little looping trajectory SW painted on Nikko as you "shift from behind." I think that's one of the things where if you accept that the swing is "anchored" to a theoretical CoG, that small, tight movement generates a large ejection force. I do have a couple drill/feel points.

We (blayed & I) talked about Riding the Bull recently. Today I'm really liking to look at GG because I think he's maximizing that mechanism on the tilted axis. The Ride the Bull on that axis is clear to my eye since he comes in so vertical.

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But it wasn't until SW had me go through all three of (1) ride the bull, (2) one arm olympic hammer throw, and (3) kick the can and gallop that I had the following feeling & more of it the past week or so (I think rest is also helping). It's like the whole body is sorta rocking subtly and compressing back against the rear leg, and since you have forward momentum & tilted axis into the "shift from behind," when you land better, it distinctly feels like your ass is kinda sinking and looping the arm & disc in toward you and then back out from the body. I think that's the Nikko loop.

I think this is one of those things that I had to feel to understand it better, and it wasn't any one thing that did it (after like 960 form critique posts). It feels much bigger than it looks on camera.

Now, let's look at Gurthie and look for this gallop, but in a diagonal shift ("from behind"):

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If the horse galloped diagonally leading with its ass on a tilted axis (like a DG BH), it would swing the head of the horse around with a ton of force. Like Gurthie swinging his arm & disc.

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I don't know if it's a good comparison, but it's what came to mind the first time I'm piecing it together lol.

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Am I 100% sure this is in every top pro's swing? Of course not, or perhaps it's a matter of how much. But now I'd be surprised if it wasn't. I think GG is a standout example to eyeball it due to his form & body type, but it is such an easy way to generate force & contrary to the "flat and straight" plane that I don't think it should be ignored.
 
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