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Pros told me this at The Open at Austin 2024

disc-golf-neil

Birdie Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2023
Messages
495
If you prefer to watch / listen I recorded most of this in video form:


Part 1 of 2:

Intro

I got a lesson with Albert Tam, who can throw over 700 feet. I spent the first 30 minutes asking him questions.

Albert took me to the field where the pros warmed up at, but this was after all the cards had already teed off so it was pretty quiet at the field. After our lesson, Albert left and it was getting dark. I stayed to throw a little more into the net with my tech disc and some pros (Mason Ford, and Jake Hebenheimer) saw that it was a tech disc and came over and they threw it a bit as well.

When going over Albert's answers to the questions, when possible, I'll include info from the other pros if the same topics came up, but these questions were only directly asked to Albert.

Albert Tamm Q&A

Grip

  1. Power grip driver disc alignment and knuckle flexion / extension?
    1. Between index and middle finger and down the middle groove of palm with knuckles of back 3 fingers curled
  2. His thumb placement on drivers
    1. Albert a little bit onto the flight plate
    2. Jake on the flight plate but feels rim on side of thumb as he presses into the flight plate.
    3. Connor O'Reilly likes the rim / flight plate line to bisect the thumb
  3. Grip pressure on hard drives: Jake grips it really tight throughout the whole sequence. Not sure about Albert but I think it's pretty tight. Mason Ford uses a fan grip that is initially loose for drives but has surprisingly high spin with it.

Footwork

  1. Vz3JPB_SE7Abpw2Ph0e6HCi9X84iD6EpUUBUwHoUI-2UYcjGS-B3h1gyLT9pix5dQFCXaLlHQqTe30AHq6SOA27qb4tODAII9LTSvrqjd8Wxh9zkvaLLDZFr3UGUr0LudPZThm-4i0EBL5BIxN7hZcE
    1. Your front foot isn't always this open at this stage, so was this unintentional?
      1. Sometimes he is trying to keep an eye on his aim point for longer so he stays in a more open stance for longer but on more powerful drives
      2. I believe this can also have another benefit in that it's harder to turn the X step too far back because the body is facing more forward so people with that problem may be able to use this to help. However, you then have to close the foot more when going to brace rather than it already being closed.
  2. Do you mostly try to keep your footwork pace matching your throw speed? E.g., medium power = walk up, strong power = run up, max power = fast run up.
    1. He likes to keep the footwork slower, smooth, and controlled and focus more on speed at the hit point. He said he does a faster runup for more powerful shots but it's subtle (I didn't really notice it while watching his round up close, probably because all the distances are comfortable).
    2. Paul U uses this to diagnose timing issues, if he sees someone throwing harder but using their usual footwork pace and they miss the line a lot, he points out the mismatch pace synchronization.
  3. Horizontal brace, force versus vertical
    1. Albert said he thinks more about the brace force as being vertical. So does Jake.
  4. What are the primary ways that you aim?
    1. He mostly runs up along a straight line towards the aim point, starting out just slightly to the right of the runup line and then a closed brace perpendicular to the aim point with a mostly straight reach back away from the aim point instead of wider than it.

Reachback

  1. Do you use scapular protraction during the reachback?
    1. After thinking about it, Albert thinks it happens naturally. Albert doesn't feel like he does it in the power pocket. Jake looked like his upper back was hunched in person while throwing but in some of the vids I looked up it doesn't look as much as I remember.
  2. On max power drives, do you try to push the reachback deeper at the end to stretch / load or is it more of keeping the arm relaxed while simply extending the elbow?
    1. Albert goes for a deeper stretch on the reachback but without the arm too tense.
  3. Straight vs extra wide reach back (like Ezra R)
    1. Albert tried a wider reach back but didn't like it as much as a straighter reachback.
  4. Do you primarily use reachback height to adjust launch angle?
    1. Albert and Connor Rock both said they think about reachback height and pulling through on that plane to adjust launch angle. I suspect this is the default most common cue pros use.
    2. Albert was thinking more about this and said "maybe the back leg is a little lower" meaning bent. I think what he was getting at was pitching the shoulders to point upwards which is something Drew mentions at 9:02.

Pull through & power pocket

  1. Which do you think / feel more of: out-in-out or a straight line pull
    1. Albert, Jake, and Connor Rock all said straight line pull is what they feel and try to do to come into the power pocket and to the hit point. I wouldn't be surprised if this is the most common cue pros use since it's so simple and perhaps makes it easier for them to just focus on their athleticism and then intuitively develop nuanced optimizations from there based on feel but the cue retains it's simple formulation.
  2. When throwing 70% power vs 90% power, where in your form do you feel the biggest increase in effort?
    1. Albert said it was an increase in vertical brace force. Jake said he has a strong focus on extra vertical brace force when throwing harder.
    2. I interpret this as, since the brace triggers the start of the explosive sequence, focusing on more power from there carries that added effort throughout the full chain. So there's more effort all over but it doesn't have to be thought about since it's a downstream consequence.
    3. I also noticed on lots of Alberts drives on the course, probably since 400+ is easily accessible to him, his brace looked kinda soft and like there was an extra moment of floating before the brace went down. It looked like a little pause to get all the timing ready to be controllably explosive.
  3. Do you adjust how much you raise / lower your elbow during the power pocket for certain shots?
    1. Albert said the elbow is raised up a good amount (close to 90 degrees of shoulder flexion) most of the time and it's mostly other body posture that is changing, but in his answer about adjusting launch angle he talks about lowering the arm in the reachback, which if pulled through on that angle will be a bit lower of an elbow position, but he didn't seem aware of this detail.
  4. Do you always side-bend when coiling?
    1. Albert hadn't really thought of this before. I assume most powerful throws naturally do it to some degree, but for some it's a lot more obvious, like Eagle.
    2. 1711908544782.png
  5. What do you think about in terms of form adjustments and aiming for softer approach shots compared to powerful drives?
    1. Albert said he likes to open the stance a bit and use less coiling and maybe a wider reach back without full elbow extension.

Off-arm


  1. Do you recommend trying to bring the off-arm in just before you start to the pull through?
    1. I forgot what Albert said for this or he just gave a generic answer. Based on some of his big drives it looks like he and many pros start to bring the off arm in just before the brace lands and while the throwing arm is finishing the last bit of elbow extension.
    2. Albert mostly focuses on bringing it tight on powerful drives and usually tries to coil with the off arm elbow close but thinks his elbow comes up higher on max power drives
  2. Along the side, vs across the stomach, vs behind the back?
    1. Albert naturally developed bringing it in along the side and said he hasn't really experimented with other placements.

Angle control

  1. If you are throwing the same speed, hyzer angle, and initial direction for two shots with one being 15 degrees more launch angle, what do you adjust in your form to change the launch angle?
    1. I already asked Albert about how he adjusts launch angle, but this is a more concrete question that is good to see if what they said at a high level matches what they try to do in a specific case. Albert did confirm here the reach back height is his adjustment.
  2. If you are throwing two shots high into the air and you want one to be extra nose down and the other to not be nose down (to stall), what do you primarily change to adjust the nose angle?
    1. Albert uses pouring the tea as a cue mostly, I suspect there's more going on, like pouring the tea is a cue that has naturally become coupled to other muscle memory form that adjusts posture or / swing plane.
  3. When throwing with more hyzer, do you run up with more of that body lean or wait for the brace to hyzer body lean?
    1. I forgot what Albert said, maybe because it was a generic form response and not as specific as I would've liked. Some pros seem to lean over more during the run up vs standing up straighter and hyzer leaning closer to the brace moment.
    2. Albert did say he uses the standard bending at the waist movement to control amount of hyzer.
 
Part 2 of 2:

@Brychanus questions

  1. What were the greatest influences on your form (either people or technique)?
    1. Albert mostly looked at Simon's form.
  2. What was one piece of form advice or technique you tried that didn't work for you?
    1. The forehand "power grip" (bent index finger and extended middle finger). He uses the common 2 finger grip (stacked? forgot name).
  3. How much effort would you say you're putting in on drives during the average Pro Tour round?
    1. I didn't ask this specifically because of time constraints and it seems easy to deduce. He can throw 700 so 400 is easyish so most throws in a pro tour round aren't going to be that tiring. His "warmup" throw with the tech disc 1 hour after his full round, so he had cooled down, was 65 mph easily but he felt it was it was in the high 50s so it (too easy for him to throw harder than high 50s). He threw a little harder 2 more times to keep ;warming up; at 68 then 72 mph. So a pro who has 70mph + locked down can bust it out without much warming up and after a full day of playing. This tracks my experience as I get more consistent at throwing within 3-5 mph of my max, it starts to feel like a pretty comfortable effort that I can default to despite being seemingly so close to my max.
  4. Are you swinging or pulling the disc, or neither or both?
    1. Albert already suggested he focuses on a straight line pull.
  5. What is a common misunderstanding about disc golf form?
    1. The back foot in the X step shouldn't be turning backwards.
1711908443979.png




I asked Albert to throw nose down normally which he did with his pour the tea cue, then I asked him to try turn the key to see how it compared. He hadn't heard of it before or tried it. The first 2 throws it felt weird and he only got a little nose down. I asked him to try throwing slower to focus on it more and try some pronation in the reach back so there's more supination to do and he instantly throw 4x more nose down after that and was very surprised and intrigued.

Jake and Mason were already throwing more nose down. Jake hitting above -5 multiple times like he had it down pretty consistently. They tried turn the key a few times but it didn't immediately click for them. I'm sure they could've easily used it to get more than -4 nose down with a little more messing around with it.

Jake used an 'inverted swoop' cue for his nose down, which from my limited experience is kind of awkward to also add turn the key into so if an inverted swoop was my main nose down technique I probably wouldn't be turning the key as much.

Mason uses pour the tea (and an initially loose modified fan grip), but I suspect people who use this cue and get <= -2 nose down with it have subconsciously learned to make additional adjustments that have become coupled muscle memory.

1711908454656.png
 
Million different things in here to pick out and look at, thanks for compiling this!

Cherry picking at the end of it, Tamms spin rate compared to Jake and mason is fascinating, noticing that Albert spin didn't change when slowing down 5mph either.
 
Million different things in here to pick out and look at, thanks for compiling this!

Cherry picking at the end of it, Tamms spin rate compared to Jake and mason is fascinating, noticing that Albert spin didn't change when slowing down 5mph either.
Some of that spin not reducing could potentially be attributed to turn the key. I need to test it more but I've felt a last second grip increase when I do it often because supination against disc weight and forces is in the direction of the fingers digging around and into the rim.
 
Last edited:
Some of that spin not reducing could be attributed to turn the key. I need to test it more but I've felt a last second grip increase when I do it often because supination against disc weight and forces is in the direction of the fingers digging around and into the rim.
Lots of excellent meat here dude, thank you for sharing it all and asking my questions too.
 

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