I’m calling this a Jazz throw because the way I throw it, it comes from the Jazz catch position in human Freestyle Disc. There are some other expressions of it currently being done in the disc dog world. I’d call Mike Hanson’s (& MaggEY) a Scarecrow because it comes from the Scarecrow position, but it’s really just the same throw. Many throws are named from the related trick catch position in the game of Freestyle Disc.
This is an extreme variation of the Push throw (see: Human Freestyle as Basis for Learning lesson). It’s really pretty hard to wrap your head around, so I think it’s best if we just get on to the practical learning. We don’t want to think ourselves out of it…
Let’s Backchain It
We are going to backchain this skill. You’ll start with a very simple, rough approximation of the finish product – a blind backwards release – and then you will increase the challenge to get to that criteria. Each time you turn further around the circle towards your off hand, you are bumping up the criteria and trying to hit the finish of the behavior, that clean Push release.
As long as you are very successful, you can continue to increase the criteria by moving further around the circle. If your performance gets shaky you will want to back up a step or two(or go back to the very foundation and start again – a really good idea!). Only bump up the criteria if you are successful.
Backchaining is really an awesome training technique, not just for dogs. It sets up a situation where the behavior kind of falls together instead of being built up. When we are confronted with behavioral challenges that we don’t understand, backchaining works really well. It’s kind of like reverse engineering. It works wonders here.
Checking your release point is a really important concept for learning and managing difficult throws. As you start to put your body into challenging positions – upside down, backwards, spinning, etc., you will find that getting angles right is a really difficult task. Up becomes down and left becomes right, and you are absolutely positive your disc is in the right position, that you’ve turned your hand in the right direction for the throw, but if you check it or have someone check if for you.
All you have to do to check your release is to do your best to make the throw, but stop where you believe it should be released. That moment, where and when you stop, can show you where and how your disc will fly. Of course it must be true, and must be an accurate representation of where the disc is released, and must replicate the throwing motion closely, but it’s a valuable skill. I use it all the time in my throwing training.
Take your time with this throw. Spend a bit more time than Judy or I did on the video. We were aggressive and impatient because we were filming. If I had my way we’d work a minute or two at a time and then work on something with Judy was going to be really successful. It was too fast and too aggressive for Judy to gain the confidence that success gives you. Judy didn’t get the full expression of the throw, but it’s not an easy throw, and to get to where she did in such a short time is really quite impressive and really speaks to the power of backchaining.
Get three, five, seven or ten reps of each point on the circle before going further. Turn in very short steps around the circle. Get yourself a target and hit it at five, seven and ten yards at each spot on the circle. The more experience and success you get with tangible and increasing criteria, the better you will get at any throw.
Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. Don’t cheat yourself of the feeling that success and competence give you. Take your time and gain the benefits of being successful.