Time and Space
Time – Throw Early!
When throwing for Vaults and Overs we need to have the disc out of our hands and in the air very early – so early, it’s ridiculous. The dog needs to know where the target is going to be before they leave the ground. This is critical in terms of safety and in terms of performance.
If the dog leaves the ground for a target they make one decision, the right decision – “There is my target and this is how I’m getting there.” It’s a perfect plan… a mid-air interception.
This is pretty hard for novice handlers to get. Vault or Over must be communicated before the dog leaves the ground, period. Full Stop.
But if the dog leaves the ground and the target is not where he expects it to be he’s thinking,”Where is my Target and how am I going to get there?”
Leaping without knowing where the target is, leaping to an empty spot in space, is guessing. Guessing is not at all like leaping for the target. Throwing late leads to multiple decisions on the fly. Frequently he dog guesses wrong, the disc is misplaced or wind blown which leads to a dog flinging themselves to try to catch the target.
Another way to think about throwing Vault and Over tosses late is that it becomes the handler’s responsibility to put the disc in the dog’s mouth. Not at all an easy proposition from a handler’s perspective unless we are delivering near takes or are exceptionally accurate in our throwing.
It is possible to make many vault and over tosses late and be successful. Many players, and many very good players, do. That said, the most frequent mistake on vaults and overs is throwing too late. It is the most common way to miss a vault, to vault poorly and/or crash.
Space – a Stride and a Half
Generally speaking our dogs need at least a stride and a half of distance to perform Vaults or Overs. That distance will change based upon the speed that our dog is moving. One of the most common mistakes with practicing vaults is not setting the distance away from the handler appropriately.
A big vault or a big over with a dog that’s moving starts at about 20 feet away, minimum. A properly timed Vault or Over that starts with the dog standing still is usually about 7-10 feet, but again that is dependent on the dog’s stride length.
Crowding our Dog
If if we do not give our dog enough space, we are crowding him and some dogs don’t have the athletic ability to perform when being crowded. They don’t have the vertical leap or the explosiveness to make that quick short movement or are not aggressive enough to just pop into action. From a handler’s perspective crowding our dog also means that things happen faster, our throws are going to be shorter.
If we crowd our dog the Vault or Over becomes less of a plan and more of a reaction. The dog can’t plan, there’s no time. So they react. This leads to anticipation, missing the obstacle, flailing and host of other performance issues.
Too Much Space
If we give our dogs too much space, we’re liable to run into problems as well. Too much speed, too big a leap, too much scale, mistakes at speed can be dangerous and easy to make. We have to have great foundational performance of our Vaulting and Over skills and perfect disc placement and timing if we are going to work Vaults and Overs on the run.
If we give our dogs too much space we can get out of control performance. Running into the obstacle, missing the catch by a mile, barely using the obstacle, crashing and rolling all are more likely to happen when giving our dogs too much space to set up.