UpDog Games are great foundational skill tests and tools. All of them can be used to cultivate great Freestyle play. 4Way Play allows the team to actually do freestyle moves within the game, and it’s friggin’ amazing.
At both of the UpDog International Finals I played 4Way Play with Loot using freestyle moves. I put my vaulting vest on and went out there and jammed.
Freestyle 4Way Play For the Wind
I was bullish on the value of playing the game this way for the last couple years, but after our round at UPDIF this year, and surviving the harrowing experience of the 30+MPH winds at the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ), it hit me.
It’s not only good for general freestyle play, but freestyling in 4Way Play is a simple and safe way to prepare for wind. 4Way Play with Freestyle moves is a super slick way to develop the purpose driven movement and control required for playing in the wind.
Landing the dog in the zone like this from a leg vault requires the handler to have set the line appropriately. A few degrees left or right and Loot is not going to land in that zone. Controlling the dog’s line is a required skill for playing in the wind. If you can control the dog’s line in order to land him in a scoring zone, on the run, then creating and delivering the disc on a wind friendly line seems easy.
The four quadrants of the field force the team to perform thoughtful freestyle in 4 directions. This is moving with purpose; the same skills required for Freestyle 4Way Play are required when dealing with the wind.
X Marks the Spot
When I’m playing freestyle 4Way Play I want my dog to land straddling the corners of the SweetSpot and the catch zone on the vaults and overs. From there, the dog turns and comes immediately back to the handler or can be thrown to the next square, much like an An Out Throw is a throw that resolves a freestyle sequence. Out Throws allow you to showcase a dog’s leaping ability and draw the attention away from you as you pick up discs and prepare for the next sequence. Out Throws should be thrown with the intent to make the dog look good, first, and to make the handler look.... The dropped disc is in or quite close to the SweetSpot for an easy pick up.
Jump the Gun
In my last run of 4Way Play with Loot he was in the air on the O in go, and landed in the zone at about 1/2 a second later. Well, he missed the zone, and then I bailed on the system right away and started throwing discs around the field. But that’s beside the point and the point stands: you can really jump the gun with a freestyle start.
The Loot System
My plan for Loot is to make my first vault, a Yachi Vault, about 4 yards from the corner and then step back and do another Yachi Vault to the other corner for a straddle landing. An out throw to the 3rd zone to make time and set the line for a Most players have several overs and the Big Over is the largest, and most impressive of them. Frequently, the Big Over goes over the center of the handler’s body, but that is not a necessity. Generally speaking, the Big Over is your largest and most impressive Over.... to clear the quad.
Chasing the 8 Second Quad
Given the lack of run out from straddling the corners and the ability to jump the gun at the start, I think there is an 8 second, maybe even 7 or 6 second quad out there using this technique with a big leaping dog. Think about it. Vault to Vault. An Out Throw is a throw that usually finishes a sequence. It is usually some kind of creative or crazy release. Out Throws are not after thoughts. Out Throws are Glory.... to An Over is any leaping catch that happens over top of the handler’s body. Overs are usually named by the part of the body over which the dog flies, i.e - Leg Over, or the position you are in while doing the Over - Seated Over, Spinning Over, etc. Overs should be taught before Vaults.....
Add a An athletic Set Up Move, the Fakie is a flip off of the handler's body (normally the chest) with no disc in flight or intended to be caught. It is usually named by the part of the body the dog flips from: Back Fakie, Hip Fakie, Foot Fakie. A Fakie is similar to a flyball box turn.... to Out Throw or A Dog Catch is a great trick to use for hitting the crowd or for putting a strategic pause in your routine. The dog leaps to catch the disc and then you catch the dog. Often performed during a Gainer Flip, the Dog Catch highlight’s the connection between dog and handler. A Dog Catch can also be done without the... to Out Throw for the “Hot Corner” and you’re talking about easy triple quad potential. All while developing some top shelf freestyle skills. Not a bad minute’s work.
Dog Catch Hot Corner
The Dog is a player archetype defined by The Dog. There are always a few canine athletes that really separate themselves from the pack. Many great disc dog teams have relied a great deal on The Dog, and many people build an entire style around that unique, once in a lifetime athlete. Any player archetype who executes should, in theory,... Catch is a great Hot Corner move. A Dog Catch after a cleared quad is a pretty sweet hot corner move.
Just creep up real close to the corner, like 3-6 inches away, toss your dog catch and hop into the scoring zone. If you catch your dog after leaving the ground, the dog is live until you hit the ground. If the dog is in the handler’s arms when the handler lands, that’s the ground.
It’s a super fun move, and makes for an amazing SweetSpot move if the quad is cleared near the T in time. All you do just hop back into the SweetSpot after catching the dog in the scoring zone. Pretty Spiffy.
Flips & Rebounds for Recovery
Flips and Rebounds are great recovery tools when playing a freestyle 4Way Play round. They can be pretty hard to use as the dog is often running or moving too aggressively in the game, but that’s kind of the point.
Using Flips and Rebounds in the Hot Corner or as recovery ask the team to set that stuff up on the fly, with purpose, with an eye towards landing in a particular Spot is a “go to a place”, or “go to a mat” behavior. This means that the dog seeks out and performs a duration behavior on a spot of the handler’s choosing. A Pedestal is a raised spot. Anything a dog can leap onto and perch upon. Spots and Pedestals are important dog training tools..... Can you think of a better skill for wind management than that? Seamless entry, thoughtful and purposeful movement?
I find playing 4 Way play with freestyle moves to be one of the most fun games ever. It’s super challenging. To purposefully line the dog up and drop the dog into the various zones using vaults and overs and flips and whatnot is pretty intense. To recover on the fly is a daunting task, but like everything it gets easier with experience. It’s even better when that experience comes in a competitive environment.
Here is some video of freestyle 4Way Play.