At the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) at UpDIF this year, Apryl & I swept the top 4 spots.
That didn’t happen because we had better routines or performed better, per se, it happened because we knew how to move our dogs around the field with purpose and set every sequence up for success with the wind taken into account.
Purpose driven movement is a hidden key of Disc Dog Freestyle, and nowhere is this more apparent than when it comes to successful performance in the wind.
The LCQ Story
The UpDIF LCQ featured 30+MPH winds. It was completely brutal. Terrifying to play in if you play BIG like Apryl and I both do.
I made 1 wind mistake in my performance with Loot. I initially set up in the wrong direction. I remedied that with a A Through is a set up move where the dog runs between the handler’s legs. The dog can move from front to back or side to side and can even weave. A Through can be done in both the clockwise and counter clockwise directions.... move and went to work. Throughout the performance I utilized disc dog flatwork to move my dog to the appropriate set up position for the wind conditions, and that was that.
Apryl had a similar, near flawless performance in regards to the wind with both of her dogs. Epic and I had the highest catch percentage of the day at 75% with the next highest being 56%. Tough day for freestyle, eh?
Part of this was throwing ability. Part of it was experience, but the vast majority was the ability to move the dog — to move the team — with purpose.
If you get oriented in the appropriate direction and you’ve crafted your sequences with the wind in mind, the wind is not at all a problem.
When the Wind Picks Up Face It
In severe winds, don’t even bother throwing straight downwind. While this might be the easiest direction to throw in, not many of these downwind throws are catchable. I’ve been to contests where nearly every downwind throw made was missed, and missed bad, due to the wind pounding it down to the ground.
Throwing into the wind, while it will make the throw a bit more difficult, will make the discs hover. If you cut an angle left or right of the headwind with your throws, you don’t get the full effect of the headwind and instead are creating a crosswind delivery.
When it gets super windy, every single throw that I make goes into the wind. Anything downwind is a mistake or a sacrifice for the routine. This makes purpose driven movement a super simple proposition: Face the Wind.
Sequences should start with the proper wind orientation. A flip tossed vertically (like a wagon wheel) happens downwind or into the wind. Flip tossed horizontally (like a disc flies) usually happens crosswind. Getting to this starting point, in flow, is critical.
If the team is weak in purpose driven movement these positions are going to be hard to hit in the heat of the moment, and mistakes will be made. The team will just wind up in some position and give it a shot. This is more likely to lead to throws that are impossible given the wind conditions.
In my Yachi BFly sequence (Through n Twist > Right A butterfly toss is a throw that cascades end over end instead of spinning round and round, like flipping a coin. Catching a butterfly is more difficult than catching a stable spinning disc and is considered an advanced maneuver. Flips, vaulting, overs, and multiples are the types of tricks and sequences that normally feature butterfly tosses. The faster a butterfly... Leg The dog uses the player´s body as a launching pad to jump for a disc. A Vault is a leaping catch from the handler’s body. The dog leaves the ground for the target and uses the handler’s body to get there. There are many different styles and variations of vaults, but they are commonly described by the part of the... > Left Butterfly Leg Vault > Yachi Vault > 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...) it is critical that the entry to the Through happen with the wind at 9 o clock — crosswind from left to right.
If I hit that position, the butterfly tosses on the vaults will be thrown in crosswind fashion. This is critical to, not just the success, but to the safety of these vaults. If they are thrown crosswind they are no different than normal and are not at all impacted by the wind. The wing acts as a knife and cuts the wind.
If I were to start this sequence facing the wind, after the Through, the butterfly would fly into a headwind and could shoot 20 feet in the air. Then the lefty butterfly would get beat straight down by the vicious tailwind. The Yachi Vault, a spinning back vault that requires a nice early toss would be thrown into the wind and could get taken 20 feet in the air. The vertically tossed Dog catch would be a bit off, facing a crosswind and may or may not be trouble.
Use flatwork and set up moves to get properly oriented to the wind at the beginning of your sequence and get started. Smooth, safe, and successful.
Purpose Driven Movement For the Wind
Flatwork is the stuff that happens between the catches. How the team moves and transitions, often without the disc, is flatwork. Flatwork concepts in disc dog are taken from the agility and herding world.... and set up moves, often seen as running handlers, tricks, and/or wastes of time, are critical for handling the wind. While it is possible to build a routine that works in wind without them, if something goes wrong or the wind shifts, recovery is pretty difficult.
When the wind shifts or a mistake is made, purpose driven movement flatwork and set up moves provide a seamless and smooth resolution that maintains flow and connection.