Freestyle 4Way Play for Purpose Driven Movement

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.

Lining up the opening move, a Leg Vault. This is a great opportunity to jump the gun and get some points on the board quick.

This could probably be set a bit further away from the corner, as Loot is looking to land well past the corner of the zone. This is about 1/2 a second after the O in Go.

Landing in the corner of the zone or straddling the line is the goal.

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 Out Throw. The dropped disc is in or quite close to the SweetSpot for an easy pick up.

A SweetSpot only with some tails at the vertices (resembles a hashtag) can be used to create an UpDog training field or general structured field.

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 Big 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. Out Throw to Over.

Add a Rebound to Out Throw or Dog Catch 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.

A Dog Catch is a great move for the Hot Corner after a Cleared Quad

Dog Catch Hot Corner

The Dog 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. 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.