Collection and Lead Changes

Compliments of: Disc Dog Radio

A few days ago we talked about leaping and front footed landings, an important and hot topic these days that drew out a great conversation. Here we are again discussing a couple of ideas that may or may not be on your radar, but rest assured they are both important… and soon to be quite hot.

Lead Changes and Collection

Hopefully by now you’ve done a bit of homework and started to observe your dog’s landing. Taking a step back and watching, critically, will make you a better observer. As we move on to these next few concepts, continue to watch your dog, both in person and on video. At a contest watch all the dogs move.

What is a Lead Change?

The front leg of the dog that is reaching furthest forward when a dog is running is called the “Lead Leg”. Dogs often switch the “Lead Leg” and this is called a “Lead Change”.

Lead Changes happen frequently when a dog is turning or adjusting to a new or different motion.

Look for lead changes. You will see them when your dog is coming in and preparing to “Go Around”, when she’s getting ready to leap and in many other places. Be sure to watch other people’s dogs work as well. Watch many dogs move.

What is Collection?

Collection is the moment the dog gets ready to leap – where the dog “Collects” himself to leap well.

In any kind of jump, before it happens, the dog’s rear feet will come forward, as a unit, often winding up in front of the front feet. Preparing to take off from the ground is collection.

In basketball, when the player slows, steps forward sharply swinging the trailing leg, plants the foot, bends at the knees, reaches behind with the arms, all this is collection to spring off the ground for the monster dunk. Dogs do that too.

The rear legs come forward, in front of the front legs (arms), Collection, then the dog leaps. Boom! Lead Changes often happen when the dog is getting into position for Collection, if you watch basketball players you might see a similar human movement as the player shuffles his or her feet and throws the arms back behind them in preparation for a big leap. Dogs that are too excited about biting the disc or running too hard as they chase the disc do not and often can not collect properly.

One more thing to observe for the homework. You ready?

Watch your dogs head. We’ll talk about what’s going on with that, why it’s important and how it relates to landings, quality leaping and lead changes and collection landing in the next installment on Friday.

Understanding Lead Changes and Collection is an important part of consistent and safe leaping. Want to learn more about Collection and Lead Changes or have some information to share? Drop a comment below.

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    1. Thanks Christina. It is good stuff to have clanking around in your brain, for sure. Here’s a video of the Si Dogger from the vaulting section of our Disc Dog Foundation class that comes to mind as far as the importance of these concepts:

      Her stumble due to my late toss shows what happens when stride and timing are off – that was an extra lead change in there. It’s funny, we went out to try to demonstrate ‘proper’ vault timing. But between the snow and the rusty handlers in the middle of winter, it didn’t go so well. It wound up being a great lesson though.

      Thanks for popping by, Christina!

      1. Hmm… didn’t work so well, the original video (straight out of the camera) you can see the lead change clearly and the result…
        Here’s a better one:
        2:10 is a lead change
        2:24 in slo motion
        2:52 is another
        So cool! BB is so smooth – loved working Flatwork with him! He was just adopted a few weeks ago. Congrats BB!

    1. Thanks Bruno. I thought it was killing two birds with one stone. Another thing worth noting is that there is collection on the vault as well while the dog is on the platform.

      I would have used a shot of a dog collecting for a catch on the run, but most photographers do not shoot that part of the catch.


  1. Great to see the video of the timing on the leg vault. We are working on this, and Ezzy will only ‘push off’ if I tap on my leg to give her a visual cue that she is to ‘vault’ as opposed to ‘jump up over my leg’ which makes it tricky to time the throw, but what I noticed most on that video was the way you throw the disc, more up than out. That’s what I need to work on I see. Thanks for sharing! Olyn

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