Playing the “inside game” smoothly and creatively is no easy task. Finding your way to flowing disc dog freestyle can be a long journey filled with frustration. Whether you have two left feet or your dog is a rabid frizbeast who won’t sit still and is too fast for you to handle, learning to be a smooth operator inside and developing the sequences you see in your head is not easy.
How do you build the skills required to be creative and competent in Interior work? What can you do other than what you always do and what others are putting onto the competition field to build your skillset for flowing interior sequences and Team Movement?
Balanced Position Form
The Balanced Position Form is an elegant expression of interior Team Movement. Dog, Handler, and Team are asked to function as a unit doing 3 base level foundational skills: Wait for the Trigger, Collect and Catch, Start and Stop as a Team. This is everything required for flowing interior play.
Don’t let the simplicity fool you. This might be very simple but it is not at all easy.
Stance Shifting Form
The Stance Shifting Form (or Solo Stance Shift) consists of 6 Low High tosses from BSP (Basic Standing Position) with a stance shift in between. This throwing form is extremely helpful for developing interior sequence skills and general disc dog competence.
Learning to move immediately after you have thrown while the dog is busy doing her thing means that you will be in position before the dog. Being ahead of the dog like this means that the dog will resolve tricks and release to the handler’s position.
The Stance Shifting Form exercises the Low High Toss and delivers an understanding of Clock and Counter position for the handler. It also teaches the handler about pressure. How you move matters.
You can move without applying pressure (Neutral), you can move and pull with pressure, and you can push with pressure. Odds are you do one or two of these well, but are not very good at at least one method of movement.
Exercising all three modes of pressure while shifting stances and learning to do it immediately, while the dog is busy, are key aspects to competent interior Team Movement.
The Low High Form
The Low High Toss is a specific technique that has the disc dropping down before the throw in vertical fashion. Once the disc hits the bottom of the “backwsing” the disc bounces to horizontal to be thrown.
This sequence of events, the prep or “backswing” being vertical and the start of the throw being horizontal is extremely helpful for establishing a reliable trigger for the dog to act upon a throw. Without it, dogs start to trigger on the backswing, or downward motion, rushing the handler and creating timing and trigger problems throughout the game.
There is a reason that I threw flips to Eppie in the Balanced Position Form above. The Low High Form with a dog is somewhat challenging, and doesn’t lend itself to multitasking while learning or working it with a dog. I need to do a bunch more of this with my dogs so it becomes second nature to both Eppie and I. We will be a better and more capable team as a result.
These Three Forms Work in Concert
The Low High Form gives the handler competence in throwing. The focus being only on the throw enables the handler to focus on performing the skill well instead of multitasking and doing a poor job of throwing. This focus allows the handler to explore and experience the throw and gain confidence, competence, and understanding.
This enhanced focus and exploration enables the Low High Toss to become automagic, and turns it into muscle memory, freeing up the mind to work on other things like handling your dog and moving your two left feet.
The Stance Shifting Form performs a similar function with the handler’s movement, turning all the modes of pressure based movement into muscle memory and allowing the handler to explore modes of movement that might not be your preferred style of movement.
I struggle with the pulling movements and struggle moving from Clock to Counter. Working this form allows me to focus on and explore those things while allowing me to challenge myself at the same time.
The Balanced Position Form (especially at the higher belt levels…) is about as practical interior Team Movement as you can get. The simplicity and structure makes it embarrassingly simple. If I had to guess, I’d bet less than 10% of disc dog freestylers could do it with the Low High Toss without some practice.
The balanced nature of the movement and the timing and trigger requirements on the throw, the flank, and the set up are incredibly important for successful interior movement.
This is Not a Drill
These are not Drills. Drills are something you do to get better so you can move on. You do drills to improve your skills.
The purpose of Forms is much different. They are not about “getting better”, although you will get better as a result of doing them. They are not about improving your skills, although your skills will improve if you do them.
Forms are about understanding what you are doing and exploring how things are done. Keep that in mind as you apply these three forms to your training regiment and they will serve you well. You will gain understanding and ability.
Your dog will thank you.