Apryl Lea & Jolene | A Shapes Comparison

A few weeks ago Apryl & Jolene were featured in DiscDogger Weekly in a piece on Shapes & Flatwork. Their performance was notable because of the distinction between Flatwork and Shapes. Their Flatwork was solid but the Shapes were a bit weak. Apryl has since done some work on the Shapes part of her game with Jo, so let’s take a look at some subtle differences and distinctions.


Notice the angles of the throws that Apryl makes in this round. Not one single throw is thrown to 12 o clock out in front of the handler. Each throw has some angle on it – 10 o clock, 2 o clock, 4-5 o clock. As a result, the Big Game, the longer throws and catches, slows down a bit and has a bit less of a linear feel.

Changing the Game Changes the Game

First off, not all of the throws in the video above were caught, and it should not be a surprise. Changing the game changes the game. Jo and Apryl don’t work together that much. They get one session per week together.

Some of the angles were a bit of a surprise to Jolene, and if you watch closely you can see her trying to adjust. It’s cool, she’ll get better as the team puts this stuff together.


Notice that all throws leave the handler straight out front in linear fashion and are thrown to nearly 12 o clock. This creates a streaking, linear game where the dog is often running too fast to make adjustments and make smooth leaping catches.

Some of the Differences

In the top video, the throw at 0:30 is made to 10 o clock. At 0:37, the throw is made to 2 o clock. Both of these were ripped straight out in front of the handler in the older video. The catch at 0:40 has Jolene a making a controlled collected leap and 4 footed landing rather than a streaking non-collected leap. The pace of the game is slowed down here and is much more conducive to leaping and safe play.

0:41 – The throughs to long throws also have some bend on them. Notice how they slow Jolene down. She misses the first one due to over pursuit but dials in the 2nd one at 0:48 and approaches it with less speed and more thought and puts a pretty little leap on it at the end. The collection is evident at 0:50.

The Zig Zag at 1:03 is much slower and more thoughtful and with better throw placement most likely would have elicited nice, well collected leaps.

The Overhand Wrist Flip at 1:50 creates a nice little shape, expanding the flank, and with good placement would have led to a nice little collected leap.

The Overhand Wrist Flip at 2:17 is thrown out to 10 o clock, again expanding the flank and Jo puts a nice little move on it, but it’s no surprise, a blind throw with an unexpected opposite spin (disc spinning counter dog running clock) often spins out on the catch. Once Jolene sees it a few times she’ll make that catch.

Not Game Changing But Game Changing

I think it is important to note that this didn’t really change Apryl & Jo’s game. They still made some straight linear tosses. That’s cool, and helps maintain a variety of shapes.

While the changes didn’t really change what Apryl and Jo do on the field, the changes did change how they are doing it.

The pace of the game was much less frantic. The lines were softer and the ability to leap was enhanced.

This change will increase the Shapes score, but will also increase the handler’s throwing scores and the dog’s scores. The Team will benefit as well.

Jolene should see a bump up in Collection and Control, Drive, Pace, and Flash on the dog’s scorecard (Athleticism and Drive in other organizations).

Apryl should see a bump up in her Throw Difficulty & Diversity and Throw Placement and Flight, and perhaps Athleticism & Showmanship.

And the Team should see a bump up in Shapes, Flatwork, Flow, and should get a better chance to use more of the field.

Change the Feel and Vibe

These simple changes changed the feel and vibe of their game. The game certainly felt better for Apryl to handle and throw. The pace slows down and the team starts to gel with these changes.

The vibe of the game from the judges and spectators POV changes as well. It’s not just a dog flying around out there running discs down, but it starts to look more like a team working together with a thoughtful dog jamming with her handler.

Adding some shape to your game will change the nature of your game. It’s a tremendous equalizer and provides an opportunity to showcase and highlight your dog’s abilities. Give it a shot.

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When the dog leaves the handler for a catch, that tends to create a line. When the dog is away from the handler and moves across the field to make a catch, as in a Zig Zag or Around the World, that tends to create a Shape.

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