Component Elements of Disc Dog Routines

Compliments of: Disc Dog Radio

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Tricks are very important. Having cool tricks makes life as a disc dog freestyler much easier on the competition field. But tricks are not the only important part. How they are put together is the key. It’s like notes and music. 

Lots of terrible music is filled with beautiful notes. All the beautiful notes poorly arranged do not make music, they make noise.Your tricks should stand on their own, and be able to be performed on their own. Mistaking what you always do and how you always do it for the trick itself is a mistake. The ability to do the trick on it’s own demonstrates competence, and competence is the path to mastery.

If you have to send the dog through before you do a flip, you most likely need some work on your flip as it is not a mature expression of the trick. Immature tricks will limit your routine building.

Many tricks can and should be done from many different starting positions and transitions. Work these entries and transitions to learn about the trick and expose yourself to things that are not your goto behavior. 

  • Front
  • Heel
  • Side
  • Change (dog between legs facing forward)
  • Clockwise Flank
  • Counter Clock Flank
  • Through

To name a few…

Skills and Skill

The handler’s and dog’s skills are probably the most neglected aspect of Routine Building in disc dog freestyle. The ability to move your dog around the field, to stop the dog, to set up position and create a desired approach is a beautiful expression of dog frisbee. Throwing an intentional leaping catch to your dog on the run makes people feel things. The skills and skill required to do these things often get completely lost in the Routine Building shuffle. If you’ve got skills, you should groom them and use them; they make you look skilled. 

Do not let your tricks and sequences overwhelm the clear demonstration of skills. This is true in handling and throwing. While doing your tricks and sequences, focus on your core skills. As soon as you’ve done the trick or sequence, use your skills to make the next sequence happen in flow. 

Once you know the tricks and sequences, focus should be directed between the tricks and sequences. That is where skills come in to play and where one demonstrates masterly skill. 


A sequence is more than a series of tricks. 

The definition of a sequence should be a series of tricks that when added together create a whole greater than the sum of its parts; sequence should be more than a series of tricks.

Click for a larger image… The principle outlined here in this panel is the key to sequencing. Fancy is the essence of the sequence concept. It is 2 tricks which, performed as a list, are worthless, but when performed as a sequence become magic. Check out the Sequence Building Class for more…

Handler movement and reading the dog are the key elements to creating sequences out of lists of tricks. Moving with and meeting and beating the dog to position is how sequences develop out of lists of tricks.

Components < Composition

If you have not noticed by now, the components of Routine Building that we’ve talked about are completely dependent upon, and subordinate to the way they mesh and are put together. The composition of the song is more important than the notes, beats, and words. Putting the notes, beats, and words in the right place and the right time is what makes a song great.

That’s a Truth, Capital T! Just like agility is more than running around over obstacles. Frisbee with a dog is more than doing tricks. Thinking disc dog freestyle is  a series of sequences is the same as thinking agility is just running around over a series of obstacles.

In disc dog freestyle, like agility and music, the rhythm is in the gaps. A good routine is a routine that has gaps filled with goodness surrounding the tricks, throws, and sequences. 

For Routine Building put your focus in transitions, set up, and position and the tricks and sequences will happen themselves. 

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