Notecards – Jam in a Flash

The best Routine Building tool that we have been using here at Pawsitive Vybe for more than a few years is a simple set of 3×5 cards. I learned this trick from Chuck Middleton back when I got started in the Dallas Dog and Disc Club and modified it a bit. It is now known as jam in a flash.

What we do is write down all of our tricks on 3×5 notecards, 1 trick per card. Set Up Moves, Dog Catches, cool throws, different flips… each skill or trick that we would like to show people on the field should have it’s own card. Remember that many tricks have two distinct sides or have some  special flavor that separates them from the normal version of the trick. We need to be sure to capture all of our tricks and write them on a card. The idea here is to take an inventory of everything we got in our quiver of tricks and get them in a format that we can easily manage and manipulate.

Fresh Sequences Instantly

One of the coolest things about having all of our tricks on Notecards is that we can, at literally any time, simply shuffle and deal the cards and get a fresh perspective on our game.

We shuffle our deck of tricks and draw 5 cards and we have a fresh, 5 trick sequence that we have to figure out how to put together and teach our dogs. We draw the tricks and then we try to play them exactly as drawn. The random draw puts things together that we, as handler’s and players might never think could go together.We want to play these sequences honestly and as efficiently as possible. This is an ever present resource that we can tap for creative sequence building.

What? That’s Crazy!

How about Flipping Dog Catch to Reverse Back Vault? That’s a flip to dog catch immediately followed by a reverse back vault – a vault where the dog flips off the handler’s back. That’s craziness! Would you have ever thought of putting those two tricks together? I didn’t… until drawing those two cards back to back one time during a training session.

I thought about reshuffling, as it didn’t sound like it would go together right off the bat, but as I thought about it, I realized that the key was to toss the dog out of the dog catch to set the appropriate vaulting distance. So not only did I get a cool new part of a sequence, Dog Catch to Reverse Back Vault, but I got the concept of setting the dog up for the next trick out of the dog catch. That’s pretty valuable stuff.

Here are some sequences that Apryl created with her notecards that I found on my computer:

Apryl & Kiva Notecards

Special Things From the Luck of the Draw

The image above is just four – five card draws in a row. Apryl had fresh and unique combinations of tricks in each draw:

  • Sequence #1
    “Show and Throw” is just a 7-10 yard throw behind the handler as the dog is going through. This sets the dog at 10 yards,  minimum away. Apryl drew a leg vault after the show and throw. She had not been very comfortable working the vault on the run, and had been unconsciously avoiding it. This 5 card draw drew her attention to the skill. It was Awesome!
  • Sequence #4
    Moving Leg Vault to Scoot from Heel forced Apryl to chase Kiva after the leg vault to get into heel position for the Scoot. This was super cool, as it drew attention to handler movement immediately after a vault or an over and how that can increase flow and create interesting team movement.

Putting all of your tricks on notecards and creating sequences by the Luck of the Draw frees up our creativity, and asks us as handlers to develop and exercise our problem solving skills. It’s a great way to learn about Disc Dogging.

Visual and Tacticle Learning Aid

Putting our tricks on notecards also allows visual and tactile learners get their hands and eyeballs wrapped around these sequences and the routine. Tricks can be linked, stacked, grouped, dealt, placed on different areas of a table or desk that represents the field. Our tricks and sequences can become tangible things. We touch and manipulate them.

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  1. This is a really great tool for a new routine and can show up a very challenging sequences with incredible flow, but how about disc management? Maybe i’m wrong, this way you can end every sequence with disks scattered on the field. On the field how do you remember the sequence (any tips?) and plan next throws considering the wind ?
    eg. in Apryl’s second sequence after show n throw is an airbounce; ideal position is facing the wind but can happen your position be at field boundary, wind blowing from the boundary. The question is what are you doing? take the shoot and throw with the wind or insert a cross / field change to gain space and have a perfect airborn catch ? I mean you follow your routine whatever or break your flow ? Hope it make sense my example and you can understand my thinking 🙂

    Another think, when you look (judge) a competition and see teams with perfect vaults, flips but splitted by 1 or 2 seconds positioning breaks and teams with a continuous flow but not so perfect tricks, which ones are best scored by you?

    Does Apryl have moving leg vault somewhere in Pvybe library ? I can imagine myself but i really love to see this trick

    that’s all for the moment 🙂


  2. Great questions, Bruno.

    Not all of the sequences you draw will work out from a disc management standpoint. There will be some sequences you draw that will get you in trouble. Whatever we do come up with sequence-wise may have to be adjusted slightly to account for good disc management and/or wind conditions.

    Your example with the Airbounce?
    I might throw a downwind airbounce, I might not. Depends on the dog and the wind conditions.

    Ideally, I would alter the sequence, perhaps with a Front Cross, while working in practice, to make it work better from a wind or disc management perspective. Frequently, the whole sequence drawn from notecards is not all that awesome, but the way a couple of the tricks hooks up is the real prize, in which case I would just grab the piece that looks really cool and use that. I do understand where you are coming from, Bruno. The questions you are asking are questions that you should ask yourself if problems with the sequence crop up during your training.

    As far as judging Flow vs routines that are Flow-challenged. I, personally, prefer flow, but great execution is great execution. That’s a tough call without having seen how cool the flow is or how lame the set up is. When you are looking at a nice tight flowing sequence, at least when I am, the whole sequence is greater than the sum of it’s parts.

    Poorly performed skills do not impress me much as a judge. A nice flowing sequence with a weak element, not a problem from my judging perspective, after all, a whole sequence is greater than the sum of it’s parts, sequence where each trick is weak, sloppy or generally deficient will not be rewarded because it flowed.

    The Moving Leg Vault is just a HUGE running leg vault with Kiva after a longer toss.

    Apryl throws and follows the throw (Another thing that needs an article…) and meets Kiva for a HUGE leg vault that is quickly set up.

    Great questions, Bruno. Keep ’em coming if you got them.


  3. Ron How’s it
    With these cards do we put tricks like “though” or do we put “though right leg” “though left leg”
    In the third draw (#3) you have “thru flip”. Is that one trick or two. Or do we put simple trick sequences’ as well as single tricks on the cards? And what is a “show thru” (#2)

    1. That depends on whether or not it’s a distinct trick. I don’t use both. I let the next trick define the end position of the Through behavior.

      Although I do have a move that tells me to spin in the opposite of normal direction after a through – Through-Holger (Holger is the guy that created the concept…) – so I do kind of have that.

      Totally your preference, Jeff. Looking at it from a Routine Building standpoint, it probably is a good idea.


    2. hups… forgot –

      In the third draw (#3) you have “thru flip”. Is that one trick or two. Or do we put simple trick sequences’ as well as single tricks on the cards? And what is a “show thru” (#2)

      It is one trick. “Thru Flip” is a flip from under the handler’s body and is not to be confused with Through…wait…flip. It’s actually Thru n Flip on my cards. Rut n Flip is backwards. 🙂

      Show thru – is a through at speed – Apryl shows the disc between her legs as a lure of sorts then throws behind her. For me, this is called Thru n Fly.

      An important thing to note is that these tricks on the cards are for you, and can be called whatever you want to call them.


      1. Hey Ron
        Thanks for giving my question a second thought. With the Note cards I think you’re on to something. A squib is a squib. In figure skating a triple Toe Flip is a Triple Toe flip, If we are all doing the same trick we should all call it the same thing.

  4. I think the FLIP is really really important in creating flow and setting the dog up for vaults and overs. My Eden has poor flips (though I’m working on them and see some progress) and I find myself struggling with setup, so I end up going vault-over-vault-over front to back. I have found the SQUIB to be very helpful and have already played around with incorporating it in my routine but if there’s anything else you can think of for a non-flipping dog (other than “teach her to flip”) I’d be very grateful for your ideas.

    1. Spin and Twist work really well, Justyna. As does having mastery over clock and counter Go Around and Backwards Through.

  5. omg here is what randomizing notecards teaches you – the stuff you think your dog knows….maybe not so much! Ok – lhe knows “spins” only in the context I taught it! – but in a different context he didnt have a clue! My session w Donovan I thought would go fairly smooth..who not so much! Wow what a learning eye opener!

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