Patron’s Choice: Routine Building | Creativity in Routine Building

Compliments of: Disc Dog Radio

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Creativity in Routine Building often happens at the level of the Sequence, a series of tricks that become greater than the sum of their parts. Sequences are the blocks or modules you will be moving around to create your jam. To go beyond sequence level creativity you have to see the bigger picture, the picture that says your routine is just a big sequence.

All of the Routine Building  ideas are really just scaled up ideas and concepts from Sequence Building. Keep this in mind, as it will allow you to take your sequence based superpowers and apply them towards the routine.

Jam in a Flash

Jam in a Flash, or flashcards, is a technique we created years ago for creative sequence building, cranking out sequences, and creating jamming and handling lessons on the fly. It’s an amazing tool.

disc dog five card stud

One trick on each card, every trick you can do… deal out 5 and play them as a sequence. Do 4 reps with waits in between each trick and then 1 shot live.

All of your tricks are written down, each one on it’s own, on a card. One trick per card. Each of your tricks: all variations of your vaults and overs, each distinct type of flip you do, your multiple(s), your juggle(s), each dog catch variant, each set up move in each direction, etc – one on each card. Be sure to include spins and twists and front and rear crosses. Parlour tricks are also cool.

Shuffle up your cards and deal them out, 5 or 7 at a time. Then try to play, in order, what was given to you by the hands of fate.

Play Them Honest

Do exactly what is asked of you by the random draw; this is key. Having to do things you normally don’t do, or being challenged to do something weird or to figure something weird out to make sense of it and then make it happen is how you develop creative solutions.

Some of the best lessons come from playing crappy cards honestly.

Consolidate Tricks

Sometimes tricks that are put next to each other become something special on their own. A Through into a Twist, for me and my dogs, becomes a completely new set up move. It’s greats spacing for a vault too. Keep a keen eye open for tricks that could, or should be blended together for creativity or performance’s sake. This is a key reason for jamming in a flash.

Also look for tricks that you can instantly slam together and get something new. A Hoop to Leg Over, for instance is the reason I started doing a thrown Hoop with Loot. It just made sense to put a disc in the hoop rather than do a Hoop with no disc only to turn around and do a lame old Leg Over. Boom! New move. Spin or Twist to Flipping Dog Catch is another one that can have some startling effects.

Take Photos & Be Nostalgic

Be sure to take a photo, or be a caveman and actually write each sequence down on paper, I’m really bummed to have lost some Epic jams in the past. You never can quite put them together again if you can’t remember them. How can you revisit something you’ve lost?

And revisiting old Jams in a Flash is a tremendously useful creative tool and it can do wonders for your confidence. Nostalgia is a creative powerhouse.

Key Concepts Are Master Keys

Not many jams from the hands of fate are totally epic. Most are kind of lame, many are silly, some are completely terrible, but that’s not the point. The point is to be faced with lunacy or elegant simplicity and navigate the team’s way through it. By the way, it’s not crazytown that is difficult, it is that elegant simplicity that will really strain your brain. You could go mad!

There will be concepts, techniques, ideas, and movements that are key to solving crazytown or simple problems that rise up from the hands of fate.

Holger: Take the Long Way Around

This is a bit specific, and doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the ideas above, but it’s a terrific method for coming up with super creative sequences: instead of turning in the normal direction, the short simple way, take the long way around. Turn the opposite way.

Usually this means taking three lefts to make a simple right or vice versa (turn 270 degrees instead of 90).

Read the Dog

Reading the dog is absolutely key to creativity in routine building. So many teams ONLY run clock. So many teams run clock with a counter clock dog. Read the dog so you can run him in a direction that is safe, stylish, and successful and so you can interact with the dog in a way that enhances his movement.

Strong Direction vs Weak Direction

Dogs have a directional preference. They like to run, and turn, clockwise or counter (right or left). Dogs have a variable balance some only want to run one way, and are extremely unbalanced to clock or counter, and some are fine running this way or that. The latter are considered balanced. 

It is important to know your dog’s directional preference and habits. Be sure to read the dog to find out this directional preference.


The direction that the dog moves after a catch or set up move can be considered a release. Which way the dog releases and where she is releasing to is key. How hard the dog releases is also key. Read your dog’s release and you can start to predict where the dog will be after a given move.

That’s rather helpful. Might be information that could be creatively used, eh?


Sometimes tricks don’t really release, it’s more like they resolve. Flips and other interior movements often have resolutions instead of releases, especially if they have an active handler and are experienced with interior play and sequences.

Read these resolutions and know exactly how your dog will land and stand after a trick.

This information is also rather helpful and is totally information that is, or at least was at one time, creatively used.

Play! And Explore

Play with your dogs, people. Play is super important. A routine can be a job. Jobs can wind up boring. Boring rarely leads to positive creativity. Boredom leads to negative creativity like picking weeds in right field or picking your nose.

Create fun and exciting games. Play games, like UpDog or Skyhoundz games, not for max points, but for max creativity. Try to do things within your games.

Explore flatwork. Explore that ridiculously silly flash jam you just dealt yourself. More importantly set up situations where you can explore your dog and your dog can explore the game without you telling her what to do. That’s where the real creativity happens.

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