Playing catch with another human is probably the best and fastest way to improve throwing skills. A stationary target instead of a fast moving super-athlete makes us throw to a Spot is a “go to a place”, or “go to a mat” behavior. This means that the dog seeks out and performs a duration behavior on a spot of the handler’s choosing. A... More, which improves accuracy. There is also much more incentive to get a throw correct when our partner can rag on us for our poor throws.
Throw it How you Catch It
When playing catch with a human partner we need to try to develop a rhythm. Each catch should transition smoothly into a return throw that is based on the hand position of the catch.
No Switching Grips!
For example, if we catch a disc below our waist while moving to our right, it might be a good idea to throw a sidearm toss back to our partner, as it is the most natural throw from that position, or maybe a between the legs backhand, stalling our forward motion. If we catch a disc above our head, an overhand wrist flip might be a good return throw.
When playing catch, or freestyle, we use our finger position on the catch to decide which throw we will use after the catch. If we catch a disc above our chest, our fingers will be on top of the disc, with the thumb under the rim. This hand position will lead to an overhand wrist flip, an upside down throw, a thumb throw, and a few other weird tosses.
For low catches, where our fingers are under the rim, a sidearm, regular backhand or airbounce would work nicely. Notice that if we want to throw a regular backhand throw after making a high catch, we’ll have to flip the disc over before returning the toss. This disrupts the flow, and does not force us work on release diversity and should be considered cheating.
Add spins before and after the catch, look into some trick catches, and work at different distances so we can find out how each throw behaves in any given situation.
Playing human freestyle will not only help us to develop accuracy, it will also make us more creative. When playing freestyle, cool catches are often combined with cool throws. Maybe we make a between the legs catch and then return with an airbounce. Who knows?
Basic Grips & Releases
Keeping with the Human Freestyle as a basis of learning, we base all of our throws out of catches.
In a game of catch, you can either catch the disc High, with your fingers on top, or catch the disc low, with your fingers on the bottom.
Catch high – Fingers on Top
Overhand Wrist Flip
- Catch High
- Turn it Outside
- Finger on the Rim
That’s it, you need know nothing more than that to perform this toss.
- Catch High
- Turn Inside
- No Finger
Catch Low – Fingers Underneath
Catching below the waist usually means that the fingers are on the bottom of the disc. This allows us to make many throws, but again, we’re going to focus on two.
- Catch Low
- Regular Frisbee Throw
Use backhands to make your dog look good.
Sidearm (aka – Forehand or Flick)
- Catch Low
- Peace Sign
- Middle Finger on Rim
- Elbow on Hip
- Pop and Pull Back
That’s it. Super simple.
Start playing this game of Flowing Catch at a short distance, perhaps 7-8 yards. It is very important to start at this short distance in order to be successful. Once successful at 7-8 yards, then each partner takes a step back and now you’re at 9-10 yards. Another step back after success at 10 yards and it’s 11-12. And so on.
It doesn’t take long at all to get out to 20 yards successfully with these creative releases if there is a history of success at shorter distances, but if you start out at 20 yards, you could work there for months and never be successful.