You’ve heard it before. Every disc golfer has heard it at some point.
“Slow is smooth, and smooth is far.” It’s something I talk about in lessons, and it’s something that I’ve heard from people who’ve taught me about the sport. So in the blog today I’d like to talk about throwing smooth shots. First we have to ask and answer two questions.
- What is smooth?
- How can you get smooth?
Smooth refers to a continuous motion from start to finish. Here’s 2x World Champion and 2x USDGC Champion Barry Schultz talking about smooth in 2006, so the video is a little grainy.
From the moment you take your first step in your drive, until you finish your follow through, you need to be constantly moving.
One problem I notice from newer players is that they may do the X step, then they reach back, and then pull across their body. These 3 steps performed cohesively together make a great throw, but doing them separately is holding you back. Putting them together will make your form more consistent, and you’ll find that you have more distance as well.
In order to be smooth it needs to be all in one long fluid motion. Here’s a clip of the best disc golfers in the world. They’re all throwing in long, smooth motions. At no point are they stopping their path forward. Even when they’re planting their feet for their drive they continue to move their bodies forward.
“Andrew, those are the best players in the world. I’m not.” I know, and I’m not either. But what I can tell you is that watching them throw in slow motion is a great way to see smooth. Disc golf on YouTube and ESPN2 isn’t just entertainment. Watch their form and learn from it.
Notice how they are all moving towards the basket the whole time? There is no side to side movement, no start/stop. That’s how you’re going to increase distance and consistency, with a deliberate forward movement.
So now we get to the hardest part of this blog, How can you get smooth?
I think that disc golf drives are a lot like dancing. I credit any of my smooth movements to my ballet teacher Elizabeth. But if you don’t have 5 years to devote yourself to ballet, then there are other ways to develop a smooth disc golf motion.
Buy a hula hoop. This is one of the greatest tools in disc golf for training. It can teach you to be smooth and another drill to help people learn how to throw hyzer or anhyzer. But that’s a different blog, for right now get a hula hoop and we’ll talk about smooth throws.
Take your hula hoop and grasp it on the sides while you’re in it. Now rotate backwards like you’re doing a reachback. And then rotate forward like you’re throwing a drive. You can push the hula hoop into your hip with your trailing hand if that feels more natural. Move your feet when you do this too. When you’re rotated all the way to your right your left heel should be up off the ground a little bit. Now when you rotate back to where your reachback would normally be, your right heel should be off the ground. Doing this will make your next step easier.
This is smooth. You are moving your whole body at a similar pace and you’re not rounding. It’s impossible to round this way because you’re holding onto the hula hoop.
I know that this feels funny! It’s so unusual for most folks because you haven’t used a hula hoop since middle school gym class and there’s no good way to fit one in any disc golf bag or cart.
The key to this drill is to do this slowly. Swing backwards and forwards, develop a little rhythm! Try doing this for 10 or 12 seconds, maybe you swing back and forth 6 times. This is going to get your body ready to move and swing.
If you’re a forehand player this drill will work, but you have to just swing the way you would a forehand.
Now that your upper body is working with your lower body it’s time to work on moving forwards at all times. Look back at that clip of all the top pros, see how they’re constantly moving towards the basket.
Without a disc in your hand start walking on the teepad towards the basket. Find where you want to start and finish from, use the teepad to your advantage. You’ve got your line you’re going to follow. It may be from the back left to the beginning right, it could be straight, or it could be any other way you want to throw.
Once you’ve walked that line it’s time to start slinking down like you’re throwing a drive. Bend a little at the waist like you’re throwing a flat shot. Without using a disc practice moving forwards the whole time and driving.
Now it’s time to put it all together. You want that nice smooth run up that you’ve practiced to mix with that smooth body rotation of the hula hoop. Stay loose and know that it takes time to put it all together. Think those positive thoughts and stay loose. You might get it the first try, or it might take you 20 tries. You’ll know when it feels right. Getting it all together should feel like you do after watching this scene from Cool Runnings. Sanka kisses the egg for luck, and gets the team hyped and in rhythm before they take off.
One final tip is to stay loose while you’re practicing being smooth. Do not focus so hard that you’re not having fun. Like all disc golf skills, throwing a smooth drive will take time to learn. You’ll go through good drives and bad rounds, and even poor practices. What you need to know is that smooth will come in time. You have plenty of time to figure it out. One of the smoothest throwers in the game is 2x Barry Schultz and he’s in his 50’s still competing at a very high level. If it takes you 4 months to learn how to throw smooth, you’ve got plenty of disc golf left.
If you’ve got any questions let me know down below in the comments. Smooth should feel natural and like riding a bike when you’ve got it right. You can take weeks or months off and it will come back to you.
May your discs miss all the trees,
Andrew Streeter #70397