This week my goal is to have you re-evaluate your game plan when it comes to teepads. There are all sorts of Teepads. Grass, dirt, artificial turf, concrete, rubber, etc. I won’t compare kinds of teepads because each course chooses theirs for specific reasons. At Sabattus Disc Golf we have concrete teepads because they’re uniform, provide great grip, and they’re durable. You might be used to other ones, they all have pros and cons.
But I want to focus on what you can do around a teepad.
So let’s begin with the PDGA rules about the teepad.
Basically you have to be on the teepad when you release the disc. You can start from anywhere you want to with your run up. But when you let go you have to have your foot down on the teepad and your other foot/supporting point cannot be on the ground, except on the teepad.
Yes I’ll bring James Conrad into this. He starts off the teepad all the time. Normally when I find a highlight video for these blogs it takes a few minutes to find exactly what I’m looking for. This time as soon as I searched for a highlight video of James he was starting off the teepad right away. Thanks James.
Why does Conrad start off the teepad?
It’s to build up momentum to throw with. One of the things I work on with people in lessons is short and tight steps on the teepad. Generally in Maine we’re not throwing 500 foot drives, so we don’t need to do those huge run ups. James is one of the biggest distance drivers on tour. He slowly builds up momentum off the teepad and then puts it all together within the last 10 feet to create great energy. It’s part of his timing now as well. Once your footwork becomes solid it’s kind of second nature. He will almost always start off the teepad even if he doesn’t need that distance because that’s what’s comfortable for him.
Why is staying on the teepad a rule?
Well for starters, it gives everyone the same place to start from. That way when we measure scores you all started from the same 18 starting points. Everything else is determined by you. Sometimes it’s advantageous to be far off to the side of a teepad. I’ve seen newer players have one foot on the teepad and one off when they throw. That way they get a better angle to throw around a tree. It takes the shot that the course designer made and makes it much easier. Here’s the other thing, they give you 10 feet x 5 feet to work with, that should be enough.
Why don’t they allow everyone to do this, if we all agree to have one foot on and one off then it’s fine right?
I’ll defer to the course designer when they set up a course. They set it up to test you on a specific shot. If you can’t execute it maybe try a different throw or throw a different disc. It can also be for safety reasons. Maybe allowing you to throw that route would lead to throwing into an unseen area and striking another golfer. I think it’s best as it is at the moment.
Now let’s talk about how to use the teepad.
You can start anywhere around it. Don’t limit yourself to starting straight at the back. I often start in the back left corner, but sometimes I’ll be behind it on the right, and other times I’ll start at the front with my foot practically hanging off (But still maintaining contact).
One reason is to get my body moving in a direction that I need it to. Here’s Hole 12 on the Hawk course at SDG.
This is definitely a dogleg right that requires at least 1 big throw, a long upshot, and a putt. A RH forehand is a great option to get my disc to go past the corner of trees and then curve towards the basket. That’s only about 120 feet away. But then I need the disc to turn 90 degrees to the right.
If I throw a forehand on this I start all the way on the back left corner. I move away from the trees on the right as much as I can. Starting on the right side of the teepad brings me 5 feet closer to danger than I need.
I’ve thrown backhand rollers with flippy discs to go down the hill and roll back up toward the basket. Sometimes that’s a huge shot, sometimes it’ goes a little further down the hill and I’m left with an upshot that’s uphill and 400 feet. When I throw the roller I start right in the middle of the teebox. I’m focusing all my attention on the roller angle so if my feet feel dirt then concrete I’ll be confused. I want to focus just on my angles.
But my favorite throw to do on this hole is a huge anhyzer backhand with a flippy glidey disc. Something like a Discraft Stratus, or an Innova Sidewinder, or Archangel. These discs all hold the anhyzer for a long time before flattening out and gliding where I need them to go. What I like to do in this case is start off way behind the teepad, 2 or 3 steps. That gives me a little extra runup for momentum. I also don’t start right behind the box. There’s a little hill that slopes away from the teepad, so instead of running straight up that hill I run sideways on it.
By moving from the back right of the teepad, to the front left I’m still getting to be as far away from those trees and I also get to throw an anhyzer slightly at them. Those extra 5 feet I can give my disc initially let me throw an even stronger angle on the disc. If I was to do the same throw from the right side I’d run the risk of clipping branches.
I’m not breaking any rules. I’m playing the same line that the course designer Peter wanted me to play. I’m just taking a small advantage for my throws.
So what’s the rule, how do I apply this to my game?
Move away from the trees. That’s one of the biggest things you can do. Then when you realize those extra feet mean you’re less likely to hit a tree you can add more speed and more angle to your drives. That will give you more distance and leave you with a shorter upshot. You get it.
The next rule is for max distance. Yes you can do what James Conrad does so well, and you’ll add more distance. But it’s controlled power, that’s the key. It’s best when you have a flat runup. If you start running uphill it’s going to mess you up because you lift your legs too high when you get to flat and if you’re running downhill you’ll shorten up.
My advice is practice the long runup in the open field. Make sure that you’re not taking giant steps at the end of the run or you’ll throw off that timing you worked so hard on. It’s worth it to get extra distance, if that’s what your game needs.
So we’ve covered the rules about the teepad, how you can use angles of approach to move your disc away from obstacles, and how with some practice you can elongate your distance.
Let me know if you have any questions about teepads, or please tell me how you think about them. I’m always interested in what you guys have to offer.
May your discs miss all the trees,
Andrew Streeter #70397
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I’m a sports management student at USM and for the most part I don’t like pay-to-play sports. I’d argue that they’re detrimental to the growth of the sport, target rich people, and ruin the fun nature of sports.
But disc golf is different.