Almost all scores and turnovers in well-matched Ultimate games are down to throws & catches. I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time over the years throwing around, and yet I still learn something new every time I go out for a chuck around. For the purposes of improving your throwing and catching, the most important things I’ve learnt are:
(1) make throwing around a habit,
(2) have an idea of what ‘ideal’ technique is,
(3) know how to learn & improve effectively.
Even if just for a minute or two, even if you just throw to yourself in your bedroom – get some hand-on-disc time every day, and make a mental note if you miss a day. You can throw casually or intensely, work on something new or practice something learnt, throw with randoms or with team mates, so long as you make throwing around a habit, you will have taken the first big step to becoming a much improved thrower & catcher. Find out what motivates you and run with it – perhaps meeting up with someone in particular to throw, perhaps getting some sun towards the end of the day – whatever will be sustainable motivation for you.
Once you’re out and throwing around regularly, the second step is to give yourself purpose – are you trying to throw & catch with perfect technique, or are you pushing your limits / experimenting with variety? Are you still weaker catching with your non-dominant hand? Can you clap catch equally well with either hand on top of the disc?
Train for what will be best in a game, including practicing faking before throwing
“Perfect practice makes perfect”, so your ‘ideal’ technique must be as balanced and efficient as possible. Variety can help shore up your technique and make you better at adapting to non-standard situations – as defenders always create these – but you should always be aware of what the ideal technique is in a standard situation, and aim to be able to replicate it flawlessly, both for catching and throwing. Practicing faking before throwing is important too – faking different throws to different places before executing a variety of throws will get your body familiar with making game-like movements.
Start every fake or throw from the power stance / neutral stance
The power stance is where you stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, disc held flat at your waist, with hands at 11 and 1’o’clock, and all fingers on both hands tucked under the rim. This means you are already coiled to throw quick lefty or righty backhands, and ready to pivot / set up your body for regular backhands / flicks / hammers / off-hand backhands in a balanced manner.
By training to throw every throw from the power stance, and conditioning yourself to get into the power stance whenever you catch the disc in a game, you are normalising game situations (bringing them as close to throw-around situations) as much as possible whilst also maximising your options on the field.
Finish throws in a balanced stance
After releasing the disc, hold your final stance for three seconds, to emphasise balance. If you are releasing the disc from a balanced position then your consistency and ability to adapt or turn the throw into a fake goes way up. Make sure you can perform every type of throw finishing in a balanced position. Once you’ve got the hang of this, practice doing the opposite – practice pushing off and running as soon & as fast as you can after each