A word from the coach

Who is this unknown disc golfer?

Jyrki Ruuskanen

Heittamaan.fi -valmentaja
Why do I coach?

It has been said that the talented compete, and if you don't have it, well, you might end up coaching. The way I see it, the choice is more about tendency and personality.

I have never had the drive to compete. Instead, my interest lies in understanding how things work. How much is given as talent, and what is achievable with practice? What is the maximum performance for a given person?

First there was archery

I got introduced to disc golf in 2014, but the idea of coaching started with archery in 2016. Archery is one of those sports which appear simple, but are hard to master. Disc golf is another example of a such sport.

My goal with the olympic recurve was to be competitive at the national level. I studied everything I could find about the form and the equipment.

I progressed rapidly, and the very next year I took part in the national championships in the open division, and did just fine for a first timer.

At this point I knew how much practice it would take to be competitive, and it was a bit too much for me. In addition to that, pushing the pace in bow weight progression and practice volume had already damaged by shoulder.

Focus shifts to coaching

After I attended an instuctor course for target sports by Finnish Olympic Committee in 2017, I coached a group of archers at a local club. Helping people get better and sharing knowledge felt good.

A year later I decided to put archery on hold, and started rehabilitating my shoulder with disc golf (and by not doing archery). Three years down the line, in 2021, I could finally see that the pain was gone, and disc golf had replaced archery for good.

The state of disc golf coaching

Disc golf has been around for decades. But in many ways it still appears young. There is very little research done on the subject, and the theory of the sport remains a moving target. As a result, disc golf coaching is still largely based on opinions and assumptions.

Danny Lindahl, one of YouTube's disc golf pioneers has made the long journey from "pulling on a straight line" to "spinning and throwing" and beyond. New wave evangelists, such as Ezra Aderhold and Jaani Länsiö, and the fresh approach of Overthrow Disc Golf and Slingshot Disc Golf make me believe we are at the brink of broader understanding of disc golf technique.

The most common problem in disc golf coaching right now, and form work in general, lies in the teaching and learning methods. People attempt to change the throw as a whole by viewing examples and telling them(selves) to "throw more like that" and to "throw less like this". This approach is problematic for several reasons.

Heittamaan.fi method

Applying instructions and examples directly into your throw brings control and thought processes where they don't belong. Executing a throw is supposed to be highly automatic. Trying to control your throw while you are doing it is hard, frustrating and it can make things worse.

In Heittamaan.fi method, movements that make up the throw are practiced separate from the actual throw. You'll use simple exercises or drills to develop an ability to perform key movements safely, with commitment and without hesitation.

At the same time these exercises will answer many classic disc golf questions such as: "how can I get the disc leave my hand with the right orientation, and at the right time?", "how can I involve my legs and hips in the throw?", "what does the free arm do?", "what does the brace leg do?" and "how do I create lag?".

At the end of the day, my goal is to help reduce feelings of frustration and self-doubt when playing and practicing disc golf. When you are motivated, believe in what you are doing, and see progress, you'll become one of those uplifting and steady players who make this sport better for everyone.

If you like the sound of that, contact us!