If you’ve watched Youtube videos of disc golf, the professional player has great form in their backhand throw. Many of them have a very good forehand throw as well. And then there are those few that throw almost exclusively one way or the other.
I would be lumped in with the second group. Right now, when I play disc golf, I throw forehands off the tee, mostly forehand upshots, with the occasional backhand depending on the shot type needed. The only times I throw a backhand off the tee are on holes less than 200 feet long and are downhill.
When I got that Innova DX Starter Set and set out to play disc golf, I had no idea of really how to throw the discs. Being internet savvy, I turned to Youtube to search for some how-to and instructional videos to help me with throwing discs. The wealth of videos on Youtube allowed me to get a great idea of how to throw a disc. One video that I will highlight was on the Guardians of Recreation Youtube channel. It reminded me of some of those eighties videos that are shown in classrooms to teach kids about different things, but it is rather good at explaining the differences in disc golf discs and the throwing motion.
Throwing that DX Leopard backhand took a couple months to figure out. My first few rounds throwing with a backhand were horrible, as any beginner to a new sport would be. I could throw maybe 250 feet when I caught it just right. Putting was atrocious, but I didn’t really care about my score. It was just fun to get out and exercise , and not just be walking, jogging, or running. Having a smartphone to use to listen to audiobooks or music on Pandora helped out at well.
What helped my game a lot was not working on Mondays each week. The job I had then gave me Sunday and Monday off each week. I would get up, get the kids ready and take them to school, then go to the only course in my town and play a round or two. Some days, though, I would meet a college friend in Tupelo, MS and play one of the courses there. Tupelo has 8 courses in and around the city, with two located at Veteran’s Park and one right across the road called Music bend which is the newest course in the area. We tended to play Ballard Park, since it is an easier walk, and it’s easy to get in multiple rounds since the course is pretty short.
All Pain, No Gain
All this enjoyment of disc golf came at a cost, my elbow. To expand on why it hurt so bad after playing a round, take a moment to continue reading as I tell you what happened.
I bought a bow for the purposes of deer hunting about twelve years ago. The problem with bow hunting in Mississippi is that the season starts in October. It is still hot, mosquitoes swarm ravenously, and it is hot. I was determined to bow hunt one year, and bought a good target to practice with. My bow was set with a draw weight of 70 pounds, it’s maximum draw weight. I took it to my parents’ house one day to practice, and shot at the target somewhere between 30 and 50 times. I felt good about my practice with the bow, and packed it up thinking I was in good shape.
The next day, my elbow was sore. Not unusual for performing an exercise repeatedly that had previously been sporadic in repetition. Another day passed, and my elbow started swelling, and was hurting even worse. On top of the pain and swelling, I couldn’t straighten my arm all the way out. This continued for several days, with pain, redness, and swelling. The day of bow practice, nothing happened. I felt nothing pop, snap, twist, or creak in my arm. But after that day, my right arm and elbow were never the same.
From that day on, I could not straighten my right arm completely. Was I concerned? Of course, but being in my early 20’s, I thought nothing of it. I never went to the doctor. I assumed it might be a result of uric acid buildup, more commonly known as Gout. I had my first attack of gout at age 21, and continued to experience painful flare-ups for the next several years. My elbow presented the classic signs of gout. Redness, swelling, painful movement of the joint, and very sensitive to being touched. I will never know for certain if it was gout or something else after that day of bow shooting.
From Back to Fore
Having dealt with the pain in my elbow after those first few months, something had to give. Either I would just not throw as hard and face higher scores, or not play more than one round a day or more than once a week. Again, Youtube came to my rescue. I had found the Innova youtube channel in my quest for information and one video in particular was eye-opening. Dave Dunipace made a forehand driving tip video that really showed me that the effort required to throw a sidearm/forehand shot didn’t put a lot of pressure on the elbow. After that video, I found the Discmania Deep in the Game Ep. 3 video featuring Avery Jenkins teaching how to throw the forehand.
Those two videos change my disc golf game with blissful results. My elbow stopped hurting as much. It still gets sore to this day after throwing a lot, but I have acclimated to the throwing motion enough that it takes at least three rounds in a day to start getting sore. Since changing to the forehand drive, I feel that I have more control over where the disc goes. I’ve retooled my throwing form in the last three months to help improve the flight of the discs, which has resulted in more distance and fewer skyzers.
Looking back over the months when I was facing that excruciating pain in my elbow after playing, I realize that I was enjoying myself way to much to even consider not playing. Even with the pain, each throw was exciting. Before switching to the forehand, my scores were pretty high. On that easy Ballard Park course, I was usually 10 or more over par. After switching, I didn’t get much better for a while. The main thing was that I wasn’t experiencing the awful pain and swelling in my elbow and could get out and enjoy the sport of disc golf more often.
I’d love to hear if you had or are currently dealing with something that either prevents you from playing or makes playing difficult. What health issues have you had to overcome in order to play disc golf again?