If you have ever watched a person run when driving from the tee, then you have witnessed a run-up technique. There are different points of view about run-ups where it pertains to disc golf, with some experienced golfers claiming that it doesn’t generate more distance while others believe that it gives them a distinct advantage. Let’s explore the possible pros and cons of the driving run-ups.
First, the pros. Regardless of whether you agree that running offers more distance on your drives than simply starting on the tee box itself, many disc golfers who use this technique believe that it offers them the opportunity to gain balance during their throw. Balance is one of the most important factors when it comes to disc golf and if you have poor balance, or you are slightly off balance, then your throw will not do precisely what you planned for it to do.
Run-ups can also allow you to gain a different kind of motion, though this doesn’t mean that you will be gaining speed in your release arm. Run-ups will move you forward in the direction of your target landing area faster than if you started stationary, but it’s the hip turn, arm motion, and wrist snap that will create the greatest amount of power.
Advocates for the run-up technique will point to shot put throwing competitions as an example of what it can do for you. In shot put competition, the athlete would begin away from the throwing line, then turn, either using a 180-degree or 360-degree pivot motion, which generates inertia in their body, but more importantly in the ball. Once they reach the release point, their arm extends to drive it as far as possible, relying on that initial momentum to add distance.
A disc is not nearly as heavy as a shot put, but the same concept does hold true. However, the human arm cannot initiate the same force with a heavy weight that it can with something much lighter. Therefore, the added power is subject to interpretation and impression.
Faster body motion, and more of it, tends to equal more room for error when you actually release the disc. Using the rip cord technique, though, can be benefited by adding in a run-up, which will allow the disc golfer to gain momentum, which is important in adding distance to his or her throws.
With more motion, the body will need to work hard to balance itself. Relying on a 180-degree turn or 360-degree turn run-up, will mean that your focus on the landing area will need to be precise. Starting with no line of sight on your target, then being forced to spin around to gain torque will mean that there is more room to release the disc at the wrong point.
Advocates of this technique will bemoan this analysis, stating that once you get comfortable with the technique, then your release point is more manageable and easier to control. That may be the case, but the amount of distance that one gains still may be negligible.
The Competitive Edge
Golf, whether you are talking about the traditional game or disc golf, is as much about mental preparedness and strength as it is about physical ability. Some of the best traditional golfers in the world aren’t necessarily the best ball strikers. They merely have the ability to remain consistent, overcome mistakes without dwelling on them, and outwitting their playing companions.
When you add the run-up technique to your arsenal, the simple act of the motion can cause your competitor, or playing partner to assume that there will be more distance behind your throw. If you keep this technique in your arsenal and use it effectively, then you can potentially cause your partner or competitor to then try to do a bit more with his or her shot, causing them to make a mistake at the worst possible moment.
The only way that this will work, however, is it you have full control of your throwing style and the run-up technique. It won’t do you much good if you pull out this technique, only to have your disc end up in a tough situation for your next shot.
The 180-Degree Disc Golf Run-Up
As noted, there are two basic types of run-ups. The 180-degree run-up begins with you facing away from the target, or landing area. This doesn’t mean that you will face away from the basket, though you likely will; it means that your landing area will be to your back. From there, step back with your dominant foot, follow with your left, and as you do, begin to turn your body toward the target. As your shoulders become square to the target, then you will be ready to move through with your full swing technique.
The 360-Degree Disc Golf Run-Up
The 360-degree run-up is similar to the 180-degree, except that you begin by facing the landing area and do one complete rotation, beginning your release when your shoulders are lined with your target. The more you turn your body through your run-up, the more focus you will need to have on your landing area, your target. If you lose sight of it or allow the motion of the run-up to pull you out of balance, then you will find that your throw is off the mark.
Is the Run-Up Right for You?
No one can measure whether you will benefit from the run-up technique other than you. However, for rip cord throwers, the run up can offer a great deal of benefit as the throwing motion does not use the body the same way as other techniques. When you combine the rip cord technique with a straightforward run-up, then the momentum that is generated can be parlayed into the disc, allowing it to travel even farther than it would under other conditions.
If you are interested in learning the run-up technique, try a few simple variations at the driving range. It is here where you will develop your own style and technique and also discover that what works for someone else doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you.
Image via Steve Grant on flickr.