Shooting Well in the Woods

wooded courses

Many players have trouble playing from the trees. Shooting on a closed course that has a lot of trees and guarded baskets can make a top advanced player look like a mid-level intermediate player. There are many shots that you can throw on open courses that just have no place in the woods. In my home state there are many wooded course and I have spoken to some of the best woods players I know to come up with some tips to help you play your best from the trees.

Arm Speed and Hitting

One of the first things that I notice with people who do not play many woods courses is that they try to keep the same routine on woods courses. By this I am referring to their run up and arm motion. There are many holes on wooded course that you just can’t employ the same long run up as you can on open courses.

What ends up happening is people use their normal run up but try to slow their arm speed down in order to gain accuracy. The result is that their wrist will not open up in the same way and they will not ‘hit’ their throw like they do out in the open. In turn this causes the disc to come out slower and flies more stable, fades out quicker and is un-able to hold tight lines.

In order to combat this you must learn to throw with a shorter run up or no run up at all. Most of the power in your throw is generated in the last 25% of your throw. The run up is just a set up routine that most people have a hard time going without. Learn how to snap your disc without the run up and you will be more accurate and throw further in the woods.

Discing Down

Often times you do not have the room for your usual run up or the room for a normal flight from a stable disc which may be like a reverse S. In order to get the most out of your disc flight on tight lines you may need to disc down.

By throwing a slower disc you can get the entire flight of the disc without throwing it as hard. Remember that speed 12 and 13 discs are designed to go 450 feet or more. There are few times on a wooded course where this distance is needed. When you throw a slower disc you can throw it flatter or on hyzer and hit the tight lines you need without a wide flight path.

The Hyzer Flip

If you are going to play on tight wooded course you will need to master the hyzer flip. A hyzer flip is achieved when a disc is thrown on a hyzer angle and then flips up to fly flat. By throwing an understable disc on a hyzer angle and letting it hyzer flip, you will be able to shape lines through the trees and get your disc where it needs to go.

This is a hard concept to explain and one that needs practice. You should practice hyzer flipping different speed discs of different stability ratings so you can be confident in your line shaping. You may need to make a line that goes straight, turns right and eventually fades left. For this I may take a disc like an Innova Valkyrie which is a speed 9 disc and has a fairly under-stable rating. I would throw the disc hard on an 8 o’clock hyzer angle. The disc would flip up and hold a straight line, turn right in the middle of its flight and then finish left. Like I said, practice, practice, practice.

Take More Time on Wooded Courses

This may sound like an obvious tip but it needs to be recognized. On an open course it is usually obvious which shots you can take for every lie. In the woods the different lines you can take are often camouflaged and can be tougher to identify. Take your time and visualize each shot that you see. Make a checklist in your head, you should see a backhand, forehand, overhead and roller shot. If one is not possible mentally cross it off the list and move on.

Visualize all the shots that are available and make the best choice. Use your footing to get better angles. One of the most effective ways to get a back hand shot in when you are stuck behind a tree is to place the heel of your left foot behind your marker with you back to the target. Now you can look over your right shoulder and throw your back hand shot (for right handed players).
Taking your time also means looking down course. There could be trees behind other trees that you don’t see right off. There is nothing more frustrating than hitting your line only to be knocked down by the next tree that you never even saw.

Follow Through on Wooded Courses

In the woods your follow through is even more important. You are often trying to hit a very tight line versus an open course where you may have some margin of error both left and right and with the ceiling height. Your follow through will help increase your accuracy.

Many players try to aim their disc down a line which will end up as a short arm throw. Imagine the line you want to hit extending down your arm through your backswing. Keep your disc on that line as you reach back all the way until it is released. By focusing on your follow through and not aiming, you will be more likely to keep that disc on that line.

In Conclusion

Playing in the woods has more elements to think about than playing on an open course does. Slow your game down and look for as many shots as you can. Also look down the fairway to make sure you have identified all the obstacles that could be in your way. Practice a smaller run up and even get used to throwing without a run up to increase accuracy. Disc down if you have to in order to hit tighter lines and decrease the width of the flight path of your disc. Happy throwing.