17 January 2007

Measuring a good pull

How do can you tell if you have improved?

Sometimes it seems obvious to you.

But other times you need to measure that skill or aspect of your game.

Here is how I measure the quality of a pull. It is a useful system for pullers to compete against other pullers, or to compare their own pulls over time. This follows on from my 7 Postulates of Pulling.

Alpha pull - disc lands in the endzone, more than 5 metres away from a sideline.

Beta pull - disc lands in the field, but not in the alpha zone.

Brick pull - disc lands out of bounds.

Alpha (green) is better than beta (yellow) is better than a brick (white).

Take 10 pulls, and see how many alphas, betas and bricks you get. Maybe 6-3-1. Which is better than say, 4-2-4.

"But hang on a tick!" you say. "Why is it less valuable to land the disc near the back of the endzone? Isn't a disc that lands 1 metre from the back left cone a fantastic pull?"

The problem with such a pull is that you can't do it regularly. If you aim there 10 times, a bunch of pulls are going to land out, giving your opponents bricks. (Unless you are the most accurate thrower ever, in which case you are earning money playing disc golf in the US, not reading this blog.)

Aiming well within the bounds of the endzone should mean that almost no pulls land out. And that is far more valuable than 5 pulls in the corner and 5 bricks.

This is why I don't congratulate pulls that do land 1 inch from the back left cone. The puller is lucky the risk didn't backfire that time - they're not worthy of "Wow! Great pull!"

Addendum: Tao calls alpha pulls with lots of yummy hangtime "Alpha pluses". Making it a 4-tier scoring system.


  1. what about the pull that lands in the playing field, and rolls o/b - the roller
    these pulls are of value too, esp in strong winds or certain D's?

  2. Mmm, good point with the roller.

    Does have certain situations where it is useful.

    But I reckon that a roller that lands near the middle of the field can be stopped and picked up by a competent receiving team. It also won't reach their endzone.

    So you don't gain the yards of a convential alpha pull.

    The scoring system I recommend is to help measure and appreciate quality convential pulling.

    A roller seems to have 2 situations where it is handy: as a surprise mix up pull, and when you need the disc to roll out on one sideline so you can set up a D (eg when there is a strong crosswind and you are playing a trapping zone).

  3. Owen, just started reading your blog, perhaps after recommendations from johnny mac or some such. I like it a lot, lots of good thinking material here.

    Question about pulls though, as it's the next part of my game I want to work on - you don't seem to have much about what kind of pull is best, other than it's final location? In a pull, I see you either want the offense to drop it (unlikely to happen at high levels), or they take a long time in catching it. In ideal (no wind) conditions, would you use a high floaty pull, or one that blades? I see the advantages as the high one has lots of hang time but is easily catchable, but the blade one has minimal hang time but is harder to read and catch, and more likely to roll after hitting the ground. Any comments on that?

  4. So what is better - the hard-to-catch blade, or the high floater? I'm not sure.

    I guess it depends on the catching skills of the receiving team, and the time it takes your team to run down.

    My instinct is to generally use a floating pull, with a blade as a mix up pull. A dropped pull is momentum changing event.