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Learning from the Legends

This past July, I was fortunate enough to travel to Norkopping, Sweden for the 2013 WFDF World Overall Flying Disc Championships. I was the only Canadian competing in a sport that isn’t very well known. There were 8 other countries being represented with the largest contingent from USA and Sweden.

Not only does it take an incredible amount of skill to compete, let alone have a chance at winning, but it also takes years and years of experience.

Which is what this post is all about.

I’ve been throwing a frisbee for 13 years, playing ultimate for 12 years, disc golf for 3 years, dog disc for 2 years and overall competitions for 2 years. Based on the amount of time I’ve spent throwing, watching and learning, it’s easier for me than most people to adjust my throw for the type of disc I’m throwing.

However, there is still invaluable learning that needs to happen. Since I’m the only person doing what I do close to me, my opportunities to learn happens when I travel to these competitions. Email and facebook certainly make it easier but ultimately, my best learning happens when people much more experienced than myself watch me throw and give me feedback. I consider them my mentors and they provide a similar service as a swing coach would to a pro golfer.

In Sweden, I had the opportunity to have John Kirkland, Dave Hesselberth, Conrad Damon and Harvey Brandt watch me and offer advice during the various events. Fortunately for me, Conrad and Harvey were coaching me during the Self Caught Flight finals, in which I ended up winning the Gold medal with the second best SCF performance of all time (15.37 second MTA and a 79 metre TRC for a total score of 163.55, less than 3 points shy of the world record).

Here is a video of my gold medal winning throws:

[youtube width=”640″ height=”360″][/youtube]

As an aside, John Kirkland is like the Wayne Gretzky of frisbee. JK has set and held numerous world records, has won world championships, and in 1975, he toured with the Harlem Globetrotters for 200 days doing freestyle demos during halftime. JK arguably knows more about distance throwing than anyone else and I’m fortunate enough to have learned from him.

In our lifetime, to have the opportunity to meet people at the top of their sport or profession is truly a life changing experience and I feel that my life continues to be touched and enhanced with every chance I get to spend time around the legends of disc sports.

Recognize who your mentors are and take every opportunity you can to be around them and learn from them. You’ll never see things the same way again.