Newton was right. Gravity sucks.
Then Einstein figured out that energy is matter and matter is energy and that gravity bends light and somehow they are all related through electromagnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces. I guess that could be the unified theory of how the universe works.
This reminder of physics and quantum mechanics is important, because as throwers we need a unified theory. We need to know something of rocket science — velocity, vector, and altitude. As throwers, we live in the very physical realm where the laws that govern the universe govern us and the space-time continuum becomes the thrower’s circle. For us, the universe shrinks down to that seven foot ring, like a black hole that can swallow you up and crush you, or propel into a new dimension where champions are created — the Valhalla dimension.
All throwers get to that circle, the gravity of the sport drawing us in. Not all of us get to that dimension, however. To get there, all you have to do is figure out how best we can light the rocket, blast off, and get our Sputnik on the right trajectory so it lands somewhere out there past our imagination.
Einstein’s theories defined gravity. My theories defied gravity. I defied it for as long as I could. It was time well spent. You can defy it in your own individual and eccentric way if you choose, just as long as you try to defy.
The genius of Einstein was the that he had the mental force to make a universe of mistakes and keep going, eventually coming up with the best theory. Same with throwing. You lift and lift, you throw and throw, you pick apart the particles of your throw, parse the form, the speed, the motion, and try to freeze frame it. Then we learn from our mistakes if we can detect them.
Let’s call them rotational variances in space-time. Those little wobbles that are hard to detect, like the wobble in the orbit of Neptune, say.
What we strive for is rotational invariance in space-time. If this sounds like cosmic blather, that’s okay. The cosmos is right here in front of our faces and the rules apply.
But let’s come back from our orbit around the galaxy for a more practical application. Take a partially deflated basketball and place it on your head. Then do your rotational throw, nice and slow. Then do it again and again and again until the basketball stays put and doesn’t move. It becomes the axis of your rotation. Eventually replace the basketball with a Frisbee for a better challenge. Or a small flying saucer.
Controlling the head during the throw is important. If you start shaking your head all around, the basketball or the Frisbee is going to fall off into the black hole. This is a drill that you can practice almost anywhere at any time. It’s the Esparza drill, named after an old student. I had a kid who was terrible at this drill, but he went home and practiced for a year. When he came back to throwing camp, he could do 137 rotations without a hitch. He eventually got a full ride to Penn State as a thrower.
The Esparza Drill is a good way to get the variance out of your space-time continuum.
I bring this up because I watched the world championships. Some throwers closed their eyes and just blasted away. Some of them threw from the middle of the circle, using footwork that started off wrong. Then they over rotated and their head fell away from the release, when they should have been looking up, watching the shot — the Sputnik — leave the fingertips. The rotational variance did a lot of throwers in and the Germans beat us. And a glider beat the rotational throwers. Kudos to the linear technique. Their rocket science was better that day.
Work on your own theory. Work on the Esparza drill. Work on your own unified theory until there is no rotational variance, until there is no wiggle room.
By Brian Oldfield with George Houde
(this blog was originally posted on 9/28/2011)