Flow and consecutivity are similar yet very different in my mind. When judging presentation I look for flow, when judging difficulty I look for consecutivity.
Flow has to do with keeping the crowds’ interest by maintaining a certain level of play – maybe not hitting everything or staying consecutive the entire time, but whatever bobbles, the’s or even minor drops don’t distract from the overall flow the team had built over a period of time…while one quick drop might not break the flow one long drop or two quick drops may. Other factors can effect a judge’s interpretation when judging the degree of flow. For example, keeping the disc moving between team members often makes the routine flow more than having each player just do long center delay combinations. When you watch some vintage footage of the Coloradicals you notice not only how well they flowed but how the excitement would build as they kept the disc moving and as they kept hitting moves. But don’t forget, they weren’t just doing easy moves the whole time…they had to be doing risky enough moves for their to be excitement in the first place.
Consecutivity. Consecutivity is very straight forward. Is a player going from move to move without hesitation or does he have to reset the disc or do a the before going into the next move. Now you may wonder, “What’s the big deal? It’s not that hard to go from one move to the next.” This is true for some moves but far from the truth for others.
For example when doing an under the leg center delay it’s easy enough to regain control of the disc on your finger after you’ve passed the disc under a leg. Now try the same move but add a spin after you pass the disc under your leg and before you regain control on your finger. The mastery of the move can be shown in competition by how much control you have of that move.
If you do an under the leg pass and then pull the disc under another leg directly off the first set – you’ve shown three things. One, that you’ve mastered the first move to the point where you can set it into a relatively small pull out window. Two, you’ve mastered the second move to the point where you can pull the disc from a relatively good set with little room for error. Third you’ve shown you’ve mastered the transition from the first move – which involves balance and footwork.
So, difficulty as it relates to consecutivity is maximized when players do moves into other moves when the margin of error for the moves themsleves and for the transistion between those moves is minimized. Diff is also maximized by the technical substance of the moves which correlates to how technically difficult the move is. How hard is it to do that move under the current conditions, what’s the degree of restriction, the amount of time to master the move, how risky is it, etc.
As you can see just judging difficulty is difficult.
Now, try to take into consideration all that I’ve mentioned and try to judge multiple players doing different moves with muliptle discs all at the same time….then in the middle of their combos the 15 second tape guy says “mark”. Doh!
In every sport there is a target level for the highest form of play. With art there are average pieces and then there is the work of the masters. With Freestyle Frisbee the most elevated level of play is called consecutivity. It is a way of playing that takes the skill of continuation to its most difficult form. In addition to difficulty this skill adds the elements of flow and creativity into the mix, creating the most expressive and incredible forms of freestyle. It could be described as the art of combining a wide variety of difficult constrictive moves into a long sequence, effectively, with flow and precision. The goal of every freestyler should be to improve their level of consecutivity. For those wishing to compete at the tournament level of play, this would be a very important skill to concentrate on.
It has been said sometimes in freestyle that a series of moves can be compared to a written expression of words, like a sentence. Each move could be equated with an expression or word with the most basic of these termed a ‘the’. A ‘the’ is the basic in front of you, unconstricted, one handed catch, the easiest catch or form of continuation there is. In the interest of consecutivity a ‘the’ move would be the greatest detraction from achieving this high level of play. Along with bobbles, mis-hits, long pauses and drops, they are the bain of consecutivity, but in reality ‘the’s’ are hard to avoid, and they are always better than a drop (a ground ‘the’).
Consecutivity always focuses on achieving a more descriptive and complex level of phrasing. Such as, a spinning under the leg take, flat set, spinning 1 1/2 BTB pull to an under leg angle set, front roll, set, back roll, set, spinning phlaud catch. Notice that there wasn’t a ‘the’ , pause or bobble mentioned in the entire sequence. Actually the first set in this sequence was technically a ‘the set’ as it came after the under leg move. It can be really hard to weed out those ‘the’s’.
Expression is the goal of consecutivity. To express our game and share it to others at it’s highest level requires that we perform our most difficult moves in a continuously flowing format. Freestyle is an expression driven activity. We want people to watch our play and be amazed at what were doing. ‘The’s’ allow the viewer too many chances to catch their breath. We want our play to be so consecutive that their minds will not be able to keep up with the expression of difficult moves shredded out before them
Imagine someone, as they contemplate that double spinning flamingitis against pull take off of a throw we just nailed. As their mind attempts to comprehend that, it will soon tingle as we go off into a series of consticted spinning against take moves, and when we finish with a spinning crow brush set to a triple spinning crash and burn roots, their overcharged neurons will most likely erupt into a bout of spontaneous giggling. My mind got a jazz just contemplating the possibility. Everyone wants to express their game to the highest level, because it’s more fun and it looks really cool.
So then, how do we begin the process of introducing more consecutivity into our games. Fortunately, no matter what your level of play is you can work on this skill by taking the moves you already know and begin to combine them into sequences. At the beginning level this might simply be a series of basic continuation moves. Work on avoiding ‘the’s’ and other simple moves or corrections that break up flow and detract from consecutivity.
Let’s say you know how to flat delay set under your legs, do simple pulls like a behind the back, chest roll and some basic freestyle catches like a flamingo. You could put these together in various combinations without ‘the’s’, with flow and you would be increasing your consecutivity. Your combination might go something like this… Off the throw, make one turn and take the disc under your leg. In one smooth motion set the disc up flat in front of you and turn halfway, pulling out the disc with a BTB rim pullout. Fight the urge here to use a ‘the’ to gain control, but instead cleanly set the disc out head high in front of you, with a little angle for your next move, the chest roll. At the end of a nice sticky roll, push the disc off your hand straight in front of you at mid height so that it soon stalls and slopes back towards your feet, then turn and set up for a nice gracefull flamingo catch.
Note how this combination used each continuation move in a consequetive sequence. Breaks were avoided by the use of accurate sets off of each move. Each set ended exactly where the next move was to begin. Some have described this as putting the disc into the ‘move window’. This refers to the course where the disc travels on it’s route to your next planned move. Often, because of it’s flight characteristics, the disc is set out in front, usually into the wind, where it will take a predictable course back to you, giving you enough time to set up for your next move. Or allowing you to move in an easy direction, forward, to take the disc into the next continuation move. With each move requiring a set, there is a corresponding ‘move window’. Try to figure these out and form a mental picture of these ‘windows’ in the places where you’re having the most difficulty completing the move. Some moves have large windows while other more difficult constrictive moves have extremely small windows with added disc angle requirements.
Work with what you know and find ways to combine these into flowing sequences of moves. Once you have mastered a series, try to combine it in a slightly more difficult way or add other moves into the sequence. Working on consecutivity will force your game to improve on many levels. Moves will have to be performed more correctly, sets will take on greater importance, you will soon be able to instinctively improvise in moves depending on were each set ends up. Your game will grow on many fronts instead of one move at a time.
If you’re jamming with other players and doing cooperative moves, try adding some consecutivity into the playing mix. Don’t just take the pass or throw in a simple ‘the’ position, but spin into it and/or take it from a more constricted position. The same goes for passes and throws, try doing something extra with each and add some flow. If you make a difficult catch with a certain hand position, try sending off a throw using that same grip. Adding consecutivity will elevate your game and those around you to higher levels.
Difficult cooperative takes require a certain level of anticipation and the ability to rapidly commit to a particular move early as the pass is being made. Try to anticipate what is coming, but be ready for anything. On the other hand, your passes and throws to other players should be set accurately, preferably into their ‘move windows’, so that they will be able to keep the flow unbroken and consequetive. As your playing, keep yourself moving, positioning yourself in areas where you can better receive passes or do something with the disc like hoops or angle changing deflections. Moving around the disc as other players are doing moves will open up more possibilities for interaction and help cool moves to develop.
Consecutivity is a difficult challenge, but it is at the heart of expressing our game to others at the highest level. Work on it each time you play. Build move combinations that are both consequetive and difficult for you. Stretch yourself a little bit at a time, while attempting to remove the clutter of ‘the’s’, pauses and easy sets. Try combining difficult moves that you never thought of placing together. Along the way you will find other consequetive moves that can be woven into sequences that will enhance both your game and your enjoyment of the sport of Freestyle Frisbee.