Nothing New Under the Sun II

Some of the many versions of australian aboriginal woomera

Stroke length and stroke angle —or translation and rotation, if you choose to be more technical— are two of the key elements of the casting stroke. Good technique asks for those two elements to be used in the proper sequence —that is, starting with translation only and applying rotation at the end of the stroke—, what has been called delayed rotation, although my mate Bernd Ziesche prefers to say:

“It is not delayed rotation, it is rotation at the right time.”

Is this translation/rotation sequence exclusive to fly casting? Not really. Have you ever thought of how you throw a stone? Or a dart? If you are like me, probably not, but if you ask anybody to throw a stone as far as possible he will naturally move his hand in a straight path, starting with translation and rotating at the end, when he runs out of arm. Those throwing motions seem to be part of our unconscious mind, so we do them without worrying about the how to.

But, for some strange reason, if we put a fly rod in the hand of that same guy, translation as an isolated movement disappears, leaving a rotation-only casting stroke which usually results in a rather inefficient —or even ineffective— loop.
Maybe the reason is that the addition of a long tool to connect ourselves to the object being thrown (the line in this case) messes things up; when our hand is in direct contact with the object, translation/rotation at the end seems to be second nature. That is why I try to bring back that second nature in my students by using similes easily related to common experiences —like stone or dart throwing. So the other day I was looking for new similes to get the message across —you never know what is going to ring a bell, we are all different— and frisbees came to my mind. Picture yourself throwing a frisbee: isn’t that motion like the translation/late rotation of a horizontal cast? It is! So, from now on, a frisbee will be part of my teaching gadgetry.

It seems that delayed rotation is something universally employed in other sports or activities in which an object has to be thrown relatively far away. So I said to myself: what about tennis, for instance? Here you are:

Late rotation

Looking for more throwing activities that use a tool with the same late rotation technique —and having been to Australia recently— I asked to myself, what about a woomera? So I made an internet search for woomera throwing in slow motion. From all the results this one is my favorite:

Late rotation again

I would say that Paul is using the very same technique here, isn’t he?:

Did you know that the aboriginal people from Australia started using their woomeras 40.000 years ago?
It took a while for us, fly casters, to start consciously applying this ancient technique, didn’t it? By the way, it is nothing else but what the late Mel Krieger called the pulling through stroke.

Corollary: we should be careful about what we think are new discoveries. Sometimes that old nothing new under the sun isn’t that far from the truth.

After reading this article a friend has sent the following link to me. Obviously golf technique drinks from the same sources.

5 comments on “Nothing New Under the Sun II

  1. Matt says:

    Great stuff aitor… you can really see in the Federer slow mo exactly how the late wrist rotation would develop huge ball speed


  2. jim hund says:

    Golf swing is another good analogy. While i no longer golf, the instructors wanted a firm wrist until “release” which occurred right before impact. the release increased club head speed at impact. rotation does the same with speed of rod tip.


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