(Note: At the end of this post is a giveaway for an autographed disc. See the details on how you can win!)
By Avery Jenkins — For Rattling Chains
I hope many of you have already watched “The Gods of Disc — Epic Trick Shot Battle 3” on YouTube. It features ultimate superstar Brodie Smith and myself performing outrageous throws into basketball hoops and disc golf baskets. If you haven’t, you need to watch this video before reading how it all came about.
This started last fall after I read a Twitter post from a good friend of mine, Jarrod Job, comparing Brodie Smith and myself in regard to our relevance in our respective sports. I responded, showing my appreciation for Smith’s Frisbee skills, but I questioned what he had for throwing distance shots — in hopes of eliciting a response from Smith.
For those who don’t know Smith, he’s a world-class ultimate player from Gainsville, Florida. He played for the two-time National Champion Florida Gators and is well-known for his outrageously entertaining Frisbee trick-shot videos on YouTube.
I’ve watched many of his trick-shot videos and I was thoroughly impressed by his never-ending energy and his amazing Frisbee skills. He also does a great job making these videos entertaining by calling out shots before making them and making funny comments to add to the entertainment value.
I remember the first time I watched one of Smith’s videos last year where he attempted — and completed — about 25 different throws into a plastic trash can from various heights and distances. He took multiple lines and made it all look very easy!
Being we are both extremely active on social networks, we communicated for several months and talked about the possibility of doing a trick-shot video together as I’m pretty good with a Frisbee, considering I have been throwing one since I was a kid. I also played ultimate at the University of Oregon for two years. Being we are both at the pinnacle of our respective sports, we knew we needed to make this happen, but he was in Florida and I was training in Santa Cruz for the winter. That made it difficult to make the connection. We decided to wait for a more convenient time so we could possibly meet up during the summer tour.
A few weeks later, he sent me his most recent video — a speed-boat trick shot he performed in Sydney, Australia. Smith threw a distance forehand shot off a bridge as a speedboat raced down the river. On the boat was an ultimate player, who did a full-extension dive, making the catch before landing in the water. I saw it on the first day it was released and it had about 250 views, so I made sure to post it all over Facebook in the hopes of getting him more views.
Two days later, I was watching ESPN Sportscenter’s Top 10 plays and, somehow, Smith’s trick shot made it to the No. 1 spot!
I checked back and it had received more than 1 million views. The video then went viral, appearing on many ESPN shows. The next day, it was on Good Morning America. Checking back, the video had skyrocketed to more than 5 million views!
It was great seeing Frisbee getting so much exposure in the mainstream sports media. This was a monumental moment in Frisbee history and something that will be there forever. It was incredible to witness from the beginning and I was proud to be part of disc sports as Smith had just taken it to the next level.
In a matter of weeks, his YouTube and Facebook subscribers increased to more than 100,000. He was blowing up the Frisbee world as he gained fans from all disc sports. There doesn’t seem to be many players on disc golf courses who have never heard of him or seen his videos.
We still wanted to do a trick-shot video together, but the timing still wasn’t right. I got involved with the Discmania “Deep in the Game” series and it was the start of the disc golf season. And, Smith had just been drafted to play for the Indianapolis AlleyCats, a professional ultimate team in the eight-team American Ultimate Disc League.
Following the Glass Blown Open in Kansas City in April, I realized I had some off weekends coming up. The timing seemed right, so I booked a flight to Indianapolis. I called Smith after purchasing my flight and again the day before I was arriving. It was then I found out he injured his knee and elbow the day before during a game and he said he wouldn’t be able to walk or throw for at least a week. After all the timing and planning to make this happen, it was unreal to think it might not happen.
With the flight already booked, I was flying in anyway and I needed a place to crash that night. We stayed up that night until about 3 a.m., discussing the similarities and comparing our two sports. We realized we were going through many of the same difficulties during the growing stages. It’s interesting to see how another popular disc sport was dealing with the same issues of gaining fans and advertising.
I figured it would be best for me to leave for the next week to allow Smith to heal up. I left to meet with disc golf world champion David Greenwell in Louisville, Kentucky, about a two-hour trip from Indianapolis.
I had promised Greenwell months ago to help him organize his disc/Frisbee collection, so it worked out the best as I had wanted to help.
A week later, I returned to Indianapolis with the hopes Smith had healed to be able to throw. He said he was good to go and noted he heals faster than most players. I attended one of the Alley Cat’s practices that night and got to meet the players on the team. I event got in on some catch sessions when there. They were impressive and had lots of skilled players at every position.
In order to make this trick-shot video, we needed to select a venue that had everything we would need. We found a great new course northwest of Indianapolis called Northwestway Park DGC. The park had everything from basketball hoops to disc golf baskets, which were very essential.
I suggested we start with some easier trick shots and work our way up to the more difficult ones. We had discussed doing at least six or seven shots each, but we also wanted to be creative and let the shots happen. It’s best to have the shots present themselves as we wanted to make this a battle of ultimate vs. disc golf. We were using both ultimate and disc golf discs.
One goal of this video was to shot the unity of these incredible disc sports and to display the respective skilled disciplines. Plus, I thought it would be incredible to have a disc golf basket in a video that gets more than a million views.
We did three of the earlier trick shots at this park with a couple of throw-in and kick-flip shots into a disc golf basket. It was extremely windy and we had a few rain delays throughout the day.
These trick shots weren’t as easy as we make them look and it’s very difficult to get an ultimate disc to stick in a golf basket. Smith had several stay spinning in the basket, only to have them jump out seconds later. The shots were definitely dropping but we wanted to switch up venues for a little more shot variety.
We went to an indoor basketball court where Smith worked a deal so we could have the entire court to ourselves. This was more of what Smith is used to as he’s probably made more Frisbee throws into a basketball hoop than anyone on the planet! This was much different than I was used to, but we made it happen as we started with some long off-the-court shots.
We got creative and started incorporating different release variations with push-hook shots from the three-point line and no-look half-court upside down shots. These shots seemed to be getting easier so we decided to switch it up as we traded ultimate for golf discs for synchronized back-to-back half-court shots. Knowing that ultimate Frisbees skip much better than golf discs, we finished off the indoor session with backhand and forehand half-court skip shots.
These trick shots were a lot of fun, but we knew we weren’t going to complete all of the shots we wanted to do in one day. We were back at it the next day after finding another perfect venue. This time, it was a course called Freedom Park, which was on the southside of town. Not only were there disc golf baskets, but several basketball hoops and a football field. This had the most potential of any venue we had used.
We started off with overhand shots from half-court and full-court, which turned out to be very difficult because of the extreme winds and gusty conditions. It was especially tough for Smith as his ultimate discs are easily affected by the wind because they have larger surface areas. He had to release his full-court overhand shot nearly 20 feet to the left of the hoop in order to make it as the Frisbee moved sideways at the end of its flight.
To kick it up a notch, we decided to take these shots off the court about another 50 feet and drained those with impressive backhand throws.
For the finale, we decided to take it way off the court — more than 200 feet away — to make it in the crazy windy conditions. Normally at this distance, I would be throwing an Aviar or a Roc. But with the conditions, I was getting too much side-to-side movement. I decided to step up to the Star TeeBird, which offered a more stable straight-line flight.
This was the shot I wanted to make the most — the world’s longest throw into a basketball hoop. I stepped up, focused and released the shot with a slight anhyzer curve to anticipate the swing-back fade at the end of the flight. The disc hit the backboard on the left side and went through the hoop. I was extremely excited and turned to the camera and said “Yeeeeah, let’s go! What up, ESPN!”
Curious to the length of that shot, we drove to a local hardware store and bought a 300-foot tape measure. After marking from the release point to the basket, it measured 226 feet.
Throughout the session, we completed a series of 17 trick shots, including 12 combination and five individual trick shots. We also wanted to do some disc golf instructional videos as well as a one-on-one disc golf battle. I really wanted to increase the exposure of disc golf and it was a great idea to include some simple disc golf instructional videos on Smith’s “Everything Ultimate” YouTube page.
We also decided it would be awesome to play a disc golf hole together with him throwing a golf disc as, for some reason, there are a lot of ultimate players who don’t like disc golf or don’t think it’s cool.
But since Smith is so instrumental and inspiring to many ultimate players, I knew this would be an amazing idea. Plus, I knew we could make it hilariously entertaining as well.
In the end, it was an incredible experience to meet Brodie and do this epic trick-shot battle. It was also great to hang out and talk about Frisbee life in general. I see a lot of similarities between the two disc sports and they both continue to grow each and every year. Through this, we created an entertaining video with all hope to bring ultimate and disc golf together. Hopefully it will increase the exposure for each.
Just watch Sportscenter — it’s great to see an ultimate highlight on the Top 10 Plays.
Keep doing what you’re doing, Brodie. I look forward to the next trick-shot battle!
**** GIVEAWAY ****
In conjunction with this story, Avery Jenkins is giving away an autographed disc. It’s signed by Jenkins and Smith. Readers have the chance to get more than one entry into this giveaway.
The contest will run through midnight (EST) Nov. 21. Winners will be announced on this site and through Facebook at about 9 p.m. Nov. 22.
To get entries, do the following:
1. Comment on this story here at Rattling Chains.
2. Like this post on Avery’s Facebook page. (Please make sure to like his page, too!)
3. Like this post on the Rattling Chains Facebook page (please make sure to like the page, too!)
4. Follow Avery, Rattling Chains and Brodie on Twitter and then tweet the following (It must appear exactly as it is here. Don’t re-tweet as we might not be able to tell and you’ll lose the entry! Copy and paste this into Twitter and we can keep track of it!):
Read @rattlingchains how @Aviar7495 and @Brodiesmith21 made their trick-shot video. https://rattlingchains.com/?p=2166 See how to win an autographed disc!
The winner will be chosen via the randomizer at Random.org.
Avery Jenkins, the 2009 world champion, completed his 13th years as a disc golf touring professional in 2012. You can see more from Jenkins at his website.