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Body rotation to max out line speed

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Phil Blackmar
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Body rotation to max out line speed

#1

Post by Phil Blackmar » Tue Sep 07, 2021 3:34 am

Hi everyone-

I expect a quick reply from John on this one.

I mentioned this in a past post but want to go into more detail. Sports such as baseball, throwing a (US) football, discus, javelin, tennis etc, use body rotation to increase leverage and speed. There is an order of motion called the Kinematic Sequence which basically means each joint, starting low and working its way up, is stretched like rubber bands where the collective kinetic energy is transferred into the delivery at release.

Maximum efficiency in throwing comes from the upper arm to the elbow moving close to perpendicularly to the trunk. Here is a picture of Justin Verlander, one of the hardest throwers in baseball for a number of years. Notice how his throwing arm is on a similar line to his shoulders which are rotating around his spine.
verlander release.png
verlander release.png (387.63 KiB) Viewed 370 times
The problem with using this type of body rotation with fly casting comes from the resulting difficulty in controlling tracking.
horizontal rotation.jpg
horizontal rotation.jpg (24.19 KiB) Viewed 370 times
If the casting hand moves around in a half circle, it will be hard to make the rod tip move in a straight line.

I recently began practicing a side arm delivery and then gradually leaning my upper body more to the side until my shoulders are turning more up and down rather than around and the rod is moving in a near vertical plane. This allows the body to rotate in a way that aids tracking while also creating more leverage and speed.

Like pitching, maximum velocity appears to start with a smooth lateral motion, then the feet and legs go while the shoulders and hand stays back, then the shoulders start to go while the hand resists. During this phase the rod is bending, and the last component to go is the hand and rod.
vertical rotation.jpg
There is no doubt I can create substantially more line speed with this motion. Curious your thoughts..

Thank you
Phil

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Paul Arden
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Re: Body rotation to max out line speed

#2

Post by Paul Arden » Tue Sep 07, 2021 4:37 am

I think basically you’ve hit the nail on the head there Phil with Tracking vs Speed. In fact I would go a little further and instead of Tracking: “Loop Integrity”. And I really think speed can never be at the expense of loop shape. The loop has to be vertically aligned, top directly over bottom, with a perfectly straight rod leg, with the optimal length carry. That loop will “float” out there further than a twisted shape thrown faster.

It’s really common in distance casting comp that loops thrown with less force, maybe 80% maximum, end up traveling the furthest. For a long time I’ve seen the greatest limiter of distance being carry and loop shape. So long as the loop fully unrolls any extra line speed will give diminishing returns. There comes a point when we are talking millimetres. The difference between an 70% power cast and a 100% power is feet and not yards.

20 years ago I was in your part of the world throwing with Rick Hartman who had improved his cast considerably. Back then IMO he was definitely no1 in the world. We were sitting in his garden chewing the cud over a dram and he asked me what he had changed. Well it was like he had walked through a door into another dimension. He told me he was using “less power”.

Of course that means different things to different people and Rick has one of the fastest hauls I’ve ever seen. Line speed is tremendous. But the loops were like highly polished chisels.

Having said that I’m definitely going to try what you are doing off the roof of the boat this week. :cool:

Nice artwork!!

Cheers, Paul
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Re: Body rotation to max out line speed

#3

Post by James9118 » Tue Sep 07, 2021 11:25 pm

Hi Phil,

Recently there's been an online casting comp - I was wondering if you've seen the various styles of the casters, see here https://www.castingsport.se/virtual-fly-casting-2021/ There are some astonishing distances being achieved, especially in #5 (MED) distance. If you click the 'Link' tab after each entry (scroll down to the results) you should be taken to a video of the cast.

Chher, James.

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Re: Body rotation to max out line speed

#4

Post by Phil Blackmar » Wed Sep 08, 2021 3:38 am

Hey James

Thanks for sharing. A couple observations.....It appears most casts I looked at were downwind which assisted with some the distances achieved.

Relative to the technique of stepping back and then stepping thru, baseball pitchers do the same, although they step forward with the opposite side leg to the throwing arm. IE, step with the left and throw with the right which allows them to use more body rotation than throwing off the same side.

Thanks again

Phil

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Re: Body rotation to max out line speed

#5

Post by John Waters » Wed Sep 08, 2021 4:27 am

Great thread Phil. I have a different view for casting. You can rotate the torso whilst moving the hand, hence rod, in a vertical plane and thus achieve the loop profile Paul has mentioned. That is a key difference between casting and other throwing sports.

Baseball pitchers achieve extreme external rotation and super hand speed through body movement but they also lean forward and pitch downward off the mound. That is absolutely the correct movement chain and release trajectory for baseball, but not for casting. If you use pitching as the model for casting, and angle the rod off the vertical, then I agree with your need to drop your left shoulder and slant your shoulders in the frontal plane, exactly as you have portrayed. However, for casting, it is better to rotate around the vertical axis and achieve external rotation with the forearm in the vertical plane, whilst moving the elbow above the shoulder line. If you use javelin as the model, I would make the same comments. My earlier posts about kinetic chain, accelerating and braking, body segment movement and cumulative speed that underpin other throwing sports, also apply to casting. However, it is important to also accomodate the uniqueness of casting as a throwing sport i.e. maximising rod hand speed but still maintaining a vertical loop profile.

I also fully agree with your response on stepping through with the rod side foot and have mentioned that in other posts. It is delivering the longest casts with the 5 weight MED at the moment, super results really, but seems to be unique to that long carry. I am of the view that what is optimal for one carry length should be optimal for any all carry lengths, but that is for a future study.

You are absolutely correct Paul, line speed delivers diminishing returns, but in my view, technique must capitalise on each centimetre available albeit, each becomes more difficult to achieve, and results from shorter incremental improvements. Power is paramount and is the basis upon which those incremental gains can be achieved, because like any throwing sport, it all comes down to hand speed. Casting is unique in the throwing world because that applies to both hands.

It is always a trade-off between body movement that delivers explosive power and a body movement that is comfortable. I think you need to maximise explosive power without tension and those casts you have referred to have skewed that mix.

Generating peak power means the caster forces the body to a level of “uncomfortableness". It all comes down to how well we generate peak power, and what hand speeds are generated by that power application. I reckon the secret is to be uncomfortable, but relaxed. Although that is easy to say and hard to achieve, it should drive all our training.

John

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Paul Arden
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Re: Body rotation to max out line speed

#6

Post by Paul Arden » Wed Sep 08, 2021 4:36 am

The conditions obviously have a profound affect Phil. I’ve been in the WC 5WT finals twice (top 8) with casts of less than 120’. For me that’s really the mark although it’s possible to throw 130’ I believe without wind assistance. I think that is around the limit of the unassisted unrolling MED loop.

Cheers, Paul
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Re: Body rotation to max out line speed

#7

Post by Paul Arden » Wed Sep 08, 2021 5:00 am

It’s difficult John, because I think there are three things at play here that all relate to each other; the Haul (stripping guide to line hand), the Casting Stroke and Loop formation (in particular Counterflex).

I believe there is a balance between the haul and the Casting Stroke for the longest casts, which doesn’t necessarily mean that the most powerful Casting Stroke generated gives us the longest casts. I think if we have a faster haul it actually allows us to move the rod faster and still get good results, but I’ve felt for a long time that optimal is a relationship between them, driven predominantly by the haul, and not max effort at both. Sorry I don’t know why, but it might have to do with the effect that hauling has directly on the rod (during unloading).

The other issue is that Counterflex, which governs the initial width of the bottom of the loop, is directly attributed back to the amount of force applied during the Casting Stroke. So it’s possible for example that a 90’ carry at 150mph with an initially 8’ loop might be passed by a 90’ carry at 130mph and an initially 6’ loop. Perhaps by only 2’! :)

I think these three things come into play and all relate to one other. I agree that we hit it pretty hard, but I don’t feel that I hit it as hard as I could. And I suspect we have limitations involved that are not purely skills based. We often hear of people feeling that they have “floated” the cast out. Many casters tell us that their softer warmup cast was the longest. I think there must be some physics behind this phenomenon.

Cheers, Paul
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Re: Body rotation to max out line speed

#8

Post by John Waters » Wed Sep 08, 2021 7:12 am

It is difficult to quantify rod and haul hand speed Paul, without a human movement lab. study. You're right about the many impacts on distance, loop profile being one, but for me it is all contingent upon both rod and haul hand speed and both are a function of movement range, movement sequence and power generated. Rod bend and line profile are certainly limiting but it is interesting to see that many 5 weight casters are now using stronger/stiffer rods than they did a few footy seasons ago. I think that is a direct consequence of the fact that those casters have developed more power through their cast and believe they need stiffer rods to better exploit that outcome. I was leaning to that belief also, but no longer am, however that is a whole different discussion.

John

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Re: Body rotation to max out line speed

#9

Post by Stefano De Martini » Wed Sep 08, 2021 10:16 am

Paul Arden wrote:
Tue Sep 07, 2021 4:37 am
I think basically you’ve hit the nail on the head there Phil with Tracking vs Speed. In fact I would go a little further and instead of Tracking: “Loop Integrity”. And I really think speed can never be at the expense of loop shape. The loop has to be vertically aligned, top directly over bottom, with a perfectly straight rod leg, with the optimal length carry. That loop will “float” out there further than a twisted shape thrown faster.
Could not agree more.
There was an advertisement here in Italy for a brand of tires (Pirelli if I remember correctly) that went something like this:
Power is nothing without control.
In trying to always improve the technique I realized that in a ranking of the factors that make the longest casts in first place there is what Paul defines "loop integrity", then the right progression of acceleration in the strokes, then the final speed that is achieved in the delivery stroke.

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Re: Body rotation to max out line speed

#10

Post by Phil Blackmar » Wed Sep 08, 2021 10:59 am

John-

I would agree that you can achieve linear tracking with a horizontal rotating body motion by elevating the elbow and arm. However, after pitching batting practice to my son for 10 years or more, my shoulder simply will not allow me to get my elbow above without serious discomfort.

Paul, I think what I’m trying to achieve with more body rotation is to allow my right hand to be more free, more relaxed and to use a little less effort. The goal being, more consistent loop formation which should come with less effort.

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