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Slinging Technique - Barak Bruerd
Slinging technique is a much-debated subject. Underhand & overhand techniques are the two basic divisions of throwing with underhand being the more powerful, but typically more difficult to master in terms of accuracy. Underhand seems to be the most common style of throw and my personal preference. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a thousand pictures. Rather than expound greatly on description, here is a video clip of my slinging technique. Each person will develop their own style, but the basic foundation is the same.

In watching my technique there are some important points to notice. First, pay careful attention to body stance and motion. This is for a right-handed person, so if you’re left handed, reverse everything. Stand like you’re throwing a baseball, left shoulder towards the target, feet slightly apart. The motion of the throw begins with the left foot stepping forward, rotating at the hips as the shoulder rotates, followed by the elbow and then the wrist in a whipping motion. This whole body motion generates an immense amount of power and speed, especially the elbow/wrist action at the end. You will notice that I do a little hop, thrusting my left foot forward. I do this when I’m generating a lot of power, sort of like running up for a throw.

The second part of the technique relates to the point in the sling rotation at which you execute the throw. The timing for the hop or step forward with the left foot depends on the speed of the sling rotation. Time it so that the hip rotation and beginning of the arm throw occurs when the sling is directly above you. If you observe the slow motion part of the video clip you will see this more clearly. The reason behind starting the throw so early is that by the time your arm reaches full speed the sling will be directly behind you and the forward motion of your arm will accelerate the sling in an elliptical arc generating an incredible amount of speed. If you start the throw later, the sling will be below the horizontal axis and already moving forward, in some cases faster than you can throw, and the acceleration will not be as great.

The release is a fickle beast. Each sling will be slightly different. I let go when the sling is at about the 7 or 8 o’clock position in front of me depending on how shallow an arc I want. The final motion of the sling is that the release end wraps itself around my waist and legs. This means that there is a sideways motion to the final action of my throw. If I were to release and continue the sling’s normal rotation, the sling would wrap itself around my head and shoulders. How critical that is I don’t know. It’s nice not to have the sling whack me in the head every time I throw a rock though.

Overall, the feel of the throw should be a continual tension on the sling as you throw the stone. If there’s no tension or you feel like you’re throwing out your shoulder or ‘chasing’ the cradle with your throw, you’re throwing too late in the rotation. I generally rotate the sling somewhere between vertical axis and 45 degrees. Experiment and see what angle you prefer most. If there are people around you, a vertical rotation is safest since the stone will go either straight forward, straight back, or straight up and it’s easier for people to be out of the line of fire.

Initially, go for technique not for power and speed. Try different sized stones. You might find slightly heavier stones easier to use, since they will allow you to feel the rotational force of the sling and how it interacts with your throw.

If you’re not use to throwing things or haven’t done so in awhile, expect to be a bit sore. It takes awhile to become consistent in your throws and a lot longer to become accurate. There are a lot of sling and cradle designs to choose from. If you have trouble after practicing for a while, try a different cradle or sling design and see if it works better for you. Most of all… have fun.

- Barak Bruerd

Movies: (QuickTime format, 1.3mb) (QuickTime format, lower quality, 732
BarakUnderhand.mpg (MPEG format, 3.1mb)
BarakUnderhand.avi (AVI format, 2.7mb)

To download the movie, right click or ctrl click (for macintosh without two-button mouse) on the download link and choose "Save target as", "Download link to disk", or something similar.

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