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Topic: Pinch grip vs. full grip

(Based on a posting on Nov 18, 2005, by Tibor on the former B AGGRESSiVE website)

Tacky spray
It all started with a harmless message by David Hirsch, Texas:
Food for thought: I have found that a coat of Krylon Triple Gloss gives a 5-10% more tacky surface over simply paint alone thus allowing me to get more spin.

In standard events there are lots of ways to mechanically improve adhesion of the boom - hand interface: roughen up paint, cover the wing with sandpaper, create specific surface structure. These are all means that can change the way your boomerang flies, so they are not used in ld.

That’s when Rob Stewart, Pennsylvania enters the picture:
I agree with you - I discovered at the Shootout that the grip and feedback from the stickiness of the grip on the boom had a major influence in allowing me to release the boom where I wanted to. In the hot, humid Houston air it became a fine balance between my sweaty hands being too slippery or too sticky - I found myself frequently getting dust from the ground on my throwing hand to reduce the stickiness of my grip so I wouldn’t release too late and throw into the ground. I sometimes envy the scientists who only have to put a spacecraft on the moon - they’ve got it made compared to throwing an LD! I’m starting to play with the full grip to try to go around some of the issues with the pinch grip.

Ah, yes, the good old full grip. Morri Mohr, California found this picture in the media gallery:

Manuel throwing full-grip
Manuel Schuetz throwing a voyager holding it with a full grip.

Mass of LD boomerangs over time

Now, who else is using a full grip to throw ld?
Before the 1980’s, when ld boomerangs where in average above 140 g, there was only one way to throw these beasts, full grip.
I would say when Behrens and others started to work more on airfoil and less on adding weight, mass of ld booms came down to about 120g on average. These were the times when most people used one or two fingers grip. Not full grip anymore, but certainly not pinch grip either.
With the arrival of the MegaQuirl and all its variations (Buzz Whip, Voyager, etc.) that we are using today, the mass went down again, to an average of about 70g. I remember seeing Axel Heckner throw his MegaQuirl for the first time, pinching it. So did David Schummy. (if you have the ld book, check out the graph at page 22 in the 3rd edition for a more visual explanation of how mass and wing span went down over time)
However, the current world record holder and dominator of any ld competition is throwing full grip.

Pros and cons by Rob Stewart

Pinch grip
The pinch grip.

Pinch grip advantages:
1) Allows the boom to be located farther out on the release mechanism (my arm), which should translate into a higher velocity at release.
2) Allows the boom to be cocked back over my forearm, which should generate extra spin at release, assuming I modulate the pressure of the pinch precisely such that the boom snaps out of the grip at just the right time (to accurately place the boom in the window I’m shooting for) and with the highest rate of spin.
3) It’s a more natural grip for me because it’s the way I throw sports booms.
Pinch grip disadvantages:
1) Seems to require a very tightly controlled interface environment between the fingers and the upper and lower surfaces of the boom. See the recent thread on stickiness of the surface - high gloss Krylon, surf board wax, dust. For me, if my hands are sweaty, it’s a challenge to get that interface just right.

Full grip
The full grip.

(Potential) Full grip advantages:
1) It might be a way for me to generate extra spin if I can figure out the mechanics to use my fingers as a "trigger" at release.
2) By reducing the dependency on the fine balance of pinch pressure, stickiness of the surfaces and timing of the release of the pinch, it may be easier to hit the "window" and make the boom go closer to where I want it to go.
Full grip disadvantages:
1) With full grip the boom is located closer to my body and I give up some forward speed at release.
2) I may not be able to figure out the extra "trigger" action to
generate the additional spin.
3) The full grip may place more stress on my wrist to generate part of the snap at release - this could expose an integral part of my biomechanical throwing mechanism to premature wear, and I already have an uphill battle there.
4) Learning curve issues associated with my lack of time to get out and throw.

First reaction to change

Johnny, Calgary:
you are thinking way to much...just throw the darn thing ..let it happen...and last but not least..i pinch grip every boom...except big old woodklunkers that need some ummmmmmmmppppffffffff...dont worry about yourmechanism rob...the boom will tell you if you need to pinch it or punch it...its that easy or hard as you want to make it...imho...

David Hirsch, Texas:
Well, I did try modifying my grip when throwing today and a full grip for a Voyager just wasn’t working for me. Obviously, if I wanted to switch grips it would take more than one days’ effort. But I’ve always felt that there was a particular grip for a particular boom; for me, a pinched grip affords more control than full on a Voyager. Ricardo, I had to dull the edges on the first booms I made on the throwing arm to keep from getting sliced :-) ; when I first started, I was making them too sharp and it was slicing the base of my thumb as I let it go!
If you observe the way people hold a pen or pencil, some people do a wonderful job with a grip that just looks painful but in the end the results are what counts. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve played percussion all my life; there are several different grips for those sticks as well but when you teach a new student it’s balance, heft and control that are the goals. I’d say it’s similar for booms; there should be a balance and despite the energy expended on the throw it shouldn’t be a strain (though the faces we make when throwing might suggest otherwise). There is a certain "zen" to the experience and you want to enjoy what you’re doing, to become one with the boom :-) . Rob’s got the right approach; careful and critical examination - if I was starting from scratch I might do more experimentation. And I understand Johnny’s point of having fun and being in the moment but it’s like many other things; if you want to do it right, good rudimentary skills are necessary first. My Dad was right about that, darn him!
As to Ricardo’s comment about throwing on a rainy day... well, I guess I’d just be out of luck :-) . Though I could get my snowboard wax out and see if that would help...
If I could throw well with a full grip and it would get me 10 more meters, I’d switch right now... maybe I just need my own Twinkie shrine... I’ll have to put my medicine rocks in my pocket next time.
So anyway, I’ve made the attempt. New ideas keep you young!

Testimonials of full grippers

Manuel Schuetz, Switzerland:
When I started throwing boomerangs I always threw pinch grip. But during the years my grip changed very slowly, first using one finger in front, ending up with 2-3fingers in front. Thank you, Willi Urban! Your "Comeback" forced me to learn that grip.
But light MTAs I still throw pinch grip. They are not controllable using full hand grip! But for LD pinch grip has no chance for throws of >170m and even >150m is difficult because:
1. The contact between boomerang and throwing hand is "flexible". During the throw the boom slides around in your hand. Only few mm of sliding are enough to get a high loss of velocity and precision suffers. LD booms are just too heavy for pinch grip, whearas 13-17g MTAs are made for the pinch grip!
2. I’m able to throw both pinch and full hand and once threw a Buzzwhip in competition using pinch grip. Result: 115m and no chance to get further! Fullhand grip: 153m. For both throws I used my maximum Power...
3. Fred Declercs booms were stolen in Roma 2003 during EBC. What this has to do with LD?
Well: Fred had to make new boomerangs and decided to change the grip from pinch to fullhand (!). The effort is visible: His throw has become much more constant and he’s able to throw many of my boomerangs because his spin has become better. And: At the EBC in Cologne he got 2nd in LD with a throw of 116m in very very bad conditions.
Conclusion: Give that grip a definitive chance for LD! But: Don’t necessarily start with LD booms but try with a 20m boomerang which is definitively too heavy for a pinchgrip. Extreme example: The "Comeback" by Willi Urban (176g). With such a boomerang you’re forced to throw full hand.
And by the way: I suppose that hunting sticks (200g up to 800g) were thrown fullhanded by the aborigines and they did it well and precise with a brute force: They’re culture survived until the white men came (a tough sentence but true...). It will take you probably more than 1 afternoon to master that grip.

Adam McLaughlin, GB:
For a long time I only threw pinch grip on LD, or perhaps one finger over the end. Lorenz told me that Manu threw full grip (as in the picture on recent link).
I tried this new full grip, and for a while it felt really uncomfortable and quite alien. However I recommend you persevere, there is no doubt that significantly more power can be acheived on release.
The pinch grip is not firm enough to maintain grip for the LD throw.
I would say that after about an hour of practice, I was reasonably happy. First few throws were way scary though , I tended to ground them early and things were worryingly out of control.
I was able to take 115mt throws to 130-140 mt, and now never throw any LD using pinch grip.

Why you should give the full grip a chance

Of course, results may vary, especially with boom throwing, the relationship boomerang - thrower is very important.
But there seems to be an indication that full grip, even though it feels strange on such a light boomerang as the Voyager, might increase your range. It might increase your spin. It might just spawn more thoughts about why some boomerangs work for you, and others don’t.
Personally, I have seen Schummy throw a pinch grip Buzz Whip over 174m. I have seen Schuetz throw full grip over 238m. In the end, it makes sense to revisit all aspects of the throw, pinch vs full is just one variable. Future articles here will focus on some other important aspects of the throw and the boom.

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