Freestyle flying disc or freestyle Frisbee (a trademarked brand name of Wham-O) is the highest evolution of disc sports—or at least the most spectacular and creative. It is the most complex extension of basic catch and throw, involving special tricks and maneuvers before the disc is caught. Fantasy, ability, athletic skills and artistic elements melt down together to offer original and acrobatic performances. It is the perfect mix of artistry and athleticism.
Freestyle combinations can be simple, like a quick tip to an under-the-leg catch, or quite complicated, like a double-spinning scarecrow pull into an “alien birth ritual.” Freestyle disc is usually distinguished from other disc sports by its use of the nail delay, what people commonly think of as spinning the disc on your finger. It is the basic mechanism of modern freestyle and it used to set up rolls, brushes, tips, pulls, and various kinds of catches. It is an incredibly flexible game performed in all kinds of environments around the world: in gyms, on beaches, in fields, and everywhere in-between. Anyone can learn how to play. If you have ever thrown a disc, you have already started!
Most freestyle is done in what is called a freestyle jam. It is a game-type, improvisational format where players interact with each other to create the best kinds of cooperative combination moves. Players pass back and forth in every possible way in a build up toward the most important part of freestyle: the catch.
Competitive freestyle refines the process of jamming into a more structured environment designed to push players and freestyle itself into its highest levels. Most competitors put together routines choreographed to music with their best combinations. Events are player-judged based on execution, difficulty, and artistic impression scores. Winning routines usually feature some of the most advanced freestyle moves executed to near perfection, all aligned with a particular musical or artistic style. A perfect or near perfect routine is a difficult feat for even the best teams, but freestylers constantly push themselves to find that perfect five minutes, where years of careful preparation and refinement lead to exceptional moments of difficulty, form, and musicality.
Competitive freestyle events are structured into a basic tier system of minor tournaments, majors, and finally, the World Championship. An official ranking system is maintained by Shrednow, the worldwide freestyle community, that uses an advanced point system for determining the top-ranked players. These points count towards tournament seeding that puts the best teams in advantageous competitive positions.
The 2014 American Freestyle Open is the first major event to come to the US since the early 1990s, excepting the many World Championships that have been held here in the interim. Many of the best players in the world are expected to attend. It will be a beautiful and exciting mix of technical knowledge, athleticism, and choreography facing the constant variability of freestyle: the elements, environment, emotion, and energy. Only the perfect mix of these and other factors will lead the best teams to the podium.