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Slinging Styles - David Taylor

A picture paints a thousand words and a video helps save a lot of typing!! I hope this helps a lot of people, new to slinging, find it easier to learn this somewhat challenging art. My motto since taking up the sling is: "I'll bet you can't sling just one!" Many a time I have said, "Just one more", only to miss the mark and have to try again.

I make no claims of being an expert since I slung my first stone just six months ago in August of 2003. After reading many descriptions of different styles, I decided to make some videos not only to help new slingers, but to also allow some of the more experienced people critique my slinging.

As most will admit, the best thing to do is to get out there and sling a lot of stones. After doing so, the comments made here will make more sense. You will all find a style that "feels the most comfortable" for you but, if you sling enough, you will also learn that some styles work better than others for specific applications. Just as a example: if you are slinging at a close target near the ground, you will probably find the underhand release more difficult due to the fact that the rotation of the stone is from a low point moving upward. This will make your shots tend to rise from the point of release and thus, if your target is on the ground, the stone will tend go high. However, if you used the overhand release, your shots will be coming down onto the target, making it easier to hit.

Keeping in mind that these are my "non-expert" comments, let's mention a few beginning pointers and then look at some videos.


Helpful Hints

Before you put a stone in the pouch, try a "dry run" first. Go through the motion of slinging in slow speed to get the feel.

Use a stone that has some weight to it. I find that billiard ball size stones work very well to give you a good "feel" for the stone and where the pouch is during the spin. Lightweight stones make it hard to sense where the pouch is, and when you should make your release.

Throw lightly at first for the sake of safety and your arm muscles.


1 - Greek Style Overhand Release

The term "Greek style" comes from the discovery of a Greek coin bearing the image of a slinger. The hand holding the pouch is pointed at the target in a stationary position. The hand holding the sling is near the slingers head. The stance and hand positions look similar to an archer ready to shot.

Since this style uses no rotations to build up momentum, you will notice the movement of the left arm to the right and then back to the left. This movement gets the pouch started in the direction of the swing. Notice that as the pouch comes back to he left and is pointed at the target, the wrist slightly turns and "flicks" the stone to the left. From there, the throwing arm begins to move and keeps tension on the cords. You always want the cords under tension for a smooth motion. Think about what it is like if you get a lot of slack in the tow line when water skiing. You lose momentum, and when the line snaps tight it is either ripped out of your hands or you end up on your face. Keeping tension on the cords helps to insure a smooth motion and also keeps the stone securely in place.

The motion of the right arm will vary from person to person, but keep these thoughts in mind:

1. The more you come straight down over your head, the less variation from left to right your shots will have. In other words, you will tend to miss high and low rather than left or right. I find that the more "over the head" I throw, the more accurate I am, however; it puts a bit more strain on the shoulder and I do not have as much power for long shots. (50+ yards)

2. The more you go off to the side of your head, the more variation you will have left and right of the target since that is the path of your throwing arm.

3. Leg motion. I used to pitch in baseball so the leg motion I use feels natural and adds to the power. You can vary the leg motion or keep them fixed but it will affect your power.

One last point: stepping straight at the target helps my accuracy.

Oh yes, do remember to let go of the release knot!! A few slow practice slings will best explain when to let go.

Also remember, the speed you are throwing at will effect when you need to let go. Only practice can teach you that. I find that I am more accurate when I sling at a slower speed. Slowly speed up your motion as you learn.

Video 1 - Greek Style Overhand Release (mpeg file, 636k)

Video 1 - Greek Style Overhand Release (Quicktime file, low quality, 240k)

Video 1 - Greek Style Overhand Release (Quicktime file, high quality, 804k)



2 - 3/4 To Side-armed Release

This video is very similar to video # 1. The difference being that this is more side-armed. It may take several viewings in slow motion to see. The throwing arm goes out more to the right and may be a more natural feeling motion. You may even want to try going totally side-armed or horizontal with the arm motion. I have more power using the 3/4 motion. Remember, your shots will have more left or right variation than the motion in video #1

Video 2 - 3/4 To Side-armed Release (mpeg file, 924k)

Video 2 - 3/4 To Side-armed Release (Quicktime file, low quality, 200k)

Video 2 - 3/4 To Side-armed Release (Quicktime file, high quality, 1.5Mb)



3 - Greek style: Underhand Release

You will notice that I bring the pouch down and then up in this motion rather than from right to left. The reason I do this is because, with the underhand release, you want the swing to be more vertical. This motion starts the pouch in the right direction.

As the left hand comes back upward, you lightly toss the pouch up and the throwing hand takes over from there. Most likely, you cannot come straight down without swinging the sling into the ground. You will have to swing it out to the side somewhat, especially with longer slings. You will probably sling the fist few stones straight up in the air until you get the feel for it. As in the overhand release, you can also swing your arm out to the side more. Try different angles to see what works best for you.

Video 3- Greek Style Underhand Release (mpeg file, 936k)

Video 3- Greek Style Underhand Release (Quicktime file, low quality, 212k)

Video 3- Greek Style Underhand Release (Quicktime file, high quality, 636k)



4 - 45 Degree Rotations with Overhand Release

Here you have the throwing arm gently rotating the sling at a 45 degree angle and off to the right side. From what I have read and experienced, the last rotation is where the power comes from. The purpose of the first 2-3 rotations is only to set the sling in motion and to give your mind a feel for the weight of the stone. You do not need to spin the sling very fast except on the last rotation.

On the last rotation, your arm will make a wider sweep back to set up the throw. If you watch the video in slow motion you will see this.
For me personally, I find that the added motion is more difficult to control as compared to the stationary style.

I use this rotation style when I sling heavy, fist size stones a long distance, or if the sling length is too long to stretch out between my arms. Any sling longer than 37" is too long for me to use the "no rotation" style. I cannot get enough momentum going without 2-3 rotations.

Video 4 - 45 Degree Rotations with Overhand Release (mpeg file, 1Mb)

Video 4 - 45 Degree Rotations with Overhand Release (Quicktime file, low quality, 216k)

Video 4 - 45 Degree Rotations with Overhand Release (Quicktime file, high quality, 992k)



5 - Straight Back, Vertical Ration, Overhand Release

I included this video just to see if anyone else has tried it and to make an observation.
Rather than rotating the arm off to the side as in video 4, the arm is held straight back, and the rotation is completely vertical to the ground.

The last rotation must swing back and out to the side exactly as the 45 degree rotation style in video4. You have to do this in order to make the transition into the overhand release. It feels a bit awkward, but I have noticed that it causes the sling path to be more "over the top" and thus I have less right and left variation. Has anyone else tried this?

Video 5 - Straight Back, Vertical Ration, Overhand Release (mpeg file, 1.1Mb)

Video 5 - Straight Back, Vertical Ration, Overhand Release (Quicktime file, low quality, 224k)

Video 5 - Straight Back, Vertical Ration, Overhand Release (Quicktime file, high quality, 844k)



Closing Comments

If you view these videos frame by frame, you will notice the point at which the final "snap", "whip", or "clutch" action takes place. You will see a "jump" in the motion. The arm will be moving slowly, frame by frame, until it is just starting forward and then, in the next picture, it will have already come across the front of the body. This is because it is at this point where the arm quickly snaps forward and is moving faster than the camera can record.

Lots of practice is the key to accuracy. If you don't have an abundant supply of stones and a place to sling, try something like a baseball or hacky sack. Throw it at a large brick wall. Put a piece of duct tape on the wall for a target, step back 15-20 paces and sling away!

- David Taylor

© 2007