Like a record.
I was intrigued by a post by Agility Nerd about a handling move called Top Spin so I thought I give it a spin, so to speak, out at the practice field this morning. You can check out the course map and description of the move as well as some video here. Basically you use it when you want a lot of collection on a turn but not a full wrap. You turn your shoulders towards the dog like you would in an RFP, if you do RFP's, but instead of quickly turning back, you keep going in a full circle. Here's a rough sketch of the set-up I used so you don't have to go back and forth between here and Agility Nerd.
I shot some video including some slow motion of both the Top Spin and a front cross between 3 and 4 with rear cross at the weaves. Steve's got video as well and shows an RFP and a shoulder pull with deceleration. I didn't try these with Strum because I can tell you right now that no way will he get that weave entry with just a shoulder pull/decel cue. This is largely due to his spotty weave entry skills and partly due to the speed coming out of the tunnel. And I really don't like RFP's, especially in this scenario, way too herky jerky, didn't want to try to go there with Strummer. My first choice before trying the Top Spin would be a front cross between 3 and 4. I didn't draw the full course but you turn to the left after the weaves so you want your dog on your right when he exits the weaves so with the front you either need a rear cross at the weave entry or a front or blind cross at the weave exit, none of which is a problem for us. In particular I've been practicing tough rear crosses at the entry as a method of proofing and it's helping Strum a lot with his entries and staying in.
Anyway, here's my video, shot from a different angle from Steve's video, mostly to avoid shooting into the bright glare of the morning sun. I've got examples of both the Top Spin and Front Cross in slow motion so you can see the details and the weave entry.
It took us many tries to get the weave entry with the Top Spin but this could be just as much a product of Strummer's difficulty with weave entries as it is from the handling move itself. The front cross allows me to shape the entry but even so he still missed it on one rep with the front cross. In the case of the Top Spin it could also be that I was positioned such that I was blocking his entry on the misses, hard to tell from the angle of the video.
In general I prefer the front cross because it's more comfortable and even more so because I don't have to lose that contact/connection by taking my eyes off my dog. I don't mind this during blind crosses and Ketschkers because the amount of disconnection is so small but the time it takes to spin around a full 360 degrees is significant, at least to me, and the period of disconnection felt like an eternity. And I felt like I wasted precious time and mental energy trying to find him and re-connect again and Strum seemed a bit hesitant to the point of checking in on the earlier reps. It's hard to say if this would get better with practice or if it's a problem intrinsic to the move. Also I sometimes have problems with becoming disoriented when rotating out of a front cross and losing where I am on course during a competition and for me I could see this being an issue with this move, especially in the heat of competition. Like Steve I also had issues with turning too soon and pulling him off the jump. Verbal jump cues do little to send him on over a jump if my body language is saying something else so I have to be a little 'late' if I'm using collection cues that involve facing him. Much less precision in timing involved with a front cross in this scenario. But the Top Spin looks cooler on the video so I guess if you're going for style points . . .
Probably not a move I'd use very often if ever but I love experimenting with new handling moves and I'll throw it in here and there during practice just for fun if there's occasion for it. Thanks to Steve at Agility Nerd for showing us a fun new move.