"Pick Up Sticks" Course Design

04 May 2007Steve Schwarz

Need a practice course and don’t have any ideas? Here’s a really easy method that I’ve used when I get stuck. Take some jump bars by their end and throw them one at a time out onto your practice field. Yup - it’s that simple. It varies both the location and orientation of the jump (or other obstacle) in ways you might not have thought of.

Of course common sense applies: look before you throw! Don’t get too crazy or you’ll hurt someone or break something :^) You can alternate throwing over hand and side arm to get different, surprising results. Also there are no “rules” to this method so feel free to rethrow or remove thrown bars. You want to be certain that the course you create is still safe for the dogs. Look for jumps jumping into the sides of obstacles and remove/adjust the spacing as necessary.

This method works really well for filling in a jumping portion of a course especially if you tend to not vary the rotation of your jumps very much. But there are many different ways you can apply this technique. I usually have some notion of where I want to place the contacts (if any) and or weave poles. I might also want some jumps in specific locations relative to the contacts/weaves. So I’ll place those out and then toss the jump bars into the open spaces to set the rest of the jumps.

You can also use a bar to set the start location and/or rotation of non jumps too. Give a bar a toss and use it to set the start of the weaves, A Frame or Dog Walk. I’d recommend you actually move the big equipment into place before throwing too many additional poles so you don’t overcrowd the course.

I like to do this from time to time to get out of the practice course design rut. Give it a try when you need a change in your own practice courses.

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