Photo Courtesy of Kyle Weakland
I’ve watched and played so much kubb over the last couple years and have seen many different ways people blast a pile. In this article, I am going to break down my personal strategy for blasting. About a month before the 2016 U.S. Kubb championship my team, the Kubb Squirrels, decided I was going to be our blaster. I started to watch a lot of YouTube videos from some of the best teams in the country and around the world. I was trying to study what was the best way to blast. The following is what I’ve concluded to be the best for me.
After studying many videos, I broke down blasting to three key points: power, rotation, and placement / alignment. Each of these are important to a successful blast, but as with all things in kubb, nothing is certain or guaranteed. I developed my own style of blasting, that I think, is different from most other blasters. My ultimate goal for a blast is to make the baton helicopter and create chaos after contact. You want to do most of your damage with the baton whipping around into the pile and not by hitting one kubb really hard into another. Going into this I thought of blasting as being pretty simple—you throw the baton hard and create havoc, hoping for the best. What I developed for myself I wouldn’t even call blasting. It’s much more of an art with a lot of finesse.
Key #1: Power
When it comes to blasting a tight pile, power is going to be the most important aspect to your blast. With a loose pile, finesse is going to be much more important. Throwing hard and hitting kubbs accurately doesn’t come naturally to me. I have always been accurate, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t get myself to throw hard enough to make it worth it. So when I blast I throw with light to medium power. It is much more important to hit one kubb than it is to try and take out two or three and miss completely.
Chris Hodges, from Kubb United, used math to determine the value of a baton. As you can see in his chart, it depends on the number of kubbs in play. One thing is for sure—it’s never good to throw one away. I feel it is much more important to use less power and be accurate than to use power and completely miss. Yes, I will leave an extra kubb out there from time to time that others who throw harder might get with the same throw, but I feel I make up for it by limiting my complete misses. A complete miss is the absolute worst thing that can happen because it can make you anxious and you might try to do too much with your next baton. This can carry over to your partner(s) as well, and this one bad throw can snowball into a disastrous round—maybe even costing you the game.
Here you see that I can blast small piles very successfully without throwing with a lot of force.
Key #2 Rotation
The next key is the rotation of the baton. I have always worked on my rotation, but I was trying to hit the kubb square with the end of my baton. This is a fine throw, but I found it limits the baton’s potential to create chaos after contact. When looking at the blast from the sideline, if you hit the top front corner of the kubb with the baton about halfway between vertical and horizontal it helps the baton to create more chaos. The baton tumbles straight over top of the kubb, spins off to one side or the other, and generally goes places creating collateral damage. When I hit the kubb square with the end of the baton, sometimes the baton lays flat or turns to the side a little, but it doesn’t usually go anywhere. By hitting the top corner of the kubb, you are also hitting it at its weakest spot. The lower to the ground you hit the kubb the harder you need to hit it to make it go anywhere. By striking the kubb in the corner, you are not only creating chaos with the baton, you are also hitting the kubb in a place where it can create a little chaos of its own.
In this video clip you’ll see I hit the kubb on the top left-hand side with great rotation, this causes the baton to deflect to the left and take out the second kubb. By hitting the top part of the kubb it causes the first kubb to travel pretty far without having to throw really hard and take out the back kubb.
Key #3 Placement/ Alignment
The last key is placement and alignment. By that I mean, aligning yourself in the general direction you want the baton to go. You’ll also need to make contact with the kubb on the correct spot so the baton will ideally travel in the direction you want. For example, if two kubbs are lined up, you need to align yourself with those kubbs so they are straight in front of you. If there is no way to line yourself up, you can strike the first kubb on one side hoping the baton will deflect into the direction of the second kubb. The video below shows two good examples of this.
In this clip you’ll see Emily Jipp of the Kubbatrubbas hit the kubb on her top left-hand side. This causes the baton to spin off to the side and pick up the two other kubbs.
In this example the three kubbs are lined up, I take a step to the left to align myself with the kubbs and try to contact the kubb right in the middle so that the baton will tumble straight over.
Here is an example what what you need to try to avoid. In this clip Chris Hodges of KubbUnited.com throws the baton a little high and the baton skips off the top of the kubb (see, even the best Kubbers out there make mistakes). The good thing is, he at least got one kubb on the throw.
Here is another example of what I’m trying to avoid. In this clip the baton hits the kubb square with the end of the baton and too low. The baton also has no action and goes nowhere after contact. In this case, this throw got the job done but in most piles with more kubbs around, you would probably get a disappointing result.
I think the most important key to blasting is not missing—at all costs. Everyone misses, but limiting these by not throwing too hard is critical. Remember, you do the most damage with the baton’s reaction in the pile, not the kubbs. Don’t forget to line up your shots so that you’re more deliberate with your blasts. Mastering this, or anything in kubb, is difficult. I hope you can take what you’ve learned here and apply it to your game.