Common Types Of Disc Golf Throws That You Can Learn

Common Types Of Disc Golf Throws That You Can Learn

If you’re just a beginner, you might be interested in learning more about the most common types of disc golf throws that you can learn and perfect.

Disc golf, much like traditional golf, offers a variety of techniques that can greatly influence your game. As you continue to master the sport, understanding the common throws used by enthusiasts and professional disc golfers alike is crucial. 

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These throws are not just for show. Each shot is designed to navigate different obstacles and land your disc precisely where you aim. As you get familiar with the different types of throws, you’ll begin to appreciate the intricate strategies behind each move on the course.

disc golf basket with a red disc flying toward it and a golfer in the background

The backhand throw is often the first technique learned by newcomers. It mimics a natural throwing motion, much like skipping a stone, and is favored for its power and distance capacity. 

On the other hand, the forehand throw, also called the sidearm, requires a flick of the wrist to direct the disc’s flight. This offers a different angle of approach. 

Overhead throws, like the tomahawk and thumber, provide options for clearing obstacles and managing tight situations. 

Each throw has a place and time during play, and becoming adept at several can improve your adaptability on the course.

In disc golf, developing a repertoire of throws will not only make you a more formidable player, but it will also enhance your enjoyment of the game. 

By understanding when and how to use these throws, you can take your sport to the next level and impress your friends and those you’re competing against.

Understanding Disc Golf Throws

Before diving into the techniques of disc golf, know that mastering various throws can significantly enhance your game. Each throw has a set of distinct mechanics and grips that affect the flight and finish of the disc.

disc golf basket with a red disc in the center and a golfer in the background

The Basics of Throwing in Disc Golf

In disc golf, your throwing style is fundamental to your success on the course. A consistent backhand throw is one of the most common and essential techniques. It involves pulling the disc across your chest and releasing it with your throwing hand in a smooth motion. 

The forehand throw, or sidearm, requires flicking the disc from the side of your body. 

These foundational styles can vary in effect, depending on your grip, stance, and release point.

For a backhand throw:

  • Grip: Place your fingers under the disc with your thumb on top to control it.
  • Stance: Align your feet shoulder-width apart, with your lead foot pointing towards your target.
  • Throwing motion: Reach back with your throwing arm, then pull through smoothly across your chest.
  • Release: Let the disc go just after it passes your throwing shoulder to ensure a straight flight.

closeup of a green disc in a hand with the thumb on top

For a forehand throw:

  • Grip: Usually a two-finger grip with the disc resting on your thumb for added stability.
  • Throwing motion: Lead with your elbow and flick the wrist at the end of the motion for added spin and speed.
  • Release: Time your release when your forearm is almost fully extended for the best accuracy.

Throwing Mechanics: Grip and Motion

woman throwing a yellow disc at a disc golf basket

The grip on your disc can greatly impact your throwing motion and the ultimate flight of the disc. There are different grips to consider, such as the power grip for distance, the fan grip for finesse shots, and modified grips for specific throwing techniques like the hyzer or anhyzer.

Your throwing motion should be fluid, with a strong emphasis on aligning your body in the direction of your throw. You want to create a straight line from your throwing arm to your intended target. 

In this instance, the whole body works in harmony, with footwork, hip rotation, and arm movement contributing to the power and direction of the throw. The correct throwing mechanics can help avoid injuries and improve your accuracy and distance.

When considering the release:

  • Your throwing hand must let go of the disc at the optimal point in your motion to ensure the desired flight path.
  • A timely release with the appropriate amount of spin stabilizes the disc in flight and can dictate its trajectory.

By developing a solid understanding of these throwing principles, you can adapt to any situation on the disc golf course.

Backhand and Forehand Throws

closeup of a disc golf basket with a red disc being thrown and the hand of the thrower

When stepping onto the disc golf course, the two essential throws to master are the backhand and forehand. Each throw has its own mechanics and purpose, allowing you to navigate the course with precision and power.

Mastering the Backhand Throw

The backhand throw is the most common throw in disc golf. It closely resembles the classic frisbee toss. To execute it effectively:

  • Position your feet shoulder-width apart, with your shoulders parallel to your target line.
  • Grip the disc firmly with your thumb on top and fingers underneath, ensuring your index finger is either against the rim or tucked in, depending on your comfort level.
  • Pull the disc across your chest in a straight line, keeping your elbow close to your body to maximize power and control.
  • Release the disc at waist level with a snapping wrist motion to impart spin, which stabilizes the disc in flight.

Developing a consistent backhand shot requires practice to understand the nuances of disc stability and release angles.

Perfecting the Forehand Throw

Also known as the sidearm throw, the forehand throw often feels less natural but is invaluable for its versatility:

  • Stand with your dominant side closer to your target, feet staggered for balance.
  • Utilize a forehand grip, where the middle finger is placed against the inside rim of the disc, and the index finger rests alongside it or against the outside rim for support.
  • Cock your wrist back as you reach your throwing arm out to the side.
  • Snap your wrist forward in a forehand flick, releasing the disc level to the ground to prevent unwanted rolling.

Gaining proficiency in forehand shots expands your ability to handle different course layouts and obstacles.

Advanced Disc Golf Techniques

a green disc golf course with a basket in the distance and a golfer getting ready to throw a red disc

Advancing in disc golf requires a strong understanding of both release angles and the repertoire of specialty shots available to you. When executed with skill, these advanced techniques can navigate difficult courses and improve your game significantly.

The Role of Release Angles

In disc golf, your release angle significantly impacts where and how your disc will fly. In particular, the anhyzer release angle—where the disc is released with the outer edge tilted upward—can be used for anhyzer throws

This type of throw will curve to the right for a right-handed backhand throw (RHBH) or to the left for a right-handed forehand throw (RHFH). Releasing the disc with an anhyzer angle is useful when you need to navigate around obstacles or want to achieve maximum distance with a disc that naturally fades left.

  • Hyzer Release: Opposite to the anhyzer, a hyzer release has the disc’s outer edge tilted downward.
  • Flat Release: The disc is released level to the ground, aiming for a straight flight.
  • Late Release: This requires timing your release so that the disc leaves your hand intentionally delayed to shape your throw.

Specialty Shots and When to Use Them

Specialty shots, often referred to as utility shots, will allow you to handle unique situations on the course.

  • Skip Shots: Utilize the disc’s ability to hit the ground and skip. This is perfect for getting under low branches or around corners.
  • Roller Shots: Intentionally throw the disc to land on its edge and roll. This shot is ideal for long, narrow fairways or to avoid low ceilings if playing indoors.

To execute these advanced techniques, you need precise control over your release and an in-depth knowledge of your discs’ flight patterns. Practice these shots to add versatility to your game and tackle any challenge the course throws at you.

Disc Selection and Effects on Throws

a disc golf bag with a selection of discs and a person's hand choosing which disc to use

Selecting the right disc for your throw is pivotal for any disc golfer, as each disc’s design affects its flight path and behavior. 

Understanding the differences between overstable and understable discs and the situation to use them can greatly enhance your game.

Overstable vs. Understable Discs

Overstable discs are known for their resilience against the wind and tendency to fade to the left for right-hand backhand (RHBH) players, and vice versa for left-handers. 

This makes them reliable when control is more important than distance. 

On the other hand, understable discs tend to turn to the right during the initial part of the flight for RHBH players, which can be useful for navigating around obstacles.

  • When to use overstable discs:
    • In high-wind situations
    • When you require fade at the end of the flight
  • When to use understable discs:
    • When you have the need for longer glides
    • When you’re maneuvering tight courses

Choosing the right disc with the proper stability can define your strategy on the course, whether you’re playing in unpredictable weather or need to make a precise shot.

Choosing the Right Disc for Each Throw

Your disc selection should vary depending on the throw you’re aiming to execute. The best disc is not only about stability but also about the speed, glide, and angle of release. 

For example, a throw that requires a sharp turn might be best served with an understable disc, while a throw that needs to travel a straight line with a predictable end fade might be better with an overstable disc.

To make informed choices, consider these aspects:

  • Speed: How fast the disc can fly.
  • Glide: How long the disc can stay airborne.
  • Turn: The disc’s tendency to turn right during the initial flight (for RHBH throws).
  • Fade: The disc’s tendency to hook left at the end of the flight (for RHBH throws).

Matching the right disc to the specific throw can substantially improve your accuracy and performance on the course. Try to practice with different types of discs to learn their unique characteristics and how they respond to your throwing style.

Throwing Strategy on the Course

a disc golf basket in the foreground with woodland behind

In disc golf, choosing the right throw for a particular section of the course can be as crucial as the execution itself. Understanding the course layout and knowing which throw to use will help ensure your disc lands where you want it to. Whether you’re reaching for distance with the most common type of throw or navigating tricky terrain.

Analyzing the Course Layout

Before you make your throw, take a moment to observe the course’s nuances. Look for obstacles like trees and water, and consider the wind direction and elevation changes

This analysis will help you decide if a straight, curving, or even an overhead path is best for your disc to travel. 

Strategic Throw Choices

Decide on the type of shot that matches the demands of the target. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Backhand throws: If you require distance and there’s ample space, a backhand throw can provide both power and accuracy.
  • Forehand flicks: When you need a sharp turn, especially around an obstacle, a forehand flick could be the most advantageous.
  • Overhead shots: These are useful for getting over tall obstacles, particularly in wooded areas.

Pick your throw based on where you need your disc to land and which throw you can perform with the most consistency. Your selection can mean the difference between an easy putt or a challenging recovery.

Unique and Specialty Throws

an open and flat disc golf course with a disc basket in the foreground

In disc golf, mastering unique and specialty throws can significantly enhance your game, allowing you to navigate obstacles and shape your shots in ways standard throws cannot achieve.

The Overhand and Tomahawk Throws

The overhand throw is a powerful technique when you need to get over obstacles or need a throw that travels vertically before curving down. It’s similar to a baseball pitch and can be split into two primary types:

  1. Tomahawk Throw: By gripping the disc with your thumb underneath and fingers on top, the tomahawk throw soars through the air in an overhand motion. This throw is particularly useful for:
    • Escaping from behind barriers
    • Performing controlled skip shots

This overhand shot is one of the less common types because it requires a strong arm and good control to be effective.

  1. Hammer Throw: Similar to the tomahawk, with a slight variation in wrist action and release angle, the hammer throw can change the flight path of the disc significantly, offering a range of strategic options during play.

Roller Shots: Forehand and Backhand

Roller shots, both forehand and backhand, are strategic plays that can cover great distances or navigate complex terrains. When executed correctly, they make the disc roll along the ground, leveraging the landscape to your advantage. Here’s how they differ:

  • Forehand Roller: Your grip will be the same as a regular forehand throw but with a vastly different approach in release angle and point of contact with the ground. It’s typically used to achieve distance in open fields or tight fairways.
  • Backhand Roller: This shot involves releasing the disc with a backhand motion in such a way that it hits the ground with a favorable angle and begins to roll. The backhand roller is an excellent choice for bypassing low ceilings or getting out of trouble.

For both types of roller shots, practice and precision are key as the terrain and wind conditions greatly influence the disc’s path once it touches the ground.

Improving Your Game

a disc golf course among some well-established trees and two disc golf baskets

To elevate your disc golf game, mastering different shots and understanding the nuances of effective throwing techniques are crucial. Two key areas to focus on are sharpening your skills through lots of practice and honing the mental and physical aspects of your play.

Disc Golf Training Tips

When practicing your throws, concentrate on achieving a flat release to maintain a consistent flight path. A flat shot reduces the odds of unwanted curving mid-flight, making your throw more predictable. 

Regularly practicing essential throws like the backhand and forehand shots forms a solid foundation. Also, incorporate the flex shot—a throw that curves before flexing back—to navigate obstacles and add variety to your game. 

Here’s a concise training checklist:

  • Flat Releases: Practice until you can reliably release the disc flat across various distances.
  • Repetition: Repeat essential throws to build muscle memory.
  • Flex Shot: Work on controlling the S-curve of flex shots for more advanced play.

Mental and Physical Aspects of Effective Throwing

Mentally, disc golf demands focus and decision-making. Reflect on each situation to determine which throw fits best—sometimes a great shot is more about smart choices than raw power. 

Physically, keep your form and stance in check for consistent performance. Maintain a regular fitness regimen to enhance your strength and flexibility. 

Remember these points:

  • Decision-Making: Analyze the course and select the most suitable shot for the situation.
  • Consistent Form: Work on maintaining a stable and repeatable throwing form.
  • Physical Training: Engage in exercises that enhance your core strength and flexibility.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the basic disc golf throws recommended for beginners?

For beginners, mastering the backhand and forehand throws is crucial as they form the foundation of disc golf throwing techniques. The backhand throw is commonly used and offers both control and distance, while the forehand throw is equally important to learn for its versatility.

Which types of disc golf discs are best suited for different throws?

Certain discs are better suited for specific throws due to their design and stability. Overstable discs are preferred for windy conditions and forehand shots, while understable discs are great for backhand throws that require a gentle curve.

How can I increase my disc golf throw distance to over 500 feet?

Increasing your disc golf throw distance beyond 500 feet is a blend of technique, body mechanics, and practice. Focusing on form, snap, and follow-through, as well as selecting the right disc, can greatly extend your throwing range. Utilizing a combination of power and control, along with consistent practice, will progressively boost your distance.

What are some unconventional disc golf throws to practice?

Unconventional throws such as thumbers and tomahawk shots offer unique solutions in specific situations on the course. They are overhand throws that travel on different planes compared to the standard throws and can be quite effective in navigating obstacles or when a standard throw is not viable.

Final Thoughts

If you’re just a beginner in disc golf, you probably want to learn at least the most common types of disc golf throw so that you can practice often and improve your game. 

For this, you might want to consider one of the portable disc golf baskets that we reviewed in another article. You might even go a step further and have a look at the disc golf bags that we featured in another article.

And, while you’re perfecting your throws, you might want some professional disc golf tips from some of the experts in the game.