One of the most important parts of your game that will determine how you do on each hole, as well as overall is your driving technique. Once you learn and practice how to throw a disc golf disc when driving, you can set yourself up better for approach and putt to hopefully nail that birdie (or eagle!).
Many of us grew up throwing regular frisbees around at the beach or playground, which for the most part is the same as how you would throw in disc golf. However, there are variations to the standard backhand throw used with frisbees in regard to stance, how the disc is thrown, and how the disc is held.
Right Hand/Left Hand-Backhand/Forehand
To initially understand throwing technique we need to establish the baseline for how the disc will be thrown. The traditional method of throwing a disc golf disc is the backhand method, where the disc initially faces backwards towards you before it is thrown.
The other method is the forehand throw, where the disc is away from the body facing forward before it is thrown.
Both throwing methods are useful depending on the situation, the disc golfer, and the discs at their disposal. Experienced disc golfers should practice both backhand and forehand to increase their skill in disc golf to set them up later for a good shot at the basket.
Most disc golf flight ratings will show how the disc should fly for a right-handed person throwing backhanded (which is how I throw the majority of the time). These flight patterns will also match a left-handed person throwing forehand. Similarly, right-handed forehand throws will match left-handed backhand throws.
How to grip the disc
- Power Grip – This is the most common grip type for driving backhand. All four fingers grip the edge of the rim from underneath. From the pointer finger on down, each successive finger will provide less support for the disc. The pointer finger has the most contact, while the pinky finger will still be touching, but have little contact. The thumb is placed on top along the line of your finger tips underneath. This is my preferred driving grip.
- Fan Grip – The fan grip provides more stability to the disc towards the middle, whereas the power grip relies on a tight side grip to keep the disc parallel to the ground. This grip is similar to the power grip, although, the fan has all finger contacting the bottom of the disc away from the rim towards the center of the disc. I actually use a more fanned out version of this grip for putting.
- Modified Grips – There are many variations of each of these grips that you can make based on your experience and comfort. You may choose to use modified power or fan grips with 3 or 2 fingers, if you prefer, or some situations may call for using fewer fingers to tone down power.
- Stacked Finger – This grip is where you hold the disc with your wrist facing out, and 1 to 3 fingers along the inside of the rim touching each other and supporting the disc horizontally. 2 fingers is my preferred forehand throw grip.
- Power Grip – Unlike the stacked finger grip, the power grip has the pointer finger curled with the tip against the inside of the rim, and the middle finger stretched out along the rim as in the stacked grip.
For right-handed backhand throwers you stand feet apart with a wide stance. A line between your feet should point straight to the basket. Upon release of the disc your shoulders will align parallel with your feet and also point at the basket.
During the reach back, your shoulders and whole upper body should rotate, with your right shoulder reaching towards the back of the tee pad and your left shoulder rotating the opposite way. It is important to use the strength of your whole body to get the longest drive. Rotating the shoulder all the way back maximizes the distance that your are accelerating the disc, while also using your shoulder, back, and core muscles to add power.
When going through the motion of actually throwing the disc, you don’t want to move the disc in an arc around you. You want to pull the disc almost straight towards your release. Additionally, you should be drawing the disc through your core region, not bringing it up to shoulder level.
When you drawback to throw, you shift your weight to the back leg. Then, as you throw the disc, you should be almost pushing with that back leg, which helps to add more power to the throw. If you simply open up, you lose that power, and also tend to swing the disc in an arc leading to a more errant direction of throw.
Finally, if you do all these motions together, you will hopefully be generating so much force that the disc should almost rip right out of your hand. This is especially the case if you are throwing with a lot of “snap” with your wrist. Lots of controlled wrist snap upon release will help to give even more power.
Flinging forehand style
With this style your feet will also stand apart, but point a little to the left of where you’re aiming if you are right-handed.
As you pull back, similar to backhand, your right shoulder will pull backwards and the left should will pull forwards. At this point your left shoulder should point to the direction of the throw. Once again, you want to use the power of your core and upper body to help propel the disc. When you throw, you draw the disc almost straight along your right side at mid to upper core level, not at shoulder level.
Upon release, you should snap your wrist forward, leading with the pinky.
Remember: In both backhand and forehand driving, if you’re going for a relatively straight shot, you need to focus on drawing the disc flat to the ground, and releasing flat too. If you release at any other angle, it will cause the disc to fly at an angle and generally take distance off your shot.
Practice makes perfect
If you practice driving and the intricacies of the technique, I can guarantee that you will throw more accurately and further. I want to add that you should also practice completely stationary throwing first to improve your form. Once you have the form down, then add the run-up in order to add more distance. Running up will add some complications and require you to refine your form further.
I remember when I first started playing and I had terrible form. I thought I was doing pretty good, but after watching pros and seeing how they threw I knew I had to improve my form to improve my game. Practicing driving technique may not be the most fun, but it will lead to some of the biggest improvement in your overall disc golf game.