Open Courses

Jones Park East - Emporia, KS

Thumber vs. Tomahawk - Perfecting Your Disc Golf Overhand Throw

Overhand Disc Golf Throws

I believe that they are some of the most underutilized tools in the average player's repertoire. I say this because one of the most interesting statistics measure in the Disc Golf Pro Tour event weekend was the UDisc “scramble” rate correlation to success.

The reason this has relevance is that I learned to throw overhand shots out of necessity during a disc golf tournament.

The amount of times that I use the overhand shot now is surprising.

I am never looking to throw overhand in favor of a backhand shot, but there are many times it saves me at least a stroke or two on a tough course when I miss my line off the tee.

There are times it is a very safe tee shot as well, but I try to not make a habit of throwing overhand.

I believe that my time and practice is better served practicing backhand and forehand off the tee.

A word to the wise - I am not the best overhand thrower around.

I try to use this on holes 250 feet and less, and I never try to throw an overhand more than 275-300 feet. I injured my shoulder in high school baseball, and trying to throw harder just hurts and rarely yields better distance.

As a right-hand backhand dominant disc golf player, I favor throwing the “thumber” over the “tomahawk." 

The reason is simply the direction of the fade. A thumber will end trending right for a right-handed throw, whereas a tomahawk will end trending left.

Also, I feel more confident gripping the disc in the thumber than the tomahawk.

If you are forehand dominant, the tomahawk is likely to be a better choice for you for as the grip is almost identical, and the fade will be left instead of right for you.

The main advantage is that you can circumvent the obstacles that are lower, focusing only on throwing above them.

With a little practice, the left to right variance and lack of huge skips can be a significant advantage. 

My approach article speaks to the advantages of this a little bit. There are a couple of courses here in the Midwest that having a competent overhand throw will give you a lot of confidence, such as Cedar Creek West and Axldog Acres disc golf courses.

There are players who use this shot as their primary throw type, and though I have seen it work to some degree of success, you will without question limit yourself, if you do not have a clean backhand and/or forehand shot to compliment an overhand.

When choosing a disc for an overhand, I choose overstable disc golf drivers.

Something that will cut through the air quickly and rotate in the normal “knot” look through the air after achieving maximum height.

The other benefit I’ve found in in throwing an overstable disc is that I can use this throw to help break in an overstable disc that I would like to throw later once it is stable to straight throwing.

Throwing slower discs with an overhand will have the effect of faster rotation in the air. Unless you have a specific reason for this, I believe it yields less consistency in distance and in left to right deviation.

So, when learning or trying to hone your skills, use overstable high speed disc golf drivers, to create the most consistency.     

When throwing a “thumber,” you are looking to have an overhand throw fade to the right for an right handed thrower.

The thumber is aptly named because your grip has the thumb on the underside or inside of the flight plate.

The way I learned to grip a thumber, and still do, is to have my thumb hooked on the inside of the rim, my index finger pointed straight parallel with the bottom edge of the disc, and my middle finger supporting the bottom edge of the disc.

Think of making a pinching motion between your thumb and index finger, and supporting the bottom edge with your middle finger.

It feels strange for a while, but when you get used to it there it becomes comfortable enough.

For a “tomahawk,” I would recommend using the same grip as a forehand throw.

This type of throw will fade to the left for a right-handed thrower. I use the traditional stack forehand grip for my tomahawks, and in order to not have the disc slip out, I try to not over throw for distance.

Especially with a tomahawk as I am primarily a backhand thrower, I only use when necessary as the fade direction is the same as a backhand hyzer.

I would encourage everyone to learn how to throw a 200 foot Thumber and Tomahawk disc golf throw.

Have it for when you find yourself in trouble off the fairway. If there is a short tight hole with a low tree line, know that you can effectively take the obstacles out of your way.

One thing the pros do quite well is get out of trouble. As we’ve seen in the UDisc statistics for the Disc Golf Pro Tour, the scramble statistic is heavily correlated to the success of the players. Solving left to right deviation is a primary goal in almost all technical shots for disc golf.

Let this type of throw be a tool in your bag or cart for many rounds to come. Remember you don’t need to be able to throw a far overhand to make it a stroke saving part of your disc golf game.

The main advice I will give in trying to throw an overhand disc golf shot is simple - throw in a similar motion as throwing a football, and right before you release pull down hard (as in throwing a curveball in baseball).

Start throwing comfortably hard and never try to strong arm the throw harder than you need to. The more the flight plate is facing up the more fade you will get on the throw. I prefer to try and keep the disc on a minimal fade for most of my shots. I find it easier to line up straight and release with less left to right variance planned.

Give it a shot and let me know in the comments below how you did!

See you on the course, 

Aaron

How to Select Discs for your Disc Golf Bag - A Guide for Rec to Advanced Disc Golf Players

Select Discs for your Disc Golf Bag

There are a million "In The Bag" videos out there, and you can find advice from anywhere about what disc is best, but the truth is that many people have too many discs in their bags that do the same thing.

I have many friends that over the years have come to see the wisdom in my thought process for selecting discs for your bag, and I would like to share my thoughts on that with you all today.

For the sake of a baseline, I will talk in terms of Innova plastic, as they are the most broadly known for a standard comparison in the market today.

I am not affiliated with any disc manufacturer in any way. Obviously these disc choices are for a generic person and may not fit your game, but the same logic should apply to the appropriate weights and stability for your arm speed. I also assume that most people are backhand dominant for the purposes of disc selection.     

On the topic of variety, there is a real catch 22. The word variety itself is perhaps misleading as that would imply having a large variety of discs for every situation imaginable. I assure this is not advisable.

When many of the top professionals do “In The Bag” videos, you will notice a relatively common theme. They carry many of the same disc. Understanding that they often have them in different weights, plastics, and runs is a big consideration.

Midrange Discs

You may decide that for your anhyzer and hyzerflip throws, you would use a mold in DX or R-Pro plastic.

You may then decide you need something you can throw flat or on a slight hyzer that will be a straight flyer and may choose a McPro Roc3 or KC Pro Roc.

For your stable choice, the Champion Roc3 would be your best bet. Now you may have one or more of these Rocs in the process of being seasoned just right so your mid range lineup may look like this: 2 DX Rocs (one well seasoned at 180 grams, and one newish one at 176 grams), 1 KC Pro Roc (180 grams newish), 1 McPro Roc3 (max weight slightly seasoned), and 1 Champion Roc3 (max weight).

Drivers/Fairway Drivers 

You want to do a similar thing as to your midranges. I would start with 2 slowish drivers. I prefer to throw a stable disc such as a Teebird (either star or champion plastic and near max weight) and a less stable disc such as a Valkyrie (again star or champion plastic and near max weight).

That should cover most anything that your midranges can’t and you don’t need maximum distance on.

Next, I would choose a driver that is well within your arm speeds ability to throw. In my experience, most people tend to throw drivers that are well faster than their arm speed can truly handle. I would recommend 3 drivers of the same mold.

For this instance, I will pick an Innova Destroyer as they are discs that have the ability to fly with a great variance of stability. I prefer the star plastic for drivers, but that is up to you.

As discs go, Destroyers are notorious for being unpredictable in their stability off the shelf. This is not a bad thing as they are a great discs for many types of shots. I would find one in a lighter weight (such as 167 grams or so) and use that as my turnover or anhyzer disc. Then, I would find one that is stable, but not a meat hook around 172-174 grams. Next, find one that you can’t turn over on your most powerful flat throw at 174 grams and make that your overstable driver.

Putters

For putters, I prefer to putt with a stiff plastic as I feel more confident with that in my hand. No matter what you choose, I would make sure that you have 2 of the same putter, just in case something happens to one of them.

There is not a single correct type to use. I putt with Prodigy PA3 in the 350 plastic, but I also like putting with the stiff 300 plastic. I use putters off the tee for most shots 270 and under when the line permits, as I feel the most comfortable throwing them accurately.

I keep a stable throwing putter at max weight, a straight throwing putter at max weight and a very understable putter at max weight for approach shots and tee shots. I also throw a well seasoned PA1 in 300 plastic as my straight putter, and my understable throwing putter is a well seasoned PA4 in 300 plastic.

If you have all of the discs recommended above, you would be at 15 total in your bag right now. That being said there will be a need for a few utility discs that fill the gap for shots that require a more extreme line.

Utility Discs

For these, I believe you need first a very overstable putter. I believe a Discraft Zone is a perfect choice for that. Next, a very overstable midrange. There are many great options, and any will do. Just pick whatever you like best, but some great discs are, Discraft Drone, Innova Gator, Prodigy A1, Dynamic Discs Justice, are all outstanding meathooks.

After that, a very overstable fairway driver is in order. The most popular is an Innova Firebird, but a Discraft Predator, or Prodigy H1 will all be overstable enough for your needs as well. Lastly, if you still need a more overstable driver for your bag, pick something faster than your arm speed can handle or just grossly overstable. If you want something that you can’t really throw too hard I recommend a Dynamic Discs Stiletto. The very last disc to bring you up to an even 20 would be a very very understable disc for rollers or situations where you are throwing far uphill or do not have the ability to generate a run up or much power.

Thanks for reading and let me know if this helps to pair down your bag!

See you on the course,

Aaron