disc golf how to

How to Throw Straight in Disc Golf

I have had trouble with this in my own game recently, so I decided to write a blog post about it. Let us start by defining the topic. I think there are 2 different ways to look at throwing straight and we will talk about both of them.

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How to Throw on a Straight Line in Disc Golf

The first type of throwing straight is probably what you assume it is: releasing the disc and having the flight of the disc have little to no variance, i.e. throwing on a straight line. This type of throw is one that many pros execute on a routine basis with great consistency. Many of the courses designed for amateurs require short straight throws of 300’ or less. I prefer to throw very neutral discs for straight throws of this kind.  

How to Throw Straight Under 300 Feet in Disc Golf

For straight throws up to 300’ I usually throw a neutral stability putter, like the Axiom Envy, the Prodigy PA-3, the Dynamic Discs Warden, the Discraft Challenger, or the Innova Colt. I prefer to use the baseline plastics as they tend to be easy to work into a desired stability with enough use. These discs are assuming a backhand drive.

How to Throw Straight 300-350 Feet in Disc Golf

For longer holes such as 300-350’ I use the same thought as with putters, I like to throw neutral stable discs. A couple notable mentions are the Innova Roc, Discraft Comet, Dynamic Discs Escape, MVP Servo, or a Prodigy M4. You’ll notice that the discs in this category are neutral to slightly understable.

How to Throw Straight Over 350 Feet in Disc Golf

For any tunnel shot over 350’ I recommend just playing safe. If you are going to go for it than make sure you trust your form and disc choice. As you start to push your limit of controllable distance I would encourage to always throw the higher percentage shot. For most people it will be a slower disc that can be thrown at 70-80%. If you choose to throw harder than that, you’re choosing to have a higher chance of missing your release point or angle.

Now that we have some idea of the discs we want to throw we should talk about the throw itself. For today we are talking specifically about backhand throws.

How to Throw a Straight Backhand Throw in Disc Golf

The run up is something that tends to throw people off when they miss throwing straight shots. The key to any good run up is to start slow, establish your momentum and balance, and to keep your body on a line to release the disc straight in front of you. If you find your feet moving fast and feeling like you’re starting a sprint with your run up, you are robbing yourself of power and accuracy. Faster run ups are not more powerful for 90% of players. Until your balance and timing to use that extra momentum is perfected a moderate or slow pace in your run up will be much more beneficial.

It’s all in the hips

The next part of the throw we need to focus on is making sure our lower body guides us to a straight and confident release point. The key here is to remember that you should be turning your hips, not your shoulders. Your hips will lead your shoulders both away from the target, and back towards the target. My recommendation is to walk the path of your run up before you throw. This will help you execute your plan.

Release point

The next major part to focus on is the release point. Your release point should be in front of your body. I tend to visualize a release point that is a comfortable distance in front of my body, and before my arm would wrap around my chest (so for me, a right hand back hand dominant thrower, that means in front of me and slightly left of my body). Imagining this release point really helps me not suffer from rounding, and will help to prevent grip lock.

Release angle

The last part is release angle. This is where you need to follow your own advice, but I’ll give you my point of view, and what works for me. I am a hyzer dominant thrower, which means my natural release point and body angle is most fluid and repeatable on a hyzer. So I tend to throw my straight throws as a hyzer flip to flat shot. All that means is my release angle is a hyzer, but the disc will show a hyzer angle out of the hand and then go to a flat or neutral angle for the remainder of the flight. Some people naturally are flat or anhyzer dominant throwers, and as such may need to throw a slightly more stable discs than the ones I recommended to achieve the same straight flight.

To recap:

  1. Choose a neutral stability disc.

  2. Walk the path of the run up, and remember to start your run up slow and to stay balanced.

  3. Use your lower body to guide your upper body. Your hips are the only part of the body you need to be actively turning.

  4. Keep your momentum moving towards your release point. Make sure your release point is in front of you, not around you.

  5. Keep your disc on the intended release point. For me this is a slight hyzer angle.


How to Throw Straight with a Wide Hyzer Shot in Disc Golf

The second type of throwing straight is more about the net finish being straight from the tee, and relying on more curve or angles to achieve a desired finish.

Throwing on a Hyzer Angle in Disc Golf

If a hole is wide open, and the basket is straight in front of the tee pad, I will always throw a wide hyzer shot. The reason for this is that the most consistent flight and landing of any disc will always be achieved when thrown at a hyzer angle. The only time on an open throw where I will not choose a hyzer shot is when I am trying to gain distance over accuracy. If the throw is under 400’ I am going to release on a hyzer angle.

A very common shot for beginners is to achieve a straight finish by throwing an “S” curve. Most beginners first learn how to manipulate the flight of a disc by throwing on an anhyzer, rolling their wrist, or throwing understable discs, if not all of the above. The effect this has is to generally help keep the nose angle down for a disc, and it tends to push the flight to the right (for a right handed backhand thrower). Once a disc starts to lose speed and spin, it will then push to the left before reaching the ground.

This type of throw can be very useful, and if executed properly through a very narrow corridor. The difficult part of relying on an “S” curve is that wind conditions will exaggerate at least one part of the flight, and as such it can be difficult to count on when you need a shot that works in all playing conditions.

Let me know in the comments below if you try any of these tips and how they work for you!

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How to Play Disc Golf in the Wind

How to Play Disc Golf in the Wind

Ok, I certainly do not prefer throwing in the wind. There are certain times when a favorable wind is welcome of course, but I have rarely, nay probably never, said I like putting into a headwind with a water hazard 10 feet behind the pin.

Depending on where you are from, will depend on what “really windy” means to you. Having played a number of times in Oklahoma in the Spring, I can say that the nearly constant erratic, and strong winds of March are the real deal there. Here, in Minnesota, we have some pretty blustery days, and to be fair, some very windy days. But thankfully, the degree and frequency is less than our friends in the southern part of the Midwest. To my knowledge, there isn’t a single type of best way to throw in the wind, but there are definitely a few things that help.  

Disc Golf Tee Shots in the Wind

Keep the Disc Flat

The first thing is that I’ve found is to keep the disc flat. I realize that isn’t a revolutionary statement, but making sure that the disc has the smallest surface area to catch the wind is the best way to keep it straight. Of course, depending on the shape needed for any particular hole this may change your needs, but throwing straight is the best thing to be able to execute in any condition. I find it is easiest to play with a slightly more stable disc than I’m used to, and throw it flat, hard, and low. Again, the main goal is to keep the shape of the shot straight - that is more important than distance. And making sure you don’t have to throw a fancy recovery shot out of the woods is the real goal above all else.

Take Advantage of the Wind

There are times you can take advantage of the direction of the wind. This is primarily useful on a hyzer release, and unless the options are limited, I think subtlety is the key for “utilizing” the wind assist. There are times where it is fun to try and make a heroic play that would not be possible without the elements, but my guess is that wouldn’t be more than 1-2 holes per 18. Giving yourself a 10 foot putt is more valuable than a risky drive to get within 30.

I firmly believe that reducing “testers” primarily in putting, but also in approaches will give great peace of mind, and help to keep your score in a range you can accept. Since a great majority of the sport is played “between the ears,” it is important when you have unpredictable elements to mitigate the risk. Basically, if the shot you are choosing to make gives you any pause, it is likely not a good decision to throw it. Throwing and acting with confidence is essential, however understanding that you are still subject to outside elements is just smart golf. If you want to use the wind to your advantage, don’t get greedy and keep your disc in the fairway.

Throwing a Disc Golf Approach Shot in the Wind

Throwing the approach shot is the same principle as throwing the tee shot. The only thing to bear in mind is that certain techniques for throwing approach shots have to be modified. For instance, some like to throw the same type of rhythm, release, and velocity of a tee shot on longer approach shots and simply keep the nose up. It likely goes without saying that this is not a great strategy for almost any type of wind. Generally, I like to keep the approach shot low with a small amount of hyzer, and try to avoid any big skips.

Disc Golf Putting into the Wind

The other primary consideration is what type of wind you want make your putt in. As a rule, I prefer a tailwind putt if I can get it - those putts allow you to putt with the most authority. Headwind and crosswind putts are a little less predictable in their effect on the disc at putting speeds, and as such I think the tailwind putt has the most predictable flight.

Best Disc Golf Discs for the Wind

Regarding disc selection, I favor throwing discs that are slightly overstable. I know it is popular to throw grossly overstable stable discs into the wind, but of course every scenario requires some adjustment. Remember I am not officially affiliated with any disc manufacturer, but I am using Innova examples as they have the molds that people are most familiar with, for reference. Any disc you are comfortable throwing that fits the type of flight these discs offer is a great choice. It all comes down to personal preference!

Disc Golf Discs for Tailwind

In a tailwind, your disc will fly with more overstable characteristics, and generally will get pushed down towards the ground. Tee shots in tailwind conditions I like to throw understable discs such as a Valkyrie, or Shryke if you have the arm speed. On holes under 375’ or so I go with a Leopard or Wombat3.

Disc Golf Discs for Headwind

Into a headwind, I like to throw more overstable discs. For 375 feet and over,  I like both the Destroyer, and the Thunderbird. For shots under that distance, I like the Teebird3, or the Roc3. The headwind will tend to push your disc up, and will exaggerate both turnover shots and hyzers. I try to keep the disc low, and flat as the headwind will make it appear to fly slightly less stable.

Disc Golf Discs for Crosswind

For a crosswind either direction, I throw the same discs I would into a headwind. There is one exception: if you are on a wide open hole and have a left to right tailwind you may be in luck (as a right-handed, backhand thrower). Throwing a high anhyzer with an understable disc in these conditions can lead to tremendous distances. Controlling the left to right is difficult, but if you just want to generate raw distance, that is the most favorable condition I have thrown in.

Disc Golfing in the Wind and Your Mental Game

There is one other thing to consider about throwing into a strong wind, and it is the mental game. I have played some of my best rounds in very unfavorable wind conditions, and I liken that success to the focus and type of game I am trying to play. When I focus on throwing a conservative shot and landing it in a place I am comfortable making my next throw from, good things happen. The difficult thing about doing this all the time is that when conditions are favorable, it is difficult to resist the temptation to throw more aggressive shots and lines. In light wind, I find the same challenges, but when the wind makes executing super aggressive lines next to impossible, throwing smart golf suddenly becomes much easier.

I encourage everyone to get out there when the conditions are worst and practice executing shots they are comfortable with and seeing how their scores end up. My guess is that if your putting isn’t compromised too much by the conditions, you will be surprised by the results. Getting yourself in a position to succeed is most of the battle. 

Manage your mentality, make good disc choices, and have fun. Look at it like a fun challenge and don’t be focused on scores, and you’ll be surprised by the results.

Until next time, keep them low, and I’ll see you on the course!

Two Things to Avoid When Preparing to Play in a Disc Golf Tournament

Preparing for a Disc Golf Tournament

Today, I would like to talk about how my recent experiences in preparing and playing have gone for tournaments. The last two tournaments I have played in have been some of the worst disc golf I’ve played in years.

After having some time to reflect on this, I believe it is a combination of a few things, so let me speculate why this is and how I plan to prepare differently to receive a different result in the future.

As we all know, actually following advice, especially regarding the mental game, is tremendously difficult when you feel the pressure to perform. I believe that there are 2 main components to this and we will discuss them separately.   

1. Not sticking to a single type of practice.

The first issue is how I tried to prepare for the tournament. I put in more rounds of practice than I had ever before any tournament at the courses.

Usually this would be a good thing, however I played 4 of the leagues at one of the courses and won 2 of the 4 weeks! How could this be bad?

Well, as I suspect many of us (especially amateurs) do, we start to compare all future rounds to our better, or best rounds at a course in the past.

Though I have traditionally played very well competitively at both courses in leagues and single round tournaments, I managed to shoot the worst rounds imaginable in the one tournament this year I have played and wanted really badly to do well.

In preparing for the tournament, I didn’t stick to a single type of practice.

I practiced inconsistent methods, and I created a lack of confidence in a single method.

What I mean by this is, every round I tried to play slightly more aggressive than the last and both physically and psychologically it had a negative impact on my performance when it really mattered.

Instead of playing my game (which is semi reminiscent of “old man disc golf”) and staying in the fairway and trusting my putting, I wanted to be a hero off the tee on every hole.

This is a tough spiral once you start making bad shots. For one, if you try to throw harder than you really can or should, you tend to miss release points, landing zones, and angle of release.

Beyond that the confidence to throw the more technical holes is greatly diminished and the ability to comfortably throw tighter lanes seems harder than it should. After this cycle starts, you end up having to make longer putts than you’re used to and once you miss those putts, the confidence in that part of the game starts to diminish as well.

With that being said, I put myself in a position to fail. I bring this all back to trying to play a game that really wasn’t mine. I truly believe that if I had just played a comfortable game hitting fairways and giving myself a chance to putt in all of my practice rounds, I would’ve been just fine.

Hindsight is 20/20 as they say, so for next time, I will practice playing my game and leave myself a chance to stay in contention and make a push in the final round. Also, don’t practice a course you know super well, to the point where you start to make up new throws, lines, and get creative for shots that are neither needed, nor advisable.

2. Not playing your OWN game.

The second issue is playing the tournament itself. I went in with the mindset that I would play safe.

This generally good advice, except when you’ve been practicing playing aggressive. I found that the far throws were executed poorly and the short throws were either too short or too long. I had lost my comfortable throws in simply trusting my muscle memory to do the work for me. Instead of doing what I do best, I tried to “throw through the slump”.

Boy oh boy, is that a poor choice.

Generally if I’m having trouble finding a rhythm, I disc down to less stable discs and find a way to hyzer flip to flat.

However, instead of doing the smart thing, I started throwing more stable discs harder. As I’m sure everyone knows, throwing harder is the solution to nothing when you’re having a bad day hitting your lines. In putting, I decided I would putt more aggressively to make up for my lack of accuracy on the tee pads and approaches, but as you would guess the numbers long-term don’t end up favoring that decision making.

The discs didn’t fail me, I failed me.

The real villain here was expectations.

I expected myself to be competing for first or second place and was almost embarrassed to think I would finish any lower.

The truth is: in any field you’re really playing against yourself.

Of course, in the last round if you’re chasing for the win you have to play according to your ability to gain strokes on a player, but many times in my experience unless you’re down to just a few holes, it's best to play your game.

Most of the time especially at the amateur level, mistakes will be made. This is mostly true in tournaments that are multi-day and at least 3 rounds, but I think playing your own game at the amateur level will generally yield the best results. This last tournament, I ignored all of the advice I give others and try to heed myself.

So after taking a few days off from throwing, I decided to go into the next league round and play my game. Low and behold: I threw great!

Such a mixed blessing. It is always frustrating to not throw to your potential in big situations, but part of nerves is good decision making.

The best practice to get better under pressure, is to play in situations where you tend to perform poorly.

I have made it a priority that when I play rounds I want to do especially well in that I will keep an extra scorecard and record every poor decision I make. In many situations, awareness at the time is most of the battle.    

If there is another takeaway to have in competition I believe it is that you need to play in a bit of a bubble. Watching both Paul McBeth and Ricky Wysocki play live, especially this year, they will be socially polite during a round, however they tend to play as if they are the only one on the course.

They seem quiet, focused, and uninterested in anything but their next throw.

Striving to make that a part of at least one round with friends may be a fun challenge. I’m going to try to see if I can still be fun to play with and polite, but focused in my casual rounds. The good news is that my friends will let me know if I’m being too distant. It will be a good test.

Hopefully some of you out there can relate, learn from my mistakes, and have found some takeaways for your own game here today.

Thank you for taking the time to join me in the reflection of my awful tournament play, and please share your experiences and thoughts!

See you on the course,

Aaron

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