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April 26, 2021

There’s lots of good reasons to throw a disc high in the air. Unfortunately I see lots of folks thinking that height means you’re going to throw far. That’s not true, most discs thrive when thrown 8-20 feet high.

Many people end up throwing a disc high into the air that wastes a lot of its energy getting to the top and then fading out. Discs are designed to fly flat through the air. Having them rise takes a lot of extra energy and will mean a shorter flight. If you find that your discs are shooting up high into the air keep reading. My dad calls it Sky-itis when a disc flies up higher than it goes distance wise. Both of us were prone to Sky-itis when we started throwing but here’s some tips on how to overcome it.

So let’s talk first about throwing the disc level. If you watch any form videos you’re going to see the instructor show you a level pull through. The video I just linked is one of my favorites. Paige Pierce is a 5X World Champion and she’s got some of the best form in the sport. Seriously if you want to improve your game in 10 minutes, this is the video to watch. She throws through level and it shows.

The disc will naturally rise.
It’s true! When you throw you’re cutting through the air with your disc. The rim of your driver is designed to cut through the wind. When it’s doing that it’s starting to pull up as well and that gives your disc the lift it needs. You don’t have to do anything extra to get it to rise up.

Repetitions will lead to consistency over time. That’s what this sport is, consistently executing shots over and over. I’ve written about field practice before, and how you shouldn’t throw max drives over and over again because it’s tiring. When you’re throwing and focusing on level throws the same rule applies. Make each throw its own, don’t rush through your 6 or 10 throws (however many you choose to do). Don’t worry about left or right, just focus on getting those discs that are 8-20 feet high.

If your discs are all doing the same thing.
Going up high and sort of flopping over and finishing really sharply down and left. You’re throwing it too high. This generally happens because you’re dropping the outside wing of the disc and pulling from low to high. Like you’re starting a chainsaw. Imagine that level throw as if you’re a baseball ump calling a player safe. The other reason this may be happening is the disc is too fast for you. Wide rimmed or high speed drivers have their weight on the outside rim. This means that they’ll be more likely to tilt down and away from you.

What can you do to practice? How do you find out if it’s disc speed, or pulling low to high.
Have a friend watch you. If you don’t have a camera your friends watch you throw all the time. They can tell you if you’re pulling from low to high when you need to be drawing straight across your chest.

When should I throw high in the air?

  • When there is time for your disc to ride the glide down. Here’s a quick video of me throwing a long, high turnover shot on hole 12 of the SDG Hawk course. If I threw the disc level it wouldn’t have time to get the full distance. It might land and still have energy so it would cut roll away from where I wanted.
  • Here’s the top players in the world executing a shot where they rely on throwing high to get the disc to glide to their landing zone. Giving a disc time in the air is great when you have the airspace and control.
  • When the only opening is a gap up at the top. Here’s Paul McBeth throwing over the trees that are in the way of his drive. Can you do this? Maybe. Throwing high and getting distance is a difficult task. I like throwing high over trees only when I don’t see a reasonable gap to hit. It won’t go as far as you think.
  • When you have a tight dogleg. In WACO 2020 on Hole 17 Matt Bell is pinched off and can’t throw flat and get to the basket. So he throws a high forehand hyzer. The resulting OB roll is unfortunate because he executed a fantastic shot. The height allows his disc time to get over. A flat shot would have landed well short.
  • If you’re going for a wide open max distance shot in competition. I almost didn’t include this one since it doesn’t really apply unless it’s terribly windy and you’re in the middle of a desert. I don’t recommend this shot unless you’re playing a wide open hole, because the potential to go wrong is high.
  • When there is a tailwind. Tailwinds are when the wind is blowing from behind you to in front of you. The disc will be knocked down by the air and you won’t get as much hangtime. So if you feel lots of fast wind hitting the back of your neck maybe give a little extra height to your drives or putts.

So now we’ve covered when it’s good to throw shots high into the air, how to fix your throw if you’re always throwing it high, and some things to focus on in practice.
Is there any other reason that you might see yourself throwing a disc high up into the air? If you’re suffering from Sky-itis make sure to practice some drives and focus on a level pull through, you should see your distance improve soon.

May your discs miss all the trees,
Andrew Streeter #70397

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