At SDG we carry Innova, Discmania, Thought Space Athletics, MVP, Axiom, some DGA, and a little Discraft.
I want everyone to find success when they play here. And a big part of that is selecting the disc that’s going to do what you want it to, and selecting something that matches your arm speed.
For some folks it’s overwhelming, especially when you’re starting out. So this week in the blog I want to look at a disc mold that can be confusing. I get lots of questions about the differences between the Teebird, Teebird3, TL, and TL3.
They’re not the same disc.
While they all come from the Teebird mold, they’re different (even if it’s .1 cm) and they fly differently because of that.
The Innova Teebird (1999) is famous in disc golf.
If you read my blog about the most used discs in world championships (where I really should make a better graph).
It was used in 60% of the bags of disc golf world champions between 2000 and 2021.
Why? Why was this disc used by so many champions? What makes the Teebird special?
Well not only has Innova been around a long time, and sponsored a lot of incredible players, but it’s been a disc that pro players continue to bag today.
The Teebird is stable to overstable and it handles both the backhand and forehand shot equally well. You can crush it out there around 350 if you’re a big arm. It doesn’t have that swing from side to side to give it big distance. It kind of goes out there, stables up and slows down, then it glides towards the ground. That’s what it does time after time. Overstable discs tend to have a more repeatable flight path.
As it beats in it loses a little of that overstability and becomes a straight shooter, and then finally it can be a slow turnover disc. That depends on how much you hit trees and rocks, it also depends on how hard you throw, and the angle of release.
That’s why the Teebird is so popular. It’s functional in a lot of ways, and for a long time. I tend to suggest folks try this disc when they’re complaining about discs flipping over on them. It’s available in DX, Star, Champion, GStar, and Color Glow right now. That’s another reason why it tends to be chosen by folks from all over. A Teebird is always available, and has been present in disc golf for almost 25 years.
The Teebird3 is the faster, less glide version of the Teebird. The 3 on the end means it’s a lower profile disc. Think of discs like the Roc3, Leopard3, Mako3, Aviar3 compared to their counterparts. You get those flatter tops that give the disc additional stability and slightly less glide.
What the Teebird3 offers is less glide, with slightly more speed. So it gets down to the ground a little quicker which is great if you have a big arm. Pros can throw discs that don’t glide and still get lots of distance out of them.
It’s why when Ricky Wysocki was sponsored by Innova a couple years back, he was throwing the Teebird3. He’s got 360’-420’ of power with a fairway driver that doesn't have much glide or turn to it. But the disc always got down and stable for him instead of getting away.
If you have big distance and are okay with sacrificing some for additional control, you’ll find the Teebird3 is a great choice over the Teebird.
The Innova TL was the first offshoot of the Teebird discs to be produced (2007). I don’t know what the TL stands for.
I’ve heard the following names
Teebird + Leopard
(Now according to Innova’s page)
It doesn’t really matter what those letters stand for. What you need to know about the TL is that it’s a straighter flyer than the Teebird. You go further and end up more central than the Teebird.
What’s the catch? Why wouldn’t I just go further and more straight all the time?
You do get a little side to side movement. If you’ve read my blog about getting more distance, you’ll remember that for a disc to get a full flight it needs to move side to side and get that hang time. Look at any distance competition you’ll always see that moving from side to side is the optimal way to get more distance.
The TL has more dome than the Teebird. It’s going to swing a little bit (-1 turn) to the side and then go forward and slowly fade back at the end. If you’re someone who throws about 300 feet I think the TL is a great choice for you. It’s going to get you more of a straight finish and more distance. If you find that overstable discs are too much for you, try a little less stable.
This disc hasn’t received the same fanfare from pro players that the Teebird, Teebird3 or TL3 have gotten. I think that’s because it’s the least stable of the four discs I’m examining here today. But I’m not a touring pro, so I don’t mind the extra glide and turn the TL has.
As a 7 speed it feels average in speed. As a 5 glide it’s average for a driver. As a -1/1 turn and fade it’s not doing a whole lot.
That’s what we want our shots to be so often in this sport though. I see newer discs like the Hawkeye, FD, and Essence get a lot of hype from folks. But the TL doesn’t seem to get the love, I don’t have an answer why that is. Maybe it’s just because it’s an older mold?
The last disc we’re looking at today is the Innova TL3 (2017). If you’re wondering what the 3 is doing at the end of the TL it’s because they’re lower profiles of the same mold. They’re flatter, a little more overstable, and a little bit faster.
If you’re interested in a Dave Dunipace podcast interview about what makes the 3 the 3 you can read it here.
The TL3 has been hyped by plenty of pro players. It’s what I think is the straightest, longest disc in disc golf. I compare it to a longer Mako3.
There’s no glide though. As a glide rating of 4 I think it could even be a 3.5 with how little it wants to carry on the wind. It’s not as bad as a Firebird, but it’s not going to carry at all.
That’s the big thing about the TL3, it’s not going to give you that long extra distance finish that the TL does. As much disdain as I have for the phrase “point and shoot” that’s exactly what a TL3 is made to do.
If you have a big arm like Eveliina Salonen then you can get all the distance out of a disc you need. So you don’t need extra glide carrying you forward the same way the Teebird or TL do. If you do need a little extra carry from your disc, there are other options than the TL3.
What the TL3 offers is just a straight flight that gets down to the ground. I do think that it struggles after 325 feet and becomes slightly flippy. But for me it’s a great choice to throw when I don’t want my shot to glide and I have to hit a gap the whole way.
If you’re looking for an overstable disc that finishes with a hook, get a Teebird.
If you need an overstable disc that doesn't glide at the end, get a Teebird3.
If you’re looking for an S curve but straight glidey finish, add the TL to your bag.
If you want to point and shoot, no movement or glide, throw your TL3.
There’s a lot of options from a single mold that’s been modified slightly. It always amazes me how .1cm can change things in disc golf. If you are looking for any of these shot shapes in your bag be sure to check our selection. I linked the whole collection on our site so you can see the different plastics and stamps as well.
May your discs miss all the trees,
Andrew Streeter #70397