There’s lots of important things to learn in disc golf. But I think that one of the biggest keys to improving from a beginning player to advanced is learning how to consistently throw level shots.
Why is throwing level important?
Every time you throw a disc level you’re going to be getting a great flight out of it, something that’s consistent, and offers a disc's best chance at getting good distance (for the most part). This is how you throw straight shots, skip shots, and hopefully your putts. Putters hit the chains the best when thrown flat, it forces them down equally. A little hyzer to the putt at the end is fine, but you want that flat shot so it doesn’t slip through the chains on an angle. If you’re playing in the woods, a level straight throw is wicked important.
What are the best discs for learning how to throw level?
All discs are great when thrown level, but some are much easier to learn on. My big recommendation is the Mako3from Innova. It’s got a very neutral flight and with a 0-0 turn and fade it really doesn’t move to one side or the other. If this disc flies right or left, it’s not the disc making the mistake.
There’s also the XT Dart which has a 0-0 turn and fade. This disc is great for learning to have that slow smooth and level release.
Another great choice is any stable putter. I like the P2 as that’s the putter I prefer. But what you’re putting with will work just as well.
These discs if you’re a RHBH thrower will all still tail to the left at the end of the flight. It’s the nature of flight that they want to stable up a little as they slow. Don’t worry about it, as long as 80% of the flight is flat you’ve thrown well.
What tools do I need?
This is best learned with a video to show you what’s going on. Film a few shots from the side in slow mo, and a few from directly behind you in slow mo as well. I have a tripod that I use to capture my video.
If you don’t have a tripod you can have a friend film you for a few throws from the side and from behind.
The ProPull is a 30 dollar investment in your game that can make a big difference. It’s a resistance band with a disc that you can attach to a pole.
How far should I be throwing?
This is practice, and it’s form work. So you’re not trying to max out here. If you’ve played this sport for long you’ve probably heard “Slow is smooth, and smooth is far.” It’s true, this is the way disc golf works. Smooth releases lead to the best throws. So practice slowly, maybe 75 feet if that’s comfortable, or 150 feet if that’s better for you.
What drills should I be doing to throw level?
There are two big drills I recommend.
1. Turn the disc upside down. If you’re throwing a backhand, place it so that the top of the disc (where the stamp is) is on your hand. If you’re throwing forehand, the stamp should be in your palm. I call this the Mashed Potatoes drill. Imagine the disc is full of mashed potatoes and gravy, and that you’ll get in big trouble if you spill it. Bring your arm all the way out for your reach back, then pull it through slowly, keeping the disc flat.
This is a great thing to do on a wide open teepad if you’ve just been in the woods for a few holes. Try the upside down disc 2-3 times and then do your drive. If you focus on not spilling that gravy you’ll have a much more flat release.
2. The second drill I like is the spin. This drill works well for backhand, but not forehand.
Hold the disc level. With flat feet hold it directly in front of you. Now lift your front heel up as you rotate to your reach back. As you pull through (always focusing on level), you lift your back heel up when you rotate forward (like you’re throwing). I also like to make my left arm carry forward at the end like when I follow through.
This drill can be done slowly or quickly. Do whatever speed works for you, but make sure that you’re making smooth motions as you’re doing it. That will end up determining your success level.
3. The ProPull has so many drills that you can do. It’s really excellent when you’re pulling through because it’s easier when flat. You’ll find that you can develop muscle memory because when you bend your wrist it will be much harder to pull. The Propull is a great tool for forehand as well as backhand. It’s definitely not used enough.
How do we measure success?
That’s very important. A 100% successful throw is one that is released level, flies level, and you know that you did everything right.
Sometimes we have throws that aren’t level, but if you know what you did wrong then I consider it a 50% success. Knowing what you did wrong is fine, because you’ll work on it and fix it. As I tell everyone I work with in lessons, you should fail sometimes. Go and watch 2-3 groups of people around you play, many of them won’t release level. It’s an advanced skill.
When should I not throw level shots?
We’re not going to focus as much on this during this blog. Level is the best thing to focus on for a majority of your shots. You can develop the hyzer and anhyzer shots afterwards.
If you’re throwing your Mako3 nice and flat you’re going to see a marked improvement in all of your discs. Level is a key way to get consistent throws and it’s going to lead to lower scores. If you’ve got any specific questions about throwing level, leave a comment and I’ll help you out.
May your discs miss all the trees,
Andrew Streeter #70397
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