There are so many different throws that exist in this game. According to the PDGA, the governing body of disc golf, “A throw is the propulsion and release of a disc in order to change its position.” So today I’m going to explain some of the different throws that you may or may not have heard of. I highly recommend trying each one of these. Technically you could throw all forehand shots, including putts. You could do that thing where frisbee freestylers let it roll across their chest. However, whichever player (legally) gets their disc into the basket in the fewest throws wins. So have at it, try a new throw, and see if you can save yourself some strokes.
Thumber- This shot is useful for getting over trees if you throw it high. Or a RHBH player may need to throw down a tight gap with high speed. To perform a thumber you need to take your disc and hold it vertically. Now put your thumb on the inside of the disc, place your index and middle fingers on the other side of the disc. Curl them up like a claw so they provide balanced force against your thumb on the other side. Now if you’re trying to get over the trees, really cock back that arm, then bring it up with speed, then release the disc when it’s up high and slightly in front of you. You’re trying to get height and a little bit of forward movement. The disc will flip over in the air; first swooping to the left and then back to the right at the end of the flight.
If you’re trying to just shoot down a gap you can throw this disc like a baseball pitcher. You’ll see the disc flip over but it should keep a tight line. My favorite disc to throw this shot with is my Innova Champion Wraith because I’m familiar with the flight. Try out a few high speed drivers yourself to see what disc works for your thumber.
Tomahawk- This is the other overhand shot. The difference between the Tomahawk and the Thumber is which way the disc should face. On a Tomahawk throw you’ve got the top of the disc facing you. You keep your thumb up against the top and then your pointer and middle finger are pointed along the rim. The throwing motion is the same, but the way the disc behaves is slightly different. Instead of finishing to the right (RHBH) this disc will finish straight and slightly to the left. It’s great for punching through a small gap in the trees, throwing over a tall tree in the way, or down a tight path.
Scoober- Recently this shot has gained popularity with Brodie Smith entering the sport. But it’s been around a very long time. My neighbor Kate taught it to me as a way to get out of trouble. You can hold the disc like you would for a forehand grip. Now hold the disc up high above your chest and it should be flipped upside down. Your fingers on top and your thumb on the bottom of the disc. This shot is useful for starting high and dropping low. I don’t often throw this, but it’s really great for when you have to get over a bush near the green. Here's Brodie’s scoober so you can see what I mean. You take all the glide out of your shot when you do this. Brodie didn’t risk throwing past the basket OB by trying this out. It’s a great up and down shot that rarely goes in.
Chicken Wing- There’s a few different ways people describe this shot but I’ll go ahead and give you how I throw it. Grab your disc and hold it vertical on a table. Make sure you’re using your throwing hand and that the top side of the disc is facing out. You’re going to put your index finger along the top on the outside of the rim, your finger should be stretched all the way out along the rim. Then put your thumb on the bottom of the disc and the rest of your fingers on the outside of the disc. Now you’re going to bring your arm way back behind you and throw with your index finger leading. Keep your arm and shoulder high and flick your wrist forward at the last second before you release. The flight should be similar to a forehand throw. This is the way I used to throw for distance, and for making my disc finish to the right. The problem is it’s a clunky throw and requires you to have lots of room. It doesn’t work in the woods, so after a few years of avoiding learning a forehand, I switched to that. Now this still has a place in disc golf. It’s a great reach around throw, if you’re faced with a tree in front of you and for some reason a forehand won’t work this is an excellent shot. Brodie Smith has also brought this unusual shot back into the game and demonstrates one beautifully on his Instagram page.
Forehand Roller- Often referred to as a “get out of trouble” shot, the forehand roller is king. It’s a precise shot, perfect for getting in between trees that your flat flying disc would surely hit. You hold the disc like you’d be throwing a tomahawk. Instead of releasing up high or straight in front of you. You bring your arm down and release, this should get the disc on the ground in the first 20 feet or so of the throw. If you throw a disc with a dome, the dome will offset the weight and pull your disc in that direction. For example an overstable disc like an Innova Gator (big dome) will curl up quickly to the top side. Many people like to throw this with drivers because the smaller rim has less friction on the ground and can travel further. The most important thing to think about with your forehand roller is angle control. When your disc hits the ground, whatever angle you put it on will determine the roll. If you find that your disc is rolling too far to one side (say the right) try landing the disc more straight up and down. A great way to practice forehand rollers is to work on short ones. Throw a mid or driver from one tee to the next. Practice curving around a tree or throw small gaps! It’s a delight when your forehand roller curls up around the basket.
Skip Shot- Any time I see wood chips, dirt, pavement, or short grass, I get excited about skip shots. To skip your disc you’ll want a wide rim driver. Then you’re going to want to release the disc on a big hyzer angle. When your shot hits the ground it needs to be on a hyzer or it won’t work. Throw with lots of power and keep your disc a little low. A skip shot works well for getting around objects or when you want to slow a disc down. There were some great skip shots at the 2019 USDGC. If you need to throw a driver onto a green that’s got wood chips, you’re going to want to hit early and to the side of the basket. Because if you land next to the basket your disc will still have high speed and skip away. Skips are perfect for when you want your disc to go about 200 feet and then immediately turn to one side or the other. Aim for that 200 foot spot and have the disc land on its edge with the top of the disc facing the way you want it to skip. I recommend the Innova XCaliber as a perfect disc for the skip shot. It’s my go to backhand or forehand when I need that big skip.
Spike Hyzer- This is the shot many people associate with Simon Lizotte. Why throw through the trees when you can throw over them? To throw this shot you’ll throw your normal backhand shot but your motives and motion will be different. You’re not looking for distance, you want to get this disc high and then have it land in a desired spot. Instead of doing a straight reach back you’ll take this disc low, about thigh high, when you reach back. You’ll also have the bottom of the disc facing you. Drop your front shoulder when you’re throwing and when you come up, really explode. Now an important feature of the spike hyzer is the hyzer. You’ve already mastered the spike you know how to get up and over the trees. Here’s how you choose which disc is correct for getting the side to side action you’re looking for. Overstable discs tend to move less side to side when thrown on a spike hyzer. They’re trying to fade, so if you imagine throwing the disc flat you’d see the flight path is the same. So if you want your disc to move more from side to side you’ll need to throw a disc that’s less overstable. For reference, If I throw a Discmania PD I get a straight up and down spike hyzer. If I throw my Innova Leopard3 I get a lot more right to left action.
So that’s some unique throws that are a part of this sport. I’ve thrown all of them from time to time but some of them, like the forehand roller and the skip shot, are always a part of my bag. Do you throw any of these shots? Let me know if you throw any that I didn’t mention here, I’m always ready to learn something new.
May your discs miss all the trees,
Andrew Streeter #70397