If you watch any Jomez/CCDG coverage of disc golf tournaments you’ll find that almost every professional player throws both a forehand and backhand shot. Even JohnE McCray, James Conrad, and Michael Johansen throw forehands from time to time.
A common question I get from players in the Pro Shop is how do I start throwing forehand, or get better at it? We all want this kind of beautiful forehand shot like Nate Sexton throws. So how do you start? I’ve made a list of steps and tips that I think will be helpful for players who are starting to learn the forehand shot.
1) The first step to learning how to throw a forehand is to commit to learning it, no matter how challenging it becomes. It’s really tempting to do what you’re good at when practicing; try to stick to practicing the forehand even though it will be inconsistent at first.
2) Know that this is an investment and pick up a few forehand friendly discs. My recommendations are the Innova Star Sidewinder, Innova Sexton Firebird, and the Discraft Zone. The sidewinder is an understable disc perfect for when you have a slow sidearm (which you will have as you start). It’s also great for flexing when you get better. The Firebird is an overstable disc that’s widely recognized as an exceptional forehand disc. You’ll never flip it over, so you can throw as hard as you like. The Zone is an overstable approach disc that will teach you soft control with your forehand. It’s the approach disc of 5x World Champ Paul McBeth because it works. As Kona Panis suggests in the video tutorial below, she prefers using the Innova Star Mako3 mid-range for beginners, as it provides plenty of rim mass to practice the ever important grip.
3) The motion of the forehand is very different from the backhand; you don’t need to start with a runup. Yes, you’ll get more distance with a runup, but I suggest learning to throw standing still first, because form is more important than distance while learning.
4) Here are some of the grips that I see most commonly when throwing the forehand. They all offer different benefits but it truly comes down to fit for the player. Find one that is comfortable for throwing, it’s important to experiment. Just because one of these works for your buddy doesn’t mean it will work for you.
5) Your thumb placement will also be incredibly important. Too often I see players with their thumb facing inwards on the disc when they’re driving, when it should be facing forwards. This will help keep the outer wing flat which is essential to the forehand shot.
6) When you’re not out in the field practicing the best drill you can do involves flipping the disc upside down in your hand. I tell players to pretend they have a plate full of mashed potatoes and gravy in their hands. The goal is to do your normal motion without spilling the gravy. Keeping the disc flat is the single most important thing you can do when you’re throwing. I cannot stress this point enough! If you practice this drill regularly you’ll find your form improves quickly.
7) One common mistake that occurs when learning the forehand is that your disc turns over and becomes a roller. This is because you’re not keeping your wrist flat at the end and I refer you to tip number 6; you want to stay flat throughout the release of the disc.
8) Another common mishap is that the disc wobbles and starts fading immediately. This was my biggest problem early on and it takes a little extra fixing. First, make sure that your grip is tight on your disc. Someone shouldn’t be able to knock it out of your hand easily. Second is that you’re not committing to the follow through, and letting up early. Don’t be afraid to look silly when you throw. Make sure that you’re following all the way through after you release the shot. This takes some time to learn so be patient and diligent.
9) Lastly, don’t get too frustrated. For every good throw you make, you might make a dozen bad ones. That’s fine, you’ll gradually improve and be a much better player for it. I still make bad forehand throws from time to time, as does every other player.
For additional tips watch Kona's tutorial of forehands for beginners.
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog about developing a forehand shot. If you have any questions you can leave them here where I can respond. Or the next time you're in the shop, stop in and ask; I’m always down to talk some disc.
May your discs miss all the trees,
Andrew Streeter #70397