Glide: The Underrated Flight Rating

Glide: The Underrated Flight Rating

I like the 4 number flight rating system. It tells me the things I need to know about the disc before purchasing it. Now I know that every disc flies differently for every person, but I appreciate that companies give you a general idea of what a disc is going to do.

Today I want to focus on the second number, Glide.

When people ask about discs, they want to know how much power a 9 speed disc requires versus a 7 speed. They’ll want to know if that 3 fade is a dump or a gradual fade. I rarely get questions about that second number, and that one really affects the flight. So this blog is going to dive a little bit into what glide is, how it differs in drivers, mids, and putters, and how you can start using glide more in your throws.

First off what is glide?

Glide is a measure of how long the disc is going to stay aloft. It’s when air is trapped under the disc and holds it up. When the disc is running out of energy and fading, does it still kind of stay flat? That’s the glide helping out. If a disc has a glide rating of 1 it means it won’t be in the air very long, if it has a rating of 6 it means it’s going to stay up there for a while.

Why do I want glide?

Glide is useful for distance, less useful for accuracy. It gives the disc more hangtime, that means more distance. I often recommend newer players get discs with high glide ratings like the Sidewinder, Leopard, and Mako3. It’s also great for throwing up hills, you’ll want that disc to not get caught on the ground short. You can manipulate the angle of discs with lots of glide, so they hold their hyzer/anhyzer lines longer. If you want a max distance disc you want one that has high glide and some turn, that way the disc can get a long full flight. Something like the Tern or Shryke is excellent for max distance.

When do I not want my disc to glide?

As with anytime you’re adding distance to a throw you lose some accuracy. It’s hard to get good safe glide on windy days, I discourage people from using glidey discs in the wind. Unless you want your disc to go really far and have no control over it. It’s also dangerous when throwing downhill, because you can keep going past your landing zone and have a long upshot/putt.

What’s the difference between a glide 3 on a driver, a mid, and a putter?

The Firebird, Wolf, and Aviar all have a glide rating of 3. But they all do very different things. When you’re comparing the glide of a disc, it’s important to only compare them to other discs in their category. Of these 3 discs the Aviar will hold up the longest in the air. For a putter, 3 is the second highest rating, while for drivers it’s the lowest. So your Aviar will float on the air, but the Firebird will drop out of the sky. The Wolf really doesn’t glide much, it’s more of a point and shoot disc. You won’t see it hang in the air a long time, it doesn’t bounce, it just sort of goes until it runs out of steam.

What if two of my discs have the same fade but one disc has a glide of 3 and the other has a glide of 5? How does that change things?

Great question! This is where glide really factors into what your disc is going to do. So remember how more glide means more distance? That’s because it has additional hangtime to do so. When your disc has a higher glide it’s going to be more of a gradual falling out of the sky. If you want a long swooping fade to finish go with a high glide disc. If you want a short finish, something that gets to the ground a lot more quickly go for a low glide disc. Both of these discs are overstable, both will finish hard. One will go further to the side (high glide) than the other. My advice is if you need more movement to the side, increase your glide.

What about low glide discs?

They’re super useful! My favorite low glide disc is the Caiman, you could have a leaf blower under that thing and it would still hyzer and get down. It has a glide rating of 2 which I often like for my approach shots. Since I need accuracy and not much distance. Low glide discs just don’t want to go as far, they’re all about reliable consistent shots. You’ve heard of them, the Zone, Harp, Rat, Caiman, Rhyno, Firebird, Gator...etc. All great in your bag.

When is a good time to use glidey discs?

If you’re trying to get maximum distance, get a disc that has a high glide. It will stay aloft longer and give you the best chance at distance. Also you’ll need to find your balance of turn/fade that works, but in general more glide = more distance for you.
One of the best times to use glide is when you’re in trouble on the course. If I’m pinched off on a fairway and have to get out around a tree I take a disc with high glide and I put it on a hyzer. This will let the disc stay in the air for a long time and hold my hyzer. I’m still getting the full flight of the disc, but I’m changing the angle. It helps to use a putter or midrange for this, they tend to float longer at low speeds than drivers.

When is another good time to use glide?
  • When you need distance but can’t move your feet.
  • When you want to get over some bushes, throw it high and let the disc drop.
  • When you want to ride the wind (Expose bottom of glidey disc to wind and go)
  • When you want to keep a putt high enough with a chance to float in

How do I choose a disc with high glide?

Putters will have a glide rating of 3 or 4.
Mids will have a glide rating of 5 or 6.
Drivers will have a glide rating of 5 or 6.

Also discs that are domey will glide. During the cooling process discs form their shape. While we’d like to think that every disc is the same, they’re not. So if you want one with extra glide try to find a domey one. One way I look for domey discs is to either place two that I’m looking at on a flat surface to compare them. You can also hold the disc in both hands like you’re in drivers ed. Then push in on the disc with your thumbs, if it makes a “pop” noise which I call the heartbeat, you’ve got a domey disc that will glide.

So that covers my ideas on glide. If you’ve got any questions or comments feel free to leave them here or comment on Facebook/Twitter so I can answer them. I hope you take glide into account the next time you’re looking at discs.

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



Hey Donny thanks for reading.
My best guess without seeing form or the discs is that your discs are a different level of wear. Seasoned or beat in discs have a little more turn to their flight which gives distance.
Aside from that I’d say whichever feels good in your hand, try to replicate that feeling in the store.
-Andrew Streeter

Andrew Streeter

I have two of the same disc. On a flat surface parting line height is the same. Then turning both disc over, flight plate down, parting line is still same = they have equal dome. But when thrown one flies 30-50 feet further every time. Do you know Why this is and what Am I looking for when purchasing to know what I’m getting?