How To Throw a Thumber Drive Disc Golf Shot

Besides having one of the oddest names, albeit appropriate, some players utilize this throw more than any other. To understand the answer of how to throw a thumber you’ll need to know a couple of things.  First, what is the thumber and when to use it.  Second, what are the best discs to use throwing the thumber, and last, the technique itself.

How do you throw the thumber drive?

The thumber drive is closely related to the tomahawk throw. This throw starts with your thumb on the inside of the disc and your two first fingers on the outside much like holding a pencil. Your ring and pinky wrap “under” the lip of the disc.  The inside of the disc should be facing you and your thumb should be hitting the lip of the disc.  This is an overhead throw but not straight on like the tomahawk. This throw is typically used off tee and fairway shots. It’s perfect for situations where the disc should fly opposite your throwing arm, flip over, and then angle back on a hyzer line. 

However, this not so simple technique can take a lot of practice to master, often causing new players a bit of frustration.  Below we provide a few quick tips to get you started and improve your thumber throw. 

So, What is a Thumber Throw?

If the above description didn’t give you enough I wouldn’t be surprised.  It took me several tries just to relate what is a decent idea of how the thumber should be described.  This somewhat advanced throw requires a bit of practice just to explain, let alone throw. Below we will dig into the technique a bit more with some visuals to assist with a better understanding. 

For now, I want you to realize this is an overhead throw, and those come with some distinct advantages and use cases. Further, it’s called the thumber for a reason…the thumb is the pivot point and main contact on the disc, but don’t underestimate the two fingers on top of the disc. 

Let’s take a look at a few discs with the best characteristics for this throw…

Best Discs for Throwing a Thumber

Distance doesn’t always equal “best” in terms of choosing a disc for a particular throw.  With the thumber you’re looking for something super stable. However, the thumber drive is typically used off the tee to cut through the wind and get as far down the course as possible.  So when thinking about the best discs for this throw it’s a good start to look at discs that go far.  With that said, below are a list of discs that have broken records and are considered by the disc golf world to be excellent at the thumber. 

DGA Hellfire – control driver (10, 3, 0, 5)

We’re not starting out with record breakers but rather a couple of options that are actually in stock and often at the top of the disc golf community list for throwing the thumber. Although it hasn’t broken any records, the Hellfire is a great overstable disc that will fit the bill for throwing the thumber. Use this disc to get yourself “out of trouble” when your tee drive goes a little off kilter and you need something that will drop consistently where you throw it. Rated highly in the disc golf world for the thumber drive, this is the disc I would recommend, and use, for the beginner to advanced level player when throwing a thumber drive. Pick one up here: Infinite Discs – DGA Hellfire

Innova Firebird – control driver (9, 3, 0, 4)

Similar to the DGA Hellfire, you will find the Innova Firebird to be on the disc golf world list for a great thumber driver.  This might be the top overstable disc for developing players due to its slightly lower speed for more control, little turn, and great fade. I would argue anyone who has been in the game for a while has this disc in their quiver and so should you.  Pick one up today and get to practicing the thumber drive. Infinite Discs – Innova Firebird 

Legacy Outlaw – Distance Driver (12, 5, -1, 3)

With a moderately thick rim this disc might be best suited for the advanced player.  However, the design is considered overstable, exactly what one needs when throwing over head drives such as the thumber.  The Outlaw is often compared to the Innova Destroyer with most players reporting a very consistent flight path.  It should also be mentioned that current record holder, Seth Day, was going to use one of these discs in his attempt at breaking the record, he instead broke it with the next disc on our list.  So if it’s good enough for him, it will pay dividends for us mere mortals.  I may not put this one at the top of my list but if you like the look and are wanting to try something different, I wouldn’t say no to picking one of these up here: Infinite Discs – Legacy Outlaw

Discmania Tilt – Control Driver (9, 1, 1, 6)

This disc was specifically designed for pro player Simon Lizotte’s, who worked with Discmania to create the most stable disc on the market. With a consistent fade you will be sure to know what the disc will do when throwing it. Further, this disc was recently used to break the world record with the thumber driver throw.  See video below.  The Tilt will find the ground fast, not fly as far as others, but also give you a very consistent long distance fairway driver. The only trick to this disc is finding one.  Good luck, with that.  I will post a link to it on infinite discs, but at time of writing, it’s still out of stock.  So, check back often here: Infinite Discs – Discmania Tilt   

Latitude 64 XXX – Control Driver (7, 3, 0, 4)

The Latitude 64 xxx once held the upside down world record, set by Jason Cortella back in 2014. It should go without saying that all the discs on this list are overstable and this one is no different. That characteristic plus it’s ability to cut through head wind is what makes the latitude 64 triple x a great option for the thumber drive.  You might have to search around a bit to find it, but there are options available.  As always, keep an eye out for it at Infinite Discs – Latitude 64 xxx

The Subtle Art of Throwing the Thumber

Somewhat in between a tomahawk and anhyzer angle lies the thumber…if I were to describe it I would say the technique for throwing a thumber looks like a Greek warrior throwing a spear. It should angle opposite your throwing hand and then hyzer back the other way…so a right handed thrower will go left and then angle back right.  This is due to the desired flip over towards the end. 

This utility throw isn’t necessary to know when starting out, and would be considered somewhat advanced.  But it is fun to learn and some players find it useful for getting out of sticky situations.  You might find that a strong head wind is pushing your disc back with other throws. The thumber can be used to cut through that head wind.  Overhead throws in general tend to help get over objects directly in your path…whereas a hyzer or flick might be used to go around an object.    

The main difference between this throw and tomahawk is the direction of the flight path.  As mentioned above, given a right hand thrower, the thumber should fly left then hyzer back to the right.  The tomahawk flies right then back to the left. 

Check out this classic video with Karl Molitoris teaching the thumber.  I often refer to it before going out to practice my “thumbing” – ha!

Now you know…

Besides having a funny name, I hope you try the overhead throws and find use for them in your game. One thing I note is due to some shoulder injuries, sometimes I just need to switch up my throw a bit and these can come in handy during long games.  I hope this article was helpful for you and you picked up a few insights into this more advanced throw.

I am an avid rock climber, mountain biker, and disc golfer, who loves nothing more than a beautiful day to go play outside like a kid. I love to read and learn new things in order to gain a better understanding of our amazing world, and feel honored to share some with you. If you don’t find me at my computer typing away, you will find me outside exploring. I wrote this article because I am enthusiastic about helping you improve your disc golf skills and find a passion for getting outside!