Disc’s all have some unique characteristics. But one separator that can be a bit confusing is understanding the difference between overstable vs understable discs. Each has its place in your round of golf and often can be a big factor in the flight of the disc.
In this article we will define what makes an overstable vs understable disc and give you scenarios on when to use each. We will also provide some discs known for these two characteristics based on player feedback and manufacturer standards.
What is an Overstable Disc?
The definition of an overstable disc golf disc is a disc who’s flight path turns the opposite direction of the throwing hand. So a right handed player throwing an overstable disc should see it turn left. Overstable discs are usually given a Turn rating of +1 or higher.
Are Overstable discs good for Beginners?
Although an overstable disc works well against a headwind, typically they are not recommended for the beginner. This is due to the fact that an overstable disc needs a lot of power behind it to not fade quickly and lose distance. Experienced players will utilize the overstable disc as a means to “hook” the shot towards the end of the flight.
What Are Overstable Discs Good For?
For experienced players who have power in their throw an overstable disc is the way to go. Overstable discs are typically more accurate and easier to control. There are a few scenarios when you would use an overstable disc:
- Headwind: overstable discs are more resistant to flipping over or being pushed down by a headwind. They tend to be a bit heavier and because of the nature of it being more stable, the disc is better at cutting through the wind and making some distance.
- Control Driver: the very idea of it being stable implies it being a bit more controllable. These discs fly a little more predictable if you have the arm power to get them up to speed.
- Flex Shots: these shots are not for the beginner but fun to try and master. Essentially you start with an anhyzer throw and then the overstability of the disc causes it to level off and flex back.
What is an Understable Disc?
The definition of an understable disc golf disc is a disc who’s flight path turns in the same direction as the throwing hand. So a right handed player throwing an understable disc should see it turn right. Understable discs are usually given a Turn rating of -1 or lower.
Are Understable discs good for Beginners?
The understable disc is typically what a beginner starts throwing. These discs are still used by the professional in specific situations, but typically are easier to throw for someone new to the game. The understable disc will turn in the direction of the spin…so for a right handed thrower utilizing the backhand throw, this disc will both spin to the right and turn to the right. Thus, flying a little more straight and controlled in a predictable manner.
What Are Understable Discs Good For?
Typically a good starting or beginner disc as it helps the new thrower achieve the most distance. An understable disc is also a bit easier to control for the beginner. Although not a recommended disc for headwind as they will be less likely to cut through the wind. Finally, as the player progresses and starts throwing anhyzer style, the understable disc is a go-to disc for this form or throw. See our article here on throwing the anhyzer: How to Throw the Anhyzer
Summarizing Overstable vs Understable Discs
Obviously the way you throw a disc is going to have a huge impact on the flight path of that disc. Not enough speed will inherently have the disc flying in a way that is unrelated to its flight numbers. Throwing on a hyzer or anhyzer line will make the disc seem to curve in a way that may have you confusing it with the turn of a disc.
Overstable vs Understable lives in the last two flight numbers…turn and fade. When we talk about turn we are talking about what the disc does early on in flight. The word flip might be a better description of turn and often is the adjective used by disc golfers. So to summarize an understable disc is going to “flip” to the right for a back hand right handed thrower. Opposite would be the stable disc flipping left for the right handed back hand throw. The more you throw, the more you’ll know…both from a technique standpoint and from the individual disc you’re using. Speaking of, lets take a look at some discs with each characteristic to get you started…
Overstable & Understable Discs Everyone Loves
At the end of the day, when starting out, don’t overthink it. You probably won’t be able to tell much of a difference in the characteristics of discs as opposed to the actual feel in your hand. Which brings us to the important point of trying out a few discs. The way it feels in your hand and you being comfortable in throwing it will greatly improve your confidence and enjoyment of the game. Don’t get us wrong, you might get a bit frustrated if your throws keep fading to the right when you want it to go straight. But, I always say the best new experiences are the ones that have little expectation and are more just for fun. You’ll get hooked and soon enough be “geeking” out on the discs flight patterns.
So let’s look at a couple of top rated overstable vs understable discs…
Overstable Disc List
Dynamic Discs Lucid Felon
(Speed: 9 Glide: 3 Turn: 0.5 Fade: 4)
Notice the turn rating of the Lucid to be only 0.5. This may imply more of a straight shooting disc as opposed to overstable. However, this disc will cut through a head wind and give confidence to the beginner/intermediate player. At the same time the Lucid provides an experienced player with a lot of diversity and usage. A good start to the overstable category as it doesn’t get extreme but sits on the positive turn side of ratings. Definitely add a Dynamic Discs Lucid Felon to your collection.
Discmania PD Freak
(Speed: 10 Glide: 4 Turn: 0 Fade: 3)
When starting out most of us just don’t have the strength combined with the control to handle an overstable discs. By the nature of it being an overstable discs, they typically require more power and have a higher speed rating than understable discs. However, consider the Discmania PD Freak. This disc is the perfect transition disc from a power/fairway driver to a true distance driver. With a speed of 10 and a turn of 0 this disc won’t require as much power as say an Innova Destroyer, but will still give you a nice option to cut through the headwind and slide back in the opposite direction at the end of the flight. Combine this option with the Lucid above and see which one feels the best for you. Don’t freak out, you can get one here: Discmania PD Freak.
Dynamic Discs Lucid Justice
(Speed: 5 Glide: 1 Turn: .5 Fade: 4)
If the DD Felon is a bit too fast for you (speed: 9) then the DD Justice might just be the solution. With a speed of only 5 and a turn of .5, this overstable disc should justifiably be on your list to try. The one downside to this disc is the fade spec. At 4 it’s going to drop quickly towards the end of its flight…that might put off the beginner. But with lucid plastic you’ll be sure to have plenty of time getting used to the nuances before it gets heavily chipped . Pick one up here: Dynamic Disc Justice.
INFINITE DISCS TOMB
(Speed: 3 Glide: 4 Turn: 0 Fade: 1 )
A low speed and fairly low fade makes the Tomb easy to throw. The turn at 0 means this disc is going to fly straight and I would say most look to use this disc as an approach shooter or even for putting. Definitely a nice disc to have in your bag for those windy short shots where you need the stability. Though the plastic is on the entry level side, there isn’t much worry as you wouldn’t be using a lot of power behind it. Bury your negative thoughts and grab an Infinite Disc Tomb.
Understable Disc List
These discs should have a turn spec below 0 and will usually be a little lighter than the overstable disc. Normally these discs will have a lower speed spec as well. All of this adds up to great discs to start out with as a beginner. Make no mistake, even pro players use understandable discs for certain shots. So it’s good to have a variety in your bag.
(Speed: 7 Glide: 5 Turn: -2 Fade: 1)
I can’t say enough about my Innova Leopard. We’ve featured the Leopard before, be sure to read our review here: 5 Best Drivers for Beginners. Although a bit lighter than some of my stable and overstable discs, the leopard is a great option for the fairway shot. It came to me in a starter set. For anyone new to the game, or just wanting to add to your collection, starter sets are the way to go! Grab an innova starter set here: Disc Golf Innova Starter Set.
Sure I can throw farther with some overstable discs but I don’t always have as much confidence in my throw and therefore end up chasing those shots into the woods (not fun during middle of summer). The Leopard has been updated and here we feature the Leopard 3. It’s a bit faster and has a recognizable turn. Exactly what we want out of our understable discs. If you’re wanting to add a reliable, understable fairway driver pick up the Innova Leopard today!
(Speed: 9 Glide: 4 Turn: -2 Fade: 2 )
The Valkyrie is a standard in the disc golf community. A great starter driver that will help you transition to the faster and more stable discs. Be careful using it in a headwind, but with the breeze behind your back you should be able to let it fly. If you enjoy the feel of the Valkyrie check it out in the better plastics such as champion and pro. I have the star plastic but here we feature the Champion plastic. Here lately I have been using this disc for field practice to work on my distance with a disc that has a speed of 9 or higher. If you’re not sure where to start with the understable driver, start with this one here: Innova Valkyrie.
(Speed: 5 Glide: 6 Turn: -1 Fade: 0)
I recently picked one of the Wombat 3 discs up and can report I am happy with it. I am seeing some improvement in my straight shot and I think that is critical to learning the game…if you can’t throw it straight you’re going to get frustrated when starting out. With a lower speed I was able to focus on my form and worry less about power. Perhaps the best part of the Wombat is the glide…this thing seems to just float in the air while gaining me crucial distance. I don’t use this off the tee per se, but as it’s intended for the mid-range shot. When throwing through a narrow gap of trees I pull out the Wombat3 or above mentioned Infinite Disc Tomb. Grab yourself an Innova Wombat3 here and let me know your thoughts on it in the comments below.
(Speed: 11 Glide: 6 Turn: -5 Fade: 0)
Last on my understable list is one I just ordered and haven’t played with before. Super excited to get the Mamba out for some field testing and see if it lives up to hype. Considered a distance driver the Mamba has a higher speed with lots of glide. It’s not recommended to use in a windy situation, but if you are starting out it is guaranteed to add some distance to your throw. Innova describes it as: “…a beginner friendly, understable distance driver. It was designed to give maximum distance for minimal effort. The Mamba has more high speed turn than any other Innova long range driver.”
I am all about maximum distance for minimal effort. Expect to see a field test review and some updated thoughts on this one soon. To get your own check it out here: Innova Mamba.
Now we all understand the overstable vs understable discs…
The goal of this article was to look at the confusing topic of overstable vs understable discs and help beginners grow their disc golf disc collection. I was a bit perplexed at first when I started buying discs and wanted to write up the difference between understable vs overstable discs so I too had a clear idea. I could keep going with suggestions of discs to try but wanted to give you a starting selection. Leave us a comment if this guide helped you get a better idea between the two. I hope to see you out on the course soon!