Once you start playing the game of disc golf you will no doubt want to try out a few different throwing styles. More than likely you are familiar with the basic backhand, as we use this for a normal frisbee throw most of the time. However, a few of you have probably tried or feel comfortable using the forehand/sidearm throw as well. I admit, this is a throw I would like to get better at, as it not only looks cool, to me it has the potential for more power.
You will be throwing your disc around obstacles such as trees, bushes, and various other hazards. At first, this can be a bit overwhelming. No one said disc golf is easy. But after learning these throws, and a bit of practice, you will see it becomes easier and those hazards seem less intimidating.
In this article we look at the basic throws used in disc golf. Each has their unique quality and purpose. Each of these disc golf throwing techniques has components that build the throw: grip, stance, windup and release. We will show you how to learn the forehand as a beginner. Help you understand the hyzer and anhyzer angles, and walk you through the components that make up a throw. Let’s get started…
What are the basic throws in disc golf?
- Hyzer / Anhyzer
While you can master one of the basic disc golf throwing styles and utilize it almost exclusively, the reason you want to learn the others is two fold:
First, each disc golf throwing form or style has a purpose. We will cover the specifics in sections below. The purpose can be related to what the course is giving you or where you’re trying to place the disc.
Second, over utilizing one grip, stance, approach and ultimately throw can start to wear on your body a bit. I know this may seem silly to those younger readers, however, trust me, elbow tendonitis is not something you want to mess with. Having the option and confidence to throw in various ways, can help balance out the muscles and structures of your body, giving you longevity to stay the course.
Different Disc Golf Throws:
Description: the backhand throw would look like your throwing arm is coming back towards the opposite side from your throwing hand. It then swings outward from the body while releasing the disc from the grip.
Things to Avoid: a common mistake beginners make with this throw is (and experienced players fall into a bad habit of doing) is to reach around the body. This will cause your release to send the disc in an arcing direction and not necessarily towards your goal. Think of the backhand as going straight back and straightforward on the release, don’t reach around to scratch your back.
Usage: most players use the backhand as their go-to throwing style, it can essentially be used in all scenarios but typically is seen on the drive / tee shot or the putt. This style provides the beginner player with the most confidence due to its natural motion and familiarity…therefore giving the player the most power and control when needed.
Check out this video from DiscGolfNation:
Description: the forehand looks like the player is reaching back towards the same side of the body as the throwing hand…essentially the opposite side of the backhand. The motion is a bit more tricky then the backhand as the arm comes back through with a sidearm throwing motion. A good analogy would be skipping rocks on the pond or watching a baseball player throw a sidearm pitch. .
Things to Avoid: when learning the forehand don’t try to overdue it…a common mistake beginners make with this throw is trying to “send” the disc with as much power and distance as the backhand. Now, eventually (and maybe quite quickly for some) you might find this to be a more confident throwing style. Even able to throw the disc with more power than the traditional backhand. But, I made the mistake of giving up on this style too early because I couldn’t get the control or speed I wanted when first trying it out. So, as with anything new to you, start slow and be patient. When you watch a pro throw this style, you’ll see why this can be an effective technique to learn.
Usage: because the disc is coming out the opposite side of the backhand, it spins in the opposite direction as well. While the beginner player may not have much use for this at first, you will quickly see there are slight advantages to each. Eventually, being able to “carve” the disc one direction or another will greatly improve your overall game. While the forehand can be used in most scenarios I tend to use it as a driving and mid-range thow. I stick to the backhand for putting unless there is a particular obstacle that needs the forehand spin to get around.
For some more tips, check out this video by Latitude 64:
Description: the irony of the two hyzer throws is that you’re probably doing them by accident. The hyzer consists of tipping the disc down away from the body, whereas the anhyzer would have the disc’s outer edge typing up towards the body. Both result in the disc arcing in an intentional direction. For the purpose of learning, we will assume a right hand thrower…in this case, the hyzer (with the outer edge tipped down) would result in the disc arcing or curving to the left, whereas the anhyzer would cause the disc to curve right. Both of these styles can be performed from a backhand or forehand throw, it’s really about the tipping angle of the disc.
Things to Avoid: the key thing to avoid when throwing a hyzer throw actually has little to do with the hyzer rather refers to our earlier throws of the back and forehand. As mentioned, you are probably doing a bit of a hyzer angle on your discs when throwing the straight back or forehand. Try to avoid this. Try to get your motion to where you have 4 distinct throws in the repertoire. You want to be able to throw a straight/flat backhand and forehand, while introducing one of the hyzer angles when needed.
Usage: so when is the hyzer or anhyzer needed…well the obvious answer would be when there is an obstacle or angled course. But, these throws can be used in all aspects of the game, even putting. You just have to practice how much angle and then gain some experience with the wind and pitch of the course. This is why it’s important to use a disc that is understandable when learning the hyzer. See my suggestions below:
A picture worth all my words…
See this video from Latitude 64 on the Hyzer:
Description: last but not least is a more advanced throwing style that is perhaps more fun than practical. However, don’t underestimate the use of this throw as those that are really good at it can “chuck” their discs a great deal of distance. There are two types of overhand throws: the thumb and the tomahawk
Thumber: essentially you hold the disc with the thumb on the inside of the disc or the ring side. You’re going to approach this the same as the forehand, with the objective being the same as the forehand (for it to guide or pan right). This is why it’s a useful throw to learn when your forehand still needs a little practice. The disc is slightly tipped up and the arm is at a bit of an angle, but still above the head. Don’t worry, if it seems confusing I will link a video below for your viewing pleasure.
Tomahawk: this overhand is similar to the forehand in the way you grip the disc. You want your two first fingers on the inside of the disc and tight against the ring…same with the forehand. The difference is that the tomahawk is thrown similar to a baseball or football…overhead and a bit more straight on. This throw will curve or pan in the opposite direction of the thumb throw (if you’re doing it right).
Things to Avoid: in short, not following through or getting enough velocity and height. These two styles of overhand throws need to get up in the air in order to complete their flipping motion. Also, we want to be careful about stopping out arm motion after the release (these are not flicks), which can cause some rotator cuff soreness over time.
Usage: the overhand throw lends itself to giving their arm a bit of a break from the traditional “swinging” motion. It’s also known for creating a lot of distance…some pro’s can get 400+ feet out of their overhand throws. I like to “let it fly” and release some frustrations when I throw the overhand..it’s a fun throw to try so why not. For this reason, I am typically going to utilize a heavy plastic driver disc. See my go-to overhand disc below:
Dynamic Discs gives us a good video tutorial on some overhangs throws:
Tips and Reminders For All Disc Golf Throws
Remember, you’re not going to master any of these throws sitting here reading this article. Take one of the throws and practice it until you can get 50-100 yards out of it consistently. Pick up a couple of the mentioned discs for each type of throw and go out to the field or course for some repetitive practice on motion. I personally own a few duplicates of drivers mentioned above so I can throw them from the same tee over and over.
Also, consider getting a practice net such as this one Gonex 7′ x 7′ Practice Net to allow for some target practice at home and to slowly increase your distance.
If you’re doing a bunch of throwing and haven’t built up good technique, your shoulder might need a little extra rest the next day or two. Be sure to reduce the strenuous activity for a day and then give it a bit of a workout before going back to the course.
Which is your favorite throw?
I hope you learned something from this post and can have a few new throws to try in your next outing. Be sure to check out a few of our other articles for more details on disc types, gripping, and overall fitnes.