It can be incredibly frustrating to see your disc fly off into the out-of-bounds region for no apparent reason. It happens to you, me, and all players at any level of their game. There are a few factors that could be causing this “anomaly” and are worth reviewing to see if you’ve picked up a bad habit. In this article we take a look at two issues causing you to throw short. Once defined we will look at ways to mitigate the issue and get your disc back to flying down the course like a hawk swooping towards its prey.
What is GripLock?
Grip lock is a very common concern for a lot of players and it basically refers to a player who holds onto the disc too long which causes a late release. This late release then causes the disc to fly off in a direction you weren’t intending.
What Causes Griplock?
The first is humidity or sweat on your hands. If the air is very humid or if you have sweaty palms, the disc could stick to your hand a bit, causing a late release. The best way to fix this is to carry a birdie bag with you. Birdie bags are basically canvas sacks filled with kiln dried wood powder, which soaks up any moisture on your hand. Just pat the bag before you throw and you’re good to go.
My favorite is from the Birdie Bag company and you can pick one up for the best price on Amazon. I’ve provided the link so you can get to it easily.
How Do I Stop Griplock?
Some would say Griplock is a misnomer and the real issue lies with our second reason below. However, others note that simply being aware of your grip is the key. While you may not truly be able to “overgrip” a disc you can hold onto it too long.
For me, I focus on three aspects of my grip to reduce locking in the disc and causing it to fly off kilter. Let’s work backwards in our throwing motion to understand these aspects that can help stop griplock:
- Follow Through: You might have heard this a time or two, but essentially the follow through is the last thing you should see as the disc flies away. If your arm or hand is way off to the side of your peripheral vision, and the disc is still in hand, that’s a tell tell sign of grip lock.
- Snapping Wrist: “To put spin on the disc you need a little snap in the wrist”…while this alone doesn’t alleviate griplock it sure makes it more difficult to hold onto your flying saucer too long. Snapping also gives the disc more spin allowing it to fly longer. Practice the snap a bit by throwing the disc straight up in front of you in a catch and release manner. This will help you get the motion and realign the timing of letting go.
- Straight and Level: One of the more prevalent reasons given to griplock is in the motion of throw. Bringing it back from the follow through, to the release and snapping of the wrist, to the motion your arm is making as it generates power. We will touch on what is known as rounding below in more detail.
2 More Tips to Reduce GripLock
- Get Comfortable: Sometimes you just need to switch out your disc and pick up old reliable. Pull your favorite disc from your collection and get a feel for the timing and release again. Take a practice toss or two with it to reconnect the brain to hand muscle memory. The point is that often griplock is a mental issue. Palms are swetty, pressure is high, there is a bug buzzing overhead, and your using that high speed bomber disc that takes a lot of power to fly correctly. These factors all add up to you holding tight and for too long. Taking a step back to a simpler disc that is always comfortable in your hands might just help relieve some of that “mental lock”.
- Throw Anhyzer: This may seem a bit contrary or irrelevant to grip lock. But as of late, I have found that if I angle my disc in a slight anhyzer I am less likely to grip lock and throw out of bounds. Not sure what I mean, read our how to throw anhyzer tutorial. Don’t mistake this for being a true anhyzer attempt, but rather, just thinking about it and making a slight tilt up on my disc seems to help. As a bonus, I am seeing my discs fly a little more level, with better speed, and more turnover. Thus resulting in a more consistent flight path and distance/accuracy.
I think the point of the last two tips is to make small adjustments. Start with the above mentioned basic fundamentals of throwing. But, look at the disc itself and the way you throw it. Since Griplock can be more of a mental crux, trying something slightly different might help you let it go (pun intended).
What is Rounding?
The second and probably most prevalent cause of grip lock and other release timing issues is rounding. Rounding in disc golf is when the disc travels around your body during your throw instead of in a straight line. When your body gets in the way of the throw and creates a curved shape path of the disc from the reach to follow through.
If you think about it, it makes sense. When your entire throw follows a straight path, it doesn’t matter when you release the disc along that path, because it will always follow that straight line. If your throw follows a curved path, the moment you release is much more important as an early or late release would cause the disc to fly way off target.
How to Fix Rounding?
Below we present 3 simple steps you can take to fix your form and avoid rounding. Note, fixing form mistakes can take time and practice. The bad form has turned into a habit that is ingrained into your muscle memory. Constant repetition with clear intention can lead to corrective action that over time will change into new habits. – pretty much sums up all things in life.
The proper path of the disc is in a straight line from reach to follow through. Rotate from the abs, keeping your hips and shoulders squared up as much as possible.
Step 1: Check Your Form
One trick I learned was to practice my form a few times in slow motion before each throw. An easy way to check for this is to record yourself using your phone. Most have a slow motion setting so you can really get a look at what you’re doing at full speed.
Set the camera up or ask your playing partner to stand directly behind you and capture the motion. Next, record your motion from the side. And if you really want to get serious about it, from overhead as well.
Ideally, what you’re looking for is seeing the disc go straight back and then straight forward all while remaining level. However, and more than likely the reason you’re here, you will see several form mistakes that could be causing your throw to shorten.
Checklist for Form Checking:
✅ Are you reaching back too early? You shouldn’t start the reach back motion until moving into your third and final planting step.
✅ Does your elbow bend? Keep your arm straight during your reach back so that the disc doesn’t cross over to the opposite shoulder
✅ Where is your planting foot? During the final step does your planting foot go behind the back foot, if so that needs corrected.
Step 2: Square Your Form
If you review your recording one thing to note is the motion of your hips and shoulders. Often, newer players who haven’t taken the time to review their form are seen with “collapsed” shoulders and “dipped” hips.
This is usually a case of not rotating at the abs. Causing the lead shoulder to bring the disc in closer to the chest in order to generate enough power. In fact, you don’t want the disc that close to the chest, nor do you want it far away causing an arc. Rather, finding that middle plane between your arm fully extended and the lead shoulder fully collapsed is the key.
Secondly, check your hips. Often players twist so much from the hip that it causes the lead hip to force the lead foot behind the back. This will in turn, cause the release of the disc to be rounded and not fly straight ahead.
This is not to say that the hips can’t have motion. But, at time of release, as you make that final step onto your lead foot, square your hips and keep the lead foot slightly in front of the back. So, If I were to watch you from behind, your lead foot would be more forward then the back.
Step 3: Drill it Down
So you’ve watched videos of the pro’s ripping it down the course and you think, I can do that. Well, what you’re not seeing is the hours they put in not throwing the disc. Rather, going over the motion of throwing in a methodical manner.
More of a tip than an explanation. I won’t patronize you, so take it as a reminder. Slowing down your step up and really going through each part of the throw can start the bad habit correction process. I sometimes count out the motions and focus on each.
Perform a wall drill. Start by standing facing a wall, about arms length away. Put your back foot behind your front planting foot, as if you’re about to take your final step. Go through the reach back and pulling motion. If the disc or your arm touches the wall, you’re rounding.
Once you’re getting it, move into the wall about a foot’s length (start with your arm out, and feet right below your shoulders, then place on foot in front of others to bring you closer to the wall). At this distance from the wall, you should be forced to really turn from the core, and square up the shoulders.
Need more, check out this great video from Scott Stokely:
We all have issues…
Perhaps sports or the games we play are simply reflections of our daily lives. We all have bad habits to confront. My challenge to you is to actually take some time and deal with your disc golf issues. The above methods are simple, short, and will take you a long way towards getting better. I used these methods to go from a “beginner” throw to “intermediate”, and still to this day find myself going back to them. If I have a bad tee shot while out playing, or one of my discs flies off in an odd direction while doing field work, I pause. Slowing down my motion and resetting my form. Hopefully, these methods will help you too. Until Next time…