Whether you are a new player or more advanced, knowing how to read the numbers on a disc golf disc can be incredibly beneficial. It is important to know the similarities and differences between different discs. In 2009, the disc manufacturer known as Innova Discs company was the first company to ever put numbers on a disc golf disc and develop a flight rating system. The number system can be very helpful when you are trying to find the best disc and flight path possible.
As a gentle reminder, remember that “beating in” the disc (using it over and over) will slightly change the manner in which the disc flies. Keep this in mind and remember to use the numbers to your advantage, but don’t rely on them exclusively.
Understanding Disc Golf Speed Ratings
When looking at the disc, there are four numbers. The first number listed in the sequence represents speed. This relates to how quickly the disc must be thrown in order for it to fly on a certain flight path in the correct manner. The speed numbers range from 1-14, with the lowest numbers relating to shorter distance throws and the high numbers relating to longer distance throws. For example, you won’t need to throw a disc rated as a “2” very hard in order to get it to fly straight, as it takes less effort. However, you’ll have to really put some energy and force behind a disc rated as a “13.”
Most disc golf experts believe that the speed of the disc number is the most important number out of all four digits. Without the correct speed, it would be nearly impossible to achieve the other three aspects of the rating system. Slower discs don’t necessarily mean they can’t fly as far, but rather need less power behind them to achieve the expected flight pattern.
What You Need to Know About Disc Flight Glide
The second number located on the disc describes the glide of the disc. This refers to how smoothly the disc will float in the air and maintain its loftiness. There are numbers from 1-7, with 1 being the lowest glide rating and 7 being the highest glide rating. Lower-speed discs will usually always have a better glide because they have deeper rims that allow them to float along with ease. A low-profile disc, however, will spin more and achieve its glide with its speed.
Disc Golf Discs Turn Guides Explained
The third number located on the disc refers to the turn of the disc. The turn rating refers to the disc’s ability to drift to the right or to the left. Turn flight ratings will range from 1 to a -5. This is the only rating that can use a negative number. If the disc has a negative number, this means that they have a high speed turn. If you were to have a -5 turn rating, that would mean that your disc is “understable,” which refers to the stability of the disc. When throwing at a maximum distance, it is preferred to have faster discs that turn at the end of the flight.
It’s recommended for beginners to throw an understable disc as it should turnover easier for those with a weaker throwing arm. The turnover will allow the disc to level out and fly a little more accurately.
Overstable disc, with a positive Turn flight number are typically used by advanced and pro level players. These discs are more “solid” and heavier and therefore somewhat harder to get turnover.
Disc Golf Terms: Fade
The final number located on the disc describes the fade of the disc. This can range from 0-5. Fading refers to how the disc “fizzles out” as it loses its maximum velocity. Some overstable discs are guaranteed to fade to the left as they decelerate, which comes in handy when there are tricky shots involved.
How to Use Disc Golf Numbers To Your Advantage
Continue building your disc arsenal as you learn more about the game. Soon enough, you will have a variety of discs that can be used in any disc golf game. From high-speed drivers to low-speed putters, knowing how to use the numbers on the disc will help take your game to the next level.
Summary of Disc Golf Flight Numbers
New players to the sport and looking for a beginner guide, check out our Disc Golf 101 article.
Speed: the first number on a disc represents how hard the disc needs to be thrown to fly as expected. This number is scaled from 1-14 with 14 being discs that require a lot of power to fly correctly. Beginners should look for something between 4-9.
Glide: the second number represents the disc’s ability to stay afloat in the air or also known as the loft. Glide is scaled from 1-7. Beginners should look for a higher loft in the 4-7 range.
Turn: the third number (easy to remember because “T” for third = “T” for turn), could be considered the stability of the disc or how hard the disc will turn given the disc golfers hand used to throw. Right handed players have a tendency to turn towards the right during the initial part of the flight. This number is scaled from a 1 to a -5. Beginner’s should look for a lower number, 0 to -3.
Fade: finally there is fade. Where turn represents the beginning of the throw, fade represents the end…at the end of the flight what will the disc do. For a right hand backhand thrower the throw will typically hook left at the end of its flight. Fade is scaled from 0-5. Beginners should look for a disc that flies straight, so from 0-2.
So while this is a quick summary of the characteristics for disc golf discs, in short, beginners want to start with discs that have a low speed, high glide, high turn, and low fade.
One of the biggest factors in the flight of a disc golf disc is the weight of the disc. Discs range in weight from 130g-180g with a typical disc coming in around the 150g weight.
I don’t know why weight isn’t included in the flight numbers. In my humble opinion it should be as I feel like it can have a greater impact on the flight pattern of a disc then the flight numbers itself. Although debatable, I would recommend new players look for lighter discs. Even if the disc is a high glide disc, if the weight makes it fall into the heavier disc range, it’s not going to sail as well for those that can’t get it up to speed. I found this out by testing few different versions of the Latitude 64 River. With the Opto Air plastic version being the lightest and giving me the best chance of getting it up to speed, therefore meeting all the other numbers expected.
But there is an advantage or two for a heavier disc. First, it will cut through a headwind easier than a lighter disc will, as long as you can get it up to speed. Second, it by the nature of being a heavier plastic, should last a little longer and be a bit more durable. So eventually, you will move into the more overstable/heavier disc range. Just don’t start there and expect a lot of accuracy in relation to the manufacturer’s flight numbers.
Quick Dash: What Do The Numbers On A Disc Golf Disc Mean?
This quick dash was intended to give the new player a summarized explanation of a disc’s flight characteristics through an understanding of the flight numbers. By knowing what these numbers mean, one can discern their next disc purchase and have a better idea of the purpose of that disc. If “knowing is half the battle”, now all you have to do is perform…don’t worry, we got you covered there as well. Check out our How-To articles for performance enhancing tips, tricks, and techniques.
Until next time…