Learning the terms
When you’re new to the sport you’ll hear all kinds of terms and jargon along the way. Whether from a youtube video, social media post, or on the course, they’re bound to get overwhelming.
Getting a good grip (pun intended) on the terms early on can really help in your path into learning and getting the most out of the help you receive along the way.
This guide is focused on the disc golf flight terminology used and is key to better understanding how a disc flies and how you get it to fly the way you want it too. These terms combined make up a throw and flight when driving and throwing in disc golf.
The most popular throwing style is a right-hand backhand throw. However, that’s because there are more right-hand players than lefties but that’s why we have a guide.
No matter how you stand or which hand you’re throwing with, you’re using one or two of these throwing styles. To become a better player, you should learn to throw both backhand and forehand throws.
Holding the disc in your right hand, Pulling back to the left and throwing to the right. The back of your hand leads in this throw hence the term backhand.
A natural throw will turn a little to the right during its flight and fade to the left as it finishes.
This is a common throw for right-hand players as it provides a comfortable grip on the disc, control of the lower body, and accuracy with the upper body.
Better known as RHBH, it is the most common method used when describing a discs characteristics or flight paths.
LHBH (Lefty Backhand)
Holding disc with left hand, pulling to the right, and throwing it to your left. Most common for left hand players.
A natural throw will turn a little to the right during flight and fade to the left as it finishes. The left-hand backhand has the exact opposite flight of a right-hand backhand.
This is an important distinction to understand when selecting discs and talking about flight paths if you’re a left-hand player. When looking at flight charts, know that your flight will have the opposite path.
Holding the disc in the right hand, pulling it to the right, behind the thrower, and throwing to the left. Common forehand throw for right-hand players.
In this throw, the underside of the arm or the forearm is leading in the direction of the release hence the term forehand throw.
The RHFH throw will give the right arm player the exact opposite flight path as a backhand throw. So, the disc will turn to the left and fade towards the right. This is ideal for seeking out other flight options on the course.
LHFH (Lefty Forhand)
Holding the disc in your left hand, pulling to the left, and throwing to the right. Most common for lefties and not necessary for right-hand players to learn.
This throw will give the left-hand player the opposite flight of a backhand throw.
A natural throw will turn to the right during its flight and fade to the left towards the end of its flight.
Commonly used to refer to a forehand throws, RHFH, and LHFH throws.
Sidearm throws allow you to have a different stance when throwing. This can come in handy in both drives and approaches. Perfect when stuck behind obstacles or needing some extra reach to the right or left.
For most players, this is the second throwing style they learn. Having this throw in their bag will really improve your game and open you to new shot selections.
Disc Flight Numbers
The most common method of displaying a discs flight characteristics according to the disc manufacturer. The flight numbers are most often in the format of four numbers, with each number representing the speed, glide, turn, and fade, in that order from left to right. Ex. 7|5|0|0
For a more in-depth look into understanding flight numbers, I wrote this post Understanding disc golf weights will improve your throws.
The amount of speed required to perform the way the disc was designed.
The right amount of speed will create a flight path similar to the discs manufacturers’ intended flight path according to its flight numbers. If the disc is not brought up to speed, it will affect how the disc flies and the resulting flight path.
Sometimes speed will get mixed up with power. While more power will give your disc more speed, things like the incoming wind will increase your discs speed as well. With that in mind, it’s safe to say a disc with a lower speed number will require less power from the player than a higher speed disc will.
Glide is the disc’s tendency to stay aloft during flight.
Discs with high glide use its shape to allow more air underneath it, allowing it to stay in the air and sometimes even rising higher into the air during its flight. A higher glide disc usually has a rounder top to create this effect.
Discs with low glide are often flat and will resist their tendency to rise. This doesn’t mean a low glide disc won’t lift your disc with a gust of wind though. It will, however, fight that glide and your disc will sit down to the ground sooner and with more predictability.
The tendency of a disc to turnover after it is thrown.
For a right-hand backhand throws, the disc will turn to the right at the beginning of its flight. A disc with lower turn, will turn to the right maybe a little less and a little later in its flight.
Discs that have a strong tendency to flip over are known as flippy discs. Use caution when throwing these in windy conditions as the wind will make it want to turn over even more.
More turn can be forced on a disc either by the wind or by releasing it on an anhyzer angle.
The tendency of a disc to fall off its flight path at the end of its flight.
For RHBH players, the disc will head to the left at the end of its flight. For LHBH throws the fade will be towards the right.
Fade is an important factor when choosing your disc, your flight path, how your disc lands, and how you throw the disc.
More fade can be forced on the disc, by either the wind or throwing it on a hyzer angle.
How a disc flies through the air is known as the discs’ flight characteristics. Discs have various shapes, rim widths, and weights all of which affect its flight path.
Understanding how and why manufacturers use these ratings will go further to help you select disc to buy, what disc to throw on a particular hole, and what disc to throw in unique conditions such as wind.
A stable disc is usually a disc that turns slightly right and then fades slightly left in its flight for RHBH throws. If this happens the disc should be landing, pretty much, straight in front of you.
Another way to look at it is, a stable disc will have equal or close to equal turn and fade.
7|5|-1|1 and 13|5|-3|3 are both examples of two stable drivers’ flight numbers. Notice one is faster than the other but they both share the same characteristics of having equal turn and fade. These are both considered stable drivers.
An overstable disc wants to fade strong. Overstable disc fight the natural tendency for a disc to turn over. For RHBH throws this fade will be to the left. For the LHBH this will be towards the right.
12|5|0|3 is an example of an overstable driver. It has a strong fade of 3 and no turn at 0. An overstable disc can have some fade. 12|5|-1|3 has a bit of fade in it but it too has more fade than turn.
Overstable discs are great for throwing in a crosswind and for shot shaping on the course.
An understable disc when thrown with an RHBH will want to turn over to the right a lot more than stable and overstable discs would. We call this the turn and usually an understable disc has more turn than fade.
7|5|-3|1 is a great example of an understable disc. in this example, the -3 Turn will force the disc to the right early in its flight. Less fade than turn is the common characteristic of an understable disc.
Understable discs are great for gaining more distance in your throws. These discs have a natural tendency to turn over or flatten out. This will help it gain more distance instead of just fading out of the sky.
An understable disc can come in handy as well for flights where you want your disc to fly to the right to get around obstacles and greens where a sharp turn is necessary.
An S turn is a flight that just as it sounds looks like the letter S. For RHBH the disc will turn over strongly to the right and fade strongly to the left.
The big difference between this and a regular stable flight is an S turn throw usually has an exaggerated turn and fade, making a very distinct S shape in its flight.
S turn throws are perfect for shot shaping on the green, in the trees, and carving unique paths on the course. This shot can be achieved with various discs whether they be stable, overstable, or understable depending on the angle the disc is thrown on and the wind conditions.
A hyzer flip is characterized by the disc having a very fast turn over or flip in its flight. The disc is also thrown on a hyzer angle, usually to get the most speed from the throw or because of the hole layout.
Hyzer flips are often used while driving to achieve more distance along with speed to hit a straight line.
How you are holding the disc right before it leaves your hand is known as the throwing angle. These are some of the most common terms used in disc golf and are important to learn right out the gate to improve your throws and expand your shot options.
It’s important to understand that the throwing angle has a big play on the discs’ flight path. While you may be holding the disc at one angle while you’re pulling it back, the disc may leave your hand at a different angle because of adjustments from your wrist.
While practicing these throwing angles, spend extra time to slow down and make sure you’re hitting that angle upon release.
The wing of the disc is the opposite side of the disc from where you are holding it. The wing will be used in the terms below to help explain different shot angles.
In all throwing styles, the wing is the second half of the disc that is furthest away from your hand.
On a hyzer throw, the wing is dropped down below your throwing hand.
This is a natural throwing angle and is the most commonly thrown because of that. Many disc ratings are meant for a disc that is thrown on a slight hyzer.
If the disc is thrown on a strong hyzer it will become more difficult for the disc to flip over. Perfect for throwing in the wind.
Hyzer’s are used when there are turns in the course, getting around obstacles, and for throwing flippy discs while avoiding its complete turnover.
A flat throw is just as it sounds. The disc plate (top) is level with the ground.
Throwing a disc flat can give you the most control and predictability from a disc when you get it dialed in. This predictability is because on the other throwing angles you’re relying heavily on that exact angle you’re looking for to achieve a certain flight. A disc thrown flat removes these factors.
An understable disc thrown flat tends to add a little under stability to its flight. An overstable disc thrown flat will slightly increase its fade. This varies however on the speed the disc reaches.
On an anhyzer throw, the wing is forced up and above the throwing hand.
Alright, you got one funky term the Hyzer out of the way let’s add another! The anhyzer is just the opposite angle of a hyzer.
Unnatural in its feel on the wrist, an anhyzer angle forces the wing up and above your hand and makes it the hardest throwing angle to learn. While it can be easy to hod the disc in that position, making sure it’s released in that angle is another feat.
The anhyzer can be used for fantastic shot shaping, wrapping around sharp turns on the course, and at times allowing the disc to have a longer flight.
Extreme anhyzer angles can make your disc turn over so much it can achieve too much turn or may become a roller.