Perfecting your disc golf form is difficult. If you think otherwise then you are probably not a disc golfer. We have many techniques for working on our disc golf form from watching ourselves in the mirror to resistance training with specific disc golf equipment. We often find the best results by utilizing many different tools and hopefully this article will provide you with another: Indicator discs.
Disc Golf Form Indicators
First off, what is a form indicator? Have you ever thrown your disc much higher than intended and then looked down to see a deep slide mark on the turf from your heel slipping when you stepped? This is an example of a form indicator, which is anything that can help you figure out if parts of your disc golf throwing from are good, bad, or have changed. The idea is simple and you’ve probably had experience with it but maybe haven’t heard the term ‘form indicator’. The most common form indicators are things like total throw distance, flight of your throw compared to the expected flight of that disc, or foot marks like in the example above.
Form indicator discs are a type of disc golf form indicator where the flight of the disc itself indicates variances in your throwing form. Sure, you could just say that crappy form leads to crappy throws, but certain discs can give you better insight into particular parts of your throw than most discs. There are specific aspects of my form that I find I will overlook on occasion and using a set of indicator discs can help me determine my form faults.
Evaluating Your Disc Golf Throw
One thing to note is that to use disc flight as a form indicator, you need to have practiced with that disc long enough that you know how it usually flies for you. Discs fly differently for each disc golfer so you can’t throw a disc once and make assumptions on your form based on how someone else would expect that disc to fly. Ideally, you’ll be able to use the discs that you currently bag as indicators so you can identify form issues if you start struggling in the middle of a round. In my 16 years of disc golf I have thrown an enormous array of discs and these are a few that work well when focusing on these particular form aspects.
Engaging Lower Body
Not engaging your lower body leads to a significant decrease in power and often results in less turn. High speed discs have a tendency to mask these variances but lower speed discs might exaggerate the flight you can see where you went wrong. I like to evaluate my lower body engagement with an understable fairway driver, specifically an Innova Star Leopard throwing from a standing position. This forces me to properly shift my weight with little foot movement. The Leopard is fast enough that it flips very little if I throw from a standing position and ignore my lower body. If I engage my lower body properly, the Leopard will flip up with a slight turn and fade back gently around 325. I specifically use Star because it doesn’t flip up as easily as my Champion so it doesn’t mask my lack of power. I also make sure I’m using discs that are seasoned but in good condition since new discs are always more overstable.
Other indicator discs you may consider to help you check lower body engagement would be:
Discmania FD Jackal
Latitude 64 Maul
Reaching back properly is another crucial element in generating power. There are times when I forget to reach back far enough, maybe I pause too long before rotating, or I might not rotate my hips far enough resulting in decreased power and snap. For this indicator I like to take a slow run up and use a high speed driver with just a touch of turn. The greater turn on lower speed drivers can over mask variances in rotation and reach and using a slow run up will help ensure my lower body is engaged properly. If I notice that the touch of turn disappears and the flight becomes straight or even shows slight positive turn, then there is a good chance that there is something going wrong with my reach back.
Your selection will depend on your arm strength but here are my preferred discs for checking reach back:
Discraft ESP Crush
Innova Star Destroyer
Pulling Elbow Through
The best disc golf throwers pull their elbows through before the rest of their body during rotation, like trying to break down a door with their elbows. This can be tough because we rotate so quickly during our disc golf throw that it is difficult to see the position of the elbow. Sometimes this can lead to inaccurate orientation (bad aim to the left or right) but often this is masked by high speed discs or even your body’s ability to compensate.
I like to test my elbow pull-through with a slow and very straight midrange or putter from a stand-still. If my disc flies straight on a straight line but travels left or right it often means I am not pulling my elbow through. This is especially true when I’m fatigued late in the round or from heat. I often subconsciously compensate with a late release, but this becomes inconsistent and I usually hang on too long resulting in a throw too far right (I’m a RHBH thrower). I’ve been throwing Gateway’s new Diamond Chief lately which is an excellent driving putter with an incredibly straight line. When the Chief flies left or right but on a straight line, then I can bet I’m not pulling my elbow through properly.
Here are a few other good discs for testing you elbow:
Throwing Nose Down
Most discs will give you some indication if you are releasing the disc nose up. You’ll quickly see a high launch with shorter distance and often an inconsistent turn. Some discs will show your nose angle deficiencies more than others, these are usually discs we consider nose angle sensitive or we’ll say they are not forgiving. Higher speed drivers, overstable discs, and especially low glide discs are often more forgiving and the touch or finesse discs are usually considered less forgiving. One disc that is a particularly good indicator of my nose angle is the MVP Ion. When thrown nose down it holds its line for a long distance and displays a great amount of glide, but when I throw it nose up it flies much more slowly and almost floats while it performs an s-curve. If I’m throwing the Ion well then I know that my nose angle is good.
Other discs that may be good at indicating nose angle variances include:
Some discs are great to keep your all around form in check. These are discs that should fly straight for anyone. The Innova Nova is a go-to disc to make sure I’m pulling through on a straight line toward my target without off-axis torque and with a flat release angle. The Discmania FD also fits in this category for most arm speeds.
Form Indicator Conclusions
Clearly there are many different aspects to your form and watching a disc is never going to give you conclusive answers to everything. Form indicator discs are really just meant to help tip you off on a few form deficiencies that you can work on during your field work. Sometimes these indicators are useful if you’re in the middle of a tournament, but at that point it’s best that you use a disc from your bag that you know can act as an indicator.
One thing you’ll notice as you play disc golf longer (or maybe have already noticed) is that overstability often masks the symptoms of poor disc golf form. If you’re not extremely experienced then it’s always a good idea to research discs that are recommended for beginners that will help you develop form the right way. There is a reason that most discs recommended for beginners are understable.
Do you have any disc golf form indicator discs? If so, what are they?
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