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Disc Review

Distance Secrets

by Dave Dunipace

This is a distance article compiled of posts from the PDGA Message Board between Innova's Dave Dunipace and other players.

Table of Contents


I. Pre-Game

II. Set Up
  • Mental Preparation
  • Grip
  • Launch Position

    III. The Beginning (Acceleration)
  • Footwork
  • Reach Back With Bent Elbow
  • Non-Throwing Arm

    IV. The Hit (Snap)
  • The Plant Foot
  • Center Of Gravity
  • Tendon Bounce From the Wrist and Fingers
  • Keep the Nose Down

    V. Pull Through (Power)

    VI. Checklist of the Throw

    VII. Mental

    VIII. Questions and Comments
  • Pro Reach Back Techniques
  • Everything Turns Over
  • Quick Improvement With the Bent Elbow Reach Back
  • Accuracy With Bent Elbow Method

    Appendix 1: Dave's Dozen Do's For Disc Golf Distance

    Appendix 2: Links to Related Websites
  • Websites With Driving Advice
  • Pictures
  • Videos

    Appendix 3: Pure Distance Throwing Techniques


    This article is about getting controlled distance on a disc golf course (“golf D”); it is not about throwing for the pure distance of a distance contest (“pure D”). Golf D and pure D require different techniques and have different goals. Golf D must also include consistency and accuracy that are not as important for pure D. Some comments about pure D are in Appendix 3.

    I. Pre-Game

    Water is power, so before you play each round, drink at least one quart of water. Also, before you start make sure to stretch out thoroughly.

    II. Set Up

    Mental Preparation

    Before you throw, think through your shot. Make sure that you consider factors such as your footing, any injuries you may have, whether the disc is wet. As you weigh these factors know what you want to do, and make sure that you have the ability to do it. After you've thought through all of these factors then don't think any more about technique, just throw it. Fluid, rhythmic integration is probably impossible while you are thinking about the mechanics of what you are doing.


    Many people have wondered if there is one “best” grip to use. I know of at least five different grips that have been used for distance and golf championships including the power grip, fan grip, fork grip, flip the bird grip, and bonopane. What this means is that no one grip is "the" right one, so the specific grip doesn't matter. What is important is that your grip should match your finger and thumb strength.

    If you do use the power grip, there is a best way to do it, though. For the fingers to be lined up correctly, the first knuckle of the index finger should be closer in line to the second knuckle of the middle finger than to the first knuckle, and so on down to the pinkie. This way the finger pads all line up with the crease in the palm. There should also be some space between the index and middle finger. Then by holding the wrist down, the disc can be in line with the forearm.

    With the power grip the index finger is usually the finger that the disc rips off from. The ring finger is usually a “lock” rather than “rip” finger. The ring finger pad is the first to pop off the rim with a power grip and other grips too. If you put your ring finger on the lower part of the rim it will be easier for it to slide off and let the index rip.

    Note, too, that the distance of every shot necessitates a different grip strength from short shot to long. A high degree of precision is possible if you concentrate on the hit. When you are on your game you can put the disc right on the beam at any speed or distance. Just like magic but real.

    Thumb Position

    The thumb position is an important part of every grip, but it is a tricky thing to explain. First realize that just as there is no “best” grip, there is also no “best” place to put your thumb. However, each grip does have a better way to do it depending on your hand size and strength. Here are the points to look for: 1) good feel for the position of the disc in your hand as far as being nose up or down, hyzer or anhyzer, 2) good lock and release to the pivot point that allows for a clean linear release and pivot to the rip point, and 3) a strong rip point with good feel. The thumb is almost always on the flight plate from close to the rim to more central.

    You must realize, too, that your thumb can grip and oppose in more than one place. The various positions are the thumb pad, the first joint, the second joint, and the base. These are in order of the weakest to strongest points. As an added complication, the pressure from the base of the thumb can be translated along the rim such that it is not directly opposed but is none the less effective. Try to become aware of where the pressures are coming from, and what you are trying to accomplish with your grip, and you may find a more efficient and/or powerful grip. At the very least you may be able to focus pressure in your current grip more effectively. It should be emphasized that the grip pressure is light until the disc pivots, then the pressure becomes strong between the thumb and rip point.

    Juliana Korver has pictures of various grips on her web pages. Her grip and thumb position is very close to Sam Ferrans' grip. They feel the flight plate with their thumb and grip with the base and thumb knuckle. (You can see pictures of Juliana's various grips at: http://www.innovadiscs.com/juliana/Grips/backhandpage.htm)

    Launch Position

    Load your wrist and fingers lightly with the wrist down and the disc in the “launch” position so that it is only necessary to concentrate on acceleration and not form. The launch position is the position and orientation of the disc in your hand at the hit point.  Regardless of whether the disc is at the hit point (launch) or in wind up, you have to hold the disc such that when it starts to pivot and rip out it will have the proper tilt and nose angle that you want the shot to have.  Keep your wrist cocked down but not curled back. Your wrist should be more or less in a hand shaking position but cocked down. You also need a wrist down position to have the disc flat to avoid off axis torquing (disc flutter) and severe loss of power. If you hold the disc in the pre-pivot position, all you have to do is put it at the hit spot and the angles will already be there.  It works the same for a putt or an up shot.  Not everyone does this, but it makes shots easier.

    The upper arm muscles should not be pre-stiffened. Only the lower arm and wrist should be stiffened and you should only be using enough tension in your wrist and fingers to maintain the orientation of the hit. The launch position includes the position of the flight plate and most importantly the back of the disc at the time of launch.

    III. The Beginning (Acceleration)


    You want to have light, quick footwork especially the left foot doing the X-step. Ken Climo adds, “I stay on the balls of my feet throughout my run up. Occasionally touching the heel is alright, but don't get flatfooted.” Accuracy is basically timing, and timing can be screwed up by slow or otherwise poor footwork. The X-step is not necessary, but it is very useful. I personally use a short form of the X-step. I stand in the position I want to throw in and about 3 or 4 feet from the front of the tee. I rock my weight from left foot to right, and then I take a quick left and a gliding right. The rhythm of the steps is easily as important as the position of the steps.

    I also tend to approach at a 45-degree angle from right to left, which often doesn't leave much space. With more room, I might take three steps or even four. I try to take as few steps as possible, though, because uphill tees screw with my rhythm, uneven tees screw with my rhythm, slippery tees screw with my rhythm. Actually very little momentum is necessary and can be counter productive. Instead of a long run up, two or three short quick steps are the most efficient and useful. You need momentum, but the run up really doesn't add much momentum in a physical sense; it mainly gives momentum in rhythm and psyche up sense that is also necessary. On particularly bad tees, I can stand on the front of the tee and throw 300-330ft without moving my feet at all. I still have to shift weight, psyche up, and feel the power and rhythm of the snap, though.

    Reach Back With a Bent Elbow

    Minimal reach back with the disc keeps everything going in the right direction. Arm speed comes from elbow extension rather than mere arm motion. To get more acceleration into the hit look for ways to move the disc more quickly in a shorter amount of time. This is where the elbow extension comes into play. The only reach back that counts is elbow reach back, and that should be only as far as you feel powerful starting from. Keep the disc as close to your body as you comfortably can because this is much easier and more efficient. It is not necessary; it is just more efficient. In doing this, if you lose the feeling of momentum, power, and rhythm it won't do you much good, but if you incorporate it into the rest of your throw it will do a ton of good.

    Your elbow should be as high as you can comfortably hold it. I try to hold the disc under my left ear and my elbow away and straight out in front of my body as far as I can without feeling strained. Generally, keep your elbow in the throwing plane and bend it as much as you can before you accelerate the disc into the hit. My elbow isn't bent past 90 degrees, though, because I start to lose the feel of the shot. It's not the exact amount of elbow bend that counts; it's the speed, power, and rhythm of the unbend that counts most. Note, too, that there will be some variety to your elbow position. If you're throwing hyzers your elbow will be lower than if you're throwing turnovers or rollers.

    You want to get as much arm acceleration into the wrist spring as possible. Keep in mind that arm speed at the hit is created from the elbow down to the fingers. You'll get more arm speed by setting your hips and shoulders for a later, quicker swing of the arm and a more powerful pull through the hit. The “hit” is the oriented disc ripping out of your grip. Nothing is passive. The spin of the hips, shoulders and upper arm create a centrifugal force to aid the quick extension of the elbow that accelerates the disc into the spring of the wrist and fingers. If you start with the disc away from your body then you will have to fight against centrifugal force before you can use it. Most throwers who cannot get over the 400 ft barrier are expending too much energy getting to the snap, rather than using energy in and through the snap where the acceleration occurs. The shortest, fastest acceleration is most efficient with the fastest, most powerful shoulder turn initially helping to accelerate the disc centrifugally, and then to catapult the disc out against the wrist and finger tendons at the end of the snap. Therefore, the path of the disc from pull back to release does not need to be in a straight line. The path that the disc takes from the end of the reach back to the point of separation does not affect the line of flight except at the point the flight begins. This means that it doesn't matter what arc or path the disc takes before the hit (snap). The path the disc takes after launch is determined at the hit, not before. For accuracy, it doesn't matter if you start with your arm straight or bent; it only matters where the hit makes it go. The pre-bent elbow style also makes short approach shots potentially real easy as you can basically throw from right under your chin where you can see the shot.

    During pull back some of the top pros keep their non-throwing hand on the disc. You want to make sure to keep your non-throwing arm close to you your body. Therefore my opinion is that if you are using the full reach back method, it is important to take your non-throwing hand off of the disc because it would then be away from your body along with the disc. If you are using the pre-bent elbow method, the disc is always close to your body so the non-throwing hand can be used to hold the disc.

    Changing to the Bent Elbow Technique

    Here are a few suggestions for changing from a disc reach back to the bent elbow reach back.

    Chop Your Elbow
    1) Throw as you usually do, but even if you start from a straight arm full reach back position remember to chop your elbow later and quicker. I think you'll find it easier to start with the elbow bent once you learn to chop the elbow more quickly. Stand still in a throwing position and practice your swing as you normally do except emphasize the elbow chop. You will find that you have to bring the disc to your upper chest just to move it back out again. This is very inefficient and difficult to maintain timing and acceleration.
    2) Then start with the elbow bent and do everything else the same. Use the same feet, hips, shoulders, upper arm, but just bend the elbow with your reach back. You will find that it is much easier to then uncurl the elbow quickly, powerfully, and with timing. This is the first part to develop acceleration. The next part is to efficiently use the added acceleration.

    Gradually Change Your Throw
    Don't start with the elbow bent at first. Instead, slightly delay and emphasize the speed of your present elbow motion in conjunction with your normal form. Next, in the context of your normal motion, emphasize your wrist and finger tightening through the snap until you can anticipate and feel the disc ripping out. Then, emphasize pulling through the snap with your arm and shoulder turn as the disc is ripping out. Keep your right knee slightly bent and prepare to pivot to relieve the resulting stress from the increased pull through.

    Non-Throwing Arm

    The non-throwing arm (left arm for right handers) should be in next to your body so that it doesn't slow your spin. Later it can be used to slow you down by extending it away from your body after your disc is away.

    IV. The Hit (Snap)

    The most important part of any throw is the “hit”. The hit is a collective term referring to the rhythm, orientation, placement, power, and feel of the disc ripping out of your grip. Everything is done to accommodate the hit; this includes snap rhythm, power, plus disc angles and position in space. The hit is where the disc pivots until it rips out of your hand. It is a concentrated acceleration that is very easy to feel when it is short and quick, but more difficult when it is not. The feel is everything. Your concentration should be on the feel of the disc as a central focus. You need to feel the orientation, the position in space, and you need to feel of the weight (inertial shift) as the disc is ripping out of your grip. Prepare your shot from the hit back. In other words, find how you want to position your body such that you have the most power pulling at the very end of the hit rather than the beginning. The most important elements of the hit are a quick pivot into a strong rip with strong fingers and wrist. Next in importance are very quick acceleration into the hit and a strong pull through. Following these primary elements would be helping factors like footwork, footing, strength, flexibility, specific mechanics (such as the bent elbow start), quick and powerful hip and shoulder turn, and using your center of gravity effectively. A strong grip, flexibility, and excellent timing are important, but strong hips, thighs, upper buttocks, and torso muscles also help.

    Aim with the momentum of the accelerating disc at the hit, not with the motion of the disc up to the whip. When the disc pivots and rips out it get very heavy. That directed weight, caused by acceleration, is what you aim with. Never take your focus off of the weight of the disc, disc position and the back of disc that will leave latest. What happens to good throwers all the time is that they get caught up in mechanics such as foot placement, arm motion, or body position, and they lose track of the most important focal point that determines all the rest. It's very hard to describe the focal point to someone who hasn't been aware of it. It's that quick pivot and disc ripping movement or sensation that we use to time and aim our shots. All of our energy is used to power the pivot and rip of the disc out of our hands. Find your rip point and focus on the sensation of the disc accelerating and ripping out; let that feeling guide everything that you do.

    When analyzing your throw you should ask yourself questions like "Does the hit feel quick, powerful, oriented, and properly directed?" If the answer to any of those questions is “No” then find out why. The two most important places to look first would be directly before and after the hit. That is assuming that you have the sharp rhythm of the hit first. Try to find out what can you do better to accommodate the hit. Look at areas such as better starting mechanics, better finishing mechanics, better grip mechanics, more compact hit, better foot placement, better shoes, better pivot, better arm position, better focus on the hit.

    At the hit some people wonder which you should try to get - more speed or more spin. Ken Climo advises that you should try to get more speed. Mr. Climo wrote, “Try to get more speed off the hand instead of worrying about spin. Use your legs, hips, back, and shoulders to create max speed, and the spin will take care of itself. If you get more speed on the disc you will get more spin.”

    Now lets look at some of the specific aspects of the hit.

    The Plant Foot

    Your plant foot, for a right-handed thrower, is your right foot. Your left foot will be doing the shortened X-step. Personally I would not plant your right foot more than 90 degrees from the target. If you have knee or hip problems I would recommend opening up the angle to 80 degrees or less. You can still pull through powerfully and not put as much stress on your knee. Your left foot should come off the ground as your right foot pivots during the pull through. Next is optional. You can either step through with your left foot as you follow the spin of your arm and shoulders over the pivot on your right foot, or you can bend your left knee and follow through with your knee keeping your left foot on the back or side of your right knee. Stepping through enables you to throw clean level powerful throws. It doesn't require nearly the same flexibility or knee and ankle torsion as following through with only your knee.

    Here's a very important note: Don't lock your plant foot down. It needs to pivot just after the snap to relieve tension on your knee. In order to pull through the end of the snap, your hip and shoulder will take your knee to a place it doesn't want to go. The tension is released with the spin. If you try what I have been telling you, you will not be able to stop turning until you tweak your knee or your foot pivots. Take your pick. Personally, I would use the ball of the foot, but many throwers spin on their heel. There is more potential energy and flexibility in a slightly bent knee and the weight on the ball rather than the heel. Note, too, that you will lose energy by not spinning properly.

    Many of the top pros take a very long final step onto their plant foot, but the average golfer should not do this. These pros are exceptional athletes who are very strong and flexible. They can afford to do things inefficiently and get away with it, but you and I cannot. If you take a very long step onto your plant foot (right foot for RHBH) you can get more power into the front side of the hit, but it won't do you much good if you can't finish properly. If your drive step to your plant is too long then you will not be able to get your weight over your plant foot and then pivot and follow through down field like Ken Climo and Cam Todd do. Barry Schultz has an in-between style. His last step is slightly too long for him to get completely over his plant foot, but he compensates by leaning right. He is still able to pivot forward and take stress off his knee, but he is not lined up. I have seen Barry do it right when he threw a Roc off tee 5 at the USDGC, so I am guessing his style varies. I recently had a training session with Avery Jenkins about this very thing. He was taking too long a step, jamming his plant foot, and was preventing a level, efficient shot. He is so strong he was able to muscle the shot anyway, ala Steve Rico, but when we corrected his shot it came out level, straight, and scary fast. The moral of the story is that just because the top pros are throwing real far it doesn't mean that they're doing it in the most efficient manner. Instead of taking a long step onto your plant foot you should concentrate on getting the most out of the energy you are already putting into the throw. If you do this then you will easily get 50 or more feet of added distance. Acceleration into the hit and powerfully pulling through with your center of gravity over your plant foot is the easiest on your body and the most efficient.

    Center of Gravity

    At the hit you need to have your weight and center of gravity transferred over your plant foot so that you can pull through and finish level. This ensures that all of the energy is transferred forward and not vectored upward by having your center of gravity behind your plant foot. If your center of gravity is behind your front foot then you will lose energy and tend to throw high and nose up. Many pros, however, have their center of gravity behind their plant foot. Ken Climo, Cam Todd, and I believe Ron Russell have their weight over their plant foot, and they all finish through the throw instead of behind or to the side as many others do. Steve Rico compensates by leaning to the right and rolling his ankle, thereby avoiding most of the upward vector.

    One long thrower, Ken Jarvis in California, has noted that he stands pretty straight when he throws. Ken said, “From watching myself in the video by Theo Pozzy I noticed that I stand straight up when I throw. Imagine a center of gravity line going from the top of the head straight down to the ground. For me the center of gravity line would run right through my spine right in between my legs. My spine is its own axis. I think that this helps me get the greatest distance with little effort. The easiest way to obtain the greatest arm speed would be for your arm to go perfectly perpendicular with the center of gravity line.” This is analogous to an ice skater; it is much easier to spin quickly in an upright position. In addition, at the hit it is easier to direct the energy forward instead of vectored which causes a loss of energy. Ken Jarvis spins more quickly than just about anyone I can think of. He also has tremendous elbow drive and an awesome tendon bounce off of his very strong fingers.

    Tendon Bounce From the Wrist and Fingers

    There is definitely a trick to getting maximum distance with seemingly little effort, and it's not “smoothness”. The trick is to use a “tendon bounce” which springs the disc off of the wrist and fingers. To do this you use your fingers and wrist as springs rather than hinges. With a tendon bounce you must force as much pressure as possible onto as tight a spring as possible. This spring creates a rebound force that is added to the momentum from the forward velocity of the hand. To illustrate the tendon bounce firmly hold the handle of a strong wooden spoon with your right hand while your left hand attempts to bend it back. When your left hand releases the spoon it will spring forward. This is essentially what is happening when you throw a disc. The faster you accelerate the disc forward the more the disc's mass and momentum hold your fingers and wrist back until they spring the disc forward. So it is not speed that works the spring but acceleration. Acceleration is the change in speed over time, so the greatest change in speed over the shortest time frame will produce the most force against the spring to be utilized as a bounce along with the velocity of the hand. For acceleration, the pattern is always: step, hips, shoulders, then elbow, wrist, disc pivot, fingers, shoulder pull, bang. In order to get enough force into the ejection you need maximum acceleration because force equals mass times acceleration. Most of the acceleration will come from the added elbow extension speed. This is made easier by a pre-bent elbow. Finger and thumb pressure are also critical to achieving this maximum acceleration before separation. The combination of the elbow motion, small wrist motion, and quick disc pivot is sufficient to bounce the disc out and have it rip off your fingers as long as you don't let it slip out.

    Right before the hit starts the wrist will wag back slightly and then go forward slightly. This is when the part happens that's important to remember. Your wrist should not continue forward to sling the disc out; instead it should come to an abrupt, steely stop. At this point your wrist should be stiff and held motionless, so try to stiffen your fingers, wrist, and arm as much as possible at the moment of impact of the snap. It's similar to a karate chop in that there is very little wrist motion. You don't want to keep your wrist stiff throughout the whole throw, though. At the beginning of the throw you want to only have enough tension in the fingers and wrist to hold the disc in launch position. You only become tight at the hit. Notice, too, that using the tendon bounce does not mean that your arm stops just because your wrist motion stops. The arm and shoulders must continue to pull through the snap with as much force as possible as the disc is ripping out of your fingers. Pulling through the hit with your hips and shoulders generates power.

    With good throws sometimes a snapping sound can be heard. The snapping sound is caused by your fingers slamming together after the disc rips out of your grip. Although the snapping sound isn't necessary, it is indicative of proper acceleration. At separation the rim of the disc forces the thumb apart from the fingers. If this is done quickly and powerfully enough then the fingers snap back against the base of the thumb with a pop. If your finger pressure is insufficient at separation then you will neither get a snap nor proper acceleration as you need to hold the disc as long as possible for maximum rotation and acceleration.

    In summary, three things need to happen in quick succession: the wrist has to stop, the disc has to pivot and rip off the fingers, and you have to pull through this action with your arm and shoulder turn. On the injection side of the hit you want compressed acceleration; on the ejection side you want power. All throwers use the spring from the tendon bounce to some extent whether they are aware of it or not. My point has always been to become aware of it and use it to its fullest potential.

    Keep the Nose Down

    To consistently get the nose down I believe it is helpful to throw with the disc coming through high and finishing level, otherwise you have to bend your wrist down uncomfortably far. In order to pull through and finish level it is extremely helpful to have your weight transferred over your plant foot at the hit. As I said previously, if you do this all then the energy is transferred forward and not vectored upward. If your center of gravity is behind your front foot you will lose energy, and tend to throw high and nose up. (Steve Rico doesn't really lose any energy because he is off to the right the energy remains in the same plane, and because it's centrifugal acceleration, not linear, as so many think, it doesn't make a difference. It's just harder to do.)

    V. Pull Through (Power)

    Most people concern themselves with getting to the snap. They believe that if they reach back farther, or run up faster, or swing their arm faster that it will automatically translate into a longer throw, but this is not true. Putting more power into a slower whip will not result in a longer throw; it will only produce a more tired thrower. Instead, if you will concentrate your efforts into pulling through the hit you will get much better results. This is assuming that your disc is not slipping out but being sprung out.

    Pulling your shoulders through the end of the snap is one of the most important aspects of getting distance. I'm referring to “pull through” and not necessarily what many think of as “follow through”. “Follow through” is a directive that we hear all the time in sports from those of us who like to teach. I believe that at best the concept can be misleading; at worst it is debilitating. If “follow through” is taken to mean “continue the arm after you've thrown” then you've been misled. However, if “follow through” is used to maintain a consistent form at the end of a throw then it is probably a good thing.

    During your pull through you should pivot on the ball of your plant foot. Ken Climo says, “Use the ball of your foot to pivot free flowing. I've been throwing for fifteen years like this and I haven't had any ankle injuries. This kind of pivot is also way less stressful to the spine and related muscle groups.”

    Follow through should occur naturally due to the powerful pull you must exert through the end of the snap. If your weight is up on your pivoting plant foot, then a strong pull through the snap will end with your right shoulder at least 180 degrees from the target because you couldn't stop it. If your arm doesn't have enough momentum to end completely away from the target on its own then you are not pulling through the snap hard enough. On a very short throw, you may want to continue the follow through of your arm to maintain consistent form as your arm may not have enough momentum on its own.

    VI. Checklist of the Throw

    This is a document I prepared for the Winnicrew to help them with their clinics.  I created this simple checklist to help them observe, check, and articulate.

    Disc Golf Driving Checklist

  • Injection and Compression Side (up to where the disc gets real heavy loading fingers)

    Things to look for:

    1. Light quick footing
    2. Plant foot at about 90 degrees with slightly bent knee
    3. Hips opening up first
    4. Shoulder turn next and fast (both hands tight to body)
    5. Elbow extension following (not concurrent with shoulder turn)
    6. Wrist stop
    7. Powerful wrist position
    8. Powerful grip especially after pivot at rip point
    9. Disc held high through throw
    10. Wrist down and disc in plane with throw

  • Ejection and Pull Through Side (where heavy disc springs and rips from grip)

    Things to look for:

    1. Weight over plant foot and still in front of disc
    2. Pull through with full force of shoulders and arm (maximum power exerted at this point, not before)
    3. Pull through ending up at least 180 degrees from the target.
    4. Plane of arm matches plane of disc
    5. Pivot on front foot (ball or heel, but ball is better)

    VII. Mental

  • The most important element in learning is imagining that you can do it.
  • The next most important element is relaxing all your muscles that aren't throwing.
  • You can't throw the disc with your brain. No matter how much you know about technique, you have to perform, not recite.

    VIII. Questions and Comments

    Pro Reach Back Techniques

    Steve Brinster [USDGC 2001 distance throwing champ] throws using the bent elbow technique. (See a picture of Steve Brinster at http://www.faculty.fairfield.edu/lsteffen/norwalk2002/stevedistance.jpg) Dave D's comment on Brinster's picture: That's a good picture. He's already up on his right foot and hasn't even started his elbow. Appears he's in maximum position. His form is better than mine.

    Q: Do any of these pros -- Barry Schultz, Cameron Todd, Todd Branch -- use the bent elbow technique?

    A: No, I don't think any of these guys use it as a starting position, but they all use a lot of elbow for acceleration as all good long throwers do. Another thing they all do is to pull through the hit strongly. Watch the finishing position of their arms. They all have a very strong hit (wrist and fingers) to pull through to. Avery and Dave are particularly strong drivers. My technique just makes it a little easier to do what these guys are doing already using a little harder starting position. As a consequence of my starting position, on a good day my distance off the tee is comparable to theirs. I don't think I would have a prayer keeping up with them using their technique (i.e.- the full reach back starting position).
    Tita Ugalde is probably the best example of the benefit of the technique. She is the current two time Women's Pro Masters World Champion. She is over forty and short. When we play at La Mirada, she literally stops traffic the way that Juliana does; she out drives most of the men at the park. It works very well for women as they tend to be slower than guys. It works great for old guys like me who have slowed down, have back problems, are not as flexible. It doesn't work at all for anyone who doesn't get it. That's okay.

    Everything Turns Over More

    Q: I've been trying to get incorporate some of Dave's advice into my drives, and I think I have more snap (from the feel of the pads of my fingers I do!), but now I've got a new problem. I'm turning everything over. And I mean everything-- Rocs, Teebirds, Valks, Firebirds, and even Whippets. The Whippets and Firebirds usually come back at the end, but the others don't. Is this a natural effect of more snap? Do I have to start putting hyzer on every shot to just try to keep them straight? I've been usually trying to release as flat as possible unless the shot needs to curve a lot.

    A: There are basically two reasons why you may be turning your discs over. First, you are throwing significantly faster with worn, speed sensitive discs. Second, and more likely, is off axis torque or flutter along with more speed. If it is the latter, you may need to adjust your grip or your wrist position. To test whether it is wrist position, throw and monitor your thumbnail position. It should stay relatively flat and level to the ground on a flat and level throw. If it rolls to the right, you are rolling your wrist. If it doesn't roll left or right, but points upward, you are lifting you wrist. Most likely you are rolling. Ideally you want a clean (no flutter) in line snap.

    Quick Improvement With the Bent Elbow Reach Back

    At this point, with only one hour's practice, I can already throw with the bent elbow reach back as far as I could with the full reach back. One whole year of arm-speed technique out the window after one hour of Dave's way. Another advantage to Dave's way is, because the spin is so much greater it doesn't hook and fade as much. It goes straighter and therefore improves your accuracy and scores.

    Accuracy With the Bent Elbow Reach Back Method

    I have played at least 100 rounds with Johnny Sias. He starts with a bent elbow. He is the most accurate player I have seen inside 300 ft. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

    copyright © 2001, 2002 by Dave Dunipace
    All pictures and videos referenced are copyright © by their creators
    Reproduced with permission

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    Appendix 1: Dave's Dozen Do's For Disc Golf Distance

    1. Load your wrist and fingers lightly with the disc in the "launch" (snap) position and hold it through the wind up.  The launch position includes the position and orientation of the flight plate.

    2. Prepare your shot from the snap back. In other words, find how you want to position your body such that you have the most power pulling at the very end of the whip rather than the beginning.

    3. Use light quick feet, especially the left foot doing the X step. Accuracy is basically timing, and timing can be thrown off by slow or otherwise poor footwork.

    4. Keep your focus on the disc position and orientation, the back of your disc, which will leave last, and the feel of the hit (snap).

    5. Use your elbow.  "Arm speed" comes from elbow motion rather than arm motion per se.  For maximum acceleration through the snap use your elbow.

    6. Use your fingers and wrist as springs to bounce the disc, rather than hinges to sling it. Stiffen your fingers and wrist to force the disc to rip out of your grip.

    7. Bend the knee of your plant foot for balance and to help take stress away from the joint.

    8. Wear shoes that have good traction but that will allow your front (plant) foot to pivot. Pivot on the ball or the heel of your foot as you follow through.

    9. Aim with the snap momentum, not the motion of the disc up to the whip.

    10. Concentrate on finishing the snap. Very little momentum is gained by reaching back with the disc or from a long run up. Finishing is much more important.

    11. Pull through the snap with your hips and shoulders to use your most powerful muscles most efficiently.

    12. Feel, don't think. Fluid, rhythmic integration is probably impossible while you are thinking about what you are doing. You can't throw the disc with your brain. No matter how much you know about technique you have to perform, not recite.

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    Appendix 2: Links to related websites

    Websites with driving advice

  • Ken Climo's “Buckle up for my driving school!” http://www.kenclimo.com/distance.htm
  • Rick Bay's “License to Drive” is a classic, but the site is currently down. http://www.discgolfonline.com/ (This article can also be found at: http://www.geocities.com/discreview/drivingform.html)


  • Juliana Korver's pictures of various grips at: http://www.innovadiscs.com/juliana/Grips/backhandpage.htm
  • Picture of Steve Brinster (USDGC 2001 distance throwing champ) from http://www.faculty.fairfield.edu/lsteffen/norwalk2002/stevedistance.jpg
  • Picture of Juliana Korver's reach back (1998) at http://www.innovadiscs.com/juliana/Gallery/arm.html
  • Picture 1 of Juliana Korver's follow through at http://www.innovadiscs.com/juliana/Gallery/cadr.html
  • Picture 2 of Juliana Korver's follow through at http://www.innovadiscs.com/juliana/Gallery/houstondr.html


  • Theo Pozzy's excellent videos, picture, and article, http://home.attbi.com/~tpozzy/prodrives.htm
  • DiscTV videos of 6 pros driving at UNC 13, http://www.disclife.com/dj020415a.shtml
  • Video of Mark Collicot driving, http://www.disclife.com/worlds2000/gallery/video_tue_01.shtml
  • Video of Ron Russell driving, http://www.disclife.com/worlds2000/gallery/video_mon_01.shtml
  • Video of Cam Todd driving, http://www.disclife.com/lt010301b.shtml
  • Video of Max Voigt driving, http://www.disclife.com/worlds2000/gallery/video_tue_01.shtml

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    Appendix 3: Pure Distance Throwing Techniques

    · Which method is better for D:
    1. Flipping a stable disc with anhyzer or,
    2. Throwing an understable disc with a fairly flat or hyzer release? or is it more of a personal preference?

    · By Randy Wimm:
    In cases where D is all that matters, eliminate flipping. When a disc is flipping it is burning thrust and rotation. If a disc is delivered with anhyzer, it doesn't have to expend the energy of flipping. Even more...if it is flipped during delivery, the flip itself is added spring to the drive. Once it has been delivered...it is immediately experiencing full flight on a line that will not be altered until the disc starts coming out on it's own. (Unless you hit something) Then the disc experiences it's next unimpeded flight until the ground gets in the way or it simply stops flying and falls to Earth. It's simply a matter of finding how much air the particular disc is going to need to get it's full two flights and figuring out how far left you have to accommodate the full right turn and fade back left. The second part is tough! Big D is not big accuracy. To answer the riddle: Depends on what you need to do with that approach shot!

    · It seems like throwing an understable disc with a fairly flat or hyzer release would give you more of as "S" flight path, thus more D. But I can see where the forward motion/energy is probably more important.

    · The other principal involving S flight and D is this: When a disc is thrown flat and straight it will fade off to the left at the end of the flight. RHBH In an S flight the disc will fade straight ahead giving you even more distance. (By Rick Black Thursday, December 20, 2001 - 04:16 pm)

    · By Randy Wimm
    Oh...I should add that today's fast, stable discs (they will be tomorrows slow ones) do allow for a straight crush for big D. I know guys that are crushing with a lot of power straight ahead. There is so much torque, the disc flips immediately after take-off, but being fast and stable, the disc doesn't make a right turn. The disc seems to be sitting on a perfect balance between the forces of fade and the forces of turnover.
    For max D I think they are losing a little in the wide open delivery of the Anhyzer but as the discs improve, they are catching up in a straight line.

    · With the anhyzer throw is the importance of getting the nose down. The nose down will delay fade and keep the speed up. It's the combination of altitude and nose down that makes the anhyzer distance shot so effective. (Friday, December 28, 2001 - 11:15 pm)

    · Getting back to the pure distance throw, how does one accomplish both nose down, and an upward attitude? Is the wrist turned differently than a flat level throw? I haven't consciously tried the "elbow, not disc back" method, but have noticed good results when it "just happens" that way. When I make an effort to reach straight back, I often turn over the disc more than intended. Is this normal? (By meat on Sunday, December 30, 2001 - 11:04 pm)

    · By Randy Wimm on Sunday, December 30, 2001 - 11:59 pm:
    I would say that if you make an effort to reach farther back...or gain more arm speed...or get better use from the entire body...or just about anything that is going to add power to your throw--there is a good chance you will turn the disc over because of the added power. Also, the harder a person tries to throw, the more they want to turn their wrist over (hold on longer).

    · By meat on Monday, December 31, 2001 - 01:20 am: That stands to reason...so does one compensate, say concentrate on keeping the wrist down, or is this a sign of trying TOO hard? On said throws, I often do a 360 AFTER release.

    · By Dave Dunipace on Monday, December 31, 2001 - 04:53 am: Meat, yes you want to keep your wrist down to keep the disc from fluttering (off axis torque) as it rips out. How you get height and nose down is by changing the position of the nose. You throw the nose about 30 to 45 degrees left, 15 to 30 feet high, with a right bank (anhyzer). As the disc turns to the right, the right side of the disc becomes the nose and flies nose down and glides downhill in a left to right trajectory. As the disc runs out of speed it will then automatically bank to the left when the left edge becomes the nose and continues downfield nose down right to left. Review Randy's post, he described it well.

    · For hyzers bend at the waist. For turnovers and rollers with stable discs, arch your back. Some people have trouble arching their back, so your can stand straight, lift you arm up to your face and use turning discs also. The higher your arm is, the more your can use your powerful lat muscles along with your traps.

    (From an earlier thread)

    · By Chris Max Voigt Friday, April 06, 2001 - 10:58 am:
    From what I have heard most of the former world records had pretty big winds. This I know, since I have talked to people, who were watching those records. For example, Chris Himing, from Australia, told me, that Michael Canci who set the world record in 1987 with 613 feet (Lightning disc) had never thrown over 500 feet before--guess on the wind then!
    To give you some more facts evaluating how easy it is to throw far in bigger winds just have a look at www.dtworld.com and look for the results for rounds two and three were the wind picked up to 13-20 mph (measured by a "wind meter") compared to the first round where we had 8-15 mph wind. as far as i remember mark molnar told me that he measured my 712-footer at 10-15 mph. to answer one of the questions i have read: it is key to those big throws to put more anhyzer on your throw the higher you intend to throw. this is even more extreme in higher winds, since the disc tends to float longer and therefore has more time to hyzer out left. some of my thoughts:
    --elevation plays a very important role too!! lots of distance players have set their personal best in fort Collins (around 1800 m) and Kingston (around 1600 m)
    --maximum wind at 20-25 mph, to give others the chance to have the same and better wind conditions (not as little 5 mph, since it is an important ability to play the wind and favours players with clean throwing technique like mark and ken jarvis or jack cooksey)
    --measuring from the throwing line (even though i know from my experience, especially at the last event, that it varies sometimes big time from those measurements out in the field)

    · By Chris Max Voigt Sunday, April 08, 2001 - 08:21 pm:
    Another thing that you can ask anybody who has practiced distance for a longer time is the fact that the best wind for a righty is over his left shoulder (and over the right shoulder for lefties). only then the wind can really get under the disc. for ideal conditions you don't want a wind from 90 degrees from the left side or directly from behind.
    The stronger the wind gets the further you can throw a disc, but it is getting harder to get that perfect throw out there. my experience is that the "hit or miss situation" in high winds is double ! i got practice-throws over 250 m in high winds , but it wasn't mainly my power anymore and i got frustrated by all these other discs that dropped out of the sky way before that distance. the same thing i have heard from my friend randy lahm, who threw in practice a phoenix! (used for the record in 1988 by Sam Ferrans) over 240 m. actually randy thinks this still is the best disc for high winds...
    A high wind situation also is altering your disc choice, as you have to throw lower weights (less stable!) due to the longer glide and the fact that discs have more time to fall left ! it might be even that old turnover disc once the wind is screaming--this situation i have never had all these years though.
    By the way, it was the first time for many years that i had a good wind situation combined with an unrestricted throwing field...the wind discussion we are having here is only for the very rare case that a tournament will be held (and announced in advance !!) on a very windy day....this i have never had those 20 - 30 other tournaments i have been to before !!! (-- NOT saying that other players had more luck or that i would have been capable of a 217m throw all those years !!!)
    One tip i would like to give for those of you who go out there to practice distance throws: try to have the wind blowing over your left shoulder and then throw slightly out of it to the left with your anhyzer, so the disc will only get into the "wind-channel" after one third to half of the estimated flight distance, because only then when the disc slows down and starts gliding you need the winds help and only then the wind really affects the disc's flight !--otherwise your anhyzer sails out of the wind and you are loosing a lot !

    · By Erin Hemmings Friday, April 20, 2001 - 12:21 pm
    How far can you throw an XS in zero wind? What's the distance lost by using a three step run-up instead of a 360 release? My current average best is bordering at 500' with a line drive, very flat throw. I use stable discs like the X2, Eagle, Firebird, etc. I want to achieve 600' and I think I can do it.

    · By Scott Stokely Friday, April 20, 2001 - 12:34 pm
    Hey Chris. One thing to point out about your record that is very important is that the wind was not blowing super hard when you threw your shot. It was nice and steady but not exceptionally fast. What you did that the rest of us could not was two things. First and foremost, the disc left your hand faster than anyone. Second you found the line that we were all looking for. You threw in a slightly different direction than the rest of us and I thought you were wrong but it turned out that not only did you out throw us, you out thought us as well.

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