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Disc Golf Turn vs. Fade

Updated: Jun 14, 2021

There are many terms that get thrown around in the disc golf world, and I can think of very few other combinations of words that get mixed up or misunderstood by new players (and sometimes experienced players) more than

Turn and Fade.

Both refer to a characteristic of a disc in flight, and both are referring to a direction in a discs flight, which is where the confusion often sets in.

Knowing the difference between the two is very important when choosing discs to buy, going through the shot selection process, and actually choosing a disc for the shot that you're attempting.

It's one thing to know what the numbers mean for turn and fade, and to actually understable the concepts of turn and fade and how they're affected by varying conditions.

In this article, we're going to discuss the 2 and help you not only learn the difference, but also how you can use these characteristics to your advantage to become a better disc golf player, which is always the goal!

So to get right into things,

What is turn in disc golf?

Simply put,

Turn is defined as a disc's tendency to want to go to the right when thrown back hand by a right handed player.

For a left handed player throwing back hand, this idea is reversed as a disc will want to turn to the left if the conditions allow it to.

A disc will will also want to turn to the left when thrown with a forehand by a right handed player, and to the right when thrown with the same forehand throw by left handed player.

Turn is rated on a scale from -5 up +1, with -5 being assigned to discs that are the most likely to turn, or go to the right on a RHBH throw, and +1 being assigned to a disc that is the least likely to turn to the right.

In the rating system, as seen on the discs below, turn is represented by the third number.

Sometimes, you may hear turn referred to as "high speed turn" or "high speed turn phase".

This is because the turn rating for every disc is based on a throw with some power and speed behind it. This is not saying that you need to rip a disc like a professional to achieve the assigned turn rating, but you can't expect discs even with the highest turn rating, to turn when lobbed or thrown with extremely low speed.

Shown here is the flight pattern for the Latitude 64 Diamond, a rather understable, beginner friendly control driver.

The turn phase of this disc's flight path can be seen immediately and out to about 300 ft. before it want's to fade back towards the left.

The Diamond has a turn rating of -3 and a fade rating of 1, so despite its drastic flight to the right, that fade rating of 1 still wants it to come back left as the disc slows down and exits its high speed turn phase.

Wind can drastically change many of the flight characteristics, and turn is no exception.

Tailwinds make a disc feel that it is flying slower, so a disc will fly as if it has less turn when thrown with a tailwind, whereas a headwind makes a disc feel that it is flying with more speed,

thus causing it to fly as if it had a very high turn rating and causing the disc to turn over more quickly than what it would in calm conditions.

Some terms or phrases that you may hear associated with turn include but aren't limited to:

  1. Understable- First and foremost, discs are understable when they have a high turn rating, and a low fade rating.

  2. Flippy- Refers to a disc with either a high turn rating or one that has beat into the point where it flies as if it has a higher turn rating. When a disc easily "flips" to flat on a hyzer release and still wants to finish its flight to the right, it's considered flippy.

  3. Turnover shot- A shot that is taken with a high turn disc and thrown with a enough power to "turn" it over from either a hyzer or flat release and finish it's flight pattern to the right. Often used in lieu of a forehand throw depending on the situation.

  4. Turn and Burn- This usually refers to a disc the turns over so quickly and dramatically that distance is sacrificed due to to crashing and "burning" into the ground much sooner than anticipated. This can happen by misjudging a head wind, putting too much power into a high turn disc, throwing an understable disc too flat.

Discs with a higher rating of turn, generally -4 up through -2, are used for a wide variety of shots such as:

  1. Hyzer Flips- throwing an understable disc on a hyzer release and with a lot of power in order to get the disc to flip to flat mid flight, turn some to the right, and fade/finish back to the left for a RHBH throw. These types of shots are used to maximize distance or for long distance tunnel shots.

  2. Turnover shots- Which we mentioned above, is when a disc is thrown with just enough power and a flat enough releases to prevent it from turning too quickly, but still allowing the disc to finish to the right, rather than straight or to the left.

  3. Rollers- A roller is thrown by placing a high turn disc on a hard, back hand anhyzer line, forcing it to go the ground very quickly, but stand up on its edge and roll forever. You can also throw a forehand roller shot with an understable disc.

  4. Tailwinds- As mentioned, tailwinds will make a disc more stable than its flight ratings say, so understable discs are often thrown in these conditions when a straight finish is intended as a disc with high fade will finish too far to the left.

High turn discs are also extremely beginner friendly because they allow for maximum distance by not fading out to the left too quickly and falling to the ground.

So if you're a beginner and not sure whether or not a disc will be easy for you to throw, check the third number on the disc and make sure it says -5 up to about -2.

Some of my favorite understable discs with high turn compared to fade include:

An article that discusses some great drivers that have good turn and will "go to the right" can be found by CLICKING HERE.

Now that we have turn out of the way, it's time to address our next question at hand,

What is fade in disc golf?

Fade is the opposite of turn, so by definition,

Fade is defined as a disc's tendency to want to go to the left, especially as it slows down when thrown back hand by a right handed player.

This means that a disc with high fade will want to go right for both a left hand back hand throw and a right hand forehand throw.

Fade is rated on a scale from 0-5, with 0 being given to a disc that essentially wants to fly straight like a stable putter, and 5 being a disc that will go the left nearly every time, no matter what.

Used in the same rating as turn, fade is the 4th and final number on discs that print their flight ratings right on the discs. As shown on the disc in the picture above, the fade rating is 2.

Shown here is the flight path for the Innova Firebird, a very overstable control driver option for many players.

The firebird has a turn of 0 and a fade of 4, so as you can see on the flight path, the disc wants no part in going to the right at all and wants to start finishing to the left just past the halfway point in its flight.

Just like discs with high or low turn, speed and stability can and will be affected by the wind.

Tailwinds make high fade discs fly as if they have even more fade to deal with, whereas because headwinds make discs feel as if they're moving more slowly, they will fade harder to the left than what they normally would under calm conditions.

Some terms or phrases that you may hear associated with turn include but aren't limited to:

  1. Overstable- Overstable discs are ones with low turn, but relatively high fade and will want to nearly always go to the left when thrown.

  2. Meat Hook- Refers to a disc with extremely high fade because when thrown, has a flight path that is shaped like a hook.

  3. Beefy- Is simply slang for a disc that is very overstable and is similar to the term "meat hook"

Just like understable discs that go right, discs with a higher rating of fade, usually at least 2, but more often times 3-5, are used for a wide variety of shots, such as:

  1. Anny Flex- Is accomplished by throwing a very overstable disc, and a anhyzer release, and with a forehand throw, which causes the disc to flip back to flat, and finish to the right like it wants.

  2. Hyzer bombs- When the disc is thrown high and comes back down at a steep angle, generally prevent much, if any skip upon landing.

  3. Thumber/Tomahawk- Is done by throwing an overstable discs overhead like you would a ball. Thumbers are when the thumb is placed on the bottom of the disc, and tomahawks are gripped the thumb on top of the disc.

  4. Forehand approaches- Because discs with high fade are overstable, they can handle the force generated with a high power throw and are chose for most players for approach shots from any distance.

High fade discs are not as beginner friendly because they will begin going to the left much too quickly if thrown slowly, which significantly hinders the disc in reaching its longest distances.

So if you're a beginner gravitate toward discs with lower fade numbers from 0-2 if you're looking to maximize distance, and anything more than that if you want a disc that is sure to go left when thrown (RHBH).

Some of my favorite overstable discs with high fade compared to turn include:

Putting it all together

Hopefully, you now understand what fade and turn are individually, but now it's time to see how they interact with each other and tie everything together.

Keep in mind that these descriptions are for discs that are not "beat in" with altered flying ratings and would be under calm, low wind situations.

Learning how specific winds affects a disc's flight is done so in time, but generally speaking, tailwinds make a disc more overstable and headwinds make a disc more understable.

Keep this in mind when reading through these descriptions.

  • Discs with high turn and low fade are considered understable and will tend to have a flight pattern that finishes to the right (RHBH throw). They start off straight for a short distance before turning to the right and ending with a soft fade to the left that is very subtle.

  • Discs with low turn and high fade are considered overstable and will tend to have a flight pattern that finishes to the left (RHBH throw). They will fly very straight out the hand with little to no turn to the right before fading strongly to the left.

  • -Discs with low turn and low fade, OR offsetting ratings such as 0,0; -1,1; or -2, 2 are considered stable and will tend to fly very straight, or have equal amounts of fade and turn so their net finish is neither to the right or left, but rather straight at the target it is thrown. Think stable putters! (RHBH throw)

  • -Discs with high turn and high fade, are typically considered understable and seen in distance drivers where a high turn is offset by a high fade to maximize distance. For example, the Discraft Hades has a turn of -3 and fade 2. It can be turned over if desired, meaning it is understable, but because of its fade of 2, when thrown on a hyzer, it will flip to flat, turn to the right, and fade back to center for an incredibly long flight pattern. (RHBH throw)

By now, you should have a fairly good understanding of turn and fade and how they're different in affecting what a disc should do when it leaves your hand.

They might just seem like numbers at first, but understanding these 2 concepts, in addition to speed and glide, can significantly improve your disc golf game by always aiding in selecting the perfect discs for every shot that you look to take.

If you understand the flight ratings, then you can more easily predict what a disc should do in flight under any condition.

You'll also have a general idea of a what a disc will do before you even ever lay hands on it, which significantly helps when looking to buy a disc.

Furthermore, ratings, especially turn and fade, help you differentiate between discs and help you learn what disc you may need to find for your bag when the discs you have aren't getting it done for a specific shot or two.

If you'd like to see an explanation and overview of all disc golf numbers, then be sure to check out THIS ARTICLE where we quickly breakdown every rating (or number) on a disc golf disc and explain its significance.

And that concludes this article!

If you have any more questions on turn and fade and how it affects disc flight, be sure to send us a message! We'll be glad to help you!

Happy Disc Golfing!

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