Curious where the most power comes from to generate your longest throws?
Throwing backhand is going to provide the most power and with the right technique, decrease your chances of injury significantly.
Let’s dive right in and begin with the grip.
How do I grip a disc for a backhand throw?
Grip will vary slightly from person to person as we all have different sized hands and fingers.
Likewise, discs have different rim widths and depths also, making your grip decision situational.
The standard backhand grip is known as the “power grip”.
With the power grip, you have a tight grip on the side of the disc with your four fingers wrapped around the disc rim and the tips of your fingers pressed into the inside of the rim all touching each other.
When held correctly, it will look like this:
Some players will opt to only use 3 fingers instead of 4, allowing the pinky finger to just rest out of the way. It looks like this:
As shown below, the thumb rests firmly on the top of the disc just to the inside of the rim or on the rim-top itself, depending on your preference. This is for both 3 and 4 finger grips.
The disc shown is the the Latitude 64 Diamond, an excellent understable control driver and one of the best for beginners, click on any of the pictures to check it out!
Backhand Throwing Technique
Proper technique is not only going to decrease your risk of injury, but is essential in achieving maximum power for a full-flight out of your disc.
Throwing with this technique is going to feel unconventional to any other throwing style and will take A LOT of practice to get comfortable with at first.
To start, let’s say you’re starting your throw from a standstill.
First, you’ll want to position your body sideways, or perpendicular, to your target with your throwing shoulder pointed directly at your target as shown below:
The next phase of the throw is the reach back and is super important as any error in this translates to a poorly thrown disc when released.
During the reach back, a right-handed player (opposite for lefties) draws the disc back across their chest and extends their throwing arm back until it is mostly straight, as shown below.
Slight rotation of the hips in this direction will help with generating more power. The head follows the disc back to some degree to help ensure the shoulders are becoming a part of the throwing mechanism.
Now it’s time to throw!
Weight transfers from the hips and legs and shifts from the back foot to the front “plant foot” during the throw. The hips are engaged to slightly turn towards your front foot.
The front foot, which should be placed perpendicular to the target is remaining constant until it’s time for the follow through.
The elbow of the throwing arm is pulled forward and bends to an almost 90 degree angle with the disc following a straight line across the chest. It should be tightly kept close to the body to minimize drag, and extends to a full “snap” of the lower arm in the “power pocket” while the shoulders and hips are rotating towards the right.
The opposite (left) arm is kept down and along the side of the body through this part of the throw to also help with decreasing drag and maximizing the spinning torque your body is creating.
When the disc is thrown properly, it should feel quite heavy during the pull-through and exit the fingers with so much torque that it would feel impossible to hold on to it if you wanted to.
A common mistake made is players releasing their fingers at the end of their throw, but ultimately you want the disc to rip out of your fingers.
Additionally, the disc should be released as flat as possible, unless you're adding some Hyzer or Anhyzer to the disc.
Follow through at the end of every throw will help build confidence in your shots and be the greatest factor in decreasing injury. Once the disc has ejected from your fingertips, the body should act like a mechanism that is on a single point axis, rotating from the ball of your plant foot in a clockwise motion.
The throwing arm, due to the explosive torque you just generated, will continue to rotate to the right, away from the body, while the opposite arm will also then also rotate to the right, helping to slow (eccentrically for your medical people) the body down in it’s spin.
The left leg will likely whip around as well to help with this, but is a sign that the lower body was used properly to generate even more power than only the shoulders could have produced on their own.
Throwing backhand is VERY tough to learn right away and is a major reason why many people convert to throwing forehand when learning disc golf as this is a slightly more natural throwing mechanic (facing the target and side whipping a baseball or football for instance) and easier to initially achieve more distance.
Now that you can throw from a standstill, are you ready to x-step?
What is this x-step I just mentioned?
This is the technical term to describe the run up process that you can add to your throwing routine to generate a significant increase in power through the lower body, similar to a baseball player would do when performing a “crow hop”.
This takes A LOT of practice as well, but can quickly add more distance to your tee-offs.
The x-step begins with you either facing the target or standing already perpendicular to it, your preference.
If standing facing the target, a basic x-step is initiated (for a right-handed player, reverse for left handed players) by a step forward with the right foot. Your body turns 90 degrees to the left as your right foot steps forward and lightly lands perpendicular to the target AND towards the left side of the tee box.
If you’re standing perpendicular to the target, your body is already turned 90 degrees so the right foot simply goes forward and towards the left side of the tee box without any further body rotation.
The left leg and foot performs the “X” in the next step by moving forward and behind the right leg. It is during this step where the reach back as described before begins.
As the right foot once again moves forward and plants perpendicular to the target, it is now taking more of the weight and power from the hips and the reach back should be at the end of it’s position, ready to initiate the pull-through phase of the throw.
The rest of the throw at this point is the same as mentioned above when at a standstill throwing.
Putting it all together, it will roughly look something like this:
As you become more comfortable with the x-step, run up steps can be added to generate even more speed and power to the throw.
Practice, practice, and more practice will help get you more comfortable performing this technique on the tee box.
What not to do? Rounding!
Rounding is when the technique of the pull back as noted above isn’t done in a linear or straight movement.
Oftentimes, newer players will try to pull the disc back straight, but instead keep their elbow bent and wrap the disc around their body thinking this will put more torque and therefore spin on the disc.
Rounding at its finest
They will then throw the disc way off to the right to “play the curve” of the disc flying back to the left at the end of it’s flight pattern.
Doing this will not only cause the thrower to lose distance and make the throw more errant, but can increase the risk of injury to the shoulder capsule, wrist, and back.
Again, practice is key in learning proper technique and in time you will become very proficient and comfortable with the backhand throw.
Now that you know how to backhand, its time to move onto the Forehand throw, sometimes known as a “Flick"!
Stay tuned for that article or subscribe to our mailing list so you don't miss it!
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