How to Throw a Disc Downhill
In a previous article, we discussed the dreaded uphill shot and how all our confidence on the tee seems to plummet when faced with such a shot.
Take that same shot and make it a downhill one however, and we are chomping at the bit to throw that disc and watch it glide seemingly forever down the dropping terrain.
Our 300 foot throws become 400 foot throws with ease, this is great!
But then, the unthinkable happens, we release that "perfect" throw and our stable distance driver turns over almost immediately and never fades back like usual.
So we adjust our disc choice next time, but then it doesn't seem to turnover at all and fades out much earlier than expected.
What happened?! We ask ourselves. How could such an easy shot be so difficult to figure out?
Well the truth of the matter is that while throwing downhill is "easier" than uphill shots in many distinct ways, there are definitely still elements you need to consider when throwing downhill.
Discs will fly differently than expected when thrown downhill, and for reasons we don't expect.
So we need to adjust our strategy accordingly, and in this article we're going to discuss those adjustments that need to be made in order to learn
How to throw downhill in disc golf!
Technique and Form
Unlike when throwing uphill, where you need to use a higher release angle to prevent the disc from being driven directly into the ground.
Throwing a shot downhill is very much like throwing any shot when on flat ground.
Which makes things much simpler to say the least, as you can simply focus on during your normal form that you would typically use.
One suggestion I will give here is to maintain a very flat arm during the reach back and pull through, and keeping the disc low to the ground to prevent it being thrown sky high as it makes its way down the hill and away from the ground.
On hills that have a very steep drop off, I try and throw my disc as low to the ground as possible, this enables the disc to simply do its thing, gliding down the hill and prevents me from throwing a shot that is too high.
Even though you're throwing with the assistance of gravity, it is possible to bring wind into play on a high throw, which can slow the disc down and cause it to fade more than desired.
Like flat terrain, shot selection is going to be very similar to the shot that you're facing and the position of the fairway and basket.
During uphill throws, hyzer flips are preferred with understable discs because of the disc flying more stable than you might anticipate.
For downhill throws however, you have much more flexibility in that you can still throw for maximum distance, but may do so with a more stable disc with high glide rather than a hyzer flip with an understable disc.
You can still opt for forehand or long turnover shots as well depending on what the shot calls for.
Not to have too simple of an answer, but shot selection is mostly going to come down to the next section, disc selection, so let's jump to there.
Downhill throws don't go farther because the disc is flying faster than it normally would due to gravity.
Gravity does play a part, but its part is not disc acceleration, or an increase in speed.
Instead, what happens when you throw a disc downhill is that the pull of gravity causes it to slow down less quickly than it normally would.
Comparatively, discs slow down more quickly when thrown uphill.
What does this mean?
It means that even the slowest of discs will maintain their initial high speed upon release much longer than than they would on flat or uphill throws.
This is vital information to have because it is going to make you go through your disc evaluation and selection process much differently than you would in other situations.
The disc flight rating of turn refers to the high speed turn a disc experiences when released from the hand.
Because a disc is going to slow down more slowly, it is going to stay in this high turn phase longer than usual.
This means that a disc that would usually turn slightly before eventually fading as it slows down, may stay in the high speed turn phase long enough to completely turn over, and never fade back to the center.
Or if it does, it will fade back much less than it typically would when thrown on flat ground.
So how do you combat this when you want a disc to go straighter and farther for maximum distance situations?
By choosing discs that have relatively low turn and low fade flight ratings.
Discs that are rated as 0, 0 or -1, 1 or -2, 2 are going to be considered stable and will be great options in this situation, but keep in mind that the higher the turn, the more risk you run of the disc turning over completely and never coming back.
Discs that have 0 turn, and 1, 2, 3, or more as a fade rating will still favor the fade rating as the disc slows down, but discs that are rated as -1, 2 or -2, 3 for example will fly less stable than usual.
Because discs are going to fly faster longer, distance and sometimes even fairway drivers are not needed off the fairway.
In fact, even pros will opt for discs that are stable and in the speed range of 5-9, even when they're trying to achieve maximum distance.
You can also gravitate towards discs with high glide ratings as long as they are stable because they will simply fly and fly down the hill, maintaining a rather straight flight path.
Because of all these combined characteristics, even putters and straight flying mid-ranges like the Discraft Buzzz or Innova Mako3 make excellent choices.
Simply put, you don't need distance drivers for maximum distance, so have your arm and disc work smarter not harder, and choose something stable with lots of glide for long distances.
And based on what you need, choose high turn or fade accordingly depending on the shape of the shot you're looking at.
The good news is you likely already have the perfect disc in your possession, you just need to figure out which ones will work best, and fly the straightest, which take practice to learn as your straight flyers on flat ground may not be as straight when thrown downhill.
Downhill shots can be a lot of fun when you choose the right disc!
As a general rule, choose discs that have
Lower to moderate speed (5-9 will work0
And Low turn and fade ratings that will make the disc stable rather than understable or overstable (unless the situation calls for it)
Most importantly, it's up to you go out and test your discs to see what works in a practice situation, so that you can make the most of these shots when they count the most in leagues, tournaments, or when you're just looking to beat your buddies in a casual round.
If you need a refresher on How to Throw Uphill, then CLICK HERE to check out everything you need to know to be successful in that situation.
Hope this helps, and as always,
Happy Disc Golfing!
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