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How To Throw A Disc Over Water

If you're out playing a round of disc golf and are faced with your usual 200-300 foot hole with few obstructions and low difficulty, most of us are licking our chops and excited at the prospect of throwing an ace.

Throw in a water carry however,

even one of just 50-100 feet,

and that confidence suddenly turns to dread and we seemingly start to panic.

But why?

Most of us have the ability to make the throw that we're facing, but freeze up when that same throw involves water.

More than likely, its because the stakes have been raised and an errant throw doesn't just mean not making birdie or par.

It means that your favorite disc is going to be splash into a lake, and likely never be found and thrown again.

To compare, making a free throw in basketball in your back yard is "no big deal", as it doesn't matter if you make it or not.

Take the same free throw attempt during a halftime show with a million dollars on the line and thousands of eyes watching, that simple free throw makes you sick to your stomach.

But don't worry!

We're here to help!

Not to say that we won't save every disc from being swallowed by the lake,

but with some simple tips, we'll have you confidently throwing over water in no time.

On a recent disc golf trip, we were faced with several water carries on 3 of the 6 courses we played and these tips definitely came in handy to both mentally and physically through them.

So let's get started!

1. Know your limits

First and foremost, you need to know your own limitations within your ability and skill.

If the water carry you're presented with requires a throw of 200 feet to safely clear, and you can only confidently drive just 150-200 feet or less, then you're probably better off not taking the shot and moving to the designated drop zone.

Likewise, if the shot is something you "could" make, but is going to require an optimal throw in order to do so, then it's up to you to decide if it's a risk you're willing to take.

As an example, you could very well be capable of a 250 foot drive, but only on about half of your attempts. If this is the case, you either need to buckle down and go for it, or cut your losses and throw from a better spot such as the drop zone.

This same rule applies for shots that not only require distance, but also technique.

I've played on holes where distance was not what made the water carry difficult, but more so that it required you to throw a right handed forehand shot or a RHBH turnover shot to successfully land on dry earth.

If you wouldn't be able to pull off this kind of shot, then make a safer, lay up style play instead.

How do you learn how far you can throw a disc?

You must go out and practice of course!

Find a spot where measured lines are already drawn, such as a football field, or go to an open field with the aid of a tape measure or disc golf range finder and throw your entire bag.

Measure and record your throws so that you know what distance you can get out of what discs. This will significantly aid you in disc selection out on the course for not just water carries, but all shots as well.

Udisc even has a feature where you can measure and record distances for every disc in or out of your bag!

You can read our article on how to practice and get better at disc golf by CLICKING HERE.

2. Check the Wind

It's no secret that different winds will make a disc respond in specific ways, and learning how the wind effects a thrown disc is the key to success on any hole.

But knowing how to read the wind is especially vital for water carries.

Even on seemingly calm days, the wind and thermals over a body of water can be acting significantly different than what one may expect, which creates a little more challenge when making your disc and shot selection.

Wind that is otherwise calm and harmless through a wooded portion of the course, may be gusting 10 or 15 mph above open water that you're about to throw over.

Much of this is due to lacking terrain features that would otherwise help suppress the wind and the change in temperature between the water and the air, but regardless, if you're not prepared to adjust your play accordingly, you might as well get your scuba gear ready.

When sizing up your shot, check to make sure that the wind is acting similarly over the water as it is on the tee pad and even the basket if possible.

This is going to be difficult, but use any context clues you can to aid you.

Clues can range anywhere from nearby flags, adjacent trees/limbs, or even debris such as leaves.

There may even be instances of seeing a player or group of players playing ahead of you and you can take mental notes of how the wind did or did not affect the flight of their disc once over the water.

Many times I have seen players attempt a throw over water in extremely calm conditions on the tee pad, only to see a gust of wind over the water blow the disc off track and make a splash in the water below.

So do your best to not be taken off guard by the wind and take your time sizing up the shot.

If you need a quick lesson or refresh on how the wind the affects disc flight, then be sure to check out THIS ARTICLE on the subject before moving on.

3. Stay Relaxed

Many players who are not used to water carries get very "tensed" up when faced with one.

This is not an ideal situation most of the time because you run the risk of letting all of your technique simply go out the window while being too preoccupied with what could happen if you "mess up".

So you try extra hard to make sure you do "this, this, this, this, and this" right to avoid doing anything wrong to the point where you do everything wrong.

There are many ways to cope with this, but ultimately, just do your best to stay

calm, cool, and collected

Being relaxed and treating it just like any other throw will allow you to successfully perform everything you need to do right, and throwing your disc safely to the other side will simply happen.

So trust your technique, trust your disc, and throw your shot with full focus on the basket or landing zone.

4. Don't Try to Muscle It

Piggy backing off of #3,

Don't muscle your throw!

Not only will being tense throw off your form on a tee off, so will trying to muster all the strength you have for one particular drive.

Generally speaking, for all sports, when you try and rely on effort alone to improve performance, your end result usually suffers.

This is especially true for sports that require a lot of timing and coordination, such as throwing a drive.

When you focus on effort, most players will primarily focus on trying to give it all they have with their arms while neglecting their legs, hips, foot work, and timing.

As you should know, the best and farthest throws will generally feel effortless, so if you're trying hard to improve your distance in one throw, expect a result that is less than ideal.

To overcome this, just stick to your guns and refer back to #1 in knowing your limits.

If you know how far you can consistently throw with good form, then trust that form and walk up to the tee box with the confidence to push that disc across the water.

5. Don't throw too high

If you've done everything right up to this point, you're in great shape!

You know its a carry you can make, you've checked the wind, stayed calm and relaxed, you're trusting your form and not muscling it,


Now, it's time to actually execute the throw and there's one more thing to keep in mind.

Don't throw too high!

This is something I myself am guilty of and have observed other players do as well. You throw relatively normal in terms of your usual throwing motion, but upon release, you subconsciously release the disc too high to avoid it going into the water.

You worry so much about throwing too low into the water, that you actually overcompensate too much and throw it sky high.

This is bad because as you know, keeping a disc flat and nose down is going to maximize distance, not up into the air. This becomes especially important with varying winds across the water as discussed in #2.

Simply remember to release the disc on the same angle as you always do when throwing over dry land and you'll be good to go!


if all else fails...

6. Throw a water disc!

What is a water disc?

A "water disc" is simply a disc that you aren't worried about losing or don't care if its lost as it is easily replaced.

This type of disc can be of any brand, mold, or plastic. But many players opt to grab some of their favorite, long distance molds in the most basic and cheapest plastic they can, such as DX, Classic, or Pro-D.

Some players like the feel of these plastics, but don't bag them because they beat in too quickly.

They make the perfect water discs however because you can usually find them for just $10-12 (or less!) new, which makes them easier to lose than a $20-$40 premium plastic, special run/signature disc.

Another option is to pick up a used disc from a store or fellow player. Going this route you may be able to pick yourself up a disc for just $5-$10!

One thing to keep in mind with base plastic discs is that while they may feel okay in the hand and initially fly within their expected ratings, these discs will beat in more quickly and become much more understable than you might expect, so be sure to practice with them from time to time.

Another thing to watch for is that you're buying them in as heavy of a weight as possible. Because they're base plastic, they may also be lighter weight as they're geared towards newer players.

This is fine if you have a slower arm, but stronger arms will overpower these lighter discs relatively easy and turn them over with less effort than heavier discs.

Easing the Stress

'Water discs' help players throw over water carries because it alleviates the primary stressor involved,

losing your disc.

If you're not worried about losing a disc, then you're more apt to maintain your form rather than trying to muscle the disc, stay relaxed, and do anything else funky to ultimately shorten your throwing distance.

Think of it this way, if someone walked up to you and handed you some discs and said,

"try and throw these over the water, it's okay if you lose them",

are you really going to sweat the idea of losing them?

Probably not.

So pick up a few base plastic or used discs for a couple of bucks and dedicate them to water throws.

Carry a disc retriever!

Another great way to relieve some stress of losing a disc in water is by carrying a disc golf retriever of some kind.

There are many options out there with many of them working in similar ways, but they are all meant to retrieve discs from the water as long as they can be reached.

Some popular retrievers include:

You can shop all disc golf retrievers on by clicking HERE.

Despite doing everything right on every throw, water carry or not, there's still a chance that you mess up and that disc goes sailing into the water anyways.

Cause let's face it, stuff happens sometimes and you're bound to throw a disc into water eventually.

Heck, even the pros do it!

If and when it does happen, be sure to check out

to learn if your disc can be retrieved and the best ways to retrieve it when you need to.

Wrap Up

Water carries may seem scary, but by trusting your form and sticking to everything you know, they'll be something you rarely get worried about.

Especially with a little bit of practice!

So get out there, continue to improve, and as always,

Happy Disc Golfing!

*Some links are affiliate links, meaning that we may earn a small commission

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1 Comment

Shao-Sun Bou
Shao-Sun Bou
Jun 14, 2023

One option not mentioned in the article is the use of discs that float (eg. Innova's Dragon or Wahoo). Retrieval of such discs could still be problematic though if they're sitting in the middle of a large lake or drifting away in a flowing creek.

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