I REALLY enjoy playing with newer players to the sport of disc golf.
One of the reasons is because when I have to use a utility throw I pretty much always get:
Whoa! How did you do that!?!?
Generally what they're referring to use using a Tomahawk throw to get myself out of a sticky situation or for a pin point placement shot on a relatively short hole.
But the tomahawk is just one of many utility throws that you can utilize when out on the disc golf course, and one of two major overhand throwing techniques that are commonly used.
What is a utility throw in disc golf?
The two conventional throwing techniques in disc golf are the backhand and forehand throws.
But sometimes, you need to use something outside the realm of usual technique, something unconventional, and utility throws are just that.
Tomahawks, thumbers, pterodactyl, scoobers, grenades, and more are all considered utility throws and ones that you should at least try at some point to add to your bag of tricks to pull from while out on the course.
In this particular article however, we're going to focus on the two main overhand throws typically used by players,
Tomahawks and Thumbers
So without further ado, let's get into it!
How do I throw a tomahawk in disc golf?
Generally, you'll want an overstable disc. Personally, I use a Blizzard Champion Boss but I've seen plenty of other players use Firebirds, Destroyers, overstable mids, overstable putters, etc.
You'll want the over-stability so that the disc is able to flip over in mid-air, pan a little bit pending the angle it's released on, and then spike into the ground hard.
Generally, tomahawks are used when you want the disc to go up, and come down slicing from right to left.
T o throw, take your overstable disc and prepare yourself to throw an overhead shot.
Make sure your shoulder is loosened up a little bit to help prevent injury.
Key note: try not to throw these overhand shots as hard as you can or else injury is ultimately likely.
For the tomahawk, and a right handed player,
The disc is held in the right hand with the top of the flight plate facing towards the left, with the thumb on the top flight plate rim and your pointer finger, or pointer and middle finger, on the inside of the bottom rim.
I try to mimic the same grip position as I would for a forehand.
Shown here is one of the proper tomahawk grips
When performing the throwing phase,
gauge how much panning to the left you're attempting to make happen and at the release point of your throw, you'll want the top of the disc tilted to the left a bit.
The more tilt, the more pan after the disc flips at it's apex.
If you release the disc completely vertical, you'll get more of a "baseball" throw and the disc will fly farther and straighter with less fade to the left, which can sometimes be the utility shot you're looking for in the moment.
As seen in the grip picture above, the disc is tilted to the left.
Again, most players use this shot to have the disc pan or fade to the left side of the fairway or to miss some specific trees downfield.
How do I throw a thumber in disc golf?
Next up is the opposite of a tomahawk, the thumber.
Thumbers are another overhand throw, but this time the disc is reversed with the positioning in the hand. The flight plate is now facing towards the right (for a right handed player) and the thumb rests inside the bottom rim.
This causes the disc to fade to the right as it comes back to the ground, rather than the left.
For gripping, the thumb has to be tightly gripped around the rim to help ensure the disc doesn't slip out of your hand when performing the throwing phase.
Please note: Thumbers can sometimes be painful on the side of the thumb from when it ejects from your grip.
At the release point of the throw, the top of the disc will be tilted slightly to the right, pending on the amount of pan you're expecting from the disc after it flips in it's flight, as shown in the grip photo below.
Shown here is the proper thumber grip, with the top of the disc tilted to the right
Because it is opposite of the tomahawk, the thumber is used when the player wants the disc to go up straight, and come down slicing from left to right.
How do I remember which tilt goes which direction?
My personal way of remembering which way each method goes comes down to the thumber.
The word T-H-U-M-B is five letters long, just like the word R-I-G-H-T.
So, thumbers are going to pan to the right and require the release angle to be slightly to the right, simple!
If you can remember thumbers go right, then it's easy to remember that tomahawks are the opposite and will pan left.
Tilt releases are always going to be towards the top flight plate, if that also helps!
What discs do I need for overhand shots in disc golf?
As mentioned, overstable discs are going to work best for thumbers and tomahawks.
My absolute favorite is the Innova Boss in Blizzard plastic, you can click on the pic below to check it out!
Some other player favorites include but aren't limited to:
Now, it's time to Practice!!!
Having more shots in your arsenal is essential to becoming the best disc golfer you can be.
Take a couple of your overstable fairway or distance drivers to an open field and practice your release angles to find the disc that suits you the most comfortably.
You may have noticed above that I noted I specifically use a Blizzard Champion Boss for my overhand shots.
Why this one?
For me, I've always worried about risk of injury to my throwing shoulder.
I elected early in my career to use a very light weight disc so that I didn't have to throw it as hard.
I quickly, and luckily from field work, found that the random Blizzard Boss I purchased early on flipped over and spiked into the ground with almost pin point precision in a way that I instantly knew that was my go-to overhand disc.
To this day, almost five years later, it's the only disc that still has a place in my bag from when I started playing.
I definitely recommend a premium plastic because as seen below, this disc has spiked into the ground so many times that it's needed as much ability to hold up as possible from utter destruction.
My go to Blizzard Boss!
In closing, it's up to you to find the right disc for you, and to get out and practice with it!
You just never know when these two shots will come in handy for you out on the course in a situation where you otherwise would have had little to work with.
Once you try it, let us know what you think of these overhand shots!
And as always,
Happy Disc Golfing!
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