Anyone who has ever given disc golf a shot knows that throwing a disc well in terms of distance and accuracy is not as easy as it sometimes looks, and that the correct form for both backhand and forehand techniques is incredibly difficult.
But if you could pick just one aspect of a player's backhand form that plagues them at some point in time, it would be the reach back.
Not only is rounding one of the most common mistakes players make, it's also one of the most difficult and frustrating to fix, even when you know you're doing it.
So, what is rounding exactly?
Rounding occurs when during your reach back, your arm curls, and the position of the disc deviates from the straight line that you're trying to throw on.
In its most extreme forms, rounding looks like the picture above, but rounding can also be very subtle, as any slight deviation from your throwing line is considered rounding.
By contrast, this is what your reach back should look like, with a line added representing the line I'm throwing on.
As you can see, my disc is directly in line with where I want to throw, so as long as I keep it on that line during my pull through into the power pocket and ultimate release, I'll be able to maximize distance and accuracy.
This is because my disc is already in line with, and moving in the direction of where I want to throw.
Shown below is the first picture again, with the line I'm throwing on added, and a curved line added representing the path my disc will travel on pull through because I'm in a rounded position.
As you can see, it would be very difficult to release my disc on the straight line to my target as I would have to time my release perfectly, which is very hard to do on a repeatable basis.
Why is rounding bad in disc golf?
The more you round, the more room for error there is in terms of accuracy, and the less potential distance you'll be able to throw.
As we briefly mentioned, accuracy will be the first thing affected when a player rounds because they have to "find" their release point each and every throw in order to get close to their target.
What results is that sometimes, they get it perfect, sometimes they get it close, sometimes they're only in the general direction, sometimes it might as well not even be on the same hole, and there is everything in between!
While you can find success, this type of "technique" is extremely hard to replicate, especially when you add in obstacles and tight lines that are seen on your standard disc golf course.
Throwing without rounding is preferred because it will make you more accurate due to the disc being pulled in a straight line from start to finish towards the target, which makes it much easier to hit your line.
Lines will still deviate some, but less severely and more consistently than when rounding.
Distance, and the maximum amount of distance you'll be able to throw is the second thing that will be compromised when rounding.
Maximum distance is achieved when a player is getting the greatest amount of reach back away from the target as possible.
When a player rounds, they are immediately limiting how much reach back they can achieve by not only bending their arm, but by curling the disc behind themselves, rather than away from the target.
They also throw off the timing of the rest of their throw and effectively take their hips and legs out of the equation, leaving them with only their arm strength to get their disc flying down the fairway.
Accuracy and distance are two things you definitely do not want to compromise,
Why do players round in the first place? Especially if it is not good form?
The short answer is that new players believe that they will get the most out of their throw, and achieve maximum power by "curling or loading up" their throw.
So they round in order to get more momentum. And instead of turning their shoulders to allow for a straight reach back, they turn their shoulders and entire body while bending their arm, putting the disc behind their body.
The problem however is that rounding also limits the amount of "snap" put on the disc, and this snap is what puts spin on the disc.
Spin is a secondary quality that allows a disc to carry its momentum for longer distances.
So without it, you're quickly limited in how far your disc will fly.
How do you fix rounding?
But since that's the easy answer, the full answer is by doing drills.
Repetition of doing the right reach back over and over and over again is going to be the only way to rid yourself of the bad habit of rounding.
I suggest starting by filming yourself, or having someone else film you performing your normal reach back, as a reference for where you are and how much work you need to do.
From there, simply start by holding a disc out in front of you as if you were getting ready to tee off, then pull the disc back into your reach back.
Once back, take a glance and see where the disc is and move it to where it needs to be.
Do this over and over again from a stand still until you are consistently able to reach back where you need to.
Shown here again is the position that you want your arm and disc in when completing a proper reach back. You may need to rotate your shoulders more than you're used to in order to maximize the distance you can reach.
The next step is to start adding a throw to this drill to not only practice reaching back, but also hitting the power pocket and achieving a clean release.
Once you are able to complete a nice, clean reach back with little to zero rounding from a stand still position, it is time to start adding some speed in the form of an X-Step.
To do so, simply perform your X-Step, and freeze yourself when your plant foot is down, and you're in your full reach back.
Is your arm where it needs to be?
Are you in the same position as you were from a stand still?
If not, it's time to drill the reach back with the X-Step over and over again until it is where it needs to be.
If it is, then it's time to add the throw.
From time to time, take some additional video of your progress as reference to compare against your previous and future form.
Eventually, in time, you'll be consistently reaching back without rounding at all, and will be able to do so with a full speed run up.
Subsequently, you'll also be noticing that your throws are much more accurate, and are likely going much farther than they were before.
Doing these drills will create muscle memory, and will eventually allow you to do the proper reach back without even thinking about it, so you can simply focus on adding speed and power into your throw.
If you don't know how to X-Step, or aren't sure if you're doing it right, don't worry, we got you completely covered in THIS ARTICLE.
If you realized after reading this article that you were rounding and had absolutely no idea that you were.
It's completely normal and something that nearly every player does in the beginning of their playing time.
But while every player may round at some point, the good news is that rounding can 100% be fixed with practice and determination.
You just need to go out and do it!
So during your next practice session, check your reach back, see if you're rounding, and take the necessary steps to improve your form and become a better disc golfer!
Good luck, and let us know if you need any additional help!
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