Backhand Drives: How to Go from Throwing with a Mark to Throwing it Far off the Tee

The first time you picked up and threw a disc golf disc, you probably tried to throw it like you were pulling and released it way too hyzer. We did that too! It took me a whole lot of throws to figure out how to actually throw the disc somewhat far and straight. Luckily for us ultimate players, we already have the throwing basics down! Without too much effort, an ultimate player picking up disc golf can throw a disc 250 feet or more. Getting it over 400 feet is a much greater challenge. In this post, we share some tips and tricks that helped us throw the disc farther as ultimate players.

A good beginner driver for an ultimate player

The Follow Through

The first thing you should focus on is your follow through. This was where I got my biggest breakthrough. I was throwing the disc too high and with too much angle one way or the other. The problem was, I was releasing it like a backhand huck!

Just like Jimmy in this video, I would release the disc I/O and follow through up a little. I was also slowing down as I released it and not letting my body fully uncork. In doing a little YouTube research, I found a really helpful video that helped me develop power by focusing on my release and follow through.

In this video, the co-founder of Innova describes the coiling and uncoiling of the body in a throw as a whip and describes how to uncork to get maximum acceleration at the point of release. I began to focus on winding up my body and then unwinding it to throw, instead of just throwing with my arm. Practicing without releasing the disc is a great way to do practice this!

Nald practicing his follow through

Without a mark, you can follow through with no restriction. The key to power is generating a lot of torque, and then releasing that torque into the disc. Focusing on accelerating through the disc with a big follow through is helpful in achieving this.

The follow through should come flat around your body, and should not go up. Practicing a flat follow-through will help you release the disc flatter.

Release Angles

Ultimate players throw angles using the angle of their arm. When you throw an O/I backhand around a mark, your arm is doing most of the work, not your chest and upper body. In disc golf, the angle of release of the disc is best controlled by the angle of your upper body, not the angle of just your arm. Pro Disc Golfer Simon Lizotte does a great breakdown of control the release angle in this video. The two key things for releasing it at the right angle are:

  1. Use the angle of your upper body to control the angle of the disc. The disc should always be held “flat”, but released hyzer if your upper body is leaning forward or anhyzer if you are more straight up.
  2. Follow through on the same angle you want to release it. When you want to throw it hyzer, your follow through needs to go up at the same angle as the release. When you want to release it anhyzer, you have to follow through into the ground.

The Run Up

Most ultimate players have pulled before. Most ultimate players are also bad at pulling. If you’ve pulled before, you probably used a run-up.

Most of these players do what is called an x-step run-up, which is also widely used in disc golf! This is where you lead with your front foot as the first step, then bring your back foot behind and take your last step again with the front foot. This footwork is pretty familiar to most ultimate players. What some x-steps lack, however, is a good last step. Simon Lizotte does a great comparison of a good and bad run-up in this video. To turn your pull run-up into a good disc golf run-up focus on these two things:

  1. Step out wide on the last step to fully wind up your hips.
  2. Get your weight to your front foot on your last step so that you can release it flat (no need for a hang-time here!).

How to Practice Driving for Distance

A place to practice

First, you need a field. Get out to an open field where you aren’t at risk of hitting anyone, anything or losing your disc in the woods! I’ve found a few great spots near me where I can go and throw a few discs back and forth across the field to practice my form.

Practice Swings

When you are practicing, try taking a few “practice swings”. Do your throwing motion without actually releasing the disc to get a feel for your follow through, the release angle and the run up.

Break it Down

Only focus on one or two things at a time. If you are focusing on your follow through, slow down or eliminate your run-up. If you are working on your run-up try throwing a disc where you don’t need to worry too much about your release angle.

Record Yourself

Taking videos of yourself or having someone record you while throwing can be really helpful for seeing your form. You should also record how far your throws are going! UDisc has a great interface for measuring throws!

Maximum Distance Drive
My longest drive ever!

Summary

  • Follow through by uncorking your body and accelerating flat through your release.
  • Use the angle of your upper body and the angle of your follow through to control the angle of the disc.
  • Use an X-step run-up and focus on planting out from your body and getting your weight onto your front foot.
  • Practice!

Let us know if you have any questions or if there were other things you found helpful that we didn’t mention in the comments section below!

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