Disc Golf: Forehand vs. Backhand – Explained In Detail

How disc golf works is simple enough: you throw a disc towards a metal basket from a certain distance and try to get the disc into the basket with as few tries (or throws) as possible.

As with any sports, the techniques a player resorts to are as important (if not more) as the equipment used. If your technique isn’t right, even the best disc golf discs won’t be of any help to you.

In disc golf, even the slightest change in how you grip your disc or which method you use for throwing your disc can affect your play, either positively or negatively, to a great extent.

And in this forehand vs. backhand disc golf guide, we will be telling you all about the differences between throwing a disc using the forehand and the backhand methods.

Different Throws in Disc Golf 

Which method is used for throwing a disc affects what result a player will be able to yield from a particular throw.

There are some basic throws in disc golf, with the backhand and the forehand (side-arm) throws being the most common of them all. Other throws include the overhead throw, hyzer throw, and the anhyzer throw.

Each of these throws can be used to suit scoring a particular hole. It is also true that each throw adds a new move to a disc golfer’s repertoire and hones their playing skills overall.

While it would be highly rewarding for a disc golfer to try to master all of these throws, he or she will not be missing out on too much if all they know are the backhand and the forehand (side-arm) throws.

How a Backhand Throw Works

The backhand throw in disc golf is common to the point of it being instinctual for beginners. First, you must grip the disc with your thumb on the top, and three to four fingers (if you include the index finger) tucked underneath the rim of the disc.

You could also rest your index finger against the side of the rim and tuck the other three fingers underneath the rim of the disc. To throw a backhand, grip the disc, and starting from the non-dominant side of your body, bring your arm towards your dominant side.

As you do so, before release, flick your wrist to provide the disc with spin as it is released. This flick of the wrist is essential for this throw and must be done masterfully in order for the throw to be perfect.

An interesting fact is that the backhand throw in disc golf takes inspiration for its name from the backhand stroke in tennis, given that both of these methods require the player to move his or her arm from one side of his or her body towards the other side. That is, letting their arm move across the body.

How a Forehand Throw Works

Another usual suspect when it comes to disc golf throws is the forehand throw. It is mostly limited to movements of the wrist. This throw is also sometimes known as the side-arm throw. A player, when executing a forehand throw, is essentially flicking the disc towards its target.

For a forehand throw, grip your disc with your thumb on top of the disc, and your index finger along the rim of the disc underneath it (with the middle finger resting against the index finger).

To perform the forehand throw, bring your wrist towards your body and simply ‘flick’ the disc away. Try to limit movement of the arm, as that can cause turbulence of the disc during its flight. In fact, mid-flight turbulence is a major issue that most players face while performing the forehand throw in disc golf.

The technical term for any unnecessary or unusual movement on the player’s part (while performing the throw) affecting how the disc moves during its flight is Off-Axis Torque or OAT (more about this phenomenon down below).

The Off-Axis Torque (OAT) of Forehand Throws

One daunting aspect of forehand throws is the possibility of Off-Axis Torque or OAT. This is when the disc wobbles mid-air due to any energy applied to it from the throw not lining up with its own rotational axis.

If you would like to find out if you have off-axis torque, what you can do is try throwing an understable disc. Unlike overstable discs, understable discs will immediately indicate signs of OAT, if you do have it.

To avoid OAT, a player needs to perfect their throw so that it is clean. This reduces the chances of the disc fluttering during flight. The crux of getting rid of OAT is to try to maintain angular integrity.

That means avoiding any movement during the throw that will interrupt the disc while it is rotating within its own personal axis during its flight.

One simple trick of avoiding OAT during a backhand throw is to keep the disc’s side in line with the middle of your forearm. This will keep the disc from fluttering mid-flight and will ensure it maintains its axis. A disc that has a more flat profile is heavier, or one that has a wider rim can also help avoid OAT.

Some Basics

A lighter disc will not only provide you with speed, but it will also carry itself further than its heavier alternatives. Each type of throw (that is, the forehand and the backhand) requires something different from the disc. For a backhand throw, for example, you need a disc that will increase your release velocity.

Usually, a backhand throw will give you more in terms of distance than a forehand throw. But you should not worry if you are an exception to that.

Backhand vs. Forehand: Is One Throw Superior to the Other?

The short answer is no. Neither type of throw is superior to the other. This is because, even though there are rules to sports, some things will always be subjective and will vary from one player to the next.

Some players find forehand to be easier than backhand, others believe forehand throws to be the more challenging of the two.

Yet others feel that their throw depends on the type of disc that they are using. Of course, the throw to be performed also depends on the situation at hand.

Is the distance substantial? Are there many obstacles on the path towards the hole? Will this throw reduce the number of throws I will need in order to score this hole? Questions like these affect a player’s decision of which of the two basic disc golf throws they should use.

Either way, the player should be advised to practice and perfect both types of throws, as there is simply no loss in adding the two to their disc golf arsenal.

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