We all know the feeling because we were all beginners once. Everyone of us wants to figure out how to get better at disc golf. It’s just so easy to gravitate toward the high-speed “max distance” discs when we are shopping around. They have exciting names and, of course, everyone wants to throw far! 

Starting Smart

However, when you are just learning to play disc golf, it’s probably not a great plan to go straight to a 175g Star Destroyer. You might not find it very easy to throw fast, overstable discs and it could be more frustrating than encouraging. It will probably dump left immediately on you and it won’t go as far as advertised. That’s simply because you haven’t yet developed the proper skills to throw a distance driver. Your form needs some work. Better form will help you increase your arm speed, grip pressure, arm angles, release point and “whip” that will enable to you to get more distance out of your distance drivers.

There is a reason why Innova Starter Sets don’t even include a high-speed driver. Many of Innova’s best-selling discs are distance drivers, such as Destroyers, Shrykes, Terns and Wraiths, which are all 11-13 speed discs.  Yet, we wouldn’t dare put these in our starter packs because they are not “starter” discs. Our Starter Sets include 9-speed fairway drivers, and some beginners may even struggle to throw those well until they learn better form.

Advice from the Best Players

Ask any of the world’s best players and they will all give you similar advice. You can talk to advanced players who are known for crushing super-long drives—we’re talking top pros like Team Innova members Calvin Heimburg, Ricky Wysocki, James Conrad, Garrett Gurthie, Jennifer Allen (pictured) and Eveliina Salonin. Every one of them will tell you that you can improve your form by focusing on throwing mid-range discs and throw putters.

Why Do My Putters Fly Farther than My Drivers?

Many novice disc golfers will actually find that they can throw their putters or mid-ranges further than any high speed drivers. There are several reasons for this. First, it probably feels more natural. Deep-rim putters and mids feel and fly more like traditional catch Frisbees or ultimate discs that we’ve thrown before.

The second thing is that these golf discs are designed to ride the air and glide. You don’t have to throw them hard to get a nice full flight, which makes them great for people with lower arm speeds. Third is that they are more understable. An exaggerated hyzer angle (with the disc released tilted down and left for a right-handed backhand thrower) is a very natural throwing motion that you can get away with when throwing slower discs and understable discs. It takes a lot of work to learn to throw a driver with enough power on a flat or anhyzer release.

Develop Better Throwing Form

Focusing on your mid-ranges and putters will likely give you some more confidence as you hone in your form. You can work on a level release that should give you better glide, a straighter flight path and more distance as you get better at throwing the discs. When you see the disc flying straight or even turning a little right, those are good signs of proper form!

Another thing that will really help when throwing putters and mids is that they are much more sensitive to wind and nose angles. Have you ever thrown a disc up into the wind and it basically floated straight up and eventually flew backward? That’s because the nose is up and it exposes the deep flight plate to the wind. You will experience the opposite effect if you throw it with the nose tilted significantly downward. It will drop straight to the ground. Throwing your putters will really help you dial in your nose angles to keep the disc flat and gliding farther. 

We've mainly been talking about backhand throws and backhand shots, but these same practice philosophies work for forehand throwers. You can definitely learn to improve your forehand form by practicing with slower speed golf discs, no matter what your current skill level. Also, don't just use overstable discs because they are easier to control. You can really improve your sidearm game by practicing with understable mids and putters.

Fieldwork Works

We recommend just finding an open field to throw just whatever mid-range discs and putters you have. If there is wind, make sure and throw from different angles to see how the wind affects how your discs fly. The more “neutral” flying discs are in terms of flight numbers, the better. Innova Aviars and Novas are great high-glide putters to learn with. The Innova Roc3 is our most popular mid-range mold and will offer slightly more stability. You might also want to check out Innova’s newest soon-to-be-released disc, the Avatar. As you refine your form, you can work on throwing a slower, more stable disc like a Roc3 to keep increasing your arm speed before moving up to something even faster. As for golf disc weight, you can experiment with different weights. Most experienced players will prefer heavier weights on their mids and putters, though. Lighter weight discs tend to glide more, and at slower speeds, have more beginner friendly flight characteristics. However, lighter weight discs are also affected much more by the wind release angle than a heavier disc.

Just keep practicing and you will develop better form that will allow you to start moving up the ladder to higher-speed discs. Even then, you may want to only work with fairway drivers before experimenting with distance drivers.

Driving with Your Putters

Here’s the thing, though. Don’t abandon your putters and mids once you learn to throw your high-speed discs better. Keep working with them as your go-to discs and you will be able to utilize a wider arsenal of shots on the disc golf course. If there is ever a moment where you can throw a slower-speed disc off the tee, take advantage. Low-speed discs are usually going to give you more consistent glide and dependable results compared to higher-speed drivers. Rather than trying to ease up on a driver and get cute with a funky line, you can throw a full putter on a straight line at the target!

If you’ve ever watched 2019 USDGC Champion James Conrad throw his favorite disc, “Old Greenie,” you will understand how versatile a throwing putter can be. It’s his most beat-in old JK Aviar and he works it through tight wooded shots like you wouldn’t believe. When James needs to hit a tunnel gap, you can bet Old Greenie is coming out of the bag.

Whatever discs you choose to start with, the key is to practice. Getting out there and throwing is the best way to learn your golf discs and improve your overall form. Nobody becomes and excellent disc golfer overnight. It takes commitment to get better. Focusing on your putters and mid-ranges is one method that many will recommend, including the team here at DGU.