Many people have heard of two different disc sports – ultimate Frisbee and disc golf. But at the core of the sport is the disc and the most basic activity that we can do is to play throw and catch with a friend. As a friend of mine says “a Frisbee is meant to fly, so let it free.” The appeal of disc sports comes down primarily to the flight of the disc. A Frisbee flies whereas a ball falls.
“When a ball dreams, it dreams that it is a Frisbee.”
To have an enjoyable game of throw and catch, we first want to learn how to properly throw the Frisbee and secondly, how to catch the Frisbee.
There are over 100 different Frisbee throws but for the purposes of time to mastery and brevity of this article, I will only talk about the two primary throws – the backhand and the sidearm (also known as a flick or forehand).
Those familiar to tennis will recognize the names of these throws and in fact, a backhand/forehand in tennis is similar to a backhand/forehand in frisbee. As the name says, a backhand is thrown with the back of the hand leading and the forehand is thrown with the front of the hand (or the palm) facing forward. The key element to any good throw is to snap the wrist quickly and firmly to put as much spin on the Frisbee as possible. The more spin on the disc, the more stable the Frisbee will fly and the more control you’ll have on the flight of the disc, especially in windy or rainy conditions.
The backhand is the most common Frisbee throw and is also the throw which will fly the furthest. In order to throw a backhand, you will want to put your thumb on the flight rings on top of the Frisbee and curl your fingers underneath the disc, wrapping around the rim. The most important part of the grip is to ensure that it feels as though your thumb and index finger are squeezing together as this is the pivot point of the throw and where the disc will release from. You want to start by cocking your wrist, bring the disc straight back away from the person you are throwing to, as you turn your body, then do the opposite – bring your arm forward as you turn your body and then snap your wrist hard making sure to follow through and release the disc directly at your throwing partner. If the disc wobbles, get more snap on the disc. If the disc comes up short, try to turn faster and throw harder. If you want to work on the stance, stand with the same foot as your throwing hand facing your throwing partner and then turn sideways. This will help make sure that turn as you are throwing.
The forehand, as is mentioned above, will finish with the palm facing upwards or forwards, depending on the angle of release. The stance for this throw is opposite the backhand. Stand with the foot opposite your throwing hand facing your partner and then turn sideways. The grip for the forehand is created by putting your hand in the shape of a 2 finger gun. We will then put our 2 fingers along the rim facing towards our throwing partner. Our thumb will squeeze the disc on the flight rings and our other 2 fingers (the ring and little finger) can be used as stabilizers, if it’s comfortable to do so. In order to throw the disc, we will slightly turn back, and as we turn forward, we will snap our wrist with a lot of power making sure to get as much spin as possible on the disc. Make sure to follow through at our throwing partner. As with the backhand, if the disc wobbles, try to get more snap on the disc or hold the Frisbee flatter when you bring the disc back before release.
In order to catch the disc, you need to stop the disc from spinning. Since a disc is a flat object, there two ways to catch which I have laid out below:
The most basic catch, and the only catch that can be done one handed (you can also use two) is called a Rim Catch and it’s named this way because in order to complete the catch, you will need to grab the rim and squeeze to stop the disc from spinning. The most important element to catch is to ensure that you keep your eye on the disc the entire time.
The pancake catch is also a good way to catch the Frisbee but instead of grabbing the rim you will squeeze the disc in between your hands – one of top of the flight plate and the other on the bottom – palms facing each other and hands lined up. Think of it in the same way that a brake works on a car tire. Again, as with the Rim Catch, make sure that you keep your eye on the disc the entire way into your hand until it has stopped spinning and it is a complete catch.
With these simple tips for throwing and catch, and some time practicing, you’ll be a pro in no time! If you have any questions about throwing, catch or how to get into the other disc sports, contact me.
As the great Stancil Johnson said “Frisbee combines man’s greatest tool, his hand with his greatest dream, to fly.”