5 Facts About Getting More Disc Golf Distance

January 5, 2016

Disc Golf Advice from Ron

Through the years I’ve heard many methods for achieving distance when throwing a disc. These
methods include “pretend you are snapping a towel” or, ”bring your elbow across your body!” Rather
than argue about the most efficient way to use your body, I’ll start with facts that I do know.

  • Fact one – When throwing anything, the single most important factor in achieving distance is speed.
  • Fact two – Longer levers apply more force.
  • Fact three – Objects traveling around a center point get faster the farther out the orbit is.
  • Fact four – Big muscles generate more power than small muscles.
  • Fact five – Like any other machine, the body reacts to over-stressing negatively

These facts combined with observation through a period of 25 years form the basis for my views.

When throwing anything, the single most important factor in achieving distance is speed. More to the point, the speed of the object when it leaves your control. Now I’m not suggesting that spin ,angle of release, and the actual ballistics of the thrown disc don’t make a difference, They matter greatly. However, the speed you impart to the disc matters more. It is not how hard but how fast you throw.
Longer levers apply more force. This is old school physics. The same amount of force applied to a long lever and a short lever get different results in a direct relationship. Longer = more force for less work.
Objects traveling around a center point get faster the farther out the orbit is. This is easy to illustrate to anyone that played little league. One of the tools used by coaches is a tennis ball on a string. Swinging the ball with a short amount of string takes a lot of work. Increase the length of the string and the speed of the tennis ball increases, without increasing the amount of energy used. This is basically a corollary for the longer lever rule.
Big muscles generate more power than small muscles. No, I don’t mean you have to have BIG muscles to throw disc. What I’m referring to are your larger muscle groups! The muscles of your legs and back generate more raw power than say ,the muscles of you forearm or hand. So far so good? Now lets incorporate the last three to achieve number one. The basic practice throw starts like this. This is a standing still shot. The run-up helps orient the body for long approaches or drives, but for practice purposes try this. Stand throwing arm side towards the basket. Holding the disc firmly, arm extended at shoulder level , turn at the hips, bringing the shoulders almost 90 degrees away from the start position. At this point you should be looking backward with your arm extended away from the target. Weight is on the rear foot, heel of the front foot off the ground. Now, shift your weight back to the front foot, while rotating your shoulders back to the start position, and while keeping your arm fairly straight and level! A level turn helps to keep the shot level. Let it rip out of your hand towards the target. Control of the angle of release insures a max performance flight.
Like any other machine, the body reacts to over-stressing negatively. Using the larger muscles to power your throw , instead of small muscles insures a longer competitive lifespan in our sport. Using a form which is smooth and which puts less stress on joints and smaller muscles will keep your game healthy longer.

“The point where I differ from most is that I suggest a straighter arm combined with the rotation of you body is in fact a longer lever.”

Ron Convers Team Dynamic DiscsThe point where I differ from most is that I suggest a straighter arm combined with the rotation of your body is in fact a longer lever. Weight shift acts as the counter balance of a catapult. Extension allows a wider and thus FASTER orbit given the same rate of turn. Using the large muscles to increase the rate of turn allows the smaller muscles to be used for control. As an added bonus, with good arm extension, the speed generated goes up without having to turn faster! This means that ¾ power, more controlled throws, are actually leaving your hand at a higher velocity.

Look at Youtube video of distance throws by great players and watch the slow motion. Many seasoned players incorporate most of this
technique even though they may not notice it themselves!

Last but not least, get rid of that nagging ache in your elbow after a hard day throwing! Stand up straight, save your elbow, and let physics increase your distance.

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4 comments on “5 Facts About Getting More Disc Golf Distance

  1. T Short Jan 7, 2016

    Thanks alot Ron, saw you at GBO 2013 always been a big fan. You were and still one of my favorites to watch. Thought your approaches was spot on. love the break-down.

  2. DiscGolfer Jul 24, 2017

    Your fact 3 is a little bit of a misnomer. Rotational velocity actually increases when you pull your arms in – aka decrease the radius of orbit. The classic example is a figure skater tucking their arms to rotate faster.

  3. Frederick Jan 5, 2018

    I have always considered the concepts that you have professed.
    I had noticed also, that what the “pros” say is not what they actually do.
    I wonder however, if you could research how deceleration works when “counterbalancing” at the release point. Note: professional atheletes
    in other throwing sports use it where novices do not.

  4. Ben Guile Apr 28, 2019

    The lever/long arm physics are incorrectly oversimplified. The arm-and-hand makes a 4 lever system: upper arm; forearm; lower hand; and fingers. If you straighten them all out, they all accelerate uniformly with the net power uniform everywhere along the single lever (straight arm and hand). You are thus limited by the torque speed of your body as it develops at your chest turn speed. If, howevern you spin the shoulders at the same rate with your forearm still foldedn you can add accelleration to the disc in your hand by whipping your forearm out faster than your maximum shoulder rotational speedn that is with stratght arm you only have the speed of your foundational torque, but if you flip your forearm outn that speed is additive to the base core torque speed and because your forearm is using an accellerating foundation, you can get “accelleration sqared”n that forearm accelleration added to the accelleration of all the parts of your bode that are impelling your throwing arm-lever up to the elbow joint. This same is true for the upper arm, which can add its separate muscle flex generated accelleration to the core twist… And likewise about the hand wrist flexjoint, where a lot of the “snap” and “pop” comes from. Think about it this way, would you use a throwing stick with a stiff arm? Why not? One big part of the timing is mounting these successive accelleration generating levers in smoothe maximizing sequence one after the other so that they all reach maximum just before the release point, something some people do naturally/automatically while the rest of us experiment using our intellect to ask our bodies and inner dirve to feel their way through and see if the physics described can be put into practice and how, at slower speeds at first, observing the separate accellerating levers and how to mmaximie their successive foundations. With putting this into practice i have found other dimensions as well. It is more fluid and nuanced, and has much more than the sticks and joints skeleton just outlined above.