3 Ways Disc Golf will Improve Your Freestyle Game (Part 2)

In Part 1, I explored how Freestyle will improve your Disc Golf game. In this article, with help from the panel of experts (list below), I investigate the reverse, how does Disc Golf improve your Freestyle Game?

Throwing ZZZs

Juliana Korver Turn AroundIn Disc Golf, long drives require tremendous grip and arm strength, yet you still need a high degree of control to maintain accuracy. In Freestyle, throwing a disc with high Zs (spin) requires exactly the same; strength and control. Juliana Korver was able to translate her Disc Golf skill quickly, “It took me about 10 minutes to feel comfortable with the chicken wing throw and I think I had a decent amount to spin on my clock throw right away.” 

Ideas for Midair Attitude Corrections (MACs)

Happy MattMuch of Freestyle is about creativity. Any time you’re out tossing some plastic (or even just watching a disc fly) there’s an opportunity for inspiration. For Matt Gauthier, Disc Golf helped him with midair attitude corrections (MACs), “I’m not a very good golfer so many of my throws would hit things. Turns out that was useful. I would throw a little too high and skip off a tree branch or too low and skip off the ground. I’d hit some surface and the disc might changes angles 180 degrees. In the beginning it meant an extra stroke (at minimum). As I began to understand how the disc would deflect I could use it to my advantage. Skip the disc in under the basket for example. Over time I started to understand that I could use my body to apply pressure to edge of the disc in the same way a tree branch would. For me, it opened up all 360 degrees, top and bottom of the disc for cuffing.”

Mental Focus

Crazy John BrooksI’ve noticed that in practice I can hit some challenging putts, but when it’s the difference between birdie and par, I often choke. In Freestyle I tend to rely on my reflexes, but Golf is really all about mental focus. Practicing this focus can help one attain “being in the zone” in any sport. Crazy John Brooks remarks, “As you may have seen in both freestyle AND Disc Golf, the situation can be similar in that when a player reaches a certain level of Zen with their mechanics and environment (on any given day), the results can be mind-blowing.” 

So it seems that playing Disc Golf can help one’s Freestyle game as well. Greg Hosfeld adds,  “I was an over-aller for quite a while. But I gravitated to freestyle and golf. To me, they’re my Yin/Yang. Golf is slow, plotting, methodical. Freestyle is quick & reactive. But, in both there are rhythms and depths of game that seemed endless.”

If you have experiences in cross training between Disc Golf and Freestyle, please share in the comments.

Special thanks to the Panel of Experts:

  • Juliana Korver (Part 1 & 2)
  • Crazy John Brooks (Part 1 & 2)
  • Glen Whitlock (Part 1)
  • Lori Daniels (Part 1)
  • Greg Hosfeld (Part 2)
  • Matt Gauthier (Part 2)

3 Ways Freestyle Frisbee Will Improve Your Disc Golf Game (Part 1)

As a five-time Freestyle Frisbee world champion, I have spent more time playing Freestyle than any other disc sport. However, I have been known to dabble in others. Disc Golf is one disc sport that I have always appreciated and admired. I used to golf on a weekly basis. Seeing Juliana Korver take up Freestyle has piqued my interest in the benefits of cross training between Freestyle and Golf. I know I brought my Freestyle skills to my Golf game, and that Golf improved my Freestyling. So, I’ve assembled a panel of experts (list below) to help explore this topic.

This article covers 3 ways that Freestyle Frisbee will improve your Disc Golf game. Part 2 will cover 3 ways that Golf will improve your Freestyle game.

Flight Path

When I asked Glen Whitlock for input, he said that learning Freestyle can help you, “…see more flight path opportunities to get around obstacles.” This is true for a number of reasons.

First, Freestyle is all about reading and controlling the disc’s flight path so you can get into position to do your next trick. Because there are so many situations (e.g., up-wind, down-wind, cross-wind, through a hoop, long throw, short throws), a player develops multiple solutions for any situation.

Second, in Freestyle one learns to throw a variety of throws, all with finesse. Juliana Korver says, “I see some players who have never thrown anything other than a golf disc. Unfortunately some of them also think that they need to throw the most overstable disc they can find. Someone with freestyle skills would have better knowledge of the flight of a Frisbee and wouldn’t get caught in this macho mistake. It takes skill, knowledge and finesse to throw an understable disc on Hyzer and let it flip up to flat and then slowly glide to the right at the end of the flight (right hand back hand shot). Having experience throwing other Frisbees will make it more likely that a person will have this shot and understand the need for this shot.”

Wind Sense

John Brooks OliviaSince Freestylers are constantly tracking and controlling the flight of the disc, reading the wind becomes second nature. No matter if I am playing or just walking around, I can tell where the wind is coming from, how strong it is, and how consistent. I am certain this helped me on the tee as I would change my disc and/or throw based on this sense. Crazy John Brooks agrees, “I found that after learning so much about the nature of the wind and different types of breezes and ‘swells’ while pursuing freestyle, I was able to comprehend a lot more of the conditions on the Disc Golf course. For instance when things were calm on the Disc Golf course, there was a need to put a little more strength and punch into the throw. This was needed to create more penetration and manage a more direct line to the target. On a windy day, I soon found success in adding things like float, stall, skipshots, an occasional air bounce putt or short tricky approach from the deep rough, and of course allowing the wind to work for me when it is in a helpful setup.”


Lori Utl

Photo By Oren Meron

For getting your arm in top throwing shape, there’s no better way than to play speed flow. Speed flow is the act of playing catch friends with some trick throws and catches mixed in for fun. One goal is to flow seamlessly from the catch to the throw. With this style, you will attain the highest number of throws-per-hour possible, which is great training for throwing strength. Ken Westerfield says, “Just like in any professional sport, athletes look for different but complimentary training activities that will add to their playing skills and fast-freestyle is the perfect complementary exercise to add to any disc sport.”   Lori Daniels adds, “It takes a lot of stamina to walk hours through a Disc Golf course and still maintain concentration to throw with accuracy. Freestyle and Ultimate are keys for me staying in shape and maintaining endurance – which definitely makes a difference with not feeling as fatigued after playing 18 or 27 holes of Disc Golf.”

The experts agree, training in Freestyle can help improve one’s Golf game. Juliana Korver adds, “If you play Disc Golf, it must follow that you love or at least appreciate the beauty of the flight of a disc. Seems that is the perfect baseline to be attracted to freestyle.” 

In Part 2, I’ll explore how Disc Golf can improve one’s Freestyle skills. Read part 2 here.

If you have experiences in cross training between Freestyle and Disc Golf, please share in the comments.

Special thanks to the Panel of Experts:

  • Juliana Korver (Part 1 & 2)
  • Crazy John Brooks (Part 1 & 2)
  • Glen Whitlock (Part 1)
  • Lori Daniels (Part 1)
  • Greg Hosfeld (Part 2)
  • Matt Gauthier (Part 2)

Matt Demonstrates Learning the Center Nail Delay

The center nail delay is the basis for much of Freestyle Frisbee. It is the act of spinning the frisbee on your finger nail. Matt explains how to practice so you can master this skill.

First, give yourself a two handed throw. Be sure you choose the spin, clock or counter, that you want to practice. This throw is good because the disc comes to you perfectly flat. Now, let the disc land softly on your finger nail. Most people use the index finger, but any finger nail works. In fact sometimes I use two, or all five (the claw). Keep the disc above your head so you can see the center. As the disc slides on your fingernail, move your finger so it stays in the center. This may mean moving your feet to pursue the disc. Stay loose and chase it around. If it falls all the way to the rim, no problem. That’s called a rim delay. Just let it spin there, trying to keep only your fingernail contacting the disc. The rim delay is also a useful skill. As you get better at both the center delay and the rim delay, bring your arm down until you have control while looking at the top of the disc.

Have advice for someone trying to learn this skill? Let us know in the comments.

Bad Attitude

In this video, I explain how I catch a bad attitude. For another example, check out Lori’s video. The catch is useful one because it uses a unique body position where the player stands upright on one leg and catches the disc around the ankle of the other leg. This gives it visual appeal from a variety perspective.

The AttitudeBad attitude is named after the dance position called attitude, except it’s a bad version of it. I am the perfect example of how bad the attitude can be. My flexibility is limited so the window to make the catch is very small. Besides stretching, what helps me are two things. First I stand on, or jump from one leg and then bend at the hip to bring the catching hip upwards. This means I don’t have to bend the catching hip as far back. Next, I rotate so the catching hip forward which means I can get my hand around my foot and ankle just a little easier.

Sue StraitOf course when I do it, it’s not so pretty. But, when done properly, it can be quite beautiful. Here’s Sue Straight showing us a proper bad attitude. Don’t worry if you don’t look like Sue. The bad attitude is a fun, explosive, and surprising catch that will grab attention no matter your form.

Drag Set

Ryan Young demonstrates the downwind drag set. The drag set it used to set a partner who is downwind for a catch. It is very commonly used in Freestyle Frisbee choreography as well as in a mob-op.

Start by giving yourself alot of spin. Set the disc up flat. Do an under-the-leg pull and the let the disc slide to the rim. Look at your target. Swoop your arm down and then outwards to the target as the disc pivots to the perfect catch angle. Typically this will be 45 degrees with the nose of the disc towards you.


Hoop Factory

Lisa HoopJamming is the art of spontaneous play with the disc and with friends. It connects people with a common purpose while bringing them fully into the moment. It seems like a place where rules should not exist. Yet some of my favorite jams, jams where I learned the most have had limits artificially set on them.

One such jam, I like to call Hoop Factory. It was beach weekend and there were at least 10 of us on the sand. As we walked to our spot on the beach we could feel that the wind was perfect. It was going to be a good day. Someone grabbed a disc and a few of us began to warm up. A little speed flow, a few hoops, lights Zzzs. Then someone said, “let’s make a rule that we can’t catch it until it’s been hooped at least three times.” “Sure, that sounds fun,” was my reply.

It started innocently. Hoop the throw, hoop a set, hoop to a catch. Nothing complicated. It was almost like running in sand, everything was labored. As people joined the jam, they were informed of the rules. Wait, do leg overs count? SURE!

Lori HoopSoon the whole crew was on one disc and things were beginning to flow. It no longer felt forced. Instead everyone was moving and finding hoops we didn’t know were possible. 3 people would hoop one pass. People would hoop other people’s self sets. People got closer together. Sets where higher and longer. All 10+ of us on one disc, and it never felt slow.

At one point there was a high roll across set coming to me. As I targeted the disc a 5 person hoop tunnel formed. I could see the disc clearly through the tunnel, still not yet entering. I lined up for a phlaud and watched the disc float through the tunnel, into my hand.

Jake Leg OverEventually the game dissipated, the jam split into a few groups and the day went on. But wow, what a game. My hooping skills went up multiple levels that day. I now see hoop opportunities constantly. I highly encourage you to implement Hoop Factory in one of your jams.

Of course, Hoop Factory is just one idea. There certainly can be many more. Maybe only use one spin. Maybe ban the nail delay. A one touch rule? A small disc? A big disc? 2 discs anyone? I’ve tried all these and more and every time I learn something new and have fun in the process.

Any one else have any jam rules you’ve implemented? I’d love to hear about it.

Lori Explains How to Catch a Bad Attitude

Lori Daniels explains how to catch a bad attitude. It’s unique body position requires a level of flexibility and strength that keep many players from trying it. When executed well, it can be quite beautiful and graceful or explosive.

To perform a Bad Attitude, think of doing a quad stretch. Bend your knee so your foot comes towards your bottom. Then grab your ankle. The difference for the bad attitude is that you grab the inside of your ankle. Well, you don’t grab it at all, you reach around it to catch the frisbee. To open the window for the catch, bend at the hip on your planted foot, and squeeze your side, glute, and quad muscles on the elevated leg side. This will help you lift your hand as high as possible. The higher your hand, the bigger the window and the prettier the catch looks.

How to Catch a Triple Fake

In this brief video I demonstrate how to catch a triple fake. It’s a nice alternative to under the leg or behind the back for a disc that is in the waist zone. As a blind catch, it can be more difficult than it looks. But with practice, it looks quite graceful.

To execute, do a self set or have someone throw to you. Watch the disc. Reach across your stomach and around towards your back. As you reach, spin your body around to propel your hand towards the disc. Keep you eye on it as long as possible. As you begin to lose sight snap your body around faster and make the grab.

Bonus points for if you can throw left and catch right, the throw right and catch left.

Anyone know why this catch is called a triple fake?

The Self Set Throw – How to Practice Catching

Ryan Young teaches how to throw to yourself so you have the perfect set for practicing a trick catch. By using this throw, you will put the disc into the air with the perfect nose and enough spin to keep it stable. Thus you can practice any catch and spins as well.

As always, start by facing the wind. Grip the disc with a backhand grip at 3 o’clock (or 9 for counter). Now lift your arm and pivot your hand towards 6 o’clock. As your hand pivots, let the disc roll in your fingers so that it moves away from your palm. This is what generates the spin. As your hand gets to 6, release the disc into the air. The goal is to have about a 45 degree angle. The disc should float gently up and then back down and slide slightly towards you as it falls. Now you can make a trick catch.

I like to call this throw a luff, in reference to a sailing ship being steered into the wind so that the sails just begin to flap. Since the goal of this throw is to be a perfect set, you want perfect wind position and only enough spin to keep the disc stable, but no more. This throw is a necessity for catch mastery and can be used as a close up speed flow pass to a friend.