You probably realize that disc golf is a sport that requires a high level of skill. Courses and holes are designed with challenge in mind – granted some more than others – and require the participant to navigate these challenges with their disc.

Expert disc golfers can manipulate their flight path significantly to meet these conditions. How?

Your Disc Golf Flight Path is Largely Determined by Which Disc You Throw

What is the essential skill needed to be good at disc golf? To be able to determine your disc golf flight path before throwing your disc. But, beyond that, is there anything that can be done to improve your disc golf game?

Disc Golf is Equally about Knowing Your Equipment as It Is about Skill

With the advanced research that has now gone into developing specialized disc golf equipment, good equipment, for a variety of situations, can improve your game exponentially. Again, keeping in mind that the essential skill required for disc golf is to be able to manipulate the flight path of the disc based on your throw, you will also realize that choosing the correct to disc to manipulate the flight path in the correct way is also an essential skill.

Flying discs are manufactured with a variety of different factors in mind. The most common method of flight comparison used a rating system, called a flight matrix. This rating system will reveal the usefulness of each disc and how it can help improve your flight path.

The most common method of identifying characteristics attributed to specific discs is the four-number rating system This method uses numbers to rate

  • Fade
  • Glide
  • Turn
  • Speed

The fade, glide, turn, and speed rating attributed to each disc reveal how it will affect your flight path

The flight path of your disc is generally determined by your throw, but specialized discs can act on the flight path differently.

Fade – Perfect the Last Few Seconds of Your Flight Path

The fade rating in the four-number rating system identifies how much the disc will “backtrack” at the end of its throw. If you’ve ever thrown a flying disc, you might have recognized a bit of “fading” back at the end of the flight path. This can actually be modified by designing discs in a certain way.

Fade is ranked on a scale of 0 to 5. A disc with a 0 fade rating will fly very straight and have no reversion of its flight path. A disc with a high fade rating will have a significant amount of hooking back at the end of its flight path. According to Innova, high fade discs are great for both Spike and Skip shots.

Glide – This One Is Fairly Straightforward

The glide rating reveals what you would probably guess that it would. The number associated with the glide rating of each disc will let you know how much the disc will, you guessed it, glide.

The rating is assigned a number between 1 to 7. Discs with higher numbers will remain aloft for a longer period of time than a disc with a lower rating would. Higher-glide discs are great for beginners or those who have trouble getting enough distance from their throws but can prove perilous in high-wind situations.

A disc with less glide will always be more accurate, but to perfect your flight path, you’ll need to know your individual throw. If you can successfully get enough distance from a disc with a glide rating of 1, then your throw will be very defensible against high winds. But, if you need a little supplementary distance, maybe consider a low-mid glide rating for a combination of accuracy and distance.

Turn – Perfect Your Flight Path No Matter the Complexity

The turn rating of a disc massively affects flight path. Turn is rated on a scale of +1 to -5 – a bit different than the other ratings in the four number flight comparison system.

Innova gives a great definition of turn.

“High Speed Turn is the tendency of a disc to turn over or bank to the right during the initial part of the flight. A disc with a +1 rating is the most resistant to turning over, while a -5 rating will turn the most. Discs rated -3 to -5 make good roller discs. Discs with less turn are more accurate in the wind. Discs with more turn are easier to throw for beginners.”

Turn not only helps you determine the flight path of your disc through use of specialized disc design but also helps you make decisions regarding wind conditions and which disc will be most accurate.

Speed – This Number Probably Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means

The speed rating of a disc is one of the most important ratings to keep in mind when choosing a flying disc, but it’s the most easily misunderstood rating in the four number system.

You would likely initially think that the speed rating determines how fast the disc will fly, but it actually tells you how hard it needs to be thrown to reach an average speed. Discs are assigned a speed rating of 1 to 9.

A disc with a high-speed rating will take much more effort to go the same distance as a disc with a low-speed rating. Those who have a tendency to overthrow, however, will find them useful.

The Technology to Perfect Your Flight Path Is out There – Use It to Your Advantage

You don’t have to buy a whole bag of discs all at one time – that’s the beauty of disc golf.

You can begin the sport with just one generalized disc, but over time you may find it important to build your arsenal a little bit. This guide will help you determine the specifics of each disc out there and how it will improve your game.

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