How To Throw a Frisbee (Disc)

Disc Throwing Explained

Posted on: October 12, 2023

“I can’t throw a Frisbee.” 

Yes, you can!

We’ve all been there, and we all need to start somewhere. It’s fun that you’ve picked up a flying disc in the first place! It makes throwing way less fun, for everyone, when it becomes a constant game of chasing the disc as it rolls away or we watch the disc go nowhere near where we intended it to go. Half of the fun of throwing a disc is catching a disc! We’ll all been frustrated and ended a game of catch because someone, including ourselves, isn’t able to throw the disc where we want it to go, so we become bored of chasing it and choose to do something different. Let’s get these throws straightened out! 

To start, let’s start with a little bit of history about discs and why some are better for playing catch with than others. There is a difference, although slight, between a disc and a Frisbee. All Frisbees are flying discs but not all flying discs are Frisbees! Frisbee is a registered trademark of a company named Wham-O (fun fact, they make the Slip ‘n Slide!) and all other flying discs are referred to as discs. Some Frisbees and flying discs are better than others. 

Promotional discs make terrible discs to play catch with. Many banks and organizations will put their logo on mini discs and pass them out at parades and fairs. These discs are incredibly hard to throw straight and they are hard to throw far because of their weight and the design of them. The weight and how that weight is distributed throughout a disc helps with a discs’ aerodynamics. 

These promotional items are not made with the intention of people playing catch with them. These discs are made to show off a company’s logo and to appear more fun than say, a pen, so that you remember the company and think fondly of them. These discs are much smaller, thinner and they weigh as little as possible so that they can be made as cheaply as possible. They are not designed to fly well.  

The number one disc on the market is Discraft’s UltraStar 175gram sport disc for general throwing and for ultimate frisbee. It was designed to fly far and to fly straight, making it easier to throw and play catch with. 

The major difference between the Frisbee and the UltraStar is the plastic that the discs are made from. The UltraStar’s plastic is softer than the Frisbee’s and the bottom edge is smoother. The UltraStar is nice for a few reasons: 

  1. It is softer on your hands as you catch it. The softer plastic results in less of “thud” as it hits your hand during each catch, saving your hands from being hurt on the catch. 
  2. The bottom edge does not scrape your fingers as the disc slides out of your hand. 
  3. It is less brittle, meaning that as the temperature drops, it is less likely to crack when it hits the hard ground or a tree, etc. 

Frisbees and flying discs can come in a range of weights. The general weights of discs are from 160-200grams, but the sweet spot is 175 grams. Discs that are weighted at 175 grams have their weights distributed with some weight around the edge of the disc and some weight along the flat surface. How much weight is in the edges and how much weight is used along the flat area will determine how well the disc flies, how far it will go, and if it will tend to fly straight or list off in other directions. 

Disc golf discs are smaller, and the weight is distributed differently in these discs. Disc golf discs do not make good discs to play catch with. Disc golf discs are much more dense and can cause much more damage when they hit hands, bodies, or property. 

Pro Tip: Always use a sharpie to write your name on the underside of your disc. By putting your name on the underside of the disc someone will be able to return it to you when you inevitably leave it somewhere. If you are playing disc golf or throwing your disc somewhere where it is possible for it to get lost (or fly out of site) put your phone number on it. This will allow a stranger to get it back to you. 

Don’t put your name on the inside or outside edges of the disc as it will get rubbed off quickly and people will get sharpie all over their fingers. You want it on the flat part on the underside, where less fingers will be rubbing, not around the nipple of the disc. 

Once you have the proper disc there are a few other things we need to correct to make the disc fly where we want it to go. These are: 

  1. Where your hand ends up when you let go of the disc 
  2. Your grip 
  3. Your throwing motion(s) 

Let us start with number one first because, well that’s logical, and it’s also the easiest way to make a disc fly in the direction we want it to go. 

A disc is going to fly in whichever direction our hand is going when you release it and it is going to keep going in that direction until it runs out of momentum. We need to be conscious of where our hand is when we let go of the disc. It takes practice to let the disc leave our hand parallel to the ground and aimed in the direction that we want the disc to go. 

To throw a disc to our receiver, we need to let the disc go in the direction of our partner, or if they’re running, in the direction that they’re going so that they can run to it. Let go of the disc with your hand pointed at their chest or where their chest is heading. 

Think about where your throws currently go when you throw a disc: 

-If you let the disc go with your hand finishing up above your receiver’s head: the disc is going to soar above their head, go way up into the sky, and then fly to wherever gravity pulls it to. 

-If you throw a disc and it goes way to the right of your receiver, it means that you let the disc go late. 

-If you throw a disc and it goes way to the left of your intended target, it means that you let the disc go early. 

Throwing the disc flat (parallel with the ground) and directly at our partner’s chest is the first step to throwing a disc correctly. 

Picture the disc to be a serving tray that serving staff at a restaurant would use and picture a glass of water on top of it. Your partner is thirsty.  

To get a glass of water to them, the disc needs to be released flat and level from your hand so that the water doesn’t spill out before your partner catches the disc. 

Number two: Your grip! 

This guide is teaching us how to throw a right-hand back hand throw, otherwise known as an “RHBH”. It is the normal throw you’d find thrown at a picnic or in a field. If you are lefty, this all applies, you just need to switch up the grip and footwork, and call it a left-hand back hand of course! 

Having a good, tight grip on the disc is the second step to making it fly straight, far, and not have it wobble through the air. The goal is to be able to put spin on the disc as it leaves your hand. The spin is what enables a disc to fly farther, it’s not how high you throw it. We don’t want to spill our partner’s glass of water! The amount of spin you put on the disc will enable it to fly farther. As the spin decreases, gravity pulls it towards the ground. 

The number one thing about the grip is that your fingers and hands should not hurt when holding the disc. The second thing is that our grip should be good and firm. While going through how to hold the disc, micro-adjust (this term means to move, ever so slightly) your fingers so that the disc sits comfortably in your hand. Everyone will have their fingers on the disc ever so differently, but they will all be close to the same spots. 

All of our fingers will be playing a role in griping the disc. 

To start, the disc should be design side up and placed in your palm, against the base of your thumb. In the pictures below you can see that there is no space between the disc and the person’s thumb. We do not want to see any light between the disc and our palms, nor do we want to see our palm. Leaving space there will result in us throwing the disc with only our fingers and not with our whole hand. If there is space there, we will not have a firm grip on the disc, which will result in not being able to add lots of spin. We want to be able to wave our hand around and not have the disc slip at all. We should be able to have someone tap our hand or tap the disc and not have the disc move. 

The thumb: 

On the top of every disc there are thin circles of plastic around the outer edge, these are called flight rings. You can see them in the first picture below. They provide a place for our thumb to get grip, as well as help the disc fly. Here are two examples of how your thumb could look on top of the disc. Either is fine and any place in between the two is fine too! We all have different hand sizes, so our thumb will reach to different places on the flight rings and the angle of our thumbs will differ too. Remember that we all need to micro-adjust (move slightly) our hand to make it comfortable for us.Pointer finger: 

Wrap your pointer finger around the bottom of the disc. The edge of the disc should be placed in the first crook of our pointer fingers. We want to pinch the disc between our pointer finger and thumb. Squeezing the disc between our thumb and pointer finger allows us to have a good firm grip on the disc which will help us add spin to the disc when we let it go. Remember to micro-adjust your pointer finger so that you can hold the disc comfortably. There is no right or wrong angle to have the disc in the first crook. We don’t want any pain! We don’t want our finger extended straight out, around the outside edge. 


Place the pad of your pinky finger against the inside edge of the disc and squeeze the disc against your palm. Your pinky helps secure the disc against your palm. We don’t want any space here. We don’t want to see any light showing between the disc and our hand nor do we want to see our palm peeking out in that space. Holding it tight against our palm helps us keep a firm grip on the disc which will allow us to get greater spin as the disc leaves our hands. 


Middle finger and Ring finger: 

These two fingers should be placed on the flat underside of the disc as supports. Thinking back to our analogy of the disc being a serving tray with a glass of water on it, we use these two fingers to help support the disc. Gravity will try to pull the far edge of the disc, the edge that isn’t in our hands, towards the ground. The middle and ring finger add support out towards the middle of the disc. These fingers help keep the disc flat, which is how we want it to leave our hand when throwing towards our receiver’s chest. Micro-adjust these two support fingers to be comfortable. They can be touching each other, there can be a little space between them, they can be straight out, or your fingers can have a little bend in them. The important thing is that we are able to “put the disc in and shake it all about” without it being able to fall out of our hands and without it hurting. 


Number three: Your throwing motion 

To throw a disc straight, and where we want it to go, we need to aim as we let go of the disc. The longer the disc is in our hand, the more time we have to aim before we let it go. What is nice about throwing a disc is that we our pointer finger acts as our guide! Even though the pointer finger isn’t pointed straight out along the edge, wherever our pointer finger is pointing when we let go, is where the disc is going to go! If we let the disc go with our finger pointing above our receiver’s head, the disc is going to go above their head. If we let go with our finger pointing to the right of our receiver, then the disc is going to go to the right of our receiver! 

In order to get a smooth powerful throw to our receiver, we need to establish a pivot foot. Throwing a disc is different than throwing nearly everything else. Nearly every other object you will throw will have you stepping forward with your non-dominant foot. When throwing a disc, we do the opposite! We need to move the foot that is on the same side of the body as the hand we are throwing with. 

Our pivot foot will anchor us to the earth and give us a set space to start our throwing motion from. If you are a right-handed thrower, you will need to use your left foot as a pivot foot and if you are a left-handed thrower you need to use your right foot. This may seem counterintuitive but when throwing a disc, it is imperative. 

Once we have established our pivot foot, this foot will always stay on the ground until we let go of the disc. When we throw, we will step forward with our dominate foot and lean forward over our knee. Our pivot foot’s heal will raise off the ground but the ball of our foot and our toes won’t leave the ground.  

Picture a basketball player that has stopped dribbling. They are allowed to spin in a circle around their pivot foot. As disc throwers, we will pivot around our anchored foot in whichever direction our receiver moves in. This foot allows us to have an anchor so that when we whip the disc towards our receiver, we have a strong, secure base to start from. 

Now that we have our pivot foot decided, we will get into our “ready position”. Ready position is using both hands to hold the disc flat in front of us, at belly button height. This will always be our starting position. We’re ready to step in any direction that our receiver is in and we have the disc secured in two hands so that it is flat and so that it stays flat in whatever direction we step. 


When we are ready to throw, we’ll step forward and ever so slightly to the left of our receiver. Stepping forward like this will bring our arms, hips, and shoulders closer to our receiver and will allow us to throw with our extended arm going straight forward. With both of your hands still on the disc, bring the disc behind you so that it is even with your back hip. 


We want to make sure that the disc is behind us, near our back hip, and no longer in front of our belly button. Bringing it back farther than our belly button will mean that it is in our hand longer. By bringing the disc to our back hip, it gives us more time to bring the disc forward towards our receiver. This does a few things: 

  1. It allows us more time aim. If we were throwing from our belly button, we don’t have a lot of time to aim before the disc is at the end of our reach. 
  2. It allows us extra time to change where we want to let go of the disc. If our receiver decides to move while we are in the middle of our throwing motion, we have longer to react and can let it go a little early or a little later than we planned to. 
  3. It allows us to throw with more power which will add more spin to the disc, allowing the disc to fly farther and straighter. 

When we let go of the disc, in the direction of our receiver’s chest, we need to add spin to the disc. This spin is what allows the disc to fly farther and straighter. If we do not put a lot of spin on the disc, the disc will wobble, gravity will take over more quickly, and the disc won’t reach our receiver. The more spin we add to the disc, the farther the disc will fly. If you have ever seen someone throw a disc really far, it’s because they put a lot of spin on the disc and let it go flat, straight out in front of them. We do not want to throw the disc high into the air or the spin will be wasted climbing upwards into the sky instead of out towards our receiver. Height does not equal distance. 

In order to get the most spin, let go of the disc with your non-dominant hand and lean slightly forward over our leading leg. Engage the core (abs), shoulders, and arm muscles and bring the disc from the back hip towards the receiver. We don’t want the disc to touch our body as we bring it forward. The back of our wrist needs to extend towards our receiver, and we need to SNAP our pointer finger towards our receiver to add maximum spin! The motion is very similar to the motion of whipping someone with a towel. We want to send the back of our hand towards our receiver with force and to point our thumb and pointer finger at them quickly as we let go of the disc. 

Following Up: The last step to throwing a disc well is to practice. It’s going to be very hard to become a great thrower without practicing. By using the steps above (having the correct disc, the correct grip, and the correct form) throwing will become easier over time. Look back at each section as you continue to improve, in order to fine tune. 

You will become more comfortable holding the disc in your hand if you walk around with one. Practice switching between your ready position (two hands, disc in front of you) and your throwing position (up on your pivot foot, stepping towards an imaginary receiver, the disc by your back hip). Practice pivoting left to right as if your receiver is moving in front of you. Practice stepping forward and transferring your weight over your extended leg, pulling the disc across your chest, and snapping your wrist forward towards your receiver. Establishing a pivot, flexing your abs, and faking a throw is quite fun! 

The more you practice your form, the better you will become. You can practice throwing with a partner or throwing in a field by yourself! 

Remember to micro-adjust to what feels best for you and remember that we all become better at things by teaching them. Feel free to grab a friend who hasn’t thrown before and teach them the things that you’ve learned! You’ll both get better!