While Right-Hand Forehand (RHFH) and Left-Hand backhand (LFBH) are closely associated due to their similar flight patterns, they are not the same throw and require completely different discs for optimal performance.
So which discs are the best for forehand/sidearm throwers?
In this guide, we will explain specifically how the differences affect disc flight, and how to use that knowledge to choose the best discs for maximum distance.
Watch this amazing sidearm shot by 4x PDGA Champion Paul McBeth, using an Innova Destroyer, Star Plastic:
— usdgclive (@usdgclive) October 9, 2015
The Key Difference Between Forehand and Backhand
Maximizing distance in disc golf requires high release velocity to generate both forward motion and lift, as well as high rotational inertia to maintain stable flight for as long as possible.
While many players find they generate more release velocity when throwing forehand, testing has demonstrated that a forehand release produces (on average) 25% less spin than a backhand motion with similar release velocity.
This relative lack of spin causes two problems:
- Reduced total flight time due to loss of stable flight
- Off-axis torque, or “wobble,” which reduces flight distance through both wasted motion and reduced aerodynamic performance.
“Wait, I throw a forehand drive farther than a backhand drive. How does that work?”
Simple — if a player can generate enough additional release velocity using a forehand motion (compared to their backhand throw), the disc will still fly father, even if the total time in flight is less. Example:
Figure 1 above represents a 70mph forehand drive vs. a 65mph backhand drive. Even though the backhand’s stability kept it airborne for a full second longer, the forehand drive still traveled 12.6 feet farther due to its higher flight velocity. Now….what if we could keep the forehand drive in flight for the full 8 seconds?
Increasing Flight Time to Increase Distance
To maximize forehand flight distance we must extend the duration of its stable flight time, and to extend its stable flight time we must increase its rotational inertia. Here’s where science lends a hand.
Rotational inertia can be increased three ways:
- Increase the rate of spin (rotations per minute)
- Increase the diameter of the disc
- Increase the percentage of total weight located near the disc’s perimeter
Because #1 is limited by the forehand throwing motion, and almost all drivers fall within a very slim diameter range (#2), the solution to increasing rotational inertia is #3, using a disc with most of the weight concentrated around the perimeter, i.e. high Speed, wide-rim drivers.
The perimeter weighting of high-Speed drivers will also serve to reduce or even eliminate flutter from off-axis torque.
Increasing Torque Resistance to Reduce Flutter
Overstable discs are aerodynamically designed to resist the torque that creates understable flight. This torque resistance also serves to quickly stabilize in-flight flutter caused by off-axis torque.
If the flutter a player is experiencing is moderate to severe, using a heavier gram-weight disc will also help reduce flutter. While we typically recommend lighter discs for maximum distance, the benefits of reducing/eliminating flutter should exceed any potential distance decreases from the additional weight.
Putting it all together, here are two specific recommendations, based on your level of play:
Best For Beginner / Intermediate Players
The Firebird’s low profile (1.4cm high) and high mold parting line combine to create highly torque-resistant, overstable flight. The 1.9cm rim will provide good rotational inertia without being so wide that it is difficult for Intermediate players to use.
Champion plastic is very torque resistant and also produces additional high-speed stability. The 165-175g weighting provides excellent torque resistance, perfect for beginners and intermediates.
Best for Intermediate / Advanced Players
For Players with high release velocity and solid technique the primary focus shifts to rotational inertia, which the Destroyer mold delivers through its high perimeter weight concentration and 2.1cm rim.
The weight and plastic strategy for the Destroyer are similar to those of the Firebird above, but because Champion plastic is slightly too overstable for optimal flight patterns with this Speed 12 disc, we recommend the comparable Star.
Best for Advanced / Professional Players
For Players with maximal release velocity and expert technique, the Cannon takes rotational inertia to the next level with the maximum allowable rim with: 2.5cm.
The Cannon is the current Forehand Distance world record holder, but with this heavy weight class and super wide rim width only players with biggest arms will be able to use a Cannon to its true potential.
We Hope This Helped!
If you have any additional questions please let us know using our contact page. We are always happy to help members of our community!