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:

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:

  1. Reduced total flight time due to loss of stable flight
  2. 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:

forehand-vs-backhand-distance-4

Figure 1

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:

  1. Increase the rate of spin (rotations per minute)
  2. Increase the diameter of the disc
  3. 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.

Specific Recommendations

Putting it all together, here are two specific recommendations, based on your level of play:

Best For Beginner / Intermediate Players

Mold: Firebird
Manufacturer: Innova
Optimal Weight: 165-175g
Optimal Plastic: Champion

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.

Get a Firebird with these Exact Specifications Here

 

Best for Intermediate / Advanced Players

Mold: Destroyer
Manufacturer: Innova
Optimal Weight: 165-169g
Optimal Plastic: Star

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.

Get A Destroyer with These Exact Specifications

Best for Advanced / Professional Players

Mold: Cannon
Manufacturer: Legacy
Optimal Weight: 172-175g
Optimal Plastic: Icon

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.

Get a Cannon with These Exact Specifications

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!

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9 Comments

  1. Reply

    Is there a known technique for releasing a forehand throw with a slightly anhyzer wrist angle to “offset” to some extent the tendency of highly overstable discs (such as the two recommended here) to fade out early compared to a slightly less stable disc (which might suffer flutter or not have enough rim weight)? The resulting slight S line of an anhyzer release should keep the disc airborne longer, yes? Or is there an additional downside (reduced release velocity?) which offsets this advantage?

    • Bart Bird

      Reply

      Jim John – Good Question!

      Most Forehand throwers generate enough release velocity to handle overstable discs, but yes, if you do find that a specific disc is too overstable for you to get an optimal flight pattern, a slight anhyzer release will help the disc turn over (flip) during the high-speed portion of flight, thereby extending total flight-time.

      • Kenno

        Reply

        My 171-172g GStar Krait does for me that quite well, little offset and nice S-line from forehand

        • Bart Bird

          Reply

          Kenno — That makes perfect sense. The Krait is basically the Speed 11 version of the Destroyer we recommend above, but with slightly less Fade.

  2. Andy

    Reply

    Axiom and MVP discs claim to have higher rotational inertia by design. Does their science hold up? If it does would their discs be better for forehand throwing?

    • Bart Bird

      Reply

      Andy – MVP uses a higher density material around the rim (shifting the weight to the perimeter), which should increase rotational inertia. What we have not yet determined, however, is the how this design performs in terms of torque-resistance. We are doing more analysis along these lines now and will let you know what we find!

  3. Troy

    Reply

    I have a destroyer champion blizzard. I tend to turn it over way too much with my fire hand. Should I look for a faster disc?

    • Bart Bird

      Reply

      Troy – you have three options: (1) moving up to a Speed 13 (Boss), (2) choosing a Speed 12 that is more overstable than the Destroyer (Xcalibur), or (3) increasing Speed and Stability (Ape). The Boss and Ape are both available in Blizzard, but the lightest Xcalibur available is in Star plastic at +170g — MUCH heavier than the Blizzard plastic you are using.

  4. Casey Holmes

    Reply

    Wonder if you could take 2 lightweight blizzard champion discs, such as Destroyers that are both 138 grams for example, and add around 40 grams or so of mass to each disc using watch batteries or something uniform that’d be carefully placed with 3M double-sided sticky tape so that the discs stay radially balanced, but have one of the discs get weighted toward the outside and the other toward the center to try to make some comparison of the exact same disc profiles with the exact same total masses, with just different mass distributions. . . So then each disc could get analyzed with both forehand and backhand throws.

    Maybe even make a pair of mass inserts that each fit up into the bottom of any disc, onto the bottom of the flight plate, with all the perfect mass spacing already locked in, allowing the ability to quickly make 2 different mass distribution versions of a pair of any lightweight-to-begin-with discs to compare. Seems like it could really objectify a lot of BH vs FH disc data/theory, if it’d work of course.

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