The number of variables affecting the distance of a disc golf drive seems infinite, but for players using good form, the primary controllable factor is disc release speed.
Using a radar gun, data was collected by Theo Pozzy at a distance driving event in 2000 to correlate disc release speed in MPH with total flight distance in feet (Source: Disc Golf World News, Spring 2001).
The most relevant takeaway from the study was evidence that players throwing at speeds from 45-70 MPH (which encompasses the vast majority of Disc Golfers) demonstrated a very consistent relationship between speed and distance. For each 1MPH increase in disc speed, the average drive distance increased by 7.2 feet.
1 MPH = 7.2 Feet
The standard deviation in distance from 45-65 MPH was around 40 feet, meaning that over time you would statistically expect 68% of all throws to fall within +/-40 feet of the average.
Above 65 the standard deviation increased significantly which is not uncommon when dealing with higher base averages. Additionally, the golden line for maximum distance was 70 MPH, above which the incremental distance gains were more significant, averaging around 10 feet per incremental MPH.
Grounding the Data
To fully understand the detail above, a few key additional data points are needed:
- 1,108 Feet: The longest drive ever recorded (Dave Wiggins Jr., 2016, 154g Innova R-Pro Boss)
- 630 Feet: The longest drive in this study (Disc not provided)
- 95MPH: Fastest throw ever recorded (Simon Lizotte, 130g Innova Blizzard Wraith)
If we define Simon’s 95 MPH as the maximum achievable speed, it is reasonable to assume Dave’s record distance throw had speeds very close to that. So if the record throw in the study was 630′ at 76MPH, and the average gain was 10 feet per MPH at these speeds, then 630’ plus 80 extra feet from the additional speed (8MPH * 10’), the total should only be around 710’, right?
Two key factors must be kept in mind.
Firstly, most discs used in this study were Speed 9 and relatively slow by today’s standards. One could easily make the argument that a Speed 13 Distance Driver would see gains of more than 7.2’ per/MPH.
Secondly, Dave’s record throw was supported by high winds. Dave is obviously an amazing player, but with no supporting tailwind his record drive would have probably fallen somewhere under 1000’.
2 Simple Ways to Increase MPH
For the methods below, let’s be conservative and stick with the conservative model of 7.2 additional feet gained per 1MPH as demonstrated during the 2000 study
(1) Increase Total Forward Velocity
Watching the 4 pros in this video, you’ll see that each of them take a big, fasts final step forward with a big push from their back foot to further propel them forwards.
Because the total forward speed of a disc is equal to arm speed plus total forward speed in relation the ground, one of the simplest ways to increase distance is to increase the speed of your final approach steps.
For example, a casual 4MPH approach plus an arm speed of 60MPH would generate a release velocity of 64PMH. With a more aggressive 8MPH push the release velocity increases to 68MPH and another 28-30 feet on your drive.
(2) Reduce Disc Weight
Without delving into the complexities of flight dynamics and discussions of lift, momentum, and drag, empirically we have proven that lighter-weight discs are capable of very long flights.
In fact, no disc weighing over 170g has even been thrown over 800’.
Using physics calculations to correlate force, mass, and acceleration, it the amount of force needed to accelerate a 175g to 50MPH is the same force needed to accelerate a 155g disc to 56.5MPH. In short, the same amount of effort could yield an additional 6.5MPH in velocity or 47 feet in total distance.
Lighter discs are obviously more susceptible to wind and should only be used in the right conditions, but if the wind is right players looking for max distance should choose discs in the 140-160g weight range.
We hope this helps!
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