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With backhand throws being the most common throwing style in disc golf, it sometimes seems as though the “norm” is entirely based around right-hand, backhand throws.
This is why, if you’re a player who prefers sidearm shots, it can be difficult to know which discs will work best for you.
If you relate to this experience, how do you find the best sidearm disc golf driver?
In this article, we’ll explore some important considerations to help you find the right sidearm driver and highlight several products that may be a good option for you.
Sidearm vs. Backhand
Sidearm and backhand are terms used to describe two throwing styles in disc golf.
Both are of equal merit, since there’s no singular correct or proper way to throw.
Let’s take a look at what makes them different, and why you may want to try throwing both ways if you do not already.
Backhand throws are where your throwing arm crosses over to the opposite side of your body before winding back open and releasing the disc.
For a video demonstration of throwing backhand by disc golf player Eric Oakley, check out the video below.
Sidearm is where the throwing arm is already away from the body, and instead you generate more of a flicking motion with your arm rather than a 180 degree spin.
It’s difficult to explain, but check out this video of Nate Sexton offering a demonstration of throwing sidearm.
While backhand throws are more common and recognized than sidearm throws, some players are able to achieve more power and speed throwing sidearm than they can throwing backhand.
How sidearm throws affect your disc
Sidearm throws result in different disc behaviors than backhand throws do.
One way sidearm throws are different is that your disc fades in the opposite direction that the same disc would when thrown backhand.
What does this mean?
Well, discs are all categorized according to a set of criteria known as flight ratings or flight numbers or flight characteristics.
This criteria is divided into four categories: speed, glide, turn, and fade.
Speed evaluates the amount of power needed when throwing a disc in order for it to fly successfully. Speed is divided into a scale from 1 to 14.
The closer your disc is to 14 on speed, the more power it requires to throw. High speed discs are typically reserved for advanced skill sets.
Glide tells us about the individual disc’s ability to both achieve and maintain loft while in the air at the speediest portion of the flight (which is the beginning).
Glide is measured on a scale of 1 to 7. Discs that are around a 7 are the ones that soar across vast distances.
Turn describes which way a disc will travel on a right-hand backhand throw. Turn is divided into three definitions: overstable, stable, and understable.
Overstable discs turn left, stable discs fly a straight line, and understable discs turn right.
Overstable is typically rated at +1 to 0, stable can be rated anywhere from 0 to -2, and understable can be rated anywhere from -2 to -5.
The reason there isn’t a hard science here is because disc golf manufacturers do not have to follow any regulations, making all discs different between brands.
Two discs could have the same turn rating, but one could fly stable while the other could fly understable.
Manufacturers are generally quite good at advising where their discs fly, however, so be sure to do your research before purchasing a disc.
Fade helps us understand the behavior of the disc at the end of flight when it slows down.
Fade is measured on a scale of 0 to 5. A low fade disc will finish straight, while anything above that will hook sharper and sharper to the left (on a right-hand backhand throw).
So, since we know sidearm results in opposite fade, how is this useful?
If you have an obstacle in your way and the only way to maneuver around it is for your disc to hang right, consider trying out sidearm.
What to look for in a good disc for throwing sidearm
The disc golf community has a general consensus that overstable discs are the best option for beginner sidearm throwers. This is because the opposite is true for backhand.
When a new disc golf player is practicing their right-hand backhand throws, understable discs are ideal for them.
However, the danger of continuing to practice sidearm with only overstable discs rather than understable is you may not develop better technique over time.
This article is concerned mainly with fairway and distance drivers. These are two of four discs in disc golf.
Distance drivers are what we use to drive either long or max distances.
They’re the discs with the greatest capacity for speed, which also makes them the least beginner-friendly.
The reason is that discs with high speed capacity need excellent technique and a big arm of power, which are generally things beginners haven’t developed yet.
The next disc, fairway drivers, are more beginner-friendly than distance drivers are.
Fairway drivers can still generate a fair amount of speed and distance, but they have smaller rims than distance drivers and are easier to control.
Fairway drivers are a good first step for beginners to take when they’re ready to try to up their distance game.
Mid-range discs are the most beginner-friendly of the bunch because they’re multi-use, controlled, and accurate.
These discs can be used for strategic shots, moderate distance shots, or putt and approach shots.
Putters are the final group of discs, used for putt and approach shot. These are the slowest discs. Putters can be purchased in all forms of turn and fade.
You can use sidearm throws with any of these discs, even putters.
It might take some adjustments if you’ve been used to playing backhand, but we’re fairly confident you’ll discover that a whole new world of strategies and throws will open up for you.
Best sidearm disc golf driver
There are a number of driver discs that may work for sidearm. The following discs may prove a good place for you to begin your search.
Innova Star Sidewinder
The Innova Sidewinder is our suggestion for beginner-level players looking for a sidearm driver.
This moderate-speed driver is ideal for new players, but can also be used by seasoned players too!
This is also a great opportunity for you to transition to an understable disc if you’ve been throwing an overstable one.
The Sidewinder’s flight ratings are: speed 9, glide 5, turn -3, and fade 1. It’ll finish mostly straight with just the slightest fade to the right.
We’ve selected the Sidewinder in Star plastic because it’s durable yet more beginner-friendly.
The Star is known for its combination of inflexible durability yet sticky grip, making it a great choice for any weather scenario.
The Sidewinder can also double as a backhand disc! You’re not limited to throwing it one way or another.
When thrown right-hand sidearm, it’ll follow a nice left-ward weave before finishing right.
View at Amazon to learn more about how this disc might work for sidearm.
Innova Ricky Wysocki 2X Star Destroyer Distance Driver Golf Disc
The Destroyer is one of Innova’s more famous distance drivers.
The Destroyer gained notoriety from pro disc golf champ Ricky Wysocki. That’s why Innova prints his custom-stamp on their latest Destroyer models.
The Destroyer’s flight ratings are: speed 12, glide 5, turn -1, and fade 3. This is a high speed, high glide disc that is capable of soaring max distances.
It’ll follow a mostly straight line whether it’s throw sidearm or back-hand. Either way, it’ll have a more noticeable and dramatic fade at the end of flight.
We’ve selected the Star plastic for this disc as well. Innova’s Star plastic line allows you to purchase the Destroyer in the following weight categories: 140 to 150 grams, 151 to 159 grams, 160 to 164 grams, 165 to 169 grams, 170 to 172 grams, or 173 to 175 grams.
This variety provides you several options depending on your personal throwing preferences.
Lighter weight discs can help drive even more distance by cutting through the air better.
Lighter discs are also easier to throw than heavier discs are.
However, a downside to lighter discs is that they are not as resistant to manipulation by the wind as heavier discs are.
View at Amazon for more information on how this disc might work for your game.
Featured image credit: DepositPhotos.com