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There are so many phrases, definitions, and things to know in disc golf, it can get really overwhelming!
What seems like a fairly simple sport of “get the disc in the basket” is actually quite complex and strategic, scientific and mathematical.
What does understable mean?
Understable references an individual disc’s “turn” rating, which we’ll describe in more depth later.
Basically, understable helps us understand the disc’s flight pattern so we know where it will end up compared to where it is released on the fairway.
In simplest terms, an understable disc, when thrown by a right-hand backhand player, will both turn and spin to the right.
Instead of flying a straight path from point A to point B, that path will have rightward curvature.
The opposite is true when thrown by a left-hand backhand player. Understable discs will spin and turn to the left side of the fairway.
How to know if a disc is understable
So in that last section when we talked about a disc’s “turn” rating? That’s how you’ll know a disc is understable.
Each disc in disc golf is characterized according to four different categories which indicate aspects of their flight pattern.
These categories are speed, glide, turn, and fade.
Speed doesn’t reference how fast a disc can travel, since that fully depends on you, the thrower.
Rather, speed measures how much power needs to go into a throw in order for the disc to spin the way it needs to.
High speed discs require a big arm with a lot of power, while low speed discs require less effort. Speed is measured on a scale of 1 to 14. There are understable discs of every speed out there.
Glide references the disc’s tendency to achieve and maintain loft during the fastest portion of the flight.
High glide discs are the ones that soar far and wide down the fairway, while low glide discs are typically reserved for approach and putter discs.
Glide is measured on a scale of 1 to 7.
Turn is what denotes how overstable, stable, or understable a disc is going to be. Turn is measured on a scale of +1 to -5, with -5 being the most understable.
Usually any disc with a -2 to -5 rating is going to be understable, while 0 and -1 can be stable, and 0 to +1 can be overstable.
It really varies according to the individual disc manufacturer, since there are no hard regulations in place to monitor the stability of a disc.
The final category is fade, which is measured on a scale of 0 to 5. Fade describes the disc’s behavior at the end of flight when the speed slows down.
Low fade discs finish straighter, while high fade discs demonstrate sharp curvature to the left.
In summary, you’ll know if a disc is understable if its turn rating is around -2 or less.
Other factors that impact the stability of a disc
There are a couple of other factors that impact how understable a disc will fly.
The plastic type a disc is manufactured in can create more or less stability in a disc.
For example, hard. Inflexible plastics like Innova’s Champion plastic cause a disc to be less flippy and more stable than a more flexible plastic like their DX line.
Additionally, the direction of the wind can make an understable disc behave more stable.
Headwinds, which are winds that blow against you from the front, create an understabilizing effect on your disc, which is why overstable discs are recommended for use in a headwind.
Understable discs are best used in tailwinds, or winds that blow against you from behind, because they can counteract the overstabilizing effects of a tailwind.
How to throw an understable disc
There’s not necessarily a throwing technique specific to understable discs alone, but there are a lot of strategies that are useful for understable discs!
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of the types of ways understable discs are useful:
- Anhyzer. When an understable disc is thrown on an anhyzer angle, which is where the nose of the disc is pointed up and toward you, it can create a more dramatic flight path to the right to help you get around obstacles, or it can cause the disc to turn into a roller shot.
- Rollers. Rollers are where the disc turns over onto its side while in the air, lands on its side, and rolls down the fairway. Rollers can help double or triple the distance you can achieve with your discs. Understable discs are the only ones that work for rollers though because they’re the only discs that can fully turn over enough to land on their side.
- Hyzer flips. Hyzer flips are where you throw an understable disc on a hyzer angle, and instead of the understable disc drifting to the right, it travels straight during the high-spin portion of the flight. These throws are a great tool for long, narrow shots like tunnel shots.
- Turnover shots. A turnover shot is where you throw an understable disc on a hyzer angle to the left side of the fairway. The disc will travel to the left before its understability causes it to drift back to the right.
- S shots. S shots are almost identical to turnover shots, but they’re thrown with understable discs that have high fade. When the disc has high fade, it drifts back to the left at the end of the flight, creating an “S” pattern from an aerial perspective.
These are a variety of techniques that can be used on an understable disc to help you strategize your game.
There are several other factors that go into these shots being effective, including the angle of release, how much power goes into the shot, and how you flick your wrist to put some spin on the disc.
Best understable discs
We have a handful of recommendations on some of the best understable discs to help you advance your skills and techniques.
We’ll offer our recommendation on a great understable distance driver, an understable mid-range disc, and an understable putter.
The distance driver can be used for all of the shots we recommended above. The mid-range discs can be used for rollers, hyzer flips, and anhyzers.
The putters can be used for anhyzer techniques and in the presence of a tailwind.
Always consult an industry professional before using any new product in your game.
BEST UNDERSTABLE DISTANCE DRIVER – Innova Star Tern
The Innova Tern is a high-speed maximum distance driver that we recommend for advanced players, not beginners. Its flight ratings are: Speed 12, Glide 6, Turn -3, and Fade 2.
We recommend this disc in Innova’s Star plastic because it is durable and will be able to resist damage from rough shots like rollers.
It’s not as durable as Innova’s Champion plastic, so it won’t have major overstabilizing effects on your disc.
This disc is quite understable and has very little fade, so you can anticipate that it will follow a solid rightward curve (on a right-hand backhand shot) with a straight finish.
It’s a great choice for hyzer flips, long distance turnovers, rollers, and good old anhyzer shots.
View at Amazon to learn more about how this product may work for your needs.
BEST UNDERSTABLE MID-RANGE DISC – Innova – Champion Discs DX Stingray Golf Disc
For a Mid-range disc, you can’t go wrong with the Innova Stingray in DX plastic. This disc’s flight ratings are: Speed 4, Glide 5, Turn -3, and Fade 1.
We selected this disc in the DX plastic because it will be easier and more comfortable for newer, beginner-level players to use.
The DX plastic will not maintain the integrity of the Stingray’s flight ratings as long as a more durable plastic like the Star would, but you’ll be able to gradually grow and adjust with it.
This is a great option for hyzer flips, turnovers, and medium to long-range rollers.
This disc doesn’t require a lot of power or effort to throw which is why it’s a great option for beginners to use when practicing different techniques.
View at Amazon for more information on how this disc may work for your game.
BEST UNDERSTABLE PUTTER DISC – Millennium Supersoft Omega Putter Golf Disc
For a straight-flying, yet slightly understable, putter, we recommend the Millennium Omega Supersoft Putter. Its flight ratings are: Speed 2, Glide 3, Turn -1, and Fade 1.
This disc will fly mostly straight at the beginning, veer ever-so-slightly to the right, then fade very subtly back a bit to the left at the end of flight. It is an extremely controllable and predictable disc.
This is manufactured in the Millennium Supersoft plastic, which is known for being soft and comfortable, sticky (and therefore easier to control), and quite grippy.
It won’t slip out of your hands on a rainy day, and it will hold up well against a tailwind.
This disc is appropriate for all skill levels.
View at Amazon for more information on how this product could work for use in your game.
Featured image credit: DepositPhotos.com