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Beginners frequently wonder why an avid disc golf player has a bag full of different discs. They are different colors, some with fancy designs.
However, there are four numbers that make each disc golf disc even more unique.
One of the four rating numbers grades how prone the disc is to turn right when a right-handed thrower uses the traditional backhand throwing motion.
Understanding how these numbers affect disc flight is important. It will help you choose the right disc for a particular situation.
When you begin to appreciate how a combination of each of these four factors affects the flight of disc golf disc, you can use them to your advantage.
So, what is turn in disc golf?
Let’s start by talking about the disc golf disc rating system, and then how you can take advantage of turn.
What Do the Rating Numbers on a Disc Golf Disc Mean?
Disc golf discs use a four number rating system.
The first two numbers rate the speed and the glide of the disc.
The speed rating isn’t actually how fast the disc will fly. That is up to you as the thrower.
Disc ratings use a standard right-hand backhand throwing motion (RHBH).
Speed means how much force you the thrower must exert to allow the disc to behave in flight according to its complete number rating.
The speed rating does indicate the design tendency for the disc to fly fast, only if it’s thrown with proper technique.
Speed ratings go from 1 to 14 with 14 being the fastest.
Glide is how far the disc will glide through the air when thrown using appropriate force. It is the disc’s ability to maintain time in the air.
The third rating is turn. This is the number we’re going to explore in more detail.
Fade is the fourth number on a disc golf disc rating system. It is the opposite of turn.
Fade is how prone a disc will be to hook at the end of its flight. Fade ratings are from 0 to 5.
The lowest 0 rating is for discs that will fade the least.
Now let’s dig deeper into the third number, turn.
What does turn mean in disc golf?
As mentioned when explaining the ratings numbers on a disc golf disc, turn judges one of these flight tendencies.
It is the third number in the sequence, but that doesn’t mean that it is mutually exclusive of the effects of the other three numbers.
One key to remember is that turn is the opposite of fade. Fade is the hooking flight pattern of your disc.
Fade is also referred to as Low Speed Stability (LSS). We mention that because it addresses the final flight tendency of your disc as it slows down.
The turn rating on a disc is critical because it is materializes almost immediately as the disc leaves your hand.
Turn is also referred to as High Speed Stability (HSS).
As your disc is moving at its peak speed, the first rating number, turn is how prone it will be to curve to the right initially.
High speed turn occurs during the fastest part of your disc’s flight pattern.
As the disc slows down during the glide period, it will begin to turn back the opposite direction.
Now you can begin to appreciate how these rating numbers work as a unit.
The turn rating for your disc indicates its stability during its highest point of speed.
Turn ratings are from -5 to +1.
A disc that is prone to turn will have a third rating number of -4 or -5.
A +1 rating for turn is considered an over-stable disc. A -5 rating is called an under-stable disc.
Turn ratings in the middle, -1 and -2, will have a moderate amount of turn during the fastest portion of their flight.
Disc golf discs rated -1 or -2 are classified as stable.
So, using the concept of over-stable vs. under-stable, how can you take advantage of turn in disc golf?
How to take advantage of disc turn in disc golf
It’s important to remember when turn occurs during the flight pattern of your disc.
Turn is the high speed tendency of your disc to begin turning to the right almost immediately.
The turn ratings are for RHBH throwing motions.
Left-handed throwers who do not use discs specifically rated for the opposite hand need to consider the opposite trends for their disc flight.
Also remember the speed rating on your disc will also dictate how fast it will reach the turn stage.
As an example, let’s use a disc rating of 9, 3, -2 and 2. The blend of these four numbers rates this disc as more stable.
The speed rating is high enough for a good driver or fairway disc.
However, it is not too prone to excessive glide, allowing it to err off its true flight pattern.
The -2 turn and 2 fade ratings will essentially cancel themselves out when you use proper throwing technique.
As you become more comfortable with different disc ratings, you’ll also be able to take advantage of number combinations.
Let’s look at a situation where your throw benefits from a strong, but steady right turn.
A higher speed rated disc, 12 to 14, with a minimal 1 glide rating, and a low fade rating can provide a helpful advantage when you pick the right turn rating.
A 12, 1, -5 and 0 rated disc is going to turn hard to the right almost immediately, and resist coming back to the left at all.
This is a super strategy to employ when you’re looking to go around obstacles, or bend your throw to take advantage of a right-handed curve.
By using the same theory for speed and glide, you can choose a disc rated with a high fade number, but extremely stable turn to bend the opposite direction.
Using a more under-stable disc, -4 or -5, can also allow you to lay your disc over.
This is a trick that uses an excessive turn to cause the disc to land on its side and run.
Once you master keeping the disc’s roll straight and true, you’d be surprised at how much distance you can erase between you and the basket using this turn advantage.
You can also take advantage of over-stable discs with less glide to deal with the effects of wind.
Beginners need to keep in mind that over-stable discs are slightly harder to throw.
It’s best to keep an even balance on your rating numbers, leaning towards a disc with a little more turn.
As our final example on how to take advantage of disc turn by choosing a good rating combination, consider an 8, 4, -2 and 3 rated disc.
This is an excellent balance for beginners. The disc is going to follow an S-curve when thrown using proper backhand technique.
This disc will begin a slight right-hand turn out of your hand, but glide well.
As the disc slows down, the fade factor will force the disc to turn back to the left.
The disc will fly fairly straight, but land at a slight angle to the left of where you released your throw.
So, if you’ve heard the term, but still wondered what is turn in disc golf, this should give you an excellent understanding of the concept.
It’s more than just one of the numbers in the disc flight rating system.
Turn can turn a perfectly aimed throw into a disastrous result.
However, you can also use a strategic combination of all four rating numbers, including an under-stable disc prone to turn, and use it to your advantage.
Take the time to practice using discs of various rating combinations, especially throwing discs from both ends of the turn spectrum.
With the proper technique, you can marvel on the disc golf course by executing masterful throws just using the natural tendency for your disc to turn.