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by Elaine King in Flying Disc Magazine, issue #1

Throwing a level shot is a required skill to master disc golf, yet many players find it difficult to achieve. Most new golfers throw a disc with hyzer, meaning the disc curves or fades left. (To keep things relatively simply, assume all disc-flight comments are the result of a right-handed player throwing backhand, i.e., spinning the disc clockwise.) This happens because a new player commonly holds and releases the disc at a slight angle. In calm conditions, throwing with some hyzer angle at release is typically not an issue, as righty throwers can compensate for their indirect flight by aiming to the right of the obstacle (or to the left for lefties). When it's windy, however, this strategy is likely to backfire. Depending upon the wind direction relative to the disc's angle of hyzer, hyzer throws give the wind a large surface to play with, driving the disc downward or sailing it away. Another good reason for wanting your discs to fly and land level or flat is that even in calm conditions, a flat landing is probably your best choice to avoid skipping or rolling, such as s when the basket is perched on a slope or surrounded by hard-packed dirt.

Throwing a level shot begins with the proper grip, which includes the correct posture/alignment of the hand and wrist. A common reason for a persistent hyzer throw is that the wrist is inadvertently rotated inward, allowing the thumb to point downward rather than horizontal to the ground. It feels natural to allow this inward rotation due to the pull of the disc's weight but it results in a curved shot due to the angle of the disc at release. The tendency to rotate the wrist must be consciously overcome by holding the disc level. At first this will probably feel unnatural. If you still; have trouble throwing without that hyzer, it may be helpful to overcompensate slightly, actually hold the disc so that the side you are gripping is slightly higher than the side you are gripping. In other words, introduce a little anhyzer; try it-some players make unconscious adjustments mid throw, adding hyzer, so if you start out with your disc at a slight angle, it's possible you'll level it out upon release.

Executing a level shot is also dependent on the direction of your arm pull. A hyzer shot always results when you wind your back with your arm low and follow through with your arm swinging upwards. This upward swing is taught to us in many sports, including ball golf, hockey, and baseball. A disc golf throw starts with your arm at shoulder height when you reach or wind back, and then the disc is pulled across your body at the same level in order to effect a level throw.

It will probably take some time to perfect the level shot if you have been a die-hard hyzer thrower. Take a bunch of discs to a field and practice throwing straight shots by focusing on the grip and then the arm pull. Ask a more experienced player to critique your technique. Persist in your practice and in time, you'll shave strokes off your score!

Elaine's Quick Tips

When an errant throw lands you in an ugly spot, make sure you take your full thirty seconds before executing your next shot. The first shot that comes to mind may not be the best possible choice. Step to the left, to the right, and backwards. Look up. Get down on your knees and look for a low gap. Pick out three possible routes, then spend a few seconds evaluating the pros and cons of each. Your best choice will usually be the shot that guarantees your landing back on the fairway, or will result in the greatest distance. The smartest choice might even be throwing backwards to a good placement. Trying to make up for your bad throw by attempting to execute a heroic shot will most often result in hacking through the rough for several more shots.

Throwing Level