In addition to the Power Grip
, another critical factor in adding distance and consistency to your game is maximizing the impact of your footwork and approach steps. Here, we will focus on the final 3 steps of your release, which are critical because, done correctly, they will allow you to confidently transfer more of your power and weight into your throw.
In disc golf, the “run up” is not only important, but is an area that can have a huge impact on the power, distance, and accuracy of your shots. Newcomers to disc golf know the feeling of awkwardness that comes from trying to figure out where to put your feet each time you throw. One missed step is likely to result in a poorly thrown shot with unimpressive distance. It is for this reason that pros recommend the X-Step be used for all backhand shots.
The X-Step, simply put, is a consistent process for the final 3 steps of any backhand throw. The following summarizes each step in the process:
1 —Aim your shot
To aim your shot, place your feet together and extend your throwing arm (with disc in hand) to point at the object you are aiming for. This may be the basket, or it may be something else. The important thing is to aim the shot where you want the disc to fly. A poor technique is aiming at the basket when you really want to throw 20 feet to the right of it to get around an object. A correction like this should NOT be made at the point of release. Rather, point the disc where you want it to fly. In fact, you should pick an object to aim for that is in line with where you want the disc to head. By doing this, you will be able to measure the success, or failure, of the line you have chosen with the disc you used. After setting your aim, make sure the ground where you will be performing your run-up is clear of debris. If necessary, take a few seconds and clear any loose gravel, rocks, sticks, etc from your path.
2 —The 1st Step
Now that you have aimed your shot, you are ready for the throw. Your first step will be forward in a direct line with your right foot (left foot for left-handed players), keeping your body perpendicular (sideways) to the target and the disc forward as you step. Don’t rush your steps (especially while practicing), simply take a slow, natural step towards your target.
3 —The 2nd Step
The second step is where this technique gets its name, because you will be bringing your back foot (left foot for righties) behind your lead foot, making an “X” with your legs. As you do this, you will bring the disc from the forward position (pointing at the target) to a fully extended position behind you (in a straight line, still pointing at the target). Make sure that you are balanced and that the disc is fully extended behind you. Please note that at this point, you are looking back at the disc, 180 degrees from the spot you are aiming for. Your front foot (the left) will be at a 90 degree angle to the right, with the heel up and the ball of the foot flexed and on the ground.
4 —The 3rd Step
The power from this technique comes from the 3rd and final step. With your legs crossed and the disc extended fully behind you, you are now coiled like a spring and ready to transfer all of your weight and power into the throw. For the final step, you are going to bring your right leg forward, exploding off of your firmly planted left leg (opposite for lefties). As you step forward, you will bring the disc forward in a straight line, across your chest. As you plant your lead foot, you will want to rotate your upper body to create more snap.
5 — The Release & Follow-through
The hand with the disc should pass close to your right breast as you bring it forward. Keep pulling in a straight line and release the disc when your arm is extended, rotating on your lead foot as you follow-through. Just as in ball golf, follow-through is important. After the disc leaves your hand, continue swinging your arm and rotating your body. Pros recommend swinging the arm down after release to reinforce keeping the nose of the disc down, resulting in a lower and more powerful throw.
If you are new to the sport and trying to incorporate the power grip and X-Step into your game at the same time, then this will all feel a little weird at first. However, the more you do it, the better it will feel, and soon you’ll be crushing drives and nailing approach shots.
A couple of final notes about the X-step. First, you can use the X-step with longer run-ups as well. In fact, you can have as many steps as you want in front of the X-Step, just make sure that you set yourself so that the final 3 steps are as described above. Also, you should generally try to use the X-step for all non-putting shots. Since consistency is the key to having a solid game, most players will use the X-Step on long and short shots alike. For shorter shots, simply take shorter steps and adjust the force you put into the shot. Also, do not run or rush as you practice the X-Step. This technique will add a great deal of distance, even if performed slowly. In fact, many of the long throwers on the course have a slow and controlled set of approach steps.