This article is for intermediate disc golfers who have a solid grasp on the foundations of disc golf. If you can generally throw where you're aiming with reasonable consistency, but you're looking to add some distance to your drives this is the article for you. While I've said before that the short game is by far the most important part of disc golf, a nice long drive can make your approach shot that much easier or even put you in position to capitalize on some short birdie putts. Not only can driving farther improve your score, but there's something very satisfying about chucking a disc 400 feet and just watching it sail. A long, accurate drive is a thing of beauty.
Use the Right Throw
I am a big advocate of throwing backhand, meaning that you point your shoulder at the target pull the disc across your chest to throw rather than forehand or sidearm. When I first started, I had more immediate success throwing forehand, so that's what I did for about a year. Eventually, I reached a plateau in the distance of my drive and I was never really happy with my inconsistent accuracy. When I finally took the leap an taught myself to throw backhand, it was a struggle at first. However, I soon found that I was able to generate more power and be more consistent with my angles and release points. In fact, I added well over 50 feet to my drives just by switching from forehand to backhand throws.
When you throw backhand, you use your entire body to throw the disc and the path that the disc follows while it's in your hand has a larger circumference. You physics major will know that this allows the driver to reach a higher velocity before you release it. As I mentioned before, backhand throw allow for better consistency in your throws. This is primarily because you are using your entire hand to grip the disc whereas the forehand grip uses only two fingers and a thumb. I'll talk more about your grip in the next section.
Use the Right Grip
In my article on how to drive for beginners, I advised using the pads of your fingers on the bottom of the disc to keep it steady. While this is a great technique that advanced players still use on shorter holes or for approach shots, it's not the grip that will give you the most power. If you've gotten the hang of throwing consistently and accurately with the basic grip, try using a power grip to add distance.
For a power grip, you are actually going to curl your fingers so that their pads are up against the inside wall of the disc's rim. Use your fingers to put pressure on the disc so that wedges tightly into the crease formed by the palm of your hand. Since you don't have your fingers to support the disc, you need to grip it tightly to keep your throw smooth and steady. You don't want any wobble when you throw.
You need a nice tight grip, don't try to crush your driver or anything, but it should definitely be snug in our hand. This will help you get that all important "snap" in your throw. The snap means that the timing of your release is correct and you've got some velocity on your disc. But more importantly, when you feel that snap you're disc is really spinning out of your hand. If you are able to get enough spin on your drives, you will begin to see that beautiful "S-Curve". An S-Curve is when the flight path of the disc glides gradually to the right before starting to fall left; this is where you really start to gain distance. If you're unable to generate enough spin, you can manufacture an S-Curve by tilting the disc slightly to the right when you release it.
A manufactured S-Curve is certainly better than nothing, but getting that crisp "snap" is one of the most important factors in gaining distance on your drives.
I'm sure you've seen other players get a running start on the tee pad when the drive. Let's be honest, you probably haven't been able to resist giving it a try yourself and you may have found it to be a little trickier than you had anticipated. Well, I'm here to clear things up and teach you proper footwork.
The technique I'm going to cover here is called the "X-Step" and it will help add power to your drives without getting your feet all tangled up or impeding your throwing motion. For right handed players, you should start standing at back right corner. Face the fairway with your shoulders square to your target. Take a baby-step forward with your left foot then step forward and across your body with your right foot; at this point your right shoulder will pointing at your target.
Now things start to get a little tricky; you will bring your left foot behind your right foot, but closer to the tee. To do this, you will need to pivot on your right foot so that you are actually facing away from your target for a split second. Now take a BIG step forward with your right foot. You will start rotating your body back toward the fairway and complete the throwing motion like you normally would. Be sure to follow through with your throw as usual. The extra power and torque that you get with the X-step will help you get that "snap" on your throws.
Throw the Right Disc
Now that you've reached the point where you have good form and are throwing with consistency, it's time to really start trying discs out. Borrow discs from friends and buy some new plastic to see what really suits your throwing style. For distance, you generally are going to want to get as much speed as your arm can handle. My favorite distance drivers are the TeeRexand Destroyer. If you don't have a strong arm, give the Innova Katana a try.
Honestly, you don't need to be some sort of body builder to get respectable distance with your drives. If you perfect your technique and find the right disc, there's no reason you can't drive yourself within putting distant on most casual courses.