The discs one uses in disc golf have certain innate properties that allow them to act in a reasonably predictable manner. For example, all else being equal, if a right-handed player tosses a backhand shot, the disc will start by going in the direction it was thrown but as it loses momentum it will dive sharply to the left. Conversely, if the same player throws a forehand shot it will trail off to the right. This is the nature of discs in flight.
A good disc golfer will keep these intrinsic tendencies in mind when making her shot selection. And often these predictable properties can be used to the advantage of the player.
However, once a participant has mastered these basic principles of disc golf physics there are more advanced lessons and experiments to be undertaken.
Exhibit A, my favourite style of shot in all of disc golf: the anhyzer.
The anhyzer is a backhand shot in which the disc rejects its natural inclination to careen to the left and instead travels in a beautiful curving arc to the right. In order to make a disc travel along this counter-intuitive trajectory it must be thrown in a very deliberate manner.
When throwing a regular backhand, you draw the disc back across your body at about waistlevel — keeping it parallel to the ground. Then, leading with your elbow, you spring your arm forward, gradually extending your forearm until your arm is fully extended and pointed in the intended direction of your disc’s journey. For added speed and directional integrity you snap your wrist at the last possible instant before the disc takes off.
However, as you throw an anhyzer you draw the disc back higher — at shoulder-height rather than waist-level. And instead of keeping the disc parallel to the ground, you hold it such that the outer edge is higher than the inside edge, forming approximately a 45-degree angle with the ground.
Then, instead of generating velocity by violently ripping your arm forward, you allow your arm to travel in a lazy overhand semicircle, roughly the shape of a rainbow.
The anhyzer is a useful shot when you are situated on the fairway aiming at a basket that is 50 to 100 feet ahead of you, off to the right, and obscured by trees.
The sharp observer will right fully ask, why not just throw a forehand in such a situation? After all, if a forehand shot naturally drifts to the right why go through the rigmarole of an anhyzer for the same effect? There are two reasons.
First, many would throw a forehand shot in such a situation, but my forehand shot is still a work-inprogress; it’s less reliable than the anhyzer. And secondly, in a world of global warming, military strife, and unpredictable stock markets it is easy to feel powerless; but the anhyzer affi rms my hope that I can actually bend the world towards my will. The disc’s nature is to go left, but I have thrown it in such a manner that it is forced to arc right. Thus, my authority is respected.
Hear me roar