If you’re trying to find your ideal disc weight you might be interested in knowing what others are using for their throws. Typically there are three classes of disc, the putter, mid-range and driver.
We’ll be looking at the driver in this article, and more specifically, how you can get the most out of your disc by choosing a suitable weight.
Most players will see good results with a driver that weighs between 165-169 grams. In windier conditions many players will opt for a heavier driver in the 170-175 gram range. This will offer better stability in windy conditions.
This isn’t a catch all weight range and I would recommend that you learn a bit about what makes a disc fly, from there you can try the discs that are most likely to give you the best results.
Do heavier discs fly further?
It’s a common misconception that heavier discs will fly further, this is actually the opposite of what is true.
The reason for this is the speed at which you can throw your disc is directly correlated with the flight distance of your disc. The faster you can throw, the further your disc will go.
It’s therefore fairly intuitive that if your disc is lighter, you can twist and throw the disc faster resulting in an increased speed and increased distance.
There are a few caveats to this. The faster you can throw your disc the more air resistance your disc will come up against so eventually you’ll start to see diminishing returns in terms of the distance you get for the speed you throw your disc.
This is backed up by the physics. Below is the equation for drag (air resistance)
F = 0.5 x p x v2 x C x A
P = density of air
V = speed of the object
C = drag coefficient
A = cross sectional area
You’ll see that in the above equation the mass of the disc does not affect the amount of air resistance, the only thing we can change is the speed of the disc throw (I’m simplifying slightly, the angle you throw your disc at also changes some of the terms but that’s for another discussion).
Unlike the rest of the terms in the equation, the speed is squared. This means that as you increase the speed of your disc, the air resistance starts going up in small increments but as your speed gets bigger the air resistance will start to jump up significantly.
Here is a quick table to help you visualise this. In the first column is the speed of the throw, in the second column the value of the velocity in the equation. As you can see, the speed between each row goes up linearly (by 5m/s on each line) but the squared value jumps up in bigger and bigger steps as the initial speed increases.
|Speed of throw (m/s)||Value of term in drag equation|
This is a problem, below I’ve shown the equation for kinetic energy, this is the force you can exert on a disc when you throw
F = 0.5 x m x v2
F = the force
M = mass of the disc
V = speed of the disc
We want to maximise the v, since we know that increasing v will generally increase our distance, re-arranging the formula for v we find that the only terms we can influence is the F (force we throw with) and m (mass of the disc).
V = SQRT(F / (m x 0.5))
To build muscle in your arm takes time so the easiest way for most people to see an increase in speed is to pick a lighter disc while they work on building muscle.
How does disc weight affect flight?
Simply choosing a lighter disc won’t solve your problem if you’re looking for a way to throw further.
When you start throwing a lighter disc you’ll soon notice that it won’t tend to fly the same way as you throw with heavier discs.
What I find is that the final fade I get (when the disc starts heading left at the end of the throw – I’m right handed and tend to throw backhand) tends to not happen quite a strong which leads me to throw much further to the right than I ideally would be throwing.
This can be compensated a bit by using a disc with a higher fade rating and aiming to the right a bit, but once you’re used to a disc and weight I’ve found that my disc throwing is less consistent when I switch regularly between discs.
I should clarify, that my experiences may not be typical of what everyone experiences and you should buy a couple of different discs to test it out for yourself.
A video which is very helpful on this topic is by Best Disc Golf Discs on YouTube and I’ve embedded here so you can watch:
As you can see, there is a very interesting section from 4:25 onwards which explains clearly how the discs choosing a lighter disc impacts on stability of your throw.
What is the heaviest disc golf disc?
If you’re expecting a very strong wind for your next competition it might be worth investing in a heavier disc.
Heavier discs don’t get affected as much as lighted discs in the wind but there are limits.
The Professional Disc Golf Association (PSGA) has set a limit of 200g on discs that are to be used in competition
With that limit imposed we’ve seen an end to the really heavy discs of old which some exceeded 200g.
Practically speaking, in the newer breeds of discs you will struggle to find discs above 180g. Since the market is currently changing I don’t keep an up to date list of the heaviest discs but at the time of writing the Innova Viper is one of the heaviest discs on the market weighing in at 180g
If you’re looking for distance then you need to go lighter. That’s my general recommendation. Look at a few discs in the lighter 150-165g categories, buy a few and try them out. Just watch out for those windy days!