Knowing how to hold a disc golf disc can get confusing because there are so many styles and opinions out there. When I was recently playing with a group at a nearby course, every person in that group was griping their discs slightly differently than everyone else.
I got to thinking, what is the BEST way to grip a disc golf disc? Or does such a thing exist? To figure this out I scoured disc golf courses, braved the internet forum trolls on reddit, and watched countless YouTube videos until my eyes were bloodshot. Here is what I learned.
Hold should you grip a golf disc? The only correct way to grip a golf disc is the way that feels the most comfortable to you based on your hand size, disc preference, and throw style.
I know what you’re think, “WOW, ground breaking stuff. Thanks for the generic answer.”
Regardless of the cliche, I thought it best to start this post with that answer in mind since the majority of people reading this are going to be newcomers to the sport. And I don’t want you to think that I am going to just give you a single grip that you can use and you’ll start throwing 400+ feet.
The Controversial Golf Disc Grip
What I am going to do is provide a comprehensive list of all the disc golf grips and holds that I have seen being used in the game, with some pros and cons. Also, I’ll share my favorite grips with you and why they work the best for me. I’ll provide a demonstration of each grip, along with a brief explanation of the hold.
There are those out there that are strong proponents of a single type of grip. So much so, that they feel everyone should use what they believe is the best. The reality is, there is no best grip in disc golf. I won’t tell you that you have to use the grips I use. Trying to convince you of that is like tell you what car to drive or soda to drink. Its all personal preference.
However, there may be a few grips out there that you haven’t heard of that could be really beneficial to you. You never know until you try. Its like eating chocolate ice cream all your life and then trying vanilla and realizing what you’ve been missing. Vanilla ice cream is the superior option, right? Now what was I saying…
Oh, right. Personal preference. I’m not going to try to convince you to use the disc grips that I use. But I may try to convince you of which ice cream to eat.
What Golf Disc Grip Should You Use?
After you are finished reading this, it is up to YOU to figure out which of these grips is going to work best for your game. Most of you reading this are going to feel comfortable using the most popular grips, which is why those are the most popular. They work for most peoples’ hand shape and size.
For those of you that do not feel comfortable with some of the more popular grips, I want you to feel some validation by seeing your style here on the list. Don’t get caught up in the peer pressure of switching your grip just because everyone else is using something different.
Everybody is unique in this regard. Perhaps you broke one of your fingers growing up and you have to modify a popular grip in order to play. Or maybe your hand is smaller than usual to where your fingers don’t entirely wrap around the rim. There are countless situations that can make a less popular grip work for you.
Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely many NEGLIGIBLE ways to grip a disc golf disc. For this reason, there are a few basic principles I want to establish before moving into the list of grips. If you do not see your particular style of grip on this list, I would advise reading through these basic principles of griping and throwing a disc to ensure you checks all the boxes.
How Grip Impacts Your Throw
The entire goal of your grip on a disc is to generate the right amount of spin on the disc when thrown. Let me explain.
When executing a backhand hold throw of a golf disc, there are these basic steps:
- Placement of the disc in your hand
- Gripping the disc
- Reaching back with the disc pass your body
- Quickly pulling the disc through close to your body
- Fully extending your arm out and snapping your wrist
- The power of the pull through and snap will rip the disc from your grip
- The more powerful the rip, the most spin generated on the disc
If your grip is flimsy on the disc when it is ripped from your hand during the throw, it will not generate the maximum power to fly far. However, sometimes you don’t want maximum distance. Other times you do. The desired distance will determine your grip of choice.
Snap and Rip the Disc
I want to focus on the snap and rip part of the above steps, because it took me a long time to really figure it out. When I started, I released the disc to throw it. Most people do. It has a more natural flow and feel to it.
By release I mean that at the end of my throw I would literally open my hand so the disc could escape my grip and fly. I learned that this was stifling my distance potential. You should not be letting go of the disc at the end of your throw.
Instead of opening my hand when throwing the disc, I needed to maintain a firm grip throughout the throwing motion. If my pull through and wrist snap are powerful enough, the disc will be ripped from my grip at the apex of the throwing motion.
Letting go of the disc at the apex of the throw isn’t generating maximum spin on the disc. In this case, spin is only being generated from the pull through.
You’re in a battle with the disc. You need to grip it firmly. And the only way the disc is going to slip out of that grip is if it claws its way from of your fingers. You should feel the rim of the disc aggressively scrap off the pads of your fingers at the apex of the throw. And you should hear an equally combative whipping sound as the disc is ripped from your grasp.
When Not to Rip the Disc
Not all throws call for your strongest grip. If you are throwing an approach shot, you can lighten up your grasp on the disc so it can rip easier, generating less spin. You can also use other grip and release variations to achieve a similar result.
In the instance of a short-range shot, you will want to open your hand to release the disc. A hard snap and rip are not necessarily required. This is particularly true for putting. You’ll be able to generate plenty of spin on the disc from a soft pull through and wrist snap within 100 feet.
Disc Grip Trade Off
There is a trade-off to consider with your grip. The disc grip trade off is this: 1) Grips designed for maximum distance potential will tend to provide less control over the disc. 2) Grips designed for control over the disc will tend to have a shorter distance potential. This is a spectrum.
There are grips that provide all different levels of distance and control, which is different for each player. Most players will use anywhere from two to three different grips that work for most situations. Some may have more and others less.
It is entirely possible to use the same grip for every throw by simply adjusting the pressure on the disc, but it is a less common approach. Just take note of your hand size.
Hand size plays the largest role in determining which grip is going to work best for your game. You may find your hand is too small to perform some of the grips. That’s okay. There are plenty to choose from and try out.
Ultimately, it comes down to a process of trial and error. Take your discs out to a course or open field, and try every single one of the grips I am about to review with you. When you find the right one, you’ll know. There will be a familiarity. A level of comfort that none of the other grips produce for you.
Don’t be afraid to try all of the grips, even if you think you found the right one at the beginning. You may find that a certain grip isn’t as comfortable, but the golf disc flies much further or you have more control. You can begin to build your grip arsenal for any situation out on the course.
Elements of a Disc
There are a few terms I’ll be using to describe each golf disc grip, so I want to review those with you first.
Top Rim: Looking at the disc from the top perspective, the top rim is the ring formed around the outside of the disc. This will be the portion that has thick plastic and is stiff.
Bottom Rim: Looking at the disc from the bottom perspective, the bottom rim is the ring formed around the outside of the disc. This will be the portion that has thick plastic and is stiff.
Inner Rim: Looking at the disc from the bottom perspective, the inner rim is adjacent to the bottom rim, which is where your finger tips will typically grip the disc.
Outer Edge: The outside of the rim, usually a sharper edge for drivers and a blunt edge for putters.
Top Flight Plate: Looking at the top of the disc, the flight plate is the portion of the disc within the top rim. Usually pliable and will sometimes act like a pop top with certain plastics.
Bottom Flight Plate: Looking at the bottom of the disc, the bottom flight plate is the portion of the disc within the inner rim. Usually pliable and will sometimes act like a pop top with certain plastics.
Backhand grips are classified as grips where the hand is curled over the disc with your palm resting on the top flight plate. For right hand backhands players, the disc is released with a counter clockwise spin.
In all instances, you need to decide where you are going to place the outer edge of the disc in your hand. Disc placement will vary based on hand size. It is common to place the disc along the different creases of your hand as a consistent guide. Others find it useful to place the disc close to the base on the fingers where they bend.
Your placement should allow you to tightly tuck the disc into your hand.
1. Power Grip
How to do it: Tuck all four of your fingers into the inner rim, right when it meets the bottom flight plate. The finger nails or top knuckles may incidentally be touching the bottom flight plate, but the fingers pads should not be resting there. The pressure on the inner rim will create a strong pinch up against your hand. The thumb is placed on top where the rim and flight plate meet. Thumb placement may vary based on hand size.
Pros: Ideal for maximum distance. Will feel most comfortable when using a driver with a wider rim. Having all four fingers pads on the inner rim generates the most potential leverage for a stronger pinch, which leads to a better rip on a disc.
Cons: Not ideal for short range where accuracy is needed. Since all four fingers are on the inner rim and not the bottom flight plate, it is more difficult to control the direction and angle of the disc.
2. Fan Grip
How to do it: A fan grip is performed by fanning your four fingers along the bottom flight plate. Your thumb rests on the top flight plate directly over your middle and ring fingers. This allows a tight squeeze on the disc. The pointer and pinkie finger rest along the inner rim for angle control.
Pros: The fan grip is the go to control grip. It is primarily used for short range throws where you need to be very accurate by controlling the release angle. Soft and slow throws tend to work best with this grip.
Cons: You’ll notice a loss of power and distance. If your hands are on the larger side, you may be able to use a fan grip for more than just control shots. You need to squeeze the disc as hard as possible for a drive, which is what makings using a fan grip for drives so difficult.
3. Modified Fan Grip
How to do it: Fan your middle, ring and pinkie fingers along the bottom flight plate. Place your pointer finger on the outer edge of the disc. You may find it more comfortable to rest the bottom rim on your pointer finger instead.
Another variation would be to tuck your middle, ring and pinkie fingers into the inner rim while your pointer finger is on the outer edge.
Pros: Players find this grip beneficial for putting. Especially with beaded putters. By placing the pointer finger on the outer edge and three fingers along the flight plate, your control over the disc for short range shots can be tremendous.
Cons: There is no real potential for long distance throws with this grip. Since the fingers are along the bottom flight plate and pointer on the outer edge, there will not minimal spin generation.
4. Two Finger Backhand Grip
How to do it: Tuck your pointer finger and middle finger into the inner rim where it meets the bottom flight plate. You may find it more comfortable to stretch out the middle finger along the inner rim with the top knuckle extended. The thumb is placed on top where the rim and flight plate meet. Thumb placement may vary based on hand size.
Pros: This is a popular grip in distance competitions because it allows the thrower to generate more spin on a disc, and thus more distance. The idea being, the disc will have an easier time ripping from the thrower’s grip when thrown.
Cons: Conversely, the thrower will lose significant control over the direction of the disc. This is because the disc could rip from the grip sooner than expected. Holding a disc with two fingers is difficult. A powerful pull through and snap could rip the disc right before the apex of the throw, sending it off line.
5. Three Finger Backhand Grip (Pinkie Finger Off)
How to do it: Tuck your pointer, middle and ring finer into the inner rim where it meets the bottom flight plate. The pinkie finger is tucked into the hand. The thumb is placed on top where the rim and flight plate meet. Thumb placement may vary based on hand size.
This will likely feel more comfortable than the two finger backhand grip as it allows for more leverage to squeeze the disc.
Pros: Same as the two finger backhand grip, with more control.
Cons: Same as the two finger backhand grip, with less spin potential.
Forehand grips are classified as grips where the disc is cocked back into the space between your point finger and thumb. The disc rests on the pointer finger.
Disc placement is going to be fairly consistent for all forehand grips discussed herein since the space between the pointer finger and thumb does allow for much variability. It is key for the disc to be snug in it’s placement.
1. Two Finger Stacked Grip
How to do it: The middle finger is tucked into the inner rim where it meets the bottom flight plate. The pointer finger is not touching the inside rim of the disc, but rather is pressed against the back of the middle finger. Your thumb is placed directly over top of the middle and pointer finger, creating a strong pinch on the flight plate. The ring finger is used to stabilize the outer edge of the disc.
Pros: This is a popular grip for drives off the tee pad when going for medium range shots. Is also commonly used when going for maximum distance.
Cons: Since there are no fingers on the middle of the bottom flight plate, control can be difficult.
2. Two Finger Modified Stacked Grip
How to do it: Take your pointer finger and tuck it into the inner rim where it meets the bottom flight plate. Your middle finger is then stacked on top of the pointer finger. The thumb is placed directly over the pointer finger, creating a strong pinch on the flight plate. The ring finger is used to stabilize the outer edge of the disc.
Pros: This grip works well for someone with a longer middle finger that can reach over the pointer finger, while both fingers are still stretched. Benefits are similar to the two finger stacked grip. Only this grip can make it easier to rip the disc.
Cons: Angle control is reduced even more from the regular stacked grip.
3. Two Finger Power Grip
How to do it: The two finger power grip changes the two finger modified stacked grip by taking your pointer finger and reaching it far behind the middle finger while still remaining contact with the inside rim. The pointer finger is bent. This allows the pad of the middle finger and the pointer finger to both be placed on the inside rim of the disc. The ring finger is used to stabilize the outer edge of the disc.
Pros: This is used for maximum power for long distance drives. The bend in the point finger provides extra leverage to press the disc into the two fingers on the outer rim. More pressure equates to more spin when the disc is ripped free. More spin will provide more distance.
Cons: Players will find that this grip provides the least amount of control over the direction of the disc.
4. Two Finger Split Grip
How to do it: Tuck your middle finger into the inner rim where it meets the bottom flight plate. Stretch your pointer finger toward the middle of the flight plate, providing stability. The thumb is placed directly over top of the middle finger creating a pinch. The ring finger is used to stabilize the outer edge of the disc.
Pros: The two finger split grip is the best forehand grip for controlling the disc. Good for accurate, short range shorts using your putter and mid-range discs. By splitting the pointer finger out along the bottom flight plate, you will gain much more control over the angle and flight the disc takes.
Cons: The grip will not be nearly as tight. Therefore, it will be difficult to achieve long distances with it.
5. Single Finger Grip
How to do it: The single finger grip is performed by tucking your pointer finger on the inner rim of the disc where it meets the bottom flight plate. The thumb is placed over top of the pointer finger creating a pinch on the flight plate. The middle finger is used to stabilize the outer edge of the disc.
Pros: The single finger grip has been known to be easier for players during the snap of their throw. Thereby allowing the disc to rip out of the hand more easily since there is only one finger to release from. This has the potential to gain result in high distance.
Cons: There is a catch. In order to get maximum distance, your single finger needs to be very strong. Strong enough to create the same amount of pressure as players using two fingers on the inside rim. Also, with only one finger on the inner rim, control will be stifled.
How to do it: Form a fist with your hand and place the pad of your thumb on the inner rim. Use your thumb to squeeze the outer edge of the disc down into your curled up pointer finger. In this hold, the disc is ripped from your thumb pad as the disc is thrown overhand like a baseball.
Pros: The thumber grip is for… throwing thumbers. You’ll use this when trying to get over top of something. Particularly useful when you’re position is pressed up against an object, making a backhand or forehand follow through impossible.
Cons: Thumbers are not particularly known for distance. And since it is just the thumb negotiating the angle of the disc, control can be problematic.
How to do it: A tomahawk grip is going to be identical to a two finger stacked forehand grip. You can also experiment with other forehand grips to throw a tomahawk. However, a tomahawk is thrown overhand like a thumber.
The middle finger is tucked into the inner rim where it meets the bottom flight plate. The pointer finger is not touching the inside rim of the disc, but rather is pressed against the back of the middle finger. Your thumb is placed directly over top of the middle and pointer finger, creating a strong pinch on the flight plate. The ring finger is used to stabilize the outer edge of the disc.
Pros: The tomahawk is going to provide the same benefits as the thumber, only the flight of the disc will be a mirror opposite.
Cons: Same as the thumber.
How to do it: This essentially reverses a traditional backhand grip. Curl your four fingers along the top flight plate, with your thumb placed on the inner rim where it meets the bottom flight plate. You can create pressure by using your thumb to press the outer edge of the disc into your fingers.
Pros: A grenade is used to get over top of high obstacles. The grenade differs from the tomahawk and the thumber as it will have a more abrupt landing. This is typical when you want to land into a thicket of trees and drop directly downward without too much forward momentum.
Cons: You won’t be able to get much distance or control out of a grenade.
Disc Grips That Work For Me
I’ve tried every grip on this list. And then some. I’ve found varying success for all of them, but below are the grips that I have settled on over many years of trial and error.
Backhand Grips That I Use
I typically use a power grip for all of my backhand drives off the tee pad or for anything over 200-250 feet. This feels comfortable for my hand size on most discs. However, as my distance increased over time I began throwing more distance drivers versus fairway drivers and mid-ranges. Distance drivers have wider rims.
I noticed when I threw a distance driver, my pinkie had a hard time staying tucked into the inner rim. It kept naturally slipping out. So, I decided to try a three finger backhand grip (pinkie off) and it has worked great ever since. I played with the two finger backhand grip for a little while, but I couldn’t reliably control the direction of the disc as well as I like.
For short range shots under 200 feet, I like to use the fan grip. The extra control I gain is absolutely essential for accuracy when closing in on the basket.
For putting I use the modified fan grip. I like to putt mostly with beaded putters. I find that when I place my pointer finger right on or around the bead and outer edge of the disc, I hit chains much more often.
Forehand Grips That I Use
I don’t consider myself as a forehand specialist, but I do use them when the situation calls for it.
The two finger stacked grip works best for me. I use this for any distance when throwing a forehand. I find it provides me with a perfect balance of distance and control.
I can throw the two finger power grip and squeeze out a little more distance, but my lack of control is too much of a factor. I occasionally pull out this grip on wide open holes where I’m not concerned with out of bounds.
As you go through my demonstration pictures, do not get caught up with exactly where my fingers and thumb are placed on the disc. Use the pictures as a guide and replicate the grip as close as you can without it feeling uncomfortable. If a grip is uncomfortable, this is a clear indication you may not want to use it.
Everyone is going to be using different grips or the same grip in a slightly different manner. Don’t let popular opinion sway you from what feels comfortable. Just ensure that the grips you are using allow you to throw the disc properly as explained in this article.