The X-step in disc golf is one of the fastest ways to increase your distance. There are many ways to approach throwing a golf disc, but the X-step has proven to be one of the most effective methods for achieving maximum distance.
The X-step is footwork used by players in disc golf to engage the largest muscle groups in the body. This footwork transfers the optimal force into the disc propelling it forward great distances.
How do you execute the X-step when throwing a golf disc? The X-step is performed in four steps (from the perspective of a right handed player):
- Step with your left foot forward
- Step with your right foot forward and across the front of the left foot
- Step with your left foot behind the right foot creating an X with your legs
- Reach with your right foot out in front as far as you can
After you have taken these four steps, you’ll be locked and loaded to actually throw your disc. However, just following these simple steps is not enough. To actually gain distance from this, you’ll need to understand exactly how to position your body during each stage.
It can be easy to place your feet or hips r shoulders in the wrong direction and negate the power that could be gained from this movement.
Once you understand the fundamentals of this process, you’ll still need to practice it many times to develop the appropriate muscle memory. Understanding the steps and stages is important, but doing it correctly many times is what will really payoff.
Performing the X-Step – With Diagrams
Let’s look at the X-step in 11 stages so we can see where our bodies should be positioned at each point.
Start in a neutral position at the back of the tee box. Sometimes it is useful to stand at the front of the tee box and take four giant steps backwards. This will put you at about the right distance away from where you’ll end your footwork.
Point your feet directly at your target to start.
Take one step forward with your left foot. Your left foot should be planted with the toes still pointing forward toward your target. This should be a small step forward just to get your momentum going.
Begin to bring your right foot forward. Your shoulders and hips will start to open up to the left.
Plant your right foot in front of and across your left foot. Your right foot should be forward more than your left foot in a staggered position pointing to the side of the tee box. This will allow you to easily move into the next step.
Begin to pull your left foot behind your right foot. At this point both feet will be pointed to the left of the tee box. Also, your shoulders and hips will be pointed this direction.
You’ll now start to bring the disc into position just under your chest.
Plant your left foot behind your right foot. Your legs will be creating an X formation here. This is the moment where you’ll be able to engage those large leg and hip muscles and generate power into the disc.
Your now at your final step with your right foot. Bring your right foot forward. Keep in mind that this will be the largest step you take during the footwork. Up until now you’ve taken relatively small to medium steps, but now you’ll be transitioning into a giant reaching step.
As you plant your right foot, you’ll want to point your foot slightly backwards. This will help you point your hips and shoulders backwards as well. By pointing these parts of your body backwards, you’ll be able to fully engage your body as you throw the disc.
Begin to reach back across your body with the disc, while keeping the disc at chest height. You’ll find your head no longer looking at your target. Instead it will also be pointed backwards to where you’re disc is loaded.
This is where the X-step footwork ends and your throw brings.
Start to pull your disc through across your body. Focus on keeping it on a straight line in front of you. Do not swing the disc around your body like a pendulum. Instead pull it on a straight line toward the target.
Allow your body to turn toward the target with your shoulders and hips. As this occurs, pivot on your right heel with the toes pointed up.
As you come to the apex of your throw, the power you’ve generated up to this point will allow the disc to rip from your grip to be flung toward your target. Do not open your hand to release the disc. Rather you should allow the disc to be pulled from your grasp. If you’ve generated enough power up to this point, you will be unable to hold on to the disc. This produces massive amounts of spin on the disc.
Follow through the throwing motion. As you’re right arm continues moving pass your body, you’ll find your left arm begin to also come forward and across the front of your body.
Disc Golf Driving Tips Using the X-Step
Tip #1 – Point Your Hips Back
One of the most common mistakes players will make during the X-step is opening up their shoulders and hips to the target during the reach back. If your shoulders and hips are pointed toward the target when you being to pull the disc through across your body, you’ll be losing most of what the X-step has to offer.
The point of the X-step is to generate power from your legs, hips and shoulders by turning them toward the target during the pull through. For this to happen, those parts of your body need to be pointed backwards.
Tip #2 – Move Slowly
Take it slow. Your shouldn’t need to sprint into your approach to still generate optimal power. A slow and controlled approach with an explosive movement during your last reaching step will be enough.
Tip #3 – Avoid Hopping
Some players will integrate a hop into their X-step at the point where their left foot crosses behind the right foot bringing both feet off the ground for a moment. This is unnecessary.
To be fair, I have seen some disc golfers use a hop and have huge distance. Although the majority of people I see using a hop end up breaking the fluidity of their footwork resulting in poor distance.
Tip #4 – Keep At It
When you first start using the X-step, you might find your distance not increasing that much, if at all. Don’t anticipate instance results from this. Give you body time to develop the muscle memory of the movements through many repetitions. Eventually you’ll get into a rhythm and find your drives consistently going further.
Tip #5 – You Don’t Always Need the X-Step
The X-step is intended for generating maximum distance. If you’re only throwing your disc a few hundred feet, a standstill throw will suffice. You’ll be able control the flight of your disc better using standstill form when throwing over short distances and you’ll save energy.
Also, sometimes a single step is just enough for medium distance throws. Just don’t get into the habit of using an X-step all the time.
Disc Golf X-Step in Slow Motion
It can be helpful to see things performed in slow motion. Below is a short video that shows four professional disc golfers throwing a golf disc while using the X-step in slow motion.
Notice the positioning and timing of each of their movements.
Best Type of Shoes for the X-Step
I’ve used all types of shoes for disc golf. Mostly regular running and hiking shoes. But if there is one thing that I’ve learned it is that just because a shoe is comfortable to wear doesn’t make it a good shoe for disc golf. Especially when you start using the x-step.
Of course, you want something comfortable when you’re playing, but you also need a shoe that is designed for disc golf conditions.
As you execute your X-step footwork, you want a shoe that isn’t going to slip. When that final reaching step is performed, I’ve seen plenty of people slip and get injured because their shoe didn’t have good traction. Myself included. You want the bottom of your shoe to have proper grip.
Also, one of the biggest problems I’ve had with shoes in disc golf is the stitching tends to come loose in certain areas. My right shoe is always the first to go because it is undergoing so much stress during that final stage of the X-step. The pivoting motion on the heel is the part that does it.
I really like the shoes that Adidas has put out on their Terrex line. Adidas is the first shoe company to start supporting disc golf through sponsorship so I feel it is important to support them in that. But also the advantage to this is they’ve put together shoes specifically for disc golfers. You can check out the various options they created here at Infinite Discs.
I particularly like the Terrex AX2R. The traction on the bottom is amazing and holds together well. Also, the waterproof material used in the design is nice because I’m often trudging through areas that are wet.