Throwing a skip shot in disc golf can be much easier when using the correct disc and throwing technique. By no means is it an easy shot to execute, but let me get you started down the right path with the essential information you need to know.
First, take a quick look at the below video of the professional disc golfer, Eagle McMahon, making a huge skip shot from 380 feet away into the basket. This is a perfect example of how a skip shot can work when performed just right:
It is likely that McMahon was not even attempting a skip shot. Nonetheless, it went in and has since become known as one of the greatest skip shots anyone has ever seen. It even received coverage on ESPN and has been one of the most view posts on the disc golf reddit page.
However, we see disc golfers making aces all the time from around the same distance that don’t receive nearly the same amount of coverage. What’s the difference? It was the skip, whether unintentional or not, that caught people’s attention and awed the spectators that day.
And now it is time for you to start throwing these shots.
Skip Shots Are High Risk/High Reward
This type of throw is high risk, but also high reward. Notice that if McMahon’s disc didn’t make impact with the basket, it was likely going to fly out of bounds. There was a strong right to left wind that day, so it had a small chance of staying in bounds.
Regardless, if you miss your mark, you’re likely going to fly right past the basket into an unfavorable position. To minimize this, you need to pick the best time to pull this shot out of your arsenal.
The best conditions for skipping a disc is on hard ground with minimal grass.
There’s a park near where I live that has a disc golf course. Every year, the grass is cut down very short to be reseeded for winter grass. There is hardly anything on top of the ground, so the disc has almost no friction to stop it’s forward momentum when making impact. This is when I find the best results with my skip shots. I’ve also had positive results when playing on ball golf courses with well groomed greens.
If you’re playing on a course with taller grass, you’re going to have a hard time getting your disc to skip. I’d advise against trying this. As soon as it hits the ground the grass will act like velcro and immediately stop your disc.
How to Throw a Skip Shot
The key to throwing a skip shot is getting the disc to make contact with the ground just as it begins to fade or hyzer. You’ll need to throw the disc with a low release and a touch of hyzer angle out of the hand. If you need your disc to skip further down the fairway, you’ll want to release the disc flat.
This can be a tricky balance since you need to actually throw the disc toward the ground. Focus on releasing the disc nose down pointed at the spot down the fairway that you want the disc to skip.
When the disc makes impact with the ground, I’ve found the optimal hyzer angle to be around 15 degrees. This provides a straighter type flare that can project the disc out another 30 to 40 feet with enough height to make it in the basket.
If the disc makes impact at a sharp angle, it is either going to dig into the ground or have a gigantic flare. This will usually be higher than you’re expecting and not as far. If you need to get left (or right for left handed throws) very quickly, a larger angle is preferred. But the margin of error is greater.
If the edge of the disc is slightly blunt, it has a higher chance of still skipping rather than digging even with a larger angle.
- Release on hyzer (the disc is angled inward toward your body)
- Release the disc nose toward toward your skipping (inflection) point
- Release the disc low to the ground
- Get the disc to make impact with the ground at around a 15 degree angle for best results
The next thing you need to think about is how hard you are going to throw the disc. If the basket is 200 feet away, you’ll need to throw the disc as if you need it to go 240 or 250 feet in the air. Keep in mind that as soon as the disc touches the ground, it is going to lose some velocity regardless of how optimal the ground conditions are. That extra 40 feet of power will give the disc plenty of spin for when it hits the ground.
When to Use a Skip Shot
Sometimes you’ll find yourself in a position where the basket is tucked tightly behind some trees or bushes from where you need to throw. And even the most very overstable disc in your bag wouldn’t be able to fade quickly enough to access the green.
This is where you would use a skip shot. As soon as the disc makes contact with the ground just as it begins to fade left, it will pop up and quickly move to the left.
Ideally you’d want to use a skip shot when you have plenty of green to work with. It can be very easy to skip your disc right out of bounds beyond the basket. Conversely, it can be very easy to hyzer too early before the disc has a chance to skip causing it to dig into the ground.
Heavily wooded courses with low ceilings are perfect candidates for skips shots. If you can’t air the disc out as high as you need, you can always throw it full power at a much closer point in the fairway, but still get great distance once the discs skips.
Best Golf Discs for Skip Shots
The best discs for executing a skip shot are discs that have a wide rim. This allows for more contact with the ground. Wide rims mean a high speed rating so be ready for some fast discs. It also helps for the disc to be slightly overstable.
Be careful not to pick up an overstable disc that is too fast for your arm speed. These will have a tendency to fade too quickly and dig into the ground before having a chance to skip. However, the high speed discs have the greatest potential for the larges skip.
Here is a list of some of the widest rimed disc that are great for throwing skip shots:
|Disc||Speed||Glide||Turn||Fade||Rim Thickness (cm)|
My personal favorite disc for throwing a skip shot is definitely the Wraith. I’ll pull out the Wraith when I need to make a shot further down the fairway. The -1 turn allows me to squeeze out some more distance before the disc begins to hyzer. The hop isn’t as big as a higher speed disc, but a skip is much easier to control and execute with this disc. Make sure you get this in the Champion plastic as it will allow for a much smooth skip off the ground. You can check it out here at Infinite Discs for more information (affiliate link).
When I have a throw that is more technical and needs a faster and righter skip, I turn to the Nuke OS. Very few people have the arm to fully throw a 13 speed disc, myself included. However, if I want to skip a disc into the basket within 250 feet, this is the disc I’m reaching for. Keep in mind that the Nuke OS needs absolutely no help with hyzering, so be sure to keep it on a flat release. The 4 fade will take care of the rest. It is more difficult to get the Nuke OS to skip over the Wraith, but the results are certainly better around tight corners. It has some pretty good reviews here on Infinite Discs (affiliate link).