There is a little known secret for getting more distance in disc golf. The roller shot. Throwing a roller is highly technical compared to other disc golf throws, but there are a few tips and tricks I’ve learned to make this much easier and more effective.
If you play disc golf often, this is a must know shot you need to learn. First of all, let me define what I mean by roller.
What is a roller in disc golf? A roller is when an understable golf disc is thrown on an anhyzer release angle. The disc will turnover so much that it will make contact with the ground on its outer edge and continue to travel while rolling for the majority of its distance. Typically, this is accomplished by bringing your shoulders back and pulling the disc through from a high release point.
When I’m able to execute a roller shot just right, I have found that it travels even further than my regular aerial throws. Also, when I find myself in a bad position a roller is a great alternative for getting out of trouble.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned to make throwing a roller much easier and when you can use it.
6 Tips for Throwing a Disc Golf Roller
The first thing you want to do before throwing a roller is to get the right disc in your hand. Disc selection is key here. If you start with the wrong disc, you’ll likely end up frustrated with the results.
There are two main aspects that you want to focus on when selecting a golf disc for a roller: stability and rim width.
Tip #1 Understable Disc
For the roller shot, you’ll want to get an understable disc. What do I mean by this? You want to find a disc that has a high amount of turn rating. For most golf discs, the turn rating will be the third number from the left that is displayed on the disc.
The turn of a golf disc is measured between -1 and -5, with -5 being the highest degree of turn.
An understable golf disc is one that will want to pull to the right, or turnover. Naturally, when a disc is thrown it will fight to move toward the direction it is spinning. A disc that flies counter to the direction it is spinning is known as understable.
Take a look at the flight path of a disc that is thrown on a flat release angle by a right handed backhand player:
You can seen from the picture above that the disc immediately begins to pull to the right at the start of the flight. Eventually the disc fights back to the direction it is spinning with a soft fade to the left.
Once you find a disc that resembles the above flight path you will have found a perfect candidate for a roller disc.
Tip #2 Wide vs. Narrow Rim Disc
Next, you’ll want to get a disc that has a wide rim. Discs with wide rims will have more weight that is distributed toward the outer edge. This is important for a roller as a wide rim will give the disc more rotational momentum to continue rolling while on the ground.
You’ll have a much harder time with a narrow rimmed disc since it will lose its momentum much quicker once it makes impact.
Tip #3 Anhyzer Release vs Flat Release
When an understable golf disc is paired with an anhyzer release angle, the disc will really want to pull to the right. And hopefully pull enough to drop to the ground quickly. This is the typical way people throw rollers.
An anhyzer release angle is when the disc is rotated outward from your body, with the right side of the disc angled toward the ground. This release angle will make it much easier for players to get a disc to quickly turnover.
However, I really like throwing rollers with flat release angles instead. To do this, I grab a slower speed disc that is a bit beat up. By using a disc that is slower than your arm speed, you’ll be able to easily overpower the disc to still turnover enough to drop to the ground and stand up vertically for an effective roll.
I like using using a flat release angle for rollers because it feels more natural out of my hand. An anhyzer release angle is a bit more uncomfortable and harder to pull off. I’d much rather grab a slower speed disc to still pull off the roller shot.
Tip #4 Landing Angles
When you’re disc lands on the ground, you need to consider what angle it should land with. I’ve found the optimal landing angle for my rollers to be between 45 to 70 degrees.
I shoot for a lower landing angle closer to 45 degrees for my really understable discs. Conversely, I shoot for a higher landing angle closer to 70 degrees for my more stable discs.
As long as you are using a sufficiently understable disc, as soon as it hits the ground it is still going to pull to the right, or toward the side that the top flight plate is facing. The closer to vertical it lands, the sooner it will curl over to the right.
Landing an ultra understable disc at a very low angle allows the disc more time to stand up to a vertical position before eventually curling to the right and falling over. This is how I’ve gotten my longest rollers up to 400 feet and beyond.
Tip #5 Ground Conditions
Rollers do have the potential to give you more distance, but only when the terrain is just right. Players sometimes don’t consider how the ground is going to impact how their disc will roll.
Ideally, you’ll want to use a roller when you have very low or no grass at all. Taller grass is obviously going to slow down the ground action when your disc starts to roll. Also, I typically avoid rollers when I’m in the woods because there are sticks, rocks and roots all over the fairway that will slow the disc down.
Tip #6 Getting Out of Trouble and Low Ceiling
Rollers are usefully for more than just going for maximum distance. You can also use a roller to get out of trouble. This is especially useful when you are dealing with a low ceiling.
Consider a situation where you’ve landed on the opposite side of a thicket of trees a short distance from the basket and you’re only option is to curl around very quickly.
In this example, you could throw a short right handed forehand roller on a sharp angle to quickly curl around the trees. Sometimes an aerial hyzer shot may be able to do the same thing, but a low ceiling from tree branches is blocking the way.
Best Disc Golf Discs for Rollers
We’ve talked about the two most important attributes of a a roller disc: understability and wide rims. But what are some of the best discs that meet this criteria?
My favorite discs for throwing a roller are the Innova Mamba and Discraft Avenger SS.
The Mamba is a very fun disc for me to throw. At a turn rating of -5, I use it almost exclusively a roller. It is incredibly difficult to get this thing to go straight and you’d have to throw it a half speed to do so.
However, as a roller it is easy to get it to turnover to the right and land on an angle. I never really need to throw this on an anhyzer angle to get it to flip. I do recommend throwing this one to land on a sharper angle closer to 45 degrees as it is going to try to stand up and curl quickly. Check it out here at Infinite Discs to see what others are saying about it.
On the other hand, I use the Avenger SS when I need to get a little more distance out of my roller. It doesn’t turn as quickly as the Mamba and will hold vertically for a longer time while rolling.
I aim this disc to land closer to a 70 degree angle when making impact with the ground. It is a great beginner distance driver, but as it gets beat up over time, it converts into a great roller disc. Pick one up here at Infinite Discs.
If you have an incredibly fast arm, you can go up to a faster speed disc, such as the Katana. I have a Katana, but personally I don’t use it as a roller since it is too difficult for me to flip it over and roll for a long distance. I use for it longer ‘S’ shots. However, if you are someone with a strong arm its a great option. Check it out here at Infinite Discs.