I love when the mark forces forehand in ultimate frisbee because that’s my stronger throw. The other team is forced to leave defenders deep because when I have the disc – their end zone is in trouble. If you want to learn how to throw longer forehand throws in ultimate frisbee, this article is for you.
It feels awesome to be able to score from anywhere on the field. But there’s nothing special about me – I wasn’t born with the ability to throw long forehands. Anyone can learn to throw a forehand super long in ultimate frisbee, regardless of your size, sex, age or whether or not you can grow a beard (I sure can’t)!
I know many small, thin, or otherwise unassuming players who absolutely pump the disc. They’ve put in the requisite hours to build absolutely monstrous throws – and you can too.
Fortunately, the techniques required to master throwing longer forehands in ultimate frisbee are simple. It just takes some time practicing the right things.
Hours after implementing these 8 ultimate frisbee forehand secrets, I’ve seen brand new players go from throwing wobbly forehands to firing the disc over half the field.
I love seeing ultimate frisbee players advance way faster than they ever thought possible. And so I’ve documented, in great detail, these 8 secrets to powerful forehands.
I want you to start throwing your forehand farther than you ever thought you could.
In the hands of more experienced players, these 8 ultimate frisbee forehand secrets have produced throws that span the entire field.
Can you throw your forehand over half the ultimate frisbee field?
Can you throw the entire field?
Unless you’re already throwing the full field, the following secrets will bring your throw to the next level.
How did I learn to throw my ultimate frisbee forehand so far?
Apart from just doing a lot of throwing at the park, I spent years practicing my golf swing – and I think that helped.
It took me hundreds of hours of practice to properly drive a golf ball. During this practice, I learned how to sequence my entire body to generate force.
I learned how to turn my body with tons of “snap”.
This whole time, I was also playing ultimate frisbee. Breakthroughs in golf also improved how well I was throwing my forehand.
When I was young – there was no televised ultimate frisbee. There were no professional teams yet. But golf was televised – and the cameras being used could really slow down a golfer’s swing in beautiful detail.
I also noticed that many athletes were moving the same way. The best boxers, NFL quarterbacks, PGA players, and MLB hitters looked remarkably similar in how they turned their bodies to create force.
I started to see the boxer in the baseball player. The golfer in the ultimate frisbee player.
These years of practice, combined with my own efforts to teach fellow players how to throw longer forehands in ultimate frisbee – has gradually evolved into 8 principles that have proven effective in creating longer forehand throws.
In this article, I describe The 8 Secrets To Throwing Long Ultimate Frisbee Forehands. After reading these secrets, you will have everything you need to build a legendary forehand throw.
Why Learn To Bomb Your Forehand in Ultimate Frisbee?
Most players have a stronger backhand than forehand in ultimate frisbee. When marking, forcing a handler to throw their weaker throw is a great way to cause turnovers. So teams generally choose to force forehand when marking in games.
It’s more common for teams to force forehand in ultimate frisbee. So handlers who can hit the end zone with a forehand tend to do big damage.
Long forehand throws win games, especially when the other team doesn’t change force to prevent them.
Another reason to throw long is that it’s flat out riskier and more exciting than only using short passes. In ultimate, longer throws force your opponents to defend more of the field.
So throwing long actually opens up more field space for short passes too!
The Best Defence is
a Good Offence Throwing Long
Throwing long forehands even makes sense from a defensive standpoint… especially after the huck when close to your end zone. Dropping a short pass near your team’s end zone (and then being scored upon) is downright demoralizing.
We’ve all been there. It’s terrible.
On the other hand, it’s certainly far less tragic if your long throw is incomplete. This is because your team is in excellent position to set up defensively.
This is especially true if your team is accustomed to sprinting hard for a long throw.
If your deep cutters run hard, they can put devastating pressure on the opposing team’s handlers right away. Before their players have caught up. By time time the opposing players have caught up, your mark is well into the stall count.
Slapping on an early stall count after an incomplete deep throw is an amazing strategy for creating turnovers.
The “Dump and Chase” Strategy
In hockey, chipping the puck into the opponents’ end is called a “Dump and Chase”. Dumping the puck deep and gambling on a turnover has proven to have a reasonably high success rate. For this reason, it has become a big part of professional hockey in the past decade.
You Literally See More Of The Field When Throwing Forehand vs. Backhand
When throwing forehand, your stance is open and it’s easier to see the entire field.
When throwing backhand, stepping around your mark closes your stance to upfield options and creates a “blind spot”. It’s trickier to see the entire field over your throwing shoulder. And this limited range of view makes it more challenging to connect with cutters who are in your blind spot.
Strong handlers have adapted to this limited field of view by essentially knowing where a cutter will be. They connect the long throw despite not actually being able to see the cutter during the actual throw.
I’m not very good at backhand hucks. Losing sight of my target, even temporarily, causes problems for my accuracy. So over the years I’ve really become much more comfortable bombing the disc on my forehand side!
Ultimate Frisbee Forehands are More Powerful
From an anatomical perspective – the muscles at work during a forehand are stronger than those used when throwing a backhand.
A forehand in frisbee isn’t so different from a forehand in tennis. The same muscles are used. And in tennis, just like in ultimate, the forehand is much more powerful.
The backhand groundstroke is generally harder to master compared to the forehand stroke. It is also less powerful than the forehand shot.Source: Optimum Tennis
This isn’t to say that every player will have a stronger forehand than backhand. In fact, as far as I can tell, most players can throw farther on their backhand side than forehand.
But this doesn’t change the fact that humans are stronger on the forehand side.
The discrepancy probably comes down to hours spent practicing each throw. Very few players have spent the same amount of time developing their forehand hucks as they have their backhand hucks.
And so most players have a greater potential for improvement on their forehand side, when it comes to throwing long.
We’ve covered the reasons for learning to throw a longer forehand in ultimate frisbee. Now let’s dive in and learn the first secret to developing that extra distance.
Secret 1: Use Your Other Hand To Lock Your Grip
A powerful ultimate frisbee forehand starts with a solid grip on the disc. If there’s any space between the “crotch” of your hand and the disc, power can’t transfer as well from your body to the frisbee.
The best way to set the disc in your grip is to actually reach over to the back of the disc with your non-throwing hand and pull on it. This will eliminate any space that might be between the disc and your throwing hand.
It will also force your throwing hand to “load the wrist” properly – which is where your snap and spin comes from.
Bonus Power: Try Throwing with 3 Fingers
I throw my ultimate frisbee forehand with 3 fingers, and I’m the only player I know of who does.
But everywhere I’ve played, I’ve always been the guy with the longest forehand. So 3 fingers might be doing something extra for me that players throwing with 2 fingers are missing out on.
By adding the extra finger, I’m able to stack my fingers up more powerfully on the rim of the disc and apply greater force when throwing harder. This comes at the expense of reduced wrist mobility – I’m not able to bring my wrist back as far with 3 fingers as with 2.
But if you have smaller hands, or have very flexible wrists to begin with, adding that 3rd finger might supply the power needed to take your throw to the next level.
My suggestion is to try both grips and do what works with you. Personally, I’ve found that throwing with 3 fingers has helped me develop a forehand throw that has become significantly more powerful than what I’m able to throw with 2 fingers.
With a solid forehand grip established, we can start exploring throwing mechanics.
I’ve deconstructed the motions of an ultimate frisbee forehand, in the sequence they occur during the actual throw.
To start, let’s explore what a powerful posture looks like.
Secret 2: Establish a Wide, Powerful Stance
To support epic torque with your upper body, you need a wide, strong lower body position. This means a wide stance – about twice as wide as your shoulders are. The exact width of a handler’s stance changes dramatically from player to player. Just stand however feels wide and powerful for you.
The problem with a wide stance, however, is that it actually impedes hip rotation. And rotation through the hips and shoulders is what we’re looking for when throwing long. So we need to figure out how to have a wide stance and rotate freely.
To learn how this is done, let’s study how boxers put out cigarettes.
Secret 3: “Put Out The Cigarette” With Your Pivot Foot
In boxing, fighters are taught to throw punches “by putting out a cigarette” with their back foot. This cues correct footwork by having the boxer perform a subtle pivot on the ball of their back foot (as if putting out a cigarette).
The heel comes off the ground when this happens. This unlocks the boxer’s hips and they naturally pivot in sequence with the punch. Energy from the hips transfers through the fighter’s core, then shoulders and arms. This whip-like sequence builds up to devastating power at the fist.
Just like a boxer – “putting out a cigarette” prepares the ultimate frisbee handler to create power with her full body. This subtle movement unlocks the player’s hips, allowing them to contribute force to the throw.
Now that the hips are free to pivot, let’s make sure we’re making good use of them!
Secret 4: Coil Your Shoulders and Hips
During the wind-up for a powerful forehand throw, counter-rotate your shoulders as if you’re preparing to swing a baseball bat. This gets all of the big muscle groups connected through the shoulders, back, core and hips in position to fire.
Counter-rotating your shoulders should make your hips want to turn with your shoulders. Allow this to happen, as your hips become “closed” to the direction of the throw.
At the same time, shift your weight to your throwing leg, and start winding up your throwing arm.
Secret 5: High Elbow During Windup, Elbow In During Release
By winding up with a high elbow, you’re actually replicating a perfect windup in several sports (boxing, baseball, golf, football). A high elbow contributes power because it increases the distance the elbow travels during the throw.
More power is stored with a high elbow position than with a low elbow position.
Just like in golf and baseball, following through with your elbow tight to your side is the most powerful way to throw an ultimate frisbee forehand. If you throw with your elbow too extended, you lose that whiplike “snap” possible with a bent elbow.
Initiate the throw by twisting powerfully with your hips and leading with the elbow of your throwing arm. Try to get the elbow as far out in front of the disc as you can as this will make your arm more whiplike.
As the throwing elbow passes your ribs, keep it close to your side. Don’t let it extend outward too far.
We’re going to pause things for a moment, mid-throw, to look at what happens to the disc in the final moment before it’s released. This detail is the most important secret in developing a powerful forehand throw.
The Asymmetrical Lift Problem
In order to properly absorb the most important secret in developing an insanely long ultimate frisbee forehand throw, we need to learn what happens to a disc thrown at high velocity.
So let’s butcher some physics real quick:
During flight, the disc has spin and lift. Spin gives the disc stability and lift allows it to float farther through the air than something without lift (like a ball).
At lower velocities, the disc’s spin doesn’t have a dramatic effect on its lift. So throwing the disc shorter distances while keeping it flat is relatively easy.
However, when we start putting more force behind our throws, as is the case when we start throwing harder and farther – increasing the disc’s spin starts to cause problems for creating equal lift distribution across the surface of the disc.
Consider the following diagram of a disc in flight. The illustration represents a forehand thrown by a right-handed thrower, viewed from above:
The edge of the disc rotating against the air is subject to far more pressure than the edge of the disc rotating with the air.
Increased air pressure generates more lift on the side of the disc rotating into the air and less lift on the side of the disc rotating with the air.
At high velocities, this asymmetrical lift causes the disc to “want to turn over” during flight.
If your attempts at farther forehands tend to “flop over” in the air – then you need to correct for asymmetrical lift.
Fortunately, the secret to correcting a floppy forehand is simple. This brings us to the most important secret to throwing an ultimate frisbee forehand extremely far.
Secret 6: Drop That Outside Edge!
If you’re still new to ultimate frisbee, you may have an easier time learning how to release your forehand with the outer edge dropped.
If you’ve been throwing your forehand for a long time, it’s going to be challenging to force yourself to start throwing it differently. It feels so unnatural to lower the outside edge of the disc because subconsciously, we really want to release the disc flat.
But without dropping that outside edge, you’re never going to reach your full potential forehand distance in ultimate frisbee.
Dropping the edge is everything.
It’s so important to learn how to throw the frisbee with a lowered outside edge that I’ve created a special forehand training video teaching only this skill.
If you haven’t already checked out The Ultimate Forehand Training Video – stop reading right now and go watch it.
It doesn’t matter if you do everything else perfectly, your throw will still fall apart without having this technique absolutely perfect. It only takes 12 minutes – Go watch the video now!
It’s so important because exaggerating the downward angle of the disc’s outside edge compensates for asymmetrical lift.
Your throw won’t “flop over” in the air anymore.
Instead, asymmetrical lift will help the disc flatten out and the result will be a forehand throw you can put all of your power behind.
When your forehand throwing technique allows you to throw at full strength, you’ve reached a new level.
You will start absolutely bombing the disc.
Secret 7: Exaggerate the “Hitch Hiker Thumb”
Now that we’re throwing at full power, there’s a greater need to actively resist inward wrist rotation. Inward wrist rotation ruins disc spin, causing it to wobble flop over in the air.
Prevent this from happening by externally rotating your wrist during release, visualizing pointing your thumb to the ground (like an exaggerated “hitch hiker” sign).
By consciously trying to point my thumb down when releasing the disc, I’m able to keep my wrist open, generating much cleaner spin.
Secret 8: Think of Your Spine as Your Axis of Rotation
The same body mechanics are at work in all sports requiring powerful upper body rotation: the spine is treated as the axis of rotation. Everything else rotates around this axis.
The same holds true for ultimate frisbee players. If your spine isn’t perfectly still in space, with everything else rotating around it – you’re losing power.
If your spine is to hunched too far forward or bent too far back, your core cannot twist efficiently.
Think of the axle on a car. A perfectly straight axle supports highway speeds, while a bent axle causes the entire car to shake badly even when driving slowly.
The most efficient and powerful way to torque your upper body at high velocity is with a straight spine.
When throwing, visualize your spine as your axis of rotation. Your upper body will be an angle, but the spine should rotate perfectly in place.
This concludes the secrets to throwing powerful forehands with a pivot foot. Next let’s see what extra distance we can tap into when pulling forehand in ultimate frisbee, with no pivot required.
How to Pull Farther with a Forehand in Ultimate Frisbee
When pulling with a forehand in ultimate frisbee, two major changes can be made to get even more distance. These modifications only apply to pulls because, when pulling:
- Nobody is marking you
- You can pull from a run
Pull More “Sideways” to The Field
With nobody marking you during a forehand pull, you can turn your stance and throw more across your body. This subtle change reduces the load on your shoulder joint. It also shifts the release position of the disc to a point in space where you can more powerfully contract your pectoral muscle.
To illustrate the difference in strength between these two release positions, find a doorway. Standing in the doorway, resist against the door frame with your arm out to your side (like throwing a forehand). Next, turn sideways in the doorway and resist again with your arm more in front of your body.
You will find that your arm is weaker when it’s out to your side, and stronger when it’s in front of you. This is because your pectoral muscle is more extended (and weaker) when your arm is at your side, and more contracted (and stronger) when your arm is more forward.
So try pulling a bit more sideways to the field and see if it’s more powerful for you.
Take an Explosive Crossover Step
Adding an explosive crossover step to your forehand pull will result in the disc carrying farther.
Launch into the crossover step with your left foot (for right-handed throwers) – trying to travel as far sideways as possible. Scissor your right foot forward while airborne. The moment after your right foot touches the ground, your left will plant and initiate the pull from the ground up.
This is the moment when all of that lateral energy gets converted into torque, helping your hips snap harder and really whipping your upper body.
Want to add even more distance to your ultimate frisbee forehand? This section covers using the wind, physical training, and playing “The Overthrow Game” to add extra distance to your forehand throw.
Choose the Right Throw for the Wind
When getting ready to throw long, it pays to be aware of the wind direction.
If you throw a forehand with your right hand, a left-to-right crosswind will enhance your I. O. (inside out) throw. Conversely, a right-to-left crosswind requires that you throw an O. I. (outside in) forehand.
Throw as hard and as high as you want downwind, it’s going to be awesome. But upwind, too much height allows the wind to rob the disc of distance.
If you haven’t worked out for ultimate frisbee before, the mere fact that you’re reading this article suggests that you’re probably ready to take your game to the next level.
You stand to add significant distance to your throw by getting stronger.
Working out has major benefit even from a purely psychological standpoint. Building your confidence by working out will increase your performance when attempting farther forehand throws.
With greater confidence, will be less inhibited by doubt. You will allow yourself to try farther throws in games.
Confidence comes from knowing you are capable of great things, and “proving it” to yourself through repeated success.
By following a daily workout designed for ultimate frisbee, every aspect of your game will improve. Not least of all your forehand hucks and pulls.
Add Distance Incrementally
Throwing your ultimate frisbee forehand farther isn’t accomplished by throwing poorly as hard as you can.
The key to crazy distance is to gradually increase how far you can throw your forehand perfectly.
I’ve created The Ultimate Frisbee Forehand Training Video to show you how to do this.
That said, my favourite way to practice long forehand throws is by playing “The Overthrow Game” with a buddy.
Play “The Overthrow Game”
I used to play this game in the park with my brother and my dad. It is one of the main reasons why I can throw so far today.
The Overthrow Game is simple, and fun. All you’re trying to do is throw the disc as far as you can over your partner’s head. Each of you throws the disc from wherever it lands or is caught.
If you can jump up and stop the disc, go for it!
Each player hucks the disc back and forth as far as possible. To make the game more even, set up so that the player with the longer throw is throwing into the wind, and the weaker thrower has the wind at his back.
The Overthrow Game is amazing for working on your ability to throw long and develops your ability to read and catch higher discs.
Ready to Start LAUNCHING Your Forehand?
I’ve set up a detailed training video to take your forehand throw to the next level. If you’re ready to throw the farthest forehands of your life, get The Ultimate Forehand Training Video here.