Tips for Improving Your Huck

We’ve had a few questions lingering in the UltimateHandbook Discussion Forum that have turned into a great topic to write about here in the main blog. You can check out the original thread here: a Hucking Question. The two main questions that emerged were:

  1. What are the most common mistakes when people huck?
  2. Any technical tips to help improve my hucks?

jake60 offered up a checklist of how he approaches backhand hucks, thinking of the ankle, knee, waist/hips, shoulder, elbow and wrist. This is a similar approach I’ve taken when trying to teach new players how to throw any throw, and it’s also helpful to break down your own throwing as you get more advanced. So to help everyone out, here are a few tips for hucking the disc.

(1) Use the momentum from your cut to give you more power into your throw

You obviously can’t run into your huck the way you might if you were pulling the disc off the line, but what can be particularly helpful is to focus on making cuts across the field or up-the-line as this gets you in a position where you can then use your running momentum to help torque your upper body through a continuous motion as you catch-stop-pivot.

(2) Practice your hucks, and while you practice think about the amount of power/strength you are using with the different parts of your shoulder-bicep-forearm-wrist

The mechanics of throwing a huck are very different than throwing a regular throw. One mistake people often make is they try to use the same throwing motion as a regular pass, but just try to throw it harder. This might work for some people, but it doesn’t work for most (which is why a lot of people have trouble hucking).

All throws involve some mix of power coming from each part of your arm, and often it’s not the sheer brute force you throw into it, but rather the balance of force between each part. The key is finding the right balance of strength from each component, and one way to do this is to really isolate on each part and practice throws to see the effect they have.

(3) Work on your balance and your pivot stance

The best huckers (the ones who are the most consistent and often throw the furthest) have a very strong stance as they pivot – and just like how the upper-body mechanics involves a balance of different moving parts, the same applies to your lower body where you’ll need to find the right stance and torque for your core.

One simple adjustment you might want to try is to practice changing up your pivot stance. Most people throw their regular throws in a stance where their feet are pointing upfield. This is great for shorter passes, but makes it hard to get any upper-body torque from the torso up. To adjust this, change your stance before you huck so that your feet are perpendicular to the direction in which you want to throw, and then torque your core/chest/arms across your body.

(4) Practice different grips

Again, just like #3, one mistake a lot of people make is thinking that they can use the same grip to throw their 10 yard pass as they can for a 50 yard huck. In general, a huck needs more spin to carry it the distance, and you can get more spin by adjusting your grip on the disc (usually applying a stronger grip, but sometimes also changing the placement of your fingers). Play around with how you grip the disc and see what works for you and what doesn’t.

(5) Practice a fake-pivot-throw sequence

There are lots of people who can throw massive hucks when they’re tossing the disc with a friend, but who have a lot of trouble getting that same throw off in a game. Practicing a fake-pivot-throw sequence for your hucks will really help this and it will also help improve your consistency.

What this involves is practicing the same sequence of fake-pivot-throw, imagining you have a mark on you. If you’re practicing your backhand hucks, for example, you want to practice throwing a forehand fake (maybe with an added pivot extension out to your forehand side), followed by a pivot across to get into your backhand hucking stance, a torque of your torso to wind up, and then the release first turning with your torso, then shoulder, then arm and then wrist. Once you find a sequence that works for you (where you don’t overextend yourself but you’re also able to get enough power), keep practicing it!

(6) Practice practice practice!

This probably goes without saying, but practice is super important, and practice shouldn’t stop once you’ve figured things out. You can always work on your game, always experiment and make adjustments. Especially at the beginning of the season, after you’ve taken some months off and have been doing other fun things outside, practice helps remind your muscles of what you want them to do.

Have a strong backhand huck but a weak forehand huck? Practice your forehand. Have your hucks down pat? Practice throwing with a slight head wind or cross-field breeze. No problem hucking in any wind condition? Practice hucking with someone marking you. Practice hucking to a moving target. Practice hucking to space, and timing the throw with your receiver. The list of things you can continually practice is endless!

Have any other tips?

We’d love to hear any other tips you might have for hucking – feel free to share in the comments here or go add it to the discussion in the forum!

  1. 5 Responses to “Tips for Improving Your Huck”

  2. Practice practice practice! is right! All of this hucking discussion really spurred me to critique and perfect my technique, and I’ve been making the best hucks of my life in the last couple of weeks. I managed to break a forehand force with a full-field on-target backhand huck just the other day, and while maybe I could have pulled the throw off before (it wasn’t the hardest mark, really), never have I had the sort of confidence with that huck that I do now. And that comes with practice, and seeing results.

    By Bear Killer on May 8, 2009

  3. Before practicing, be sure to warm up your arm with shorter throws, and take frequent breaks. I practiced hucks for too long one day without taking breaks, and was out for 5 months with tendon problems in my inner elbow.

    By kdz on May 13, 2009

  4. @Bear Killer – That’s awesome! Great work and keep it up!

    @kdz – Warming up is definitely a good idea for just the reason you mention to help with avoiding injuries. Thanks for your comment.

    By beebs on May 13, 2009

  5. Keep the focus on throwing the flattest huck you can. Many throwers get it in their heads that a big outside-in throw is the best for their receivers, but the flatter the throw, the more hang time you’ll have. You’ll be able to eventually set it out there on a platter for your receiver to run down.

    The best way I’ve found to settle my hucks down is to really experiment with the angle of release I use. In a slight breeze, your huck won’t go 50 yards and flat if you release it flat. Think about dropping the edge of the disc so you’re throwing a slight inside-out and the disc with settle down parallel to the ground before it gets to your receiver.

    So yeah, that’s my advice… Throw flat hucks before you bend them, check your release angle with the weather, and just keep experimenting until you find the throwing technique that’s comfortable for you.

    By Stre7ch on Sep 25, 2009

  6. So one point that this post hints at is the amount of power that comes from the rest of your body in hucks. I’m not a huge guy (5′ 8″ , 155lbs) so I don’t have as much arm strength as some of the bigger players. Therefore, I really need my body to generate a large portion of the force required for a huck. Mentally, I think of hucking power coming from my legs, hips, and body torquing – leaving my arm to whip and snap the amount of increased spin necessary on a hucked disc to maintain stability.

    A mental shortcut I used when I first started practicing hucking was thinking of leading the throw with my shoulder (rt shoulder 4 a rt backhand, lft shoulder for flick). This would force me to wind up my body prior to the torqued power release. Dunno if the bigger players need to do the same thing, but for the smaller players, if your huck isn’t coming along that well, you can give this technique a shot and see if it helps.

    By Denearo on Apr 18, 2011

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