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The Forehand (Training)

This is that flicky throw that makes everybody looks so cool. It follows a similar motion to a tennis forehand. It is called a forehand because the palm (the front or fore) of your hand leads the way.

Let’s break the throw down to its elements. Once these are understood, we will put them together to from the complete throw.

Stick out the thumb of your right hand like you’re hitchhiking. Keep the thumb there and also make a peace sign. These are the three fingers you need to throw a forehand.

Hold your hand palm up. Grab a disc with your left hand and hold it flat with the logo facing up. Put the peace sign underneath the disc and fold your thumb onto the top. You should be able to hold the disc up with these three fingers.

Fold you other two fingers (your ring and pinkie) into your hand as if you are making a loose fist. These two fingertips should touch your palm. They just stay out of the way.

Fold your middle finger towards your palm. Push it against the inside of the rim. The tip and last few centimetres of your middle finger should be tight against the rim.

Your index finger is still straight and pointed towards the centre of the disc. It should support some of the disc’s weight.

Squeeze the disc. Press your thumb down and push your middle finger tight against the rim.

This grip will feel strange for a little while. But you will get used to it and soon the disc will feel snug in your hand.

Below are two ways of holding the disc, you're seeing the bottom of the disc (non-logo side):

Split-Fingers

(Provides more control but less power. It can also provide "lift" on your throws which is useful for inside outs.)

Power Grip

(Provides the most power with less control.)

Like the backhand, there is no golden rule about which grip to use for specific throws.

Stand facing your receiver, squatting a bit, with your feet hip-width apart. Jump as high as you can and hold your landing position. Take a half-step forward with your right foot. That should be about right.

Hold the disc out to your right side. Keep your elbow close to your side. Hold your lower arm and the disc horizontal.

First, try throwing the disc using only your wrist. For now, try to hold your arm still. The disc won’t go far but it will get a nice spin, and that‘s the important thing. It is the spin that keeps the disc stable in the air. (i.e. no wobbling)

Bend your wrist backwards so that the back of your hand is as close as possible to your arm. Make sure the disc remains horizontal. This is called “cocking your wrist”; it is the position your hand should be in at the start of the forehand.

Bend your wrist forwards so that the palm of your hand is as close as possible to your arm. Make sure the disc remains horizontal. This is the position that your hand will be in when the disc is released.

This movement of the wrist from cocked to released is called “snapping your wrist”. It is what makes the disc spin.

While holding your arm still, move the disc forth and back between the cocked and released positions. Do this slowly and watch to be sure that the disc stays flat. Bend your wrist all the way forwards and all the way back. Snap your wrist with a little more speed and see if you can still keep the disc horizontal.

Get your receiver to stand about five meters away from you. Tighten your grip and cock your wrist. Keep your eyes on the receiver’s chest. Snap your wrist. As you bend your wrist forward, open your hand and let the disc fly to the receiver. You should feel the disc fling off your middle finger.

Do this until it feels easy. Make sure you are holding your arm still and using only your wrist. Get your receiver to back up a little and see how far you can throw without using your arm.

Why did the disc just flutter to the ground?
For the disc to fly, it needs lots of spin. If the disc flutters to the ground or flies all wobbly, try to snap your wrist more quickly. This will provide lots of spin.

Why did the disc fly straight off to my left?
If this happens, you were holding the disc too long. Try to open your hand a little sooner.

Why did the disc curve to the left?
If the disc goes left, the outside edge of the disc came up as you snapped your wrist. Try to keep it horizontal. If the problem won’t go away, try overcompensating by letting the outside edge of the disc hang down as you snap your wrist. Start with your wrist cocked and rolling your wrist back so the outside edge of the disc dips towards the ground.

Why did the disc curve to the right?
If the disc goes right, the outside edge of the disc dipped down as you snapped your wrist. Try to keep it horizontal. If the problem won’t go away, try overcompensating by letting the outside edge of the disc tilt upwards as you snap your wrist. Start with your wrist cocked and rolling your wrist forward so the outside edge of the disc tilts upwards.

Snapping your wrist provides the spin that keeps the disc stable in the air; using your arm will add the power for longer throws.

Stand the same way as before, with your knees bent and facing your receiver. Hold the disc out to your side with your elbow bent and about six inches from your body. Move your arm back so that the disc is slightly behind you and you can feel a slight stretch in your shoulder. Bend your wrist backwards into the cocked position. Keep your forearm and the disc horizontal. This is the “set” position for throwing a forehand. You are ready to throw.

To throw, bring your elbow forwards first and your hand will follow close behind. Bring the disc straight forwards, keeping it flat. As your hand comes forwards, snap your wrist and release the disc.

Practice the motion without releasing the disc. Watch to make sure that you start the motion with your elbow. This will ensure that your entire arm is engaged and creates a whipping motion.

Make sure the disc is coming forward in a straight path. Try to avoid moving the disc in an arc towards your left.

Practice this motion with increasing speed until you have all of the elements working together.

Look at your receiver and do the exact same thing as before, but this time release the disc. Start with your receiver about ten meters away and slowly increase the distance.

Why did the disc go to the left?
If the disc flew flat but went left, try releasing it a little sooner.

Why did it flutter to the ground?
If your throw was wobbly, make sure to grip the disc tightly and remember to snap your wrist. Both of these elements are necessary to create spin. The disc won’t fly straight unless you’ve given it lots of spin.

Why did the disc curve to the left?
If the disc goes left, the outside edge of the disc came up as you brought your hand forwards. Practice making the throwing movement and focus on keeping the disc flat.

If the problem won’t go away, overcompensate and let the outside edge of the disc hang down. Start with your wrist cocked and rolled back so the outside edge of the disc dips towards the ground.

Why did the disc curve to the right?
If the disc goes right, the outside edge of the disc went down as you brought your hand forwards. Practice making the throwing movement and focus on keeping the disc flat.

If the problem won’t go away, overcompensate and tilt up the outside edge of the disc. Start with your wrist cocked and rolled forwards so the outside edge of the disc is raised.

Why did it go up?
If your hand goes up after you have released the disc, the disc will fly upwards. Try again and focus on keeping your hand at waist level throughout the throw, including the follow through.

Why did it go into the ground?
If your hand goes down after you have released the disc, the disc will fly into the ground instead of staying at waist level. Try again and focus on keeping your hand at waist level throughout the throw, including the follow-through. Keeping your eyes on the receiver’s chest will also help to keep your throws out of the dirt.

Why did it miss the receiver?
The disc will go in the direction that your arm points when you release the disc. Without releasing the disc, practice throwing and see where your arm points. Look where you want the disc to go and make sure your chest is facing there too. Now your arm will point in the direction of your receiver when you release the disc.

One rule of ultimate is that you have to maintain a “pivot foot” while you are holding the disc. The pivot foot is the name given to the foot that must remain in contact with the same piece of ground the entire time you are holding the disc.

Imagine that one of your feet is caught in a leg-hold trap. You can swing around (or “pivot”) as much as you like but that foot must stay in one spot. It seems strange at first, but right-handed people use their left foot as their pivot foot.

Why do righties pivot on their left foot? During a game, the person who is marking you will be trying to block your throws. You will have to learn how to throw around them. Because one foot must always remain stationary, the way to get some distance from your mark is to step sideways and forwards away from them. When righties pivot on their left foot they can reach much further than if they were pivoting on their right foot.

This movement also provides extra power to throws. When you add this step to the arm and wrist movements, you will be ready to throw in a game.

Stand facing your receiver with your knees bent and your arm back with the disc cocked. Now you are in the set position. In a game, this is how you should be standing to be prepared to throw a forehand.

When you want to throw, start by stepping your right foot diagonally forward. Step as far as you can while remaining comfortably balanced with your pivot foot stationary. As you step, whip your elbow and hand forwards and snap your wrist. Release the disc as your foot touches the ground.

Start in the set position and go through the throwing motion. See how far you can step without straining or feeling off-balance.

Once you have planted your foot, bend your knee out over your ankle. Practice this lunging motion while looking at your receiver.

Now practice bringing your arm forward as you lunge. At the point where you would release the disc, your elbow should be out in front of you, over your bent knee.

Practice this until you can do it while thinking about your last embarrassing night on the town.

Go through the throwing motion and try to snap your wrist at the same time as your knee bends forwards. Pay attention to how it feels when you snap your wrist too early or too late. Too early, and you are unstable with one foot in the air; your accuracy will be affected. Too late, and you will have lost the momentum provided by stepping. You will be throwing with just your arm and your power will be reduced.

Practice until your knee, elbow, and wrist come forward in a single motion.

Go slowly through the motion and freeze at the point where you would release the disc. Look at where your arm is pointing. This is where the disc will go.

Rotate on your pivot foot and step in different directions. The direction in which you step will determine the direction of your throws. After you step, look at where your right foot is pointing. This is also where your arm will point and where the disc will go.

Visualize a receiver running to different spots. To throw to each one of these spots, your arm will have to finish in that direction. Step so your right foot is pointed where you want the disc to go.

Get your receiver to move to different spots and see if you can hit them. Start with short throws and a stationary receiver. Progress to longer throws and a moving receiver.

Why are my throws all messed-up again?
You might forget the basics because you have too much to think about. If your throws are curving, fluttering, too high, or too low- go back to just using your arm and wrist.

Once you’ve got your confidence back, try adding the step. Start slowly and watch what is happening to the disc while it is in your hand. Make sure it stays flat. Make sure your grip is tight and that you are snapping your wrist. Look at where you want the disc to go.

Why can’t I hit a running receiver?
The key to hitting a running receiver is anticipation. Watch them to get a sense of their speed and direction. Look at a point in front of them and throw there. Throw to where they will be, not to where they are. This is called “leading your receiver”.

Start with short throws to a slow-moving receiver. Throw the disc in front of them. It is easy for a receiver to speed up to catch an overthrown disc. It is difficult for them to catch a disc that is behind them. Gradually increase the length of your throws and the speed of the receiver.

Go through the throwing motion and try to snap your wrist at the same time as you finish your step. Pay attention to how it feels when you snap your wrist too early or too late. Too early, and you are unstable with one foot in the air; your accuracy will be affected. Too late, and you will have lost the momentum provided by stepping. You will be throwing with just your arm and your power will be reduced.

Practice until your leg, arm, and wrist come forward in a single motion.

Go slowly through the motion and freeze at the point where you would release the disc. Look at where your arm is pointing. This is where the disc will go.

Rotate on your pivot foot and step in different directions. The direction in which you step will determine the direction of your throws. After you step, look at where your right shoulder is pointing. This is also where your arm will point and where the disc will go.

Visualize a receiver running to different spots. To throw to each one of these spots, your arm will have to finish in that direction. Step so your right foot is pointed where you want the disc to go.

Get your receiver to move to different spots and see if you can hit them. Start with short throws and a stationary receiver. Progress to longer throws and a moving receiver.

If you want to throw further, use more of your body. Start in the set position with the disc cocked by your left hip. Keep both feet planted and twist your upper-body to the left. Bring your left shoulder back and around. Reach your right arm around like you are using the disc to scratch the left side of your back. Get your right shoulder into the act and move it around to the left. You should now feel like a coiled spring.

The problem is all of this twisting can affect your accuracy. To maintain accuracy, always keep your eyes on where you want to throw. Move your head and eyeballs to the right while your upper-body twists to the left. Focus on your target.

Stepping out with the right foot is the same as in the regular throws. However, the timing of the step and the movement of the upper-body is different. You want to have a stable base to unwind around, so hold the twist as you finish the step and plant your foot. Once this base is ready, unwind and release the disc.

Exercise 1
Plant your feet in the set position and practice winding and unwinding. Notice what your muscles are doing and try to use as many of them as possible.

Exercise 2
Practice stepping and unwinding. Focus on planting your right foot and then unwinding. Inhale as you wind-up and exhale as you release.

Exercise 3
Go through the entire motion and release the disc. Begin at a moderate speed. See how far you can throw without losing accuracy. Knowing your limits is useful so you are not tempted to do the impossible during a game.


Why won’t the disc go where I want it to?
If you twist too far or unwind too quickly, your throws will be inaccurate. Only twist as far as it is comfortable and unwind at a controlled speed. Keep your eyes on your target. At the point of release, your arm should be pointed at the receiver.

Why doesn’t it go further?
The key to distance throws is using as much of your body as possible. Make sure that you are twisting your body back as much as possible before you begin your forward-throwing motion. Try to make this forward motion smooth, your body unwinding and your arm pulling forward in one fluid motion.

Why are my throws all messed-up again?
You might forget the basics because you have too much to think about. If your throws are curving, fluttering, too high, or too low- go back to just using your arm and wrist.
Once those throws are easy, try adding the step. Start slowly and watch what is happening to the disc while it is in your hand. Make sure it stays flat. Make sure your grip is tight and that you are snapping your wrist. Look at where you want the disc to go.

Why can’t I hit a running receiver?
The key to hitting a running receiver is anticipation. Watch them to get a sense of their speed and direction. Look at a point in front of them and throw there. Throw to where they will be, not to where they are. This is called “leading your receiver”.

Start with short throws to a slow-moving receiver. Throw the disc in front of them. It is easy for a receiver to speed up to catch an overthrown disc. It is difficult for them to catch a disc that is behind them. Gradually increase the length of your throws and the speed of the receiver.