Disc Golf Numbers Meaning Explained for Beginners

So you just bought your first disc golf disc, but now you’re left wondering, what do the numbers on a disc golf disc mean?

Disc golf numbers estimate how the disc will fly based on the disc’s angle, speed, glide, turn, and fade.

If you’re still confused by what that means, don’t worry; we’re breaking everything down into easy-to-understand terms as you continue reading!

How to Read Disc Golf Numbers

Disc golf disc numbers need to be clarified for a few reasons.

The first is there is not an industry-wide standard for disc golf flight numbers, so even though the disc numbers are the same on two discs from different disc golf companies, they will fly differently.

The second is that discs with the same numbers from the same manufacturer will also fly differently, especially if they were manufactured at various times.

The third reason that disc golfers don’t understand how to read frisbee golf discs numbers is that they don’t know what speed, glide, turn, and fade mean.

So let’s break those words down.

As we continue, it’s essential to keep in my that numbers on disc golf discs are the best guesses of that company at how the disc will fly.

What is Speed in Disc Golf?

The speed of the disc is typically the first number on the disc. It measures how fast you need to throw the disc to achieve the other numbers.

The speed is on a scale of 1-15.

A disc with a speed of 1 is a slow disc, such as a putter. They’re not designed to be thrown hard, nor will they fly as far as discs with higher speeds.

Distance drivers are typically speeds 12-14, but a few other discs are faster than 14. They’re designed to be launched to great distances, hence the name “distance driver.”

However, it’s not recommended for beginners to use a distance driver.

I made that mistake when I first began, which really hurt my form and the maximum distance I could throw.

If I were beginning again, I would choose a fairway driver with a speed of 8-11 until I have mastered good form.

I would also look for that disc to have a high amount of glide, which we’re discussing next.

What is Glide in Disc Golf?

The following number on most discs is the glide.

The glide of the disc measures how well it will stay in the air on a 1-7 scale. A high glide disc, 6-7, will float in the air much longer than low glide discs rated 2-4.

That’s why beginners need to use high-glide discs. It will help build your confidence to keep bettering your form.

The Lattitude 64 River currently has the highest glide of any discs at 7, but I’m sure other disc golf manufacturers are looking to create discs with more glide.

If you want to throw farther, get a disc with a high glide rating.

What is Turn in Disc Golf?

The turn of the disc is the following number on the disc. This number depends on how hard the player throws and which types of disc golf throw they use.

Turn a numeric representation of which direction (right or left) the disc naturally wants to travel for right-hand backhand throwers (RHBH).

The numbers will mean the opposite for left-hand backhand (LHBH) or right-hand forehand throwers.

The angle (hyzer vs. anhyzer) you throw the disc on will also affect the turn of the disc.

Turn is the only number on the disc that can be negative. It’s rated on a scale of -5 to 1.

-5 means it will turn hard to the right when a RHBH player gets it to the speed on the disc.

Discs with a negative rating are considered flippy because once you’ve improved your form, they’re effortless to turn over.

However, when just starting to play disc golf, you’ll throw straighter using discs with a turn rating of -2 to -3.

At least, I found that to be true for my game.

What is Fade in Disc Golf?

The last number on a disc golf disc is the fade of the disc.

Fade is how much the disc cuts to the left for RHBH players or to the right for LHBH throwers as it slows down.

The scale for fade is 0-5. 0 means it will barely cut back, and 5 means it will cut hard at the end of the throw.

The fade can be increased or decreased by angling the disc.

The more hyzer (tilting the disc down as you throw) you put on a disc, the more it will go to the left for RHBH throwers.

The more anhyzer (tilting the disc up as you throw) you put on a disc, the more it will fight the fade of the disc.

As a beginner, I couldn’t consistently determine the amount of fade the disc had, so I couldn’t be consistently accurate.

This is why it was best for me to use a low-fade disc when I first started disc golfing.

disc golf numbers on a disc

Why Disc Numbers Matter

Now that you understand the meaning of frisbee golf disc numbers, you might be left wondering, why do they matter?

The short answer is that they help disc golfers choose a disc when buying it.

Despite numbers not being universal across disc manufacturers, they are close enough to compare when buying new discs.

This helps advanced players buy discs that will fill the holes in their bags.

Because discs have various flight patterns, they can be used in unique roles, meaning each disc is used for a specific shot.

As you become more technically proficient, you’ll see the shot you need and know which disc will give you the greatest chance of making that shot based on its flight numbers.

The reason numbers on disc golf discs are estimates is that many factors determine how a disc flies. We’ll talk about these in detail a little later.

That’s why the numbers on frisbee golf discs matter… to a point.

There’s always a matter of guesswork when playing disc golf, even when you’ve mastered disc numbers.

Brief History of Disc Golf Flight Numbers

As integral as the numbers on disc golf discs seem to the sport now, they haven’t been around for as long as you might think.

In 2009, Innova officially started using a flight rating system for their discs.

However, there had been an informal system in place by disc golfers for years before the Innova disc chart.

No one knows when or who started it, but Innova has been given credit as the first manufacturer to have numbers on disc golf discs to express each disc’s flight.

Now all major manufacturers have a disc golf numbers chart for their discs.

You can also use disc golf apps like Joe’s Flight Chart to help you compare discs across all brands.

Though disc golf disc numbers have been around for a relatively short time compared to the game itself, most disc golfers, myself included, would be lost without them when buying new discs.

How to Choose a Disc Based on Its Flight Ratings

Types of disc golf discs

Many disc golfers would be lost without frisbee golf numbers when buying new discs because they are used to compare one disc to another without throwing them.

So how do they do this?

Great question!

It’s more straightforward than it might seem.

First, determine which speed disc you need.

I recommend starting with a putter, mid-range, and fairway driver for beginners.

Next, you’ll need to determine the amount of glide you want your disc to have; generally, I want a disc with a lot of glide, so a disc with a 5-7 glide rating.

However, there are instances when too much glide can hurt you, but that’s easier to control than not enough glide.

The third thing to consider is the amount of turn you want your disc to have.

Because beginners haven’t mastered the correct form, and their arm speed is often lacking (mine still is!), having a disc with more turn, i.e., -3 to -5, will help them throw much straighter.

The last number to consider is fade.

As the disc slows down, it will begin to fade.

For straight shots, get as close to 0 fade as possible. The higher the number gets, the more fade the disc will have and the more difficult it will be to be accurate.

What Effects Disc Numbers?

I mentioned earlier that several factors determine the flight numbers of a disc golf disc.

Disc Mold

The mold, shape, or type of disc is what gives the disc its numbers.

Domey discs tend to have better glide but are slower, whereas flatter discs are faster but have less glide.

There’s no such thing as the perfect mold, so no matter what mold you choose, there will always be pros and cons.

Disc “Age”

You might have heard other disc golfers talk about beating in their discs. This is another way of saying they’ve used their discs, and like a fine wine, they’ve aged well.

The knicks and scratches your discs get from hitting trees, rocks, the hard ground, and the basket affect how your disc will fly.

This process is called beating in your discs by professional disc golfers.

There’s a sweet spot where the disc flies precisely how you want it to based on its flight numbers.

This will come at different stages for different discs, as the lifespan of a disc depends on the type of plastic and how much you use it.

Type of Plastic

If you buy the same mold in different types of plastic, the discs will fly a little differently.

Premium plastics tend to fly the closest to the numbers once they’ve been beaten in, but you also pay more for the discs.

If you’re only buying three discs to begin, it’s worth buying three discs in premium plastics, but if you try to buy an entire bag of premium plastic discs, it will be very costly.

Disc Angle

The angle at which you release the disc significantly affects the flight of the disc.

The flight numbers are intended for a flat release, meaning the disc should be parallel to the ground when you throw it.

If you throw the disc on a hyzer or anhyzer angle, it will have a different flight path than the numbers suggest.

Power / Arm Speed

The amount of power or speed you give the disc, the more it will reflect the numbers on the disc.

For instance, if you throw a speed 9, glide 5, turn -5, and fade 0 disc properly, it should drift to the right for a RHBH player.

However, if you don’t throw it fast enough, it will most likely fly straight or to the left a little.

For beginners and players with less arm speed, I recommend throwing a putter until you build the necessary power and technique.

Wind

We can’t control the wind, but it dramatically affects how your discs fly.

A headwind makes a disc more understable, meaning it will drift to the right more than usual.

This is because the physics of the disc tells it that it’s moving at a faster speed than you usually throw.

The reverse is true when throwing with a tailwind. Though the wind helps push the disc slightly, it will make it more overstable or drift to the left for RHBH players.

Crosswinds will also blow your disc off course, so be sure to adjust your shot accordingly!

Final Putt: Disc Golf Numbers Meaning

Now that you’ve read this guide to disc golf numbers, you’ll be able to buy disc golf discs online or in person and have a good idea of how the discs will fly before you’ve thrown them.

They have become a vital part of disc golf, as disc golfers aim to have every possible shot covered with various discs in their bags.

Be sure to share this article with another disc golfer when they ask you, “What do disc golf numbers mean?”

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