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  • Writer's pictureChris Davies. Edited by Martin Galley

Common Problems In Disc Golf: Ranging

Updated: Jun 24, 2020

Your drive didn’t go as planned, and you are 50 or so metres from the basket with a tricky shot ahead of you. Do you get up and down? Take a bogie? Or worse? Today Vortica takes a close look at ranging, and how best to put your disc under the cage for a drop-in.

It’s not a drive, and it’s not a putt, and one could make a fairly convincing case the upshot, or approach shot is the trickiest of the lot. It usually requires powering down your dominant throw, and this turns out to be somewhat challenging for many players, and for a variety of reasons.

Vortica's newest DGC in 2018, spectacular Lake Tekapo, in the MacKenzie Country
Vortica's newest DGC in 2018, spectacular Lake Tekapo, in the MacKenzie Country

First we’ll address the physical challenge of powering down, and then take a look at the reasons why ranging can be challenging, which include;

  • No view of the green

  • Bottom of the basket not visible

  • Height restriction

  • Wind

  • Tiny gap to make

  • Radical flight shape required

  • Disc type thrown

  • + Any or all of the above!

Finally, we’ll give you some tools to use to ensure your consistent accuracy at these seemingly straight forward, yet often challenging ranges.

Making all your NAGS

Before we begin, let’s understand the concept of what the most famous course designer John Houck calls NAGS, or Not A Golf Shot. That’s when you have 30 to 50 metres left to the basket, and the way is clear of obstructions, and there is no OB challenging your shot.

Under ordinary circumstances you should never fail to get up and down from this position, and there is no real challenge (except consistency!) in such a shot.

Vortica is Guaranteed Fresh, and we are committed to being 100% NAGS FREE before 2020!
Vortica is committed to 100% NO NAGS before 2020!

But NAGS are challenging for some, because they lack the ability to power down sufficiently reliably to make the shot consistently. Does this sound like anyone you know?

There really is no reason to ever miss a NAGS approach, except super bad luck, or strong wind gusts.

Why do NAGS start at 30 metres?

Because that’s the length of your longest putt. There’s no reason your putting technique shouldn’t be able to reach 30 metres in light winds once you have worked on it. And your longest putt is always going to be more accurate than your shortest throw. Or it should be.

OK, so let’s get it on!

Powering Down X-step – or no x-step?

The disc golf drive is not what you need to approach with, and yet you will still see many people make an x-stepping motion when making a relatively short approach shot. Often, the x-step is used because it contains the timing cues for the throwing motion, but whether it is used when not strictly necessary is a purely personal choice.

I do not have a hard and fast rule about using an x-step, except if it is a low ceiling, or if the footing is questionable, then I will throw from a standing position. If I select the x-step option, then it is dialed down to the power I need.

In the video above, Jason at HeavyDisc shows you how to develop a wicked one-step throw, from a standing position. One of the best disc golf videos of all time. Subscribe to his LoopGhost YouTube channel.

There are numerous ways to decrease the power of your normal throwing motion, whether it’s backhand or forehand. In no particular order:

Standing on one spot to throw You can either keep your feet in place, or take a single step forward with your plant foot in a standing throw. Taking a single step yields more power.

Reachback less

The less you reachback, the less power you will generate. For forehand, turn your shoulders away less, and keep them more square to the Line Of Play.

Don’t turn your eyes away from the Line Of Play This is perhaps the single best way to power down a standing throw, while simultaneously increasing accuracy. Do NOT take your eyes off the Line of Play at any time during your throwing motion. This has the effect of reducing the shoulder turn that is associated with reaching back. You are most accurate when both eyes are still able to see the Line Of Play. This reduces shoulder turn substantially. And hence power. To add more power but retain some accuracy, turn your head and shoulders so that only the right eye's peripheral vision is in touch with the Line Of Play.

Practice keeping the Line Of Play in the peripheral vision of your right eye (for a right-handed player), and your ability to turn slightly more while still being able to see the LOP will improve. We generally use our peripheral vision very little, but we can train to improve it.

Moving fewer body parts and moving them less This should be obvious, but the fewer parts you move, the less power you will generate. For example, strongly shifting your weight from back to the front adds power, and reducing the weight shift removes power. I use a gentle to aggressive fore-aft rocking motion in my standstill, feet-planted, upshot. Reducing the range of motion

ahead of the release reduces power, but if you are restricting your movements ahead of the release, you should still be moving completely freely after the disc is on its way; following through strongly with the off arm and hand to stay in balance at all times. Forehand requires that you don’t follow through. The forehand release point IS the follow-through in the forehand form.

Reducing effort