Chris Davies. Edited by Martin Galley
The Great Importance of The Rear Leg when Putting in Disc Golf
Updated: May 19, 2022
In disc golf most people concentrate on just about everything except their back foot and leg when putting. Today Vortica examines the forgotten limb in detail.
For the last 20 months I have been thinking deeply about, and working hard on my back foot and leg when putting. I’ve been trying to figure out what’s optimal in terms of stance and lower body movement.
Strangely, this has been made more difficult by slightly conflicting conversations over the years with Dave Feldberg and Yeti, but I would not have been able to understand the issues without their invaluable help and guidance. I also want to thank Scott Stokely for his time in helping me clarify my thoughts for this piece.
For a few years now, I have been using a narrow-square-staggered stance (see below), and it has been working well, but I felt it wasn’t fully optimal. But I have made major progress since watching and reflecting on Scott Stokely’s superb (and short!) video, shown below. Please watch it. You could click through and leave a like, and subscribe, too.
Scott Stokely's outstanding 2019 guide to putting stance.
There are a few things I want to discuss about the back foot and leg, and it all ties intimately into stance because stance controls how we can use our back foot.
Pushing and then Kicking or Stepping
Are the three things we can do with our back foot and leg when putting. They are distinct and can be easily defined. Pushing is simply aggressively shifting weight from the back to the front foot. Kicking is done after the back foot leaves the ground. Stepping is performed at the expense of kicking, and can only be performed outside the circle as it results in a falling putt.
Putt-Jumping from a Straddle
Some discussion of the straddle putt is required here. A straddle has either no rearfoot or two rear feet depending on your perspective. Inside the circle, you have no back foot, but outside you have two – as you can eject the disc and then jump forward, to prevent going face-first into the putting surface.
So, the straddle removes the lower body from the equation, apart from a small upward movement, and except in the case of the putt-jump. Nikko Locastro, Gregg Barsby, and Steve Brinster are great examples of pure straddle putters.
Then, there are some straddle putters who will sometimes take a single step forward when outside the circle. Seppo Paju is one such player.
In any case, the majority of putting power comes from the lower body, so straddle putters sometimes struggle with low putts in the 7 to 10-metre range.
Great care must be taken when developing a putt-jump form from a straddle, as a “jump-putt” is illegal, and abuses your card mates.
Straddle putting is an ideal way to reduce the number of moving body parts during the putting motion, and is a necessary part of every player’s game – but it almost entirely eliminates the lower body inside the circle.
This forces players into a different putting form as their maximum straddle distance is reached, and as an (ex!) straddle-putter I could never fully convince myself this was a good idea. Your main putting form should allow you to retain that form no matter the distance from the basket, in my opinion.
Power comes from the Lower Body
Just as on the teepad and the fairway a great portion of your power comes from your lower body. And on the green the way you get a lot of extra power is by pushing and then kicking. But first…
Let’s talk about Stance
After watching the video above you should be pretty well convinced about the need for a wide staggered stance. If not, go back and watch it again.
Wide Stagger Stance, With-A-Twist!
You will see the vast majority of players in a wide stagger, point their back foot at a 45-or-so degree angle away from the basket. This rotates the hips to point diagonally left of the basket.