Disc Golf Tips on Approach Shots
This post on disc golf approach shots, is the second post in a series designed to help you elevate your game. Read the tips clearly laid out for you in writing then reinforce them by watching videos created by professional disc golfers. Read, watch, practice, and improve!
Approach shots are an undeniably important part of any successful disc golfer’s game.
Often times, however, they get overlooked in favor of more “intriguing” elements of the game.
The last post in this series gave great tips from pros on accuracy. Check it out here if you haven’t already.
Accuracy, combined with these tips on approaches can blend nicely to make a potent cocktail out on the course.
By shoring up your approaches you can consistently put yourself in position to putt once and start walking to the next hole.
Let’s get right into it, with some excellent advice on approach shots straight from the game’s experts!
Our first tip on disc golf approach shots, has to do with a mental strategy that can greatly reduce the holes where you put up a high number. Let’s look!
Approach Tip #1 – Aim to land your disc in a 25 foot radius circle (instead of always aiming to park it).
Kesler Martin succinctly explains the very important logic to this tip.
Basically, players that always try to park their disc will often be forced to take much more difficult/riskier lines to the basket.
By expanding to a 25 foot radius (or more) you greatly open up your options on various flight paths and dramatically increase the likelihood you’ll take a more sensible line to the basket/landing zone.
This leads to far fewer scrambles and far less strokes added on the course!
Give it a look for yourself below and see if you agree!
After you have this vastly expanded landing zone for your disc golf approach shots, here’s a tip to help you lock in those back hand approaches even more…
Approach Tip #2 – Keep your eye on the target while you throw (especially with backhands).
This tip, provided by Joel Freeman, applies mostly for backhand shots.
For forehands, he explains, you should already be looking at the target so it’s somewhat of a moot point.
Also, because the term “approach shot” can be somewhat broad in nature, this tip applies more to the shorter approaches (Joel tells us to do whatever is most comfortable for you).
For his own backhand approaches, Joel makes it a point of emphasis to be looking at the basket (or target). This helps him hone in much more effectively.
Have a look at the video below, and then try it for yourself!
Now let’s look at some tips for disc golf approach shots that is more tailored to the forehand…
Forehand Approach Shots
Now that we’ve discussed some strategies for the backhand approach shots, or upshots, let’s shift gears to the forehand approach shot.
Having a forehand approach shot in your bag of tricks can be critical to expanding your options for lines to the basket.
Our next series of tips from Dallin Blanchard, will help you to lock in your forehand approach shots so you can feel more confident out on the course.
Dallin starts out the video by stressing how he appreciates that, with a forehand upshot, you are facing the basket and that you use minimal motion (not a lot of moving parts) to complete the shot.
The motion is straight back and straight forward. Then he gets to his first tip…
Forehand Approach Shot Tip #1 – Use your typical forehand “stack” grip for forehand approach shots.
Dallin goes on to explain that he usually holds his disc a little more loosely for approaches, but he is sure to keep his grip the same.
This is just one less thing to think about on the course, and quite helpful to know!
His tips come fast and furious in this short video. After discussing forehand grip, he gets right into alignment for the next tip.
Forehand approach shot Tip #2 – Keep your shoulders, body, and feet lined up parallel to the line you want your shot to follow.
For a RHFH, he explains, you will usually want to make sure this line is aiming to the left of the basket (so the disc can naturally fade right towards the basket at the end of its flight).
This brings us to our third and final tip in this 2-minute video.
Forehand Approach Shot Tip #3 – Keep your palm and forearm pointed towards the sky throughout the entire shot.
By doing so, you are eliminating the possibility that your wrist will roll over and send the disc flying way off-line at an unwanted angle.
This is a very common problem for players attempting forehand approach shots. By keeping your palm and forearm pointing to the sky throughout the shot, you take this undesirable wrist-roll out of the equation.
Now, have a look for yourself so you can start incorporating these tips into your forehand game!
Now that we’ve gotten a look at some excellent tips for backhand and forehand disc golf approach shots, let’s take a look at upshots from a very common distance on the course, and see if we can’t dial it in to save some serious strokes!
The 100-Foot Approach Shot
Now you are in for a treat!
Follow me into the time machine as we go back many years to Infinite’s first video in collaboration with the one and only Paul Ulibarri!
In the video below, Paul runs a clinic on 100 foot approach shots.
At the start of the video, when he’s addressing the group, he says this: “I think it’s probably the most important part of the game; getting up and down from 100 feet.”
That’s a strong take from a strong player. Probably a good thing you’re here reading and watching then!
In the footage, he will focus on backhand approach shots, but it’s not too much of a stretch to keep the forehand approach shots in mind as well.
He’ll also briefly mention 150’ and 200’ approaches as well, so be sure to work those into your practice routine too!
Most of his instruction is at the beginning of the video, but he’ll throw in nuggets throughout so it’s worth a full watch. At 1:17, Ulibarri gets right into his first tip.
Ulibarri Approach Tip #1 – Get into an athletic position.
For this one, it’s less about what he says and more about what he does. What he says is that he squares his shoulder towards the target.
What he does is spread his legs a little wider than his shoulders with his knees slightly bent and his weight on his forefeet.
As you watch, look how he bounces subtly to accentuate that athleticism and engage his leg muscles.
This is the athletic position you want to be in for your upshots (and any other shot really).
Quickly afterwards, he moves on to his second tip…
Ulibarri Approach Tip #2 – Keep Your Eye on the Target.
We’ve heard that tip before from Joel Freeman earlier in this post!
Nice to know that other top pros are doing the same thing. Must be a good tip that we should probably all incorporate!
This tip, from Ulibarri’s perspective, seems to be from that 100’ range. He goes on to explain “from this distance, you don’t want to be turning away from [the target] and then coming back.”
That would just introduce more variables and extraneous movements.
Moving on, we quickly get a different bit of advice we haven’t heard yet.
Ulibarri Approach Tip #3 – Get The Nose Up on your Disc!
Ulibarri explains, “Getting the nose up means that I’m going to have touch going into the basket…”
He says that coming in nose up makes it far less likely that you’ll be soaring the disc way past the target for a far more difficult up and down.
And for those of us that like to make a run at the basket from this distance, if you do so nose up, you can potentially have your cake and eat it too!
By running the basket nose up, even if you miss you can help ensure the disc is landing softly past the basket without leaving yourself a lengthy putt.
Later, at 9:07, he confirms that this nose up shot is specific to the closer approach shots (about 150’ and in).
“When you move out,” he explains, “and you start feeling uncomfortable with that nose up, stop doing it.” He re-emphasizes, however, that he “really highly suggest[s] it,” for those closer approaches.
So, how do you keep your nose up on an approach you ask? Paul’s got you covered!
Ulibarri Nose Up Approach Tip – Keep Your Wrist Above Your Elbow!
“What that does is it forces you to get the nose up,” he explains.
With your wrist above your elbow, he demonstrates, it’s impossible to throw the disc without getting the nose up.
Now, with these tips, Ulibarri tells us we are ready to throw the shot. He reviews his previous tips (athletic position, eye on the target, and disc nose up) before adding one more into the mix!
Ulibarri Approach Tip #4 – Be Sure to Follow Through!
“Now in order to throw any shot [the] most important thing is follow through…” he tells us.
Later in the video, at 5:45, Paul comes across a player that isn’t following through yet.
“When there’s no follow through, it’s all arm,” he informs us. He goes on to elaborate that this can put undue strain on the arm, which can eventually lead to injury.
“Your whole left side of your body needs to come over the top of your right,” he explains as he physically demonstrates it to this player.
Always follow through,” he tells us. Whether it’s a 10-foot putt or a 500-foot drive, we should always be following through on our shots.
A Few More Thoughts Before You Watch!
For a good portion of the video (starting at the 3-minute mark) Ulibarri puts it on the players and has take practice approach shots.
“Now I want you guys to do it,” he says.
As each player in the clinic steps up to try out their shot, a few points jump out to me in the viewing. Look for them yourself as you watch, because I think it will be helpful.
The first thing that jumps out to me is the alignment. In tip #1 Ulibarri mentions lining up parallel to the target.
But, as each player steps up to take the shot, Paul is consistently adjusting many of their shoulders to better align them.
That tells me that the players think they are aligned, but may not actually be.
This is best demonstrated with the 4th player to shoot (the gentleman in the purple shirt at the 3:50 mark). This player will take 3 shots. In the first two, watch the alignment of his shoulders and where the shot goes.
Then, on the third shot, Ulibarri physically adjusts his shoulders, and the shot goes right on target!
Bringing it to our own games, if your shot is going off the line that you were aiming for, it’s probably worthwhile to take a moment and film yourself to see if you have an alignment issue like this player did.
We’ll come across other points of emphasis while watching the players throw (like the importance of follow through) but at the 5-minute mark, Ulibarri drops another nugget for us.
Ulibarri Approach Tip #5 – Before any event (or round), Play Catch!
“If you play catch from 100 feet and in before every round, those strokes are going to disappear,” he explains.
“Cuz it’s practice, and it’s fun practice. How often do you get to play disc golf and you get it thrown back to you?” he speculates. “Right?” he finishes.
As usual, you’re very right indeed Paul!
Finally, at the 7:45 mark, one player asks Ulibarri about grip and he weighs in with his last tip…
Ulibarri Approach Tip on Grip – Do What Works for You!
He explains that he was told many times that fan grip is best for approaches.
But then he watched McBeth win multiple World Titles in a row using a power grip approach.
Shortly after, he decided to switch back to the power grip himself for his approaches, because that is what he preferred all along.
Rather than force the fan grip, because he was told it’s better, he went with what he felt most confident with (hence his tip).
He notes that a lot of his fellow pros use power grip for the approach, while others use the fan grip.
What it boils down to, he opines, is picking a grip that you feel comfortable, confident and consistent with.
“Put it in your hand, [and] the way your hand naturally goes around the disc,” he says, “that’s your natural throw, and I say stick with that.”
Now, let’s synthesize all Ulibarri’s advice by watching him run his clinic below. Afterwards, be sure to practice these tips and apply them to your own games!
Disc Golf Approach Shots – In Summary
That was certainly a lot of information!
Approach shots are so important, however, that we feel it’s absolutely worth it.
Here’s a quick run-down on the tips we covered in this post regarding approach shots.
- Tip #1 – Aim to land your disc in a 25 foot radius circle (instead of always aiming to park it).
- Tip #2 – Keep your eye on the target while you throw (especially with backhands).
- Tip #3 – For Forehands, use your typical forehand “stack” grip for approach shots.
- Tip #4 – Keep your shoulders, body and feet lined up parallel to the line you want your forehand shot to follow.
- Tip #3 for Forehands – Keep your palm and forearm pointed towards the sky throughout the entire shot.
Go out and practice those and see how they feel! Then come back and look at some of Paul Ulibarri’s tips on the 100-foot approach shot.
Here those are as well…
- Tip #1 – Get into an athletic position.
- Tip #2 – Keep your eye on the target.
- Tip #3 – Get the nose up on your disc by keeping your wrist above your elbow.
- Tip #4 – Be Sure to follow through!
- Tip #5 – Before any event (or round), play catch!
- Tip on Grip – Do what works for you!
There you have it folks! Those are some great tips on approach shots from some of the top experts in the game!
We hope that you find them to be useful, and that they take some serious strokes off your scores.
Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Which tips did you find most useful? Which tips do you plan to use right away?
Are there other tips you find helpful for disc golf approach shots?
Tell us about it all in the comments below!