A Guide to the Follow-Through
As I’ve continued to improve my disc golf game, I’ve learned that the follow-through is a critical and often neglected component of a good disc golf shot. Once I started working on my follow-through, my game improved dramatically. As Danny Lindahl says, “Slow is smooth, and smooth is far”.
For those that are new to disc golf, the follow-through is the motion that happens after you release the disc. Since the disc has already been thrown at this point, it may seem like the follow through doesn’t really matter, but the reality is that your follow-through directly impacts distance and precision, and helps you stay injury-free!
How to Perform a Follow-Through
The best way to learn good follow through technique is by watching the pros. The video below is a really great reference on a bunch of different aspects of the throw, but Nate also goes into the aspects of the follow through quite a lot. He calls it the “cool guy pose” which has always stuck with me. I recommend watching this video all the way through to get a good grasp on the finer points of the follow through.
Essentially, to follow-through you continue to spin on your plant foot while keeping your balance and slowing down your arm speed. Slowing down is natural. Don’t try to force your arm to slow down. You’ll just kill your power, let your follow through form slow your spin down naturally.
- When discussing the follow-through, emphasis is usually on the arm movement; however, a good follow-through involves every part of your body. Your arm plays a huge role in precision, so it is key to a good throw. A proper follow-through with the rest of your body (feet, legs, hips, shoulders, etc.) will help give you a smooth throw and prevent injuries.
- Maintain the angle of your throw during your follow-through. If you are throwing straight, stay straight during your follow-through. If you’re throwing hyzer or anhyzer, keep going with the same angle. This is really important for precision.
Follow-Through for Long Distance Shots
Long distance shots involve putting a lot of force into your throw. This means you will need to extend your follow-through longer to allow for deceleration. It also means that you are engaging other parts of your body with more force, so you will need to pay more attention to them. Here are some tips for a follow-through for long-distance shots:
- Remember to position yourself to complete your follow-through properly. Make sure you rotate on the heel of your plant foot. If your whole foot is planted, you will cause damage to your knee and ankle.
- Don’t drag your trailing toe.
- Stay up on your front leg, don’t sink down into it.
- You should end up with your chest and hips turned toward the target.
- If you find that you’re rotating too much on your plant foot after you throw, it means that you are not planting your front foot hard enough to turn that spinning momentum into kinetic energy which should be transferring into your arm. You’re plant foot should mostly stop your forward momentum and most of the spin should be absorbed into your arm.
The Follow-Through for Putting
A common mistake I often see is that people skip the follow-through all together when putting. When putting, the follow-through will be more subtle than with drives because you are not generating momentum with as much of your body, so you won’t be moving as much or as far in your follow-through. Here are some tips for a follow-through while putting:
- Your follow-through should more or less end with your hand pointing at your target.
- Resist the urge to pull back on the disc before releasing. Focus on the following-through.
- The pull-back is a common mistake and can be a hard habit to break. To get out of the habit, practice your follow-through by setting yourself up with a target and a bunch of discs. Stand close to the target, around 10 feet away. You will be focusing on the follow-through and de-emphasizing the pull-back. Start your throw with your disc out in front of you, so that your throw is mainly your arm extension, release and keep your arm out pointing towards the basket.
The Follow-Through for Forehand Shots
Many of the previous tips are applicable for both backhand and forehand throws, but it is worth talking about forehand shots a bit more because the mechanics are very different. The backhand throw generates power through more of a full-body process, while most of the power in a forehand throw comes from arm movement. If you aren’t familiar with throwing forehand, check out my How to Throw Guide for the basics. Here are some follow-through tips for when you are throwing forehand:
- There is more of a tendency to short stop when someone is throwing forehand. This refers to stopping your arm movement right when you release the disc.
- Unlike the backhand throw where your throwing arm ends behind your body, the forehand throw will end with your throwing hand pointing in the direction of your target.
- Your plant foot will aim towards the target during the entire throw
- For part of the throw, you will be keeping your elbow close to your body. Let your elbow move away from your body during the follow-through. This is sometimes referred to as ‘unpinning’.
- Don’t roll your hand over.. While you are throwing, keep your thumb pointed toward the sky.
Why Is Follow-Through Important?
Focussing on good follow-through form as you throw allows for full acceleration and power before the release as well as a controlled slow down and finally a stop that avoids injury. It’s like driving a car full speed down the highway. Do you want to slow down gradually, or come to an abrupt and sudden stop? My vote is for the gradual deceleration. A good follow through will allow you to make those full speed throws while keeping your throwing arm and the parts connected to it in tip top shape.
Follow through actually does have an impact on distance. If you don’t perform your follow-through, you are likely not going to get all the distance that you could have otherwise. Without a well developed follow-through, you may unconsciously start to slow your movement before the release. If you do this, you aren’t getting as much power in the shot and will not get as much distance. The point-of-release is when you should be moving fastest. Your follow-through will allow you to slow down after the point-of-release, so that you are at your maximum speed at release, getting the most momentum possible into your drive.
Failing to integrate a follow-through can also hurt your precision. Your shots need to be smooth to be precise. A proper follow-through will help ensure a smooth throw that maintains the correct angles, resulting in greater precision. Having a smooth follow through also helps with consistency, which greatly impacts your precision.
We touch on this earlier in the article, but it’s worth mentioning again. Having good follow through will help prevent injuries. It’s really that simple. Having bad follow through is going to ruin your arm and cause damage that may take a while to heal.
Most sports injuries involve over-straining or stretching muscles and ligaments. A study conducted on golfers found that the most injuries for amateur players were due to faulty swing mechanics. The researchers noted that because of the large release of energy during the down-swing and follow-through stages, this is where most injuries occur. Since disc golf also involves repetitive swinging motions, we can assume injuries in disc golf are also most prevalent in these stages. To avoid injury, it is important that you support your body and muscles by allowing time for safe deceleration.
Follow Through on Your Follow-Through
The most important thing to take away from this guide is to remember to integrate a follow-through no matter what shot you’re making, even if it’s just a short putt. Bad habits are hard to break, so don’t slack on your form. Integrating a follow-through is an easy improvement to make, which will improve your game exponentially. It will help you improve your drive distance and the precision of your shots, as well as help to prevent the common “tennis elbow” injury.
Try to dedicate part of your regular practice routine to focusing on your follow-through, not just on drives, but with putts and shorter finesse shots as well. Practice straight, hyzer, anhyzer, and whatever other shots you have because it will be slightly different with each. Work on your follow-through, and you’ll be surprised by what a big difference it can make in your game.