Throwing the Perfect Roller
Sometimes, throwing the perfect shot isn’t really about how far you can throw. Sometimes it’s about knowing exactly which type of throw to use for the situation you’re in. And sometimes, that might even means throwing a disc at the ground.
That seems counter intuitive right? Especially when driving, you want the max distance possible… Don’t you? I think that’s one of the biggest misconceptions in disc golf. It’s not about throwing far. It’s about throwing well. It’s about knowing the situation and making the right choices. The right disc selection. The right shot selection.
When you find yourself in a situation with a low ceiling and little to no ground cover, I’d like you to consider throwing a roller. I’m sure you’ve seen this shot before, but it’s worth going through a description.
So What is A Roller Shot?
A roller is a shot thrown on an aggressive anhyzer release angle, which allows the disc to turn over and hit the ground while spinning at a high rate of speed. The spin carries the disc into a roll which takes the disc further down the course. A roller performed correctly and in the right conditions can drive for 10% – 15% more distance than the disc would have flown if it had been thrown in the air.
I’m sure you can see how this type of throw could be very useful in certain situations. Say for instance that the basket is on the opposite side of a patch of trees that you can’t throw around. Wouldn’t it be nice to simply roll under them?
How To Throw A Roller
In this article I’m going to take you through the ins and outs of how to throw a roller and help you make a decision on which disc is best to use when throwing a roller.
Step 1: Disc Selection
The first key aspect of throwing the perfect roller is choosing the right disc for the type of roller you are trying to throw. Below, I’ll describe the three different types of rollers and the recommended disc choices for each type.
1. Flat Release Roller
A flat release roller in disc golf is a type of roller that flies out of the hand level to the ground and fairly low to the ground. Because of the low altitude, a flat release roller hits the ground more quickly than other types of rollers, resulting in less distance travelled overall. This quality makes the flat release roller a great option when you need a more controllable roller shot.
The flat release roller should hit the ground at a 45 degree angle, stand upright and roll for a fair distance and curve heavily in the direction of the top plate side of the disc.
The best discs to use for a flat release roller is a very understable and/or a very flippy disc. Flat release rollers don’t have a lot of time in the air due to their low altitude. This means you need a disc that turns over quickly.
You can find my list of the best understable distance drivers right here.
2. Max Distance Roller
A max distance roller in disc golf is a type of roller that flies out of the hand on a heavy anhyzer release angle with moderate altitude. Slightly higher altitude on the max distance roller means that this shot travels a fair distance in the air before it hits the ground. This is advantageous because there is less resistance in the air than there is on the ground.
The max distance roller should hit the ground at a 45 degree angle, stand upright and roll for a great amount of distance before curving slightly in the direction of the top plate side of the disc.
You should also be throwing this shot as hard as you can for maximum spin. More spin equals more velocity equals more distance. This holds true for rollers as well as all other max distance drives.
The best discs to use for a max distance roller would be a neutral or stable disc. Stable discs tend to also be stable on the ground as they roll, which allows this disc to stay on edge longer than either an overstable or understable disc would. This results in more distance.
You can find my list of the best stable distance drivers right here.
3. Cut Roller
A cut roller in disc golf is one of the more tricky types of rollers. This shot is thrown on a moderately heavy anhyzer angle of release with max power which allows the disc to fight the flex and turn over on it’s side. When thrown correctly, the cut roller should hit the ground at roughly a 20 – 30 degree angle and roll hard in wide curve towards the direction of the bottom side of the disc.
What’s makes this shot so tricky is that the angle of the disc when it hits the ground needs to be correct for the disc to cut into the curve instead of standing up as it rolls. If thrown correctly, the cut roller and quickly turn into a max distance roller, which could take you much further away from your target than you intended.
The best discs to use for a cut roller is an overstable disc. The overstability of the disc makes it roll hard in the direction of the bottom of the disc when thrown correctly.
You can find my list of the best overstable distance drivers right here.
Step 2: Aim
One of the trickiest aspects to throwing a roller is the inconsistency in the rolling portion of the shot. Many things, including sticks, rocks, foliage and the old lady walking her dog can all get in the way of your disc as it’s trying to roll. These things change the direction of the disc and cause it to do strange things.
You have to try to take all of this into account when aiming your shot. You also have to thing about the type of roller you’re throwing. If you’re throwing a flat release roller, you should be aiming far to the left of your target since you know it will curve heavily right (when throwing RHBH). When throwing a max distance roller, you should be aiming slightly left since you know it will curve slightly right after it’s done rolling straight (when throwing RHBH). And lastly, if you’re throwing a cut roller you absolutely need to be aiming far right of your target since it will cut hard left when it hits the ground (when throwing RHBH).
Step 3: Footwork
The footwork when throwing a roller shot shouldn’t change from your normal footwork. If you’re driving the roller, you should be using an X Step type run up, just like you normally would.
For those that don’t know about the X Step, I’m going to go into a little detail about that. For those that already know the X Step, feel free to move onto Step 4.
The X Step is a style of run up designed to get your body in the proper position to throw with correct form when throwing backhand. The X Step does this by keeping you moving sideways, while also keeping you balanced.
I’ll link a quick video below that I found useful when I was learning the X Step.
Step 4: Reachback & Release
The reach back and release of each type of roller is slightly different, so I’ll go over each one at a time.
1. Flat Release Roller
For the flat release roller, you’ll want to reach back and release flat, or level to the ground at about chest height. Keep the nose down and remember to follow through level when you finish your shot. This will keep the disc from rising too high in the air. Remember, you want this roller to stay fairly low to the ground so it turns over quickly and hits the ground right away.
2. Max Distance Roller
For the max distance roller, you’ll want to come down a little bit lower in your reach back and finish higher in your follow through. It’s also very important to throw this disc with a lot of anhyzer, meaning you want the far side of the top of the disc to be angled upwards towards you. Lean back in your stance, keep your shoulders back and throw it hard.
3. Cut Roller
The cut roller is very similar to the max distance roller, you just need to adjust your anhyzer angle of release. You want a little bit less anhyzer than the max distance roller. This will put the disc on an angle to cut left rather than stand up and roll to finish right (when throwing RHBH).
More Spin, More Distance
One important not about rollers is that more spin equals more distance. You really want to try to put as much spin, or torque on the disc as you can so that when the disc hits the ground, it takes off like a speeding car. The spin of the disc is what propels it across the ground, not the momentum it has moving through space.
When the spin of the disc starts to slow down, the disc starts to become less stable and will begin to fade towards the direction of the top plate of the disc until it finally falls over. So remember to put as much spin as possible to really get that disc moving. More spin = more distance.
Backhand or Forehand?
The most common way to throw a roller shot is backhand. Throwing backhand really allows you to control the angle of the disc coming out of your hand which is essential when throwing a roller.
With that said, you can throw a roller with a forehand throw. When throwing a forehand roller, you’ll want to overhand, similar to how you might throw a tomahawk or thumper. The exception is that you’ll be flicking downwards at an angle instead of forward into the air.
This causes the disc to fly out of the hand and hit the ground rather quickly with very little time in the air. Depending on the angle of the disc as it hits the ground, you can still get very good distance out of a forehand roller.
Notes on Angle and Stability
Disc stability with rollers tends to be the same as the stability when the disc is flying through the air. Overstable discs want to go left, stable discs want to stay straight, and understable discs want to go right (when throwing RHBH).
The one difference with rollers is that all discs will want to finish right towards the direction of the top of the disc. The degree at which they finish right depends on the stability of the disc. The more understable, the more it will finish right.
You can think of this as similar to fade in the flight path. Most discs finish left and the amount of fade depends on the stability of the disc. The “fade” in a roller shot is opposite.
Wrapping Things Up
In this article we’ve talked about the different kinds of rollers and how to throw them. We’ve also talked about which kind of discs are best to use for each type of roller shot and we’ve covered how the stability of the discs affects the roll.
We hope that you’ve learned a lot after reading this article and we’re confident that you now have the knowledge you need to get out there and start working on your rollers to perfect the form.
If you found this article useful, please be sure to check out the articles we have on our blog! We cover topics just like this one on a regular basis to keep you guys informed!