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The Contributors


Disc Review



Grip it to Rip it: The Ins and Outs of Grip

by Blake Takkunen
With Extensive Contributions by Dave Dunipace

Posted: 8-24-04


Table of Contents

Overview

I. What You Need to Know to Get the Nose Down
  • Disc Orientation
  • Seam of the Hand
  • Wrist Down
  • Thumb Forward and Thumb Placement
  • Pressure Points

    II. Grip, Snap, and Spin
  • Driving Grips vs. Approach Grips
  • Grip Strength
  • Rip Point vs. Lock Point
  • Rip Point and Force
  • Lock Point and Spin
  • Timing, Snap, and Follow Through

    III. How Do I Make My Grip Better?

    IV. Grip Pictures and Descriptions
  • Common Grips
  • Stack Grips
  • Pinch Grips
  • Middle Finger Lock Grips

    V. Acknowledgements




    Overview

    Grip is an often-overlooked aspect of the disc golf throw. While philosophies on grip differ amongst players, my experiences lead me to believe that at least one-third of driving distance can probably be attributed to a good, fundamental grip. With this article I hope to dispel some rumors about grip and hopefully help you improve the efficiency of your grip and hopefully add some distance along the way. This article will progress in stages, beginning with an outline of the basic fundamentals of grip and then get increasingly more technical later on.


    I. What You Need to Know to Get the Nose Down

    While the primary goal of a powerful grip is to help generate distance, if the grip cannot achieve a nose down trajectory, then you are not going to be able to throw with maximum distance and accuracy. While other factors in the throw will contribute to nose angle, proper grip and disc orientation will play a big part in getting a good trajectory upon launch.

    Disc Orientation
    Disc orientation refers to the plane that the disc rests on both in terms of hyzer angle and nose angle. Proper disc orientation will help you get the most out of your grip and preserve the angles that you are trying to throw. The key to disc orientation is to have the disc on a plane parallel to the forearm. Maximum rip force requires disc to remain parallel during the extension of the elbow and as the disc leaves the hand. The next parts of this section cover the steps necessary to developing correct disc orientation.

    Correct Disc Orientation Incorrect Disc Orientation
    Correct Disc Orientation Incorrect Disc Orientation


    Seam of the Hand
    The first part of grip begins with the line on which the disc will sit in your hand. You will want the disc placed at or above the seam of the hand. This seam begins at the base of the palm and generally continues up to the area between the index and middle fingers. To locate the seam touch the pads of your thumb and pinky together and look at the main crease line down the center of the hand. This seam is generally considered to be the easiest reference to consistently gripping the disc on the correct plane. It is important to have the disc resting at or above this line in order to achieve maximum rip force upon extension of the elbow.

    Grips that allow the disc to stray from this line or have the disc resting below the seam will be prone to problems such as air bounces, nose up releases, or off axis-torque as the direction of the force vector will not be parallel to the plane of the disc.

    If you find yourself having trouble keeping the back edge of the disc from moving up and down, you can use the part of the hand above the seam to press the edge of the disc down which should help solidify the disc placement in the hand. You should be able to keep the disc in place without having your thumb pad in contact with the disc.

    Seam of the Hand Correct Disc Placement Incorrect Disc Placement
    Seam of the Hand Correct Disc Placement Incorrect Disc Placement


    Wrist Down
    The wrist down position refers to the angle of the wrist that will preserve correct disc orientation in conjunction with gripping the disc in the seam of the hand. If you hold your forearm out parallel to the ground with your fingers extended as if you were shaking hands, tilt your hand downwards ~30-45 degrees downwards. Placing a disc in the hand from this position should yield the correct disc orientation. You may need to adjust the angle of tilt to make everything line up.

    Correct Wrist Down Position Incorrect Wrist Position
    Correct Wrist Down Position Incorrect Wrist Position


    Thumb Forward and Thumb Placement
    The phrase “thumb forward” refers to the placement of the thumb pad outward, beyond your hand. This positioning gets not only the pad of the thumb applying pressure opposing and beyond the rip point (this contributes a little to getting the nose down), but also allows the base of the thumb to be in contact with the disc. The base of the thumb is an important part of the grip, as it will directly oppose much of the grip pressure.

    Thumb Forward Not Thumb Forward Base of the Thumb
    Thumb Forward Not Thumb Forward Base of the Thumb


    The placement of the thumb pad on the disc holds varied levels of importance depending upon your grip (the thumb should always be in the forward position). The basic positions of the thumb are thumb out, which has the thumb close to the rim, thumb neutral, which has the thumb just inside the rim, and thumb in, which has the thumb extended well onto the flight plate. The more fundamentally sound your grip is, the less dependent it will be on thumb placement. As a general rule, the closer the thumb is to the edge of the disc, the easier it will be to get the nose down at the expense of a decrease in potential grip strength. If your grip maintains the characteristics I have mentioned so far and your throwing mechanics are good, thumb placement is of very little importance. However, if your disc does not rest in or above the seam of the hand or you do not get the wrist down position, thumb pad pressure is necessary to press the nose down upon launch. I recommend starting at thumb neutral and then making adjustments based upon your results.

    Thumb Neutral Thumb Out Thumb In
    Thumb Neutral Thumb Out Thumb In


    Pressure Points
    The pressure points of the grip are very important for maximizing power. The finger your disc rips off of (either the index or middle fingers) will want to have their pressure directed pressing into the wall of the rim towards the seam of the hand or base of the thumb. The other fingers of the grip will want to focus their pressure into the base of the thumb. The pressure of the grip should be directed into the hand, and not upwards. Thumb pad pressure is relatively unimportant and is mainly used to help guide and control the disc. The exceptions to this case are grips that require thumb pad pressure to press the nose down that I mentioned earlier or if you use thumb pressure to bend the flight plate and increase your rip finger's pressure into the seam of the hand or base of the thumb.

    Pressure Point For Index Finger Rip Pressure Point For Index Finger Rip Pressure Point For Middle Finger Rip
    Pressure Point For Index Finger Rip Ver. 1 Pressure Point For Index Finger Rip Ver. 2 Pressure Point For Middle Finger Rip Ver. 1

    Pressure Point For Middle Finger Rip Pressure Point For Lock Fingers
    Pressure Point For Middle Finger Rip Ver. 2 Pressure Point For Lock Fingers



    II. Grip, Snap, and Spin

    Grip plays a very large role in dictating the amounts of snap force and spin you can put on the disc. Grip strength and rip force of the disc leaving the hand are the most important focal points of the grip after the base fundamentals.

    Driving Grips vs. Approach Grips
    Before I get into the meat of this section, I will briefly touch on what separates driving grips from approach and controlled grips, even if the placement of the fingers is the same. The basic difference is grip strength. Driving grips focus on power and force their way out of the hand. Approach grips generally allow the disc to slip out of the hand and slide off of the rip finger through momentum rather than eject by force. While approach grips are more accurate, they do not hold nearly the same distance potential as driving grips.

    Grip Strength
    Grip strength is the amount of force applied into the pressure points. The greater the grip strength you can achieve, the greater the potential rip force and spin you can generate on the disc. The most important part of grip strength is the force applied by the rip finger. While it is good to have strong pressure by your other fingers into the base of the thumb, it is a secondary concern.

    Rip Point vs. Lock Point
    Now that I have mentioned the term rip finger, it's about time I got around to explaining it. Every grip has both a rip point and a lock point (on some grips these are at the same spot). Most grips use either the index or middle finger as a rip point and the remaining fingers on the rim as a lock point. The rip finger is the last finger in contact with the disc before it leaves the hand. The lock point constitutes the point of pressure into the hand that adds force to the clockwise rotation of the disc out of the hand when the lock point is broken. On a power grip, the rip finger is the index finger while the middle, ring, and pinky fingers together constitute the lock point. While it may seem that the lock fingers leave simultaneously with the rip finger, the disc actually pulls off of the lock fingers a fraction of a second (around 1/30th of a second) earlier. This is not a conscious action, but it occurs incidentally during a well-executed throw with a strong finish.

    Rip Point For Index Finger Rip Point For Index Finger Rip Point For Middle Finger
    Rip Point For Index Finger Ver. 1 Rip Point For Index Finger Ver. 2 Rip Point For Middle Finger Ver. 1

    Rip Point For Middle Finger Lock Point
    Rip Point For Middle Finger Ver. 2 Lock Point For a Power Grip


    Rip Point and Force
    The primary focus of the grip should be to achieve the greatest amount of force on the disc at the rip point. The rip occurs when the disc overpowers the rip finger and forces its way out of the hand. Since acceleration and velocity pull the disc out of the hand, the stronger your rip point, the greater force will be applied to the disc as it launches from the hand. The distance potential available here is also closely related to snap and follow through, but all things equal, more rip force will always translate into more distance than less rip force.

    Grips that rip off of the middle finger may actually have better success with the index finger outside of the rim. Since with these grips, the middle finger should be the last finger to leave the disc, if the index finger is curled with its pad on the rim, it may get in the way and skew the nose angle upwards during the rip. If you throw with a middle finger rip, you may want to experiment with the index finger placement to help achieve a better nose down trajectory.

    Lock Point and Spin
    The lock point is the other strength point of the grip. A key to accuracy is that the lock point must leave cleanly immediately before the rip occurs. Some grips cater better to this than others (such as grips that reduce the number of fingers on the rim at the lock point), but most grip locks occur when the lock point hangs on to the disc too long. The lock point has some play in the spin potential on the disc. The greater the force of the lock point, the greater the angular velocity on the disc will be as it enters the rip. While disc spin is much less important than rip force, more spin on the disc will make a disc fly straighter and retard low speed fade.

    Timing, Snap, and Follow Through
    The actions described above may seem rather difficult to execute when described independent of the throwing motion. While these are factors that should occur naturally, they are very dependent upon timing. The lock release and rip occur immediately after the snap of the wrist during the throw. Also, rip force is only maximized when you get a good, strong follow through. If your timing is off, you may not achieve the snap needed to release the lock at the right time, or you may not have the follow through occurring at the right time, which will neutralize much of the potential rip force. Unfortunately this article cannot teach timing, but what it can do is to give you the best chance of success when your timing is working.


    III. How Do I Make My Grip Better?

    The idea of making your grip better simply follows the principles at hand. First off, you should make sure your grip is fundamentally sound with the right pressure points and disc orientation. Next would be to increase the amount of pressure you apply into the base of the seam of the hand and base of the thumb in order to increase rip force.

    There are inherent tradeoffs within this. The stronger your grip, the longer you can potentially throw, but the more timing dependent you will be to get accurate throws. If you find yourself having an off day, you may need to ease up on grip strength while you locate (get a feel for) your timing in order to avoid spraying drives all over the course.


    IV. Grip Pictures and Descriptions

    *Note*
    There are a countless number of grip variations. This section is not meant to capture them all but merely represent a variety of them.

    Common Grips

    Power Grip Ver. 1 Power Grip Ver. 2
    Power Grip Ver. 1
    4 fingers on rim. Fingers curled, pressure from finger tips.
    Rip Point: Index Finger Pad
    Lock Point: Middle, Ring, and Pinky Fingers
    Power Grip Ver. 2
    4 fingers on rim. Fingers pressed flat, pressure from finger pads. Rip Point: Index Finger Pad
    Lock Point: Middle, Ring, and Pinky Fingers
    Three Finger Grip Two Finger Grip
    Three Finger Grip
    3 fingers on the rim. Fingers pressed flat or curled, pressure from pads or tips.
    Rip Point: Index Finger Pad
    Lock Point: Middle and Ring Fingers
    Two Finger Grip
    2 fingers on the rim. Fingers pressed flat or curled, pressure from pads or tips.
    Rip Point: Index Finger Pad
    Lock Point: Middle Finger


    Stack Grips

    Fork Grip Stack Grip
    Fork Grip
    2 fingers on the rim. Middle and ring fingers pressing down on pinky.
    Rip Point: Index Finger Pad
    Lock Point: Pinky Finger
    Stack Grip
    2 fingers on the rim. Middle and ring fingers stacked on top of the index finger.
    Rip Point: Index Finger Pad
    Lock Point: Index and Pinky Finger
    Stacked Power Grip Stacked Power Grip
    Stacked Power Grip Ver. 1
    3 fingers on the rim. Middle finger stacked on top of the index finger.
    Rip Point: Index Finger Pad
    Lock Point: Ring and Pinky Fingers
    Stacked Power Grip Ver. 2
    3 fingers on the rim. Ring finger stacked on top of the pinky finger.
    Rip Point: Index Finger Pad
    Lock Point: Middle and Pinky Fingers
    Double Cross Stack Grip Double Stack Grip
    Double Cross Stack Grip
    2 fingers on the rim. Middle finger stacked on top of the index finger and pinky stacked on top of the ring finger.
    Rip Point: Index Finger Pad
    Lock Point: Ring Finger
    Double Stack Grip
    2 fingers on the rim. Middle and pinky fingers stacked on top of the ring finger.
    Rip Point: Index Finger Pad
    Lock Point: Ring Finger


    Pinch Grips

    Pinch Grip One-Finger Pinch Grip
    Pinch Grip
    3 fingers on the rim. Index and middle fingers pinch the bottom of the rim, ring and pinky fingers pinch towards the rim.
    Rip Point: Middle Finger Second Knuckle
    Lock Point: Pinky Finger
    One-Finger Pinch Grip
    1 finger on the rim. Index finger pinches the bottom of the rim.
    Rip Point: Index Finger
    Lock Point: Index Finger


    Middle Finger Rip Grips

    Fan Grip Birdie Grip
    Fan Grip
    2 or 3 fingers on the rim (index finger optional). Middle and ring fingers are fanned out under the disc.
    Rip Point: Middle Finger Second Kuckle
    Lock Point: Pinky Finger
    Birdie Grip
    3 or 4 fingers on the rim (index finger optional). Middle finger is extended out under the disc.
    Rip Point: Middle Finger Second Knuckle
    Lock Point: Ring and Pinky Fingers
    Control Grip Bonapane Grip Ver. 1
    Control Grip
    3 fingers on the rim. Middle, ring, and pinky fingers on the rim or fanned, index finger off the rim.
    Rip Point: Middle Finger Pad (or second knuckle if middle finger is fanned)
    Lock Point: Ring and Pinky Fingers
    Bonapane Grip Ver. 1
    3 fingers on the rim. Index finger curled on top of the thumb. Other 3 fingers are either on the rim or fanned.
    Rip Point: Middle Finger Pad (or second knuckle if the middle finger is fanned)
    Lock Point: Ring and Pinky Fingers
    Bonapane Grip Ver. 2  
    Bonapane Grip Ver. 2
    3 fingers on the rim. Index finger curled on top of the disc with the thumb on top. Other 3 fingers are either on the rim or fanned.
    Rip Point: Middle Finger Pad (or second knuckle if the middle finger is fanned)
    Lock Point: Ring and Pinky Fingers
     



    V. Acknowledgements

    A big thanks goes out to Dave Dunipace for putting up with (and taking the time to answer) my barrage of grip questions over the past few years and helping me to understand enough about grip to be able to pass some information on to others. Dave directly supplied much of the terminology and conceptual information that makes up this article and was kind enough to "fact check" the early drafts. Without him, this article never could have existed.

    I would also like to thank the Area 46 Flying Disc Academy website for their instructional articles that gave me the ideas for a few of the pictures above.
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