by Rick Bays
The pan shot, also called the hammer or the tomahawk, is a specialty shot that you are probably not going to use every round that you play, unless your course has a lot of short holes and you are not confident with your short game. The pan, when mastered, is a very accurate shot that offers many different angles of attack and can get you out of trouble.
The shot is thrown by throwing the disc overhand, almost like a baseball. You can grip the disc with the top facing you (a two finger grip, just like a sidearm shot -- this is called a two finger pan) or you can grip it with the top facing away from you (hooking your thumb around the rim -- this is called a hook thumb pan). The two grips will force the disc to fall toward the left or toward the right after the disc reaches its apex. A part of the technique that you will need to practice is to be sure that your wrist action is faster and more forceful than your arm action. You will need to snap it hard as you release. If your arm is faster than your wrist you will see flutter after the release and you will lose distance.
When the disc is thrown high (maybe 30 or 40 feet off the ground) and released almost vertically, the disc will fly away from you and climb. During its climb it will start to flip over on its face. The top of the disc will turn toward the ground. After it reaches its apex and starts back toward ground it will continue flipping so the edge that was pointing upward as you released it will now point toward the ground, and the disc will knife almost directly straight downS it will fade left or right just a little (depending on which grip you used -- by that I mean whether the face of the disc was pointed toward you or away from you when you threw). This shot is very handy when you don't have an easy line to the basket with a more conventional throw. It is also great when you have trees or bushes in your way that you need to throw over but then come down very quickly afterward.
When thrown low you can learn to control when and where the disc executes this flip in mid-air. A very useful shot is to throw the disc low and plan the flip so the disc hits the ground upside down in mid-flight. This way the disc skids upside down on its face while still having much velocity. It is pretty easy to learn how to get a 50 or 60 foot slide (after a 100 foot long low flight) from the disc this way... very handy when a low ceiling blocks your way to the basket.
Experiment with these shots and practice them, they are pretty easy to learn and come in handy. I have seen players able to throw this shot over 300 feet, but even if you can only throw it a hundred feet or so, it will help you. Experiment with different heights and angles, see how they fly. Try it with a fast and stable disc such as a Cyclone or Polaris or Eagle. (Beware of using the shot when the basket sits on the side of a hill. Since the disc comes in perpendicular to the ground, it CAN roll if it hits on a hillside).
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