The good thing about playing disc golf is that you will be presented with situations that will require you to use your creative thinking and shot-making skills. In fact, in my experience playing the game, it’s not all about throwing the disc up in the air to get the farthest distance. There are situations that a player needs to learn how to throw a “roller” in disc golf to achieve the maximum distance. As a newbie, the roller throw is probably new to your vocabulary but this is a shot that must be learned moving forward.
But what is a disc golf roller shot? What are the best discs for rollers that a disc golfer can use? Is there a right technique on how to throw a backhand roller? All of these questions will be answered as you read this article about roller shots. I have genuinely created this content to provide information and to help aspiring disc golfers learn this tricky shot and help them in improving their game.
What Is a Roller Shot?
A roller shot is a type of disc golf throwing technique that will enable the disc to turn over when hitting the ground while spinning at a high speed. The speediness will then make the disc to roll and travel for more distance than it could in the air. Based on my experience, if the roller shot is performed correctly and in the right conditions, the roller shot can increase up to 15% of the distance thrown.
Usually, a player who is dead-serious about boosting his throwing skills in order to cover a longer distance should have an interest in learning rollers. I’ve also seen other disc golfers who want to master passing by difficult obstacles and situations that limit air shots can maximize the roller in these types of game situations. Moreover, aging disc golfers who already have their limitations in their capacity of throwing an air shot at a longer distance can learn the roller shot to compensate for their shorter air throws.
But can you use the roller shot any time during a game? The answer is definitely a big no. As I said earlier, a roller shot can only be used in certain playing conditions. In fact, it works best only when the ground or the terrain is smooth and hard. If you find the ground to have long or wet grass, bumpy terrain, or having some debris, it will be difficult for you to do the shot. It will also be a bad idea to use the roller throw if the ground is uphill and the conditions around the ground is windy.
What are The Different Types of Roller Shots?
For new players, it will be tough at first to make the disc to go down and hit the ground at the perfect roller angle. It is true especially if you have not thrown a roller before and want to learn how to do it. The idea is to familiarize the different types of roller shots and then practicing them to get the experience and consistency dialed. Once you have the knowledge, I will inform you about the other types of rollers which carry a harder level of difficulty along with the most basic roller.
Flat Release Roller
This is the perfect roller shot that lets you get comfortable in getting the disc rolling on the ground even if you are new. In this type, the player will throw the disc at an anahyzer angle at a low altitude. The disc will then turn and hit the ground very quickly resulting in a less traveled distance. For newbies, this is the perfect roller shot to familiarized yourself with trying to get your disc hitting the ground at a 45-degree angle and rolling on the ground.
Max Distance Roller
Once you are familiarized with the easiest roller shot, it’s time to learn the max distance roller where the shot is much faster but with moderate altitude. In this shot, the player will throw the disc using a heavier analyzer release and slightly a higher altitude. The purpose is to have the disc fly in the air for a longer period to achieve lesser resistance. The longer that the discs spend rolling on the ground, the more resistance it has from obstacles such as grass, debris, and bumps. With this roller shot, you need to aim for a more vertical landing to give the disc more time rolling at a quicker speed.
For me, cut roller disc golf is one of the most challenging roller shots to execute where the player uses a heavy analyzer angle release and combined with maximum power. The disc should be at a 20 to 30-degree angle when hitting the ground and will cut into the curved as it rolls while acquiring more speed. This type of roller is used to get around an object and go in a direction that throwing a disc in the air would prove to be impossible.
How to Throw a Roller
The success of throwing a successful roller all depends on several factors and conditions. But, just like when you are still learning how to throw a disc golf disc, the most important thing is to have the basic fundamentals in throwing a roller shot.
Here’s how to do it.
Step 1: The Right Disc Selection
As a player, I feel that this is one of the most important factors in determining the success of a roller shot. In fact, the type of disc you throw for a roller can have a huge effect on the result. For distance rollers, you want a disc without a ton of glide and fairly understable disc.
In general, an understable disc is perfect for a distance roller shot because it has the highest turn rating compared to the others.
But what are those discs with these type of attributes?
Some personal favorite roller discs that I use are the Mamba and the Avenger SS. Mamba has the highest turn rating which makes it perfect for roller shot. The Avenger SS can be used when you want to achieve a longer distance in your roller shot.
For a cut roller, an overstable disc is perfect for use as it gonna move to the left when hitting the ground. When throwing the cut roller, you want to get it to the ground quickly and vertically because it will not hold to the right for so long.
When throwing forehand, the best forehand roller disc should be on the overstable side because these discs will normally hold the flipping angle more so and require more power to get these discs to stand up while rolling. Midrange discs are also good for roller shots if you need a more controllable shot.
Step 2: Aiming your Roller Shot
When throwing a roller, you will not always be guaranteed to produce a perfect result. There are a lot of conditions in the ground that makes the rolling more inconsistent and possibly affect the outcome. Conditions such as terrain, grasses, debris, among other things can affect the quality of the roll when the disc hits the ground.
For this reason, it is a must for you to consider all the factors in the ground while aiming your roller shot. How the disc will roll depends on the stability of it. Throwing right-hand-backhand roller, an understable disc will stand up more easily than overstable discs. It will also have an easier time leaning toward the faceplate, or the right side, at its finish. While an overstable disc requires more power to stand up and fall to the faceplate side of the disc. As such, when throwing an understable disc it might be best to aim a little to the left as it will stand up quickly and finish to the right. While when throwing an overstable disc, it may be best to aim to the right as it will probably end going left. Again this guidance is if you’re throwing a right-hand-backhand roller; if you’re left handed or throwing right-hand forehand, just do the opposite of what was stated. For cut rollers, the need to aim at the right side of your target is advisable since the disc is expected to cut hard to the left when hitting the ground.
Step 3: Your Footwork
Nothing much will change in the footwork if you want to do a roller shot. I will recommend the X step style in setting up your roller shot. This has been proven to achieve the maximum distance when throwing a shot in disc golf. If you are a new disc golf player, I advised you to learn and practice this effective footwork and get the maximum distance of your roller shot.
Step 4: Reachback and Releasing the Shot
Different types of rollers require different types of reach-back and release. For flat rollers, I would recommend you to reach back and release flat while doing a follow-through after releasing your shot. Doing this will help in preventing the disc from going up in the air too much. For the max distance roller and cut rollers, it’s practically the same. You need to lower your reach back while creating a higher follow-through and a lot of anahyzer release.
Learning and familiarizing how to throw a roller in disc golf will be a challenge for new players and seasoned players. It all comes down to your determination and the willingness to constantly practice and learn the skill. If you will exert more effort in practicing your shot, the result in throwing a perfect roller will come in no time.