How to Throw a Thumber Disc Golf

how to throw a thumber disc golf

The thumber is one of those overhand shots that I feel is very underutilized during a disc golf game. It is a utility shot that can help many players to get out of trouble situations when they do not have the traditional lines available.

This type of shot may be used on the tee and can be a dominant part of any disc golf player who knows how to maximize the quality of the shots. For this reason, a disc golf player must learn how to throw a thumber in disc golf, as it brings a lot of upsides and benefits during the round.

In disc golf, the thumber is mentioned along with the tomahawk regarding overhand shot discussions. Both utility shots share a lot of similarities but differ in their execution. This article will focus on the thumber and how to execute it on the disc golf course properly. We will also slightly touch the tomahawk shot and its relation to the thumber and other related information related to the overhand shots.

Throwing the Thumber the Right Way

There are certain situations in a disc golf game where you feel stuck, and there’s no way out unless you know a throwing technique called the thumber. I should say that this throwing technique is one of the most reliable and accurate shots you can ever throw in the game. There are four factors that you can do to achieve a perfect and precise thumber throw. Please check on the list below:

The Proper Grip

When throwing the thumber, keep the grip simple. You can make a fist using your throwing hand and hold it tightly. The next step is to hold the disc in a vertical position while placing the face plat away from the thumb towards the other four fingers. Then, place the disc in-between your thumb and your index finger with the thumb pad inside the rim and the top of the disc touching the thumb side of the index finger. Always keep the grip tightly as it will rip out of the hand when thrown into the air.

The Correct Arm Motion

The proper arm motion is comparable to someone who is throwing a baseball from the outfield going to the home plate. The arm must rotate from behind the player, going up and over the shoulder. It will finish in front of the player with a combined follow-through. The shoulder must circle the axis of the spine allowing the arm to move from behind, to the front.

The Proper Disc Selection

Different discs will have different flight patterns when thrown as a thumber. This situation is similar when you throw the disc in a backhand or forehand. If you thumber an understable disc, it will flip slower and will get a little more distance. Meanwhile, throwing a thumber with an overstable disc will make the disc flip a little faster preventing the amount of distance achieved. With an overstable disc, it will more likely spike into the ground; whereas with an understable disc, the disc may land on its face plate.

Aiming for Distance

What’s unique about the thumber is you can throw the disc from 35-45 degrees and get the maximum distance out of the throw. Meaning, you can control the distance by adjusting the height of the throw. If you throw the disc higher than the optimal distance height, the distance will probably go shorter. Meanwhile, throwing the disc lower compared to the optimal distance height then the disc will go a shorter distance as well. The thumber flight path will take a lot of horizontal air space as the disc will fly and turn to one side and then fade back to the other side.

Additional Tips:

  • Throwing the disc low in thumber will give the disc a chance to go to the right when it hit the ground. When thrown with the right hand the disc will go from the right and move to the left of the target which you aimed at. Depending on how overstable or understable thie disc is will determine how quickly it will turn to the left.
  • You must keep the disc vertical when throwing the thumber. Many players make the mistake of throwing the disc at an angle further to the side of the body, which is not correct. To get the maximum distance, you must keep the disc as vertical as possible upon release. This action will make the disc fly with more distance when traveling before turning over and going straight to the ground.
  • The thumber may be challenging to do for beginners, but constant practice will help familiarize the throwing technique. You must put in the work on the field and try to learn the suitable form and technique when throwing the thumber. This will help you in multiple situations while out on the course during casual or tournament rounds.

Thumber and Tomahawk: What is the Difference?

thumber and tomahaw

The thumber and tomahawk are both overhand shots. But when the overhand shot uses the thumb on the disc’s rim, it is called the thumber. When it uses the fingers on the disc rim, then it is called the tomahawk. The both have the same flight path pattern, they are just a mirrored image of one another.

Throwing the disc on a thumber with the right hand will make the disc move to the left as it falls, then will turn over and move to the right. If you are throwing a thumber using the left hand, the opposite will happen on the disc.

The most significant difference between the thumber and tomahawk is the disc movement which is in opposite directions. Another noticeable difference is that the thumber is the more go-to option among players when it comes to getting more distance with overhand throws. The reason behind it is that many players can grip the disc firmly using the thumb compared to using the fingers for the tomahawk, it is a more comfortable grip.

How to Throw a Tomahawk Disc Golf

When an overhand shot is thrown using the fingers gripping the rim, and while the underside of the disc facing away from the head, this throw is called a tomahawk. The tomahawk is the complete opposite of the thumbers in terms of direction. But it is the same throwing motion.

When a right-handed person throws a tomahawk, the disc will move to the right towards the latter portion of the flight then move to the left as the disc turns over. For the left-handed person, throwing the disc with a tomahawk will experience precisely the opposite.

When to Use the Thumber and Tomahawk?

There are common game situations that a disc golfer can use overhand shots on the disc golf course. Please check the list:

  • The first situation is getting out of trouble from a rough situation when the usual forehand or backhand air shot is not an option.
  • The second situation is when dealing with obstacles, small gaps, and low ceilings where there is still room above them for the disc to fly.
  • The next one is when the disc is thrown low and hard to make good skip shots.
  • Finally, the thumber is perfect when dealing with narrow and tunnel-like fairways where the vertical space is more than the horizontal space. As this throw tends to be a straight throw.

Overhand throws will give you a lot of accuracy, but it all depends on where the disc is landing. The best thing to do is learn the flight characteristics of your discs to maximize the benefits of throwing these overhand shots.


Learning how to throw a thumber in disc golf is an excellent skill to have when playing disc golf. There are many situations that this overhand shot can help to deal with the different game situations. The thumber will bring many upsides in terms of dealing with rough conditions, obstacles, tight fairways, and a whole lot more. All you need to do is learn to maximize the shot and master it every step of the way.

It may be challenging to learn the shot when you are a beginner. But this should not stop you from learning it, similar to the other throwing techniques. The best advice is to do your work and spend a lot of time on the course and/or field, mastering and learning the throwing technique until you are confident with the throw.