How to Throw a Thumber Disc Golf

how to throw a thumber disc golf

Last updated on September 22nd, 2023 at 07:33 am

Last updated by Maredith Damasco

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.

A thumber shot can be a powerful tool for any disc golf player who knows how to use it effectively. Learning to throw a thumber is essential, as it offers numerous advantages during a 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

In some disc golf situations, you may feel trapped with no apparent solution, unless you’re familiar with a technique called the thumber. This throw is among the game’s most reliable and accurate shots. 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. Hold the disc vertically with the faceplate facing away from the thumb and towards the other four fingers. Then, position it between your thumb and 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. Throwing a thumber with an overstable disc causes the disc to flip faster, potentially reducing distance. An overstable disc is more likely to spike into the ground, whereas an understable disc may land on its faceplate.

Aiming for Distance

The thumber’s uniqueness lies in its ability to maximize distance when thrown at a 35-45 degree angle, with height adjustment allowing for distance control. Throwing above or below the optimal height reduces distance. The thumber’s flight path covers substantial horizontal distance, with the disc turning to one side before fading back.

Additional Tips:

  • Throwing the disc low in thumber will give the disc a chance to go to the right when it hits 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 the 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 Thumbo and Tomahawk are both overhand shots. But when the overhand shot uses the thumb on the disc’s rim, it is called the thumper. When it uses the fingers on the disc rim, then it is called the tomahawk. They both have the same flight path pattern, they are just a mirrored image of one another.

Throwing the disc on a thumb 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 significant distinction is that the thumber is the preferred choice for players seeking greater distance with overhand throws. This preference arises from the comfortable grip the thumb provides, compared to using the fingers for the tomahawk.

How to Throw a Tomahawk Disc Golf

When an overhand shot is thrown with the fingers gripping the rim and the underside of the disc facing away from the head, it’s called a tomahawk. The tomahawk is the complete opposite of the thumbs 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 and 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.