Why is it important to know how to throw a hammer?
The more throws you are able to throw the better because you will be more of a threat to your opponents and the harder they will have to work to cover all of your players when you have the disc. By having the hammer as an option, you will be a huge asset to your team and you will force the defense to be more aware when you have the disc.
When should you throw a hammer?
You will hear many different things from many different people, but there are several cases in which I think a hammer is useful:
- When you have a receiver open behind their defender and you have a limited amount of space behind that receiver (ie they are in the end zone). The hammer is a great option in this case since you don’t have enough field space to huck to your receiver, but a hammer will go over your defender’s head and drop to your receiver. I have thrown many points using a hammer in this case so whenever I recognize this situation, I immediately have the hammer as a viable option. The benefit too is that once you make this throw happen, the defense will start playing tighter man on the deep receiver which will open up the shallow options for an easy throw.
- When the defense is playing a zone against you, throwing a hammer over the cup/wall or across the field to your mids is a viable option. Some throwers prefer a blade in this case but a blade takes longer to get to your receiver and is much more susceptible to being affected by the wind. Also, it’s tougher to get an accurate blade to your receiver than a hammer. In many cases, the defense wants you to make this throw, so if you have a high completion percentage, then they will start to protect that threat more which will open up more options close to the disc, which ultimately is the easier way to break through a zone
- There are variations on these options but these are the main ones I want to mention. In many cases when a thrower throws a hammer, a flick or backhand would have been been the preferred throw, so if you’re relying too much on your hammer, then focus more on becoming better at your flick and backhand
Gripping the disc
I hold my hammer the same as my flick – with the power grip. As I talk about in the forehand section, the power grip involves 2 fingers along the inside rim of the disc and allows for the maximum amount of power and spin on the disc.
Wrist Flick/Throwing Motion
- Wrist Flick
As in the forehand, this throw relies mostly on the amount of spin you’re getting on the disc. So work to develop a very tight, high amount of spin on the disc. Since the hammer will be released almost vertical and then return to flat upside down, you will want to get as much spin as possible to ensure that you can control the flight of the disc as much as possible.
- Throwing Motion
Once you’ve developed a good wrist snap, then you’ll want to start developing your arm motion into the throw. This will vary for everyone depending on your height and flexibility, but basically you want to be throwing the disc overhead, but not past the middle point of your body on the opposite side of your throwing arm. What I mean by this is that you want to throw very much like the swimming motion of the front crawl, so your arm will be fully extended as you snap the disc overhead. I will be adding some pics and video which illustrate this motion but what you will want to do is work on the mechanics of the throw and once you have solid mechanics, then practice and hone your technique.
Mechanics vs Technique
As with the other throws, you need to have solid mechanics before you can develop your technique. Too many times I have seen people try to throw a hammer before they even have a good snap on the disc. The hammer is made up of a few parts, and as you get better at throwing the hammer, you will develop little tips and tricks. For example, if you want to throw a short, flatter hammer, then you can throw the still overhead, but more in front of your body. This is useful if you want to get the disc to a receiver quickly but you want to throw it over your mark. The most effective way to develop your preferred technique for the hammer is to watch people who are good at throwing a hammer, throw. I will be uploading video which shows how I throw hammer so you can use it as a starting point.
The best technique is really the one which works best for your body. Everyone is built differently so watch others throw, try different techniques and adopt the one which works best for you. My technique is not necessarily right (for me it is) but it is very effective in having a consistent, long and powerful throw. Your goal is to develop a technique for you which allows you the most consistency, power and distance (and the least amount of strain on your body). Be open to criticism – you can never stop learning!