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The Anatomy of a Backhand

The key to advancing from short throws to long throws is not about using more effort, it’s about using more of your body. In your throwing practice you should think of your arms as being loose like the strings of this monkey drum.


Seek velocity and distance in your throws not from the strength in your arms, but from the motion of your hips and core which transfer kinetic energy to your arms the way rotating a monkey drum handle swings the beads to hit the drum.

Convince your hips to give you the motion you want by starting them pointing in the right direction when you start your throw. Though this is a video of disc golfers, their pulling has many things in common with pulling in ultimate ( If you watch the footwork of these disc golfers, you will see that their front foot is facing backwards as they plant and throw. Simply mimicking the footwork of these disc golf pros will go a long way in helping to get your hips more involved in your pulls and hucks.

You can also see how these players wind up with shoulders leading, then hips. They then unwind and rotate in the opposite direction with hips first, then shoulders and arms.

In order to get the most rotation around the axis of your spine, it is important that it be in the correct position. Let’s do an experiment to see how spine position affects ease of rotation: Stand with your arms out by your sides as if you are the letter “T”. Next imitate a hunchback or a turtle and bend at your waist keeping your arms out. Now, changing nothing else, and keeping your arms in the “T” position you started with, try to rotate so that one hand goes to your toes and the other goes in the air. How far can you go? Now stand up in the “T” position again. This time pull your belly button in toward your spine and make yourself as tall as you can. Now bend at the waist and try the rotation again. Has your range of motion increased? (If you did it correctly, it should have.)

Unfortunately the tendency of many players is to bend at the shoulders or in the back when trying to throw an inside-out backhand which inhibits rotation around the spine. Bending at the hips is what you want to do. Telling yourself to stick you butt out a bit can help you to bend at the hips and maintain the correct spine alignment. Also, throwing a few outside in backhands before practicing your inside-out backhand hucks may help because an outside-in backhand produces the best spine posture more naturally.

Though it may seem that there are an infinite number of variables to think about when throwing, you can gain distance in your throws if you are able to control just two things:

  1. Plant your feet so that your hips are forced to become involved in the throw and
  2. Keep your spine tall rather than rounded

Keep practicing!

1 thought on “The Anatomy of a Backhand”

  1. Hey Melissa, thanks for this post. I agree with what you are saying when it comes to the strength issue. Most players think that to increase their distance they have to use more power. While actually you only need to speed up the motion of your arm, which is indeed partly achieved by using more of your body. Also extending your arm backwards fully and releasing the disc at the arm's full extension when it is in front, helps a lot.

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