Understanding the Numbers on Discs: Complete Guide for All Players

The discs you have typically have four numbers printed on the top. These numbers represent, in disc golf terminology, the speed, glide, turn, and fade, helping you understand how your disc will behave in flight.

Speed

Speed corresponds to the rotation speed (spin generated by the wrist flick) required for the disc to perform according to its other specs. A disc thrown without the required spin won't reach the intended distance and might behave like an overstable disc.

  • Putter (1-3): Discs with a speed of 1 to 3 are classified as putters and are used to place the disc into the basket.
  • Midrange (4-6): Discs with a speed of 4-6 are considered midrange discs. They are used for the final approach to the basket but generally lack the precision to complete the hole.
  • Fairway Driver (7-10): Discs with a speed of 7 and above fall into the driver category. Between 7 and 10, they are called fairway drivers, ideal for tee-offs and long-distance throws. However, they generally lack the control needed for successful approaches.
  • Distance Driver (11-14): Discs with a speed of 11 and above are classified as distance drivers. While they can cover great distances when thrown well, most players struggle to provide enough spin for them to perform to their specifications.

Glide

Glide represents the lift the disc will have in the air. A higher glide allows the disc to travel farther but makes it more sensitive to the wind. Conversely, a lower glide reduces the wind's influence on the disc, but it won't travel as far (similar to a heavier disc). Glide is rated on a scale of 1 to 7.

Turn

The turn number indicates the lateral movement the disc will have during its spin, approximately 90% of its flight. For backhand throws, a right-handed player will see an initial deviation to the right, while a left-handed player will see a deviation to the left. For forehand throws, it will be the opposite. The more negative the number (down to -5), the more pronounced the initial deviation.

Fade

Fade tells us about the lateral movement the disc will have when its spin stops, approximately the last 10% of its flight. A positive number (up to +5) will bring the disc back in the opposite direction of the turn.

Some Examples

  • Innova Leopard (6 | 5 | -2 | 1): This is a midrange disc with quite good glide. For a right-handed backhand thrower, the disc will move 2 units to the right before coming back 1 unit to the left at the end of the flight (net movement slightly to the right). For a left-handed thrower, the disc will start 2 units to the left and come back 1 unit to the right (net movement to the left).
  • Axiom Fireball (9 | 3.5 | 0 | 3.5): This is a fairway driver with average glide. The disc will not have an initial deviation. However, at the end of its flight, it will have a pronounced 3.5 unit movement to the left for a right-handed backhand thrower, and to the right for a left-handed backhand thrower.

Understanding the stats of each disc is crucial for determining the throw to execute. To assist you, Nation Sport has developed a pocket guide that gathers a wealth of relevant information to keep on hand.

Check it out here!