|Beginners and players with low arm speed should prefer discs with low fade, indicated by the last number in the flight ratings. A disc with strong fade will decrease the distance of throws and they are harder to throw straight. The third number, turn, should also be low. A good rule is to add together the turn and fade ratings: a high sum translates to a difficult disc.
It is a common mistake to pick up fast distance drivers (speeds 10-14) too early. These discs require high arm speed and a lot of control in order to work accurately and effectively. Discs with slower speed are significantly easier to control.
Flight Ratings are divided into four main categories: Speed, Glide, Turn, & Fade. These characteristics can be used to rate various aspects of each disc’s flight. Each disc has a distinct “personality” – the flight path that makes the specific disc unique. Flight Ratings can be used to compare Innova, Discmania and Millenium discs. Once you have thrown one of these manufacturers’ discs, you can use the flight rating numbers to compare it to any of the other manufacturers’ disc models.
Please note: The following examples concern backhand throws by a right-handed player (RHBH), when the disc rotates clock-wise.
Speed is the ability of the disc to cut through the air. Speed Ratings are listed from 1 to 13. Discs with high numbers are faster and designed to be thrown further than discs with low speed. Speeds 1 and 2 are putters, the slowest discs available but the easiest to control and throw straight. Speeds 3-5 are mid-range discs, which fly a bit further than putters but are harder to control. Speeds 6-7 are so called fairway drivers, which are approriate discs for beginners. Speeds 8-13 are distance drivers that require high arm speed to fly as intended.
Glide describes the discs’ ability to maintain loft during flight. Discs with more glide are best for new players, and for producing maximum distance (especially downwind). Glide is rated from 1 to 6. Beginners looking for more distance should choose discs with more glide, e.g. Sidewinder and Archangel.
High Speed Turn is the tendency of a disc to turn over or flex to the right (for RHBH throws) during the initial part of the flight. A disc with a +1 rating is most resistant to turning over, while a -5 rating will turn the most. Understable discs, the ones that have a tendency to bank right at high speed, do not require as high muzzle velocity to fly straight as overstable discs. This is why beginners should favor discs with low figures of turn as they are easier to throw far.
Low Speed Fade is the disc’s tendency to hook left (for RHBH throws) at the end of the flight. Fade is rated from 0 to 5. A disc rated 0 will finish straightest, while a disc rated 5 will hook hard at the end of the flight. Beginners should favor discs with low fade as they are easier to throw straight and further. Especially putters have remarkably lower fade than drivers, which makes putters easier to throw straight than drivers. Discs with a high fade rating are predictable even in wind.
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