Confessions of a lightweight

It took me a long time to work up to this point, but I am finally ready to admit the truth:

I’m a lightweight, and proud of it.

steve

In a game dominated by those throwing max weight drivers in search of the biggest distance – and, in many cases, ego – possible, I am man enough to admit that I am perfectly content throwing my Latitude 64 Opto Diamond for most drives. Standing out on the fairway with its hot pink hue and weighing in at a whopping 154 grams, it is now a staple of my game.

In fact, I am building all of my drivers around this weight class for the foreseeable future, and I am quite pleased with the results so far.

It hasn’t always been like this, though. In fact, during my two-plus years of disc golfing, I have taken some bad advice, ignored some good, and felt some pain to finally get to this point.

Let’s start with the bad advice.

When I first started playing, I headed out to league night at my local course – not to play, but to learn. The president of the local club was nice enough to show me around and take a look in my bag, which at the time consisted of an Innova DX Valkyrie and the Leopard/Shark/Aviar trifecta found in the company’s starter pack sold in big box stores.

The president of the club flipped through my discs, turned them over and, looking at the “150” written on the underside of the starter pack trio, derisively said, “No. These are for ladies.”

Alrighty, then.

While I was definitely put off by his tone and the insinuation that women weren’t skilled – something I found to be offensive, but didn’t speak up about due to my lack of comfort in the setting – I wanted to improve at disc golf. So, I quickly ditched the 150-class stuff and added some discs in the 170-gram range…

While some may scoff at seeing these numbers on the underside of a disc, Steve Hill has found joy. (photo by Steve Hill)

While some may scoff at seeing these numbers on the underside of a disc, Steve Hill has found joy. (photo by Steve Hill)

…and promptly had trouble throwing them. I guess that’s what I get for heeding close-minded advice.

So, after struggling with weights in the 170s, I cobbled up my pride and dropped down into the 160s. Why didn’t I go all the way into the 150s and just get it over with?

Stubbornness, if I had to guess.

Some months down the road, though, I had a great opportunity presented to me. When playing in a low-key Ice Bowl event, I was put on the same card as Innova Ambassador (and Rattling Chains contributor) Allen Risley. Watching him play all day, and seeing how easy everything looked, told me I was doing something wrong. When I asked him for some advice on smoothing out my form, he pointed to throwing lighter discs, as they would be less forgiving of form flaws and would still travel far if thrown correctly.

So, naturally, I rushed out the next day and stocked up on 150-class drivers, right?

Well, kind of. I bought a 150-gram Star Teebird and a Star Valkyrie of the same weight, and headed out to the course.

However, due to my lack of patience – shock of the century, but these discs didn’t fly well for me right off the bat, because I never gave them time – I ended up ditching my new toys and heading back into the 160-range.

And that’s how it stood, up until about three weeks ago. I am not sure what happened – whether a flaw in my form had worsened, or if I strained something off the disc golf course – but I started to experience sharp, stabbing pains in my throwing elbow. When I got home from the course, I was having problems even picking up my daughter. That just can’t happen.

So, after taking a couple days off and a boatload of Ibuprofen, I decided something in my game had to change.

Right around the same time, Will Schusterick released an extremely helpful driving tutorial video that really broke down form in an easy-to-digest fashion.

A stack of heavier drivers, waiting to be used. (photo by Steve Hill)

A stack of heavier drivers, waiting to be used. (photo by Steve Hill)

Thinking back to what Risley told me – that light discs are good learning tools – I decided to dig into the stash of discs I bought for my wife, grab the Diamond, and pore over the Schusterick video to rebuild my form.

And while this process has only been a few weeks in the making, I am excited about the results so far. I have made some nice shots with the Diamond that have required very little exertion, including a near-ace on a basket I normally never touch with a drive. And, best of all, my arm hasn’t been in any pain since I started throwing it.

So, I am making the full switch to 150-class drivers. I just added a light blue Star Teebird that makes my discs look like they are suited for a baby shower, and I am on the hunt for one more distance driver to add to the mix. I might suffer a bit in the wind, but I think that is a small price to pay for playing without pain.

In the meantime, my old drivers are sitting in a stack, longing to be thrown. And maybe they will be someday. But for now, I am proud to admit that I throw lightweight drivers, even if they are pink.

Steve Hill is the associate editor for Rattling Chains. Email him at steve@rattlingchains.com and follow him on Twitter @OneMileMore.

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0 thoughts on “Confessions of a lightweight

  1. Steve, I have had a similar experience, although I found good advice online. I read somewhere that 150 class discs are good for women, but also for male rookies who are just learning the game and men who might not have much arm strength.

    My disc golf mentor favors discs weighing 167-168 grams, so I gave them a try, and they traveled farther than the 150 class discs I was throwing. There is good middle ground between the lightest discs and maximum weight discs, so I hope you’ve experimented in that middle ground.

    I encourage you to routinely revisit discs you have decided you don’t like. I’ve found that my backhand is continuously evolving, and some of the heavier wide rim discs I didn’t like before are adding some distance to my drives now. I now carry 171 gram discs for throwing into the wind, and lighter discs for throwing with the wind at my back. If you work your way up gradually, you might add distance to your drives as you build up strength in your arm.

    I’ve noticed some better players with large harry arms are carrying Innova’s blizzard plastic, which proves light weight discs have their place in every bag. Some experienced players I’ve seen even throw blizzard discs into the wind.

    Some of the light weight discs I carry are a 158 gram Valkyrie and a 156 gram Dragon. I use the Valkyrie for flicking and short range thumbers, and the Dragon is the best under-stable floating disc I’ve been able to find.

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  2. Steve, good for you! I’ve preferred light plastic for some time now. I suggest you consider an overstable disc like the Destroyer or Ape in super-light Blizzard plastic- 140’s or even 130’s. They are a great balance of the benefits of light plastic with the properties of an overstable disc.

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  3. Steve, I completely understand. I went through the same problem trying to get a good weight for me. I bought the same trifecta referred to in your post in the same weight class and was frustrated that I couldn’t get the distance that some of the other guys were getting. I immediately jumped on the max weight bandwagon and suffered even more than before maxing out drives at around 250ft. After discovering blizzard plastic I have never looked back. I read that it was made to get distance with a slower arm. I now throw a 143 teedevil for hyzer flip shots and turnover drives and a 140 Ape for hyzer or straight with a consistent fade, and I am now throwing up to 400ft consistently. It does get better, I wish you the best of luck and welcome to the lightweight club!

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  4. I have 2 champ molds in my bag (Mamba, Sidewinder) that I have a 150 for control shots and 160-170 for throwing in to head winds. My favorite disc now is my 137 Blizzard Vulcan. I can hyzer flip that disc and get more distance than I ever could with heavier discs. I also carry a 150 DX Leopard & Sidewinder for control anhyzer shots.

    Not everyone has a cannon for an arm and if they give you crap for light plastic then tell them to mind their own business.

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  5. Blizzard plastic changed my game. I now carry a fresh, worn, and beat up Innova Blizzard Katana all around 135 – 137 grams at all times. I just started carrying a 155 Westside VIP Air King for something a little heavier as an option. Great stuff and my ego hasn’t suffered one bit.

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  6. Pingback: Disc Review: Lat64′s Air Opto Halo 152g | Chuckin' Plastic

  7. You have learned well, grasshopper! But seriously, welcome to the lightweights club, Steve. Different discs for different folks, of course, but light plastic has drastically improved my game. the extra glide that comes with lighter weights = distance. And I have little trouble in the wind – if you throw with enough snap (spin) light discs will cut through a headwind.

    Hit me up if you want to try some other molds in lighter weights. I have a stable (no pun intended) of back-up discs for loan.

    BTW, for those of you in search of light plastic, Hero Disc (www.herodiscusa.com) is a great source for light plastic. They carry lots of Innova discs in light weights made especially for the Japan Open, where the weight limit is 159g. The 150g Champion and Star Rocs are amazing.

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  8. I throw some light weights, but I use them for forearm flicks. I am recovering from “Disc Golf Elbow” and I have found that form goes a long way to reducing/preventing pain.
    Yes there is a place for lightweights, but I have not abandoned my discs in the 165 – 175 gram range

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  9. Having lost 3 drivers in the past 7 days (all in the 170g range), I’ve got some space in my bag – think I’ll give the lighter weights a try, maybe I’ll stay on the fairway!

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  10. The best and most overstable 150 class driver I found, and use, is the Discraft Z flick. Super overstable and good for both forehand and backhand. Even at 150 they will fight a good head wind.

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  11. Finally, someone is publishing the truth that all heavy, overstable discs are not for everyone. I could of saved alot of money if I could of read an article like this two years ago. Since going to almost all lightweight and understable discs, my game, and my distance, and my soreness have improved dramatically. I love my 150 Opto Diamond as well. I am 54 years old and have been playing less than two years now. This week I won a league round playing against 30 people, almost all of which are about 18 years old with guns for arms. I can now hang tough with them because of practice and my realization that light weight discs are for me.

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