A secret ingredient of putting power

Notice that the title of this post is not “The Secret of Putting.”

There are simply too many mental and physical aspects to good and consistent putting for there to be some secret that, once discovered, instantly turns a weak putter into a good or great one.

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If anything, the best advice is the one players often like to hear the least — practice.

But we’re not talking about flour and water here. Those are major components to making bread, but the secret ingredient is yeast. Without the yeast the bread won’t rise, and if it doesn’t rise, well, it’s not really bread, is it?

Secret ingredient.

The same goes for putting in disc golf. You can propel a disc toward the basket any number of ways, and it’ll even land in the basket once in a while.

But if you want a putt that seems to zip out of your hand, go farther and hang in the air a little longer than your effort warranted, you need some nice tight spin. And believe it or not, there’s a pretty simple modification you can make that will help you get it.

This is a standard fan grip viewed from above. If your hand is on the side of your disc -- like this -- when you are putting, you're wasting a good deal of potential snap. (photo by Jack Trageser)

This is a standard fan grip viewed from above. If your hand is on the side of your disc — like this — when you are putting, you’re wasting a good deal of potential snap. (photo by Jack Trageser)

The illustration to the right shows a player holding a putter with a typical fan grip.

But notice where the hand is located in relation to the disc, and pay particular attention to the straight wrist.

Now grab a putter and simulate your own putting form. Look down at your hand, wrist and the disc. If your hand is alongside the disc, as it is in this illustration, and your wrist is mostly or completely straight, the good news is that your putting game is about to get better.

Now check out this next illustration.

The wrist is cocked here, meaning that it is bent. Also, the hand is in front of the disc, creating much more natural spin upon release. (photo by Jack Trageser)

The wrist is cocked here, meaning that it is bent. Also, the hand is in front of the disc, creating much more natural spin upon release. (photo by Jack Trageser)

Pay attention to the same elements examined in the first picture. What do you see? (I’ll give you a few minutes to make the discovery on your own. People supposedly learn better that way)…

Okay, time’s up.

Do you see the difference? In the second image, the hand is holding the front of the disc as opposed to the side, and the wrist is cocked so that it is actually in front of the hand.

This simple adjustment, assuming that you keep the wrist cocked the entire time and follow through properly on your putts, will add a significant amount of spin to your putt. The disc will fly smoother (because of a tighter spin) and farther (because of more spin) with the same amount of effort.

The best part about this technique is that you don’t have to think about “snapping” your wrist during the throw.

As long as you keep your wrist cocked and follow through after the release, the snap happens automatically. Come to think of it, that is probably where the term “cock your wrist” came from. It’s obviously an analogy borrowed from firearms (as in cocking the gun), where the striking hammer is pulled back and set in a poised position, so that a trigger-pull makes firing almost instantaneous.

Side view of Jack Trageser with a moderately cocked wrist, close to the release point. (photo by Sandy Trageser)

Side view of Jack Trageser with a moderately cocked wrist, close to the release point. (photo by Sandy Trageser)

If you cock your wrist properly, you should see the difference in spin and power right away.

Like anything else, this may feel weird at first, but practice will take care of that. If it’s affecting your aim and causing you to pull your putts (to the right of the target for a right-handed back-handed player, and to the left for lefties), there are two probable causes — either you are thinking about trying to snap your wrist as you putt (which, remember, is not necessary if you cock your wrist properly), or you are not following through correctly — or both.

A close-up of the hand and disc. Note the straightening arm and the hand still in front of the disc. (photo by Sandy Trageser)

A close-up of the hand and disc. Note the straightening arm and the hand still in front of the disc. (photo by Sandy Trageser)

That’s an entirely different issue which is addressed in detail in a past post, but it’s an essential component of this overall wrist-cocking technique.

If you like things boiled down to a few main points to remember, here they are:

  • Cock your wrist so that your wrist is bent and your hand is in front of the disc;
  • Keep your wrist cocked throughout the putting motion;
  • Follow through straight at the target, finishing with a straight arm, straight wrist, and even stretched out, straight fingers.

Try this out, and let us know if it works for you. Like any secret ingredient, you have to thoroughly mix the main components — and in this case that means, yes, practice. But before you know it you’ll get to the point where cocking your wrist comes automatically, without thinking about it.

Jack Trageser is the founder of School of Disc Golf and the instructional writer at RattlingChains.com. You can reach him at jack@rattlingchains.com.

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0 thoughts on “A secret ingredient of putting power

  1. Is this still a good tip when using a modified push/pitch putt? I attempt to keep my arm fairly straight and stay aligned with the basket, so adding arm motion left and right might be a conflict.

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  2. Derek- there should not be any left-to-right motion added. All you’re doing is cocking your wrist and following through straight toward the basket. This is simply a way to get that wrist-snap that adds spin (and all the aforementioned benefits of spin) without having to add another complicating motion element to your putt.

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  3. Putting is the worst part of my game. It adds about 18 strokes for an 18 stroke round. Yeah, that bad. I’d beat the old McBeth if I had a putting game (lie).

    I’m pretty excited to try this minor change out! I’ll report once I’ve put it to practice!

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  4. I have tried teaching this idea to my son on any number of times out on the course. I just didn’t have the right terminology for the wrist. He is 11 and drives well, but when putting his wind up is like a bear swiping at a beehive.
    I was watching the USDGC and noticed that Nate Doss and Will Schusterick have a hitch in their stroke, and I can see that it is where the snap/spin come from. If you watch closely, you can see the wrist cocked before the “hitch” then the follow through.
    Now I just have to get my son to watch and emulate their movements. That and get my practice basket finished..

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