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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.