If you watch a few “in the bag” videos, you’ll see that many professional disc golfers carry multiple copies of the same mold. Sometimes these are for backup purposes, but sometimes you’ll hear the pro mention a seasoned disc that is a little more understable after the long break in period. That begs the question: can we break in a disc quickly?
We’ll discuss plastic types and some alternate methods first, unless you want to jump directly to the step-by-step instructions to break in a disc with your dryer.
For those of you who don’t know, each manufacturer has several types of plastic and each plastic breaks in at a different rate. Base plastic and putter plastic will break in very fast and sometimes you’ll notice a difference after only a few throws. Recycled plastic also breaks in very quickly. Most premium plastics stay true to their off-the-shelf performance for quite some time.
Just Play – The Long Way
Just like losing weight is best done a few pounds at a time, breaking in a disc by using it during the course of play will likely yield the best results. But crash diets are all the rage for a reason – we want results now! Seasoning a disc with this method will take many rounds and lots of time, but beware, you may even have fun while playing disc golf.
Proponents of this method also explain how you learn more about the disc as you break it in. You watch it grow up into the beautiful, broken saucer that flies nothing like it did when new.
Field Work – The Redundant Grind
Heading to a field for some practice time can also be a good way to break in a disc without all that walking, approaching, and putting we do on the disc golf course. My field work generally has a specific focus, but throwing spike hyzers all over the place will force the disc to constantly land on its edge, simulating the on-course effect.
Parking Lots, Brick Walls, Fences – Say Goodbye to the Smooth Texture
Other people suggest skipping the disc off the asphalt over and over. I suppose this might work, but you’re disc will certainly look worn and you’ll have some sanding to do afterward. Firing your disc into a brick wall or chain link fence repeatedly would do the trick too. Same problem here though, you’ll damage the beauty of the disc you likely spent way too much time choosing from the seven different shades of orange and three different foil stamps. And please note, if that isn’t your brick wall or chain link fence, the owner probably won’t be too happy either.
Hand Tuning – A Great Workout
Tuning your disc won’t make it sound better, but bending the wing can get you some results. Some people say bending the edges down will make a disc understable and bending them up will make it slightly overstable. Other people say never to bend the disc in this manner.
I’ve tried this with a distance driver that was really overstable, even compared to other discs in the same mold. First of all, this is a very good hand and forearm workout – I can now almost rip a phonebook in half. Second, this did give me some good results. The driver flew with a less overstable pattern and I didn’t ruin the pretty plastic.
Success, but not perfect and still more work than we were really hoping.
For this article we used Dynamic Discs Prime Judges, you can check the pricing on Judges here.
Tumble Tuning – The Crash Diet
Warning: this is artificial, unnatural, and full of carbs.
1. Gather Supplies
- Your disc
- A towel
- Duct tape
- A tennis ball (optional)
- A clothes dryer
- Sandpaper (optional)
- Knife (optional)
I think this works better when the towel matches the disc.
2. Wrap the Disc
I folded the long sides first, and then the short sides. This should keep the disc inside the towel which will protect your disc and your dryer.
3. Load the Dryer
Warning: Do not use heat! Set the dryer to Air Dry only.
Disclaimer: DGPuttheads takes no responsibility for your laundry equipment. Proceed at your own risk.
Ok, now just put the package in the dryer. If you choose to use a tennis ball (or a few), place it in there too. It is possible that the tennis ball helps by hitting the disc and knocking it around.
This step is not optional, but you get to pick what you do while you wait. I chose to head outside and practice putt for an hour.
5. Open and Inspect
It’s just like Christmas except you already know what’s inside (or were you a snooper?). Inspect your disc – it really shouldn’t look any different.
6. Sand the Flashing
This is an optional step, but the first several throws with a new disc will often greet your fingers with a scrape from the sharp flashing. This flashing is all part of the manufacturing process, but we’re going to sand it off by lightly rubbing the underside of the rim with some 150 grit sandpaper.
7. Cut the Nub
Another optional step. Carefully cut the center nub away. This doesn’t really bother me but I’m sure it theoretically affects the flight of the disc. You’ll need to sand a little afterward.
9. Final Product
And here we go. I may have over sanded a little in the center, or perhaps some 220 grit would have been a better for the wider path I used.
10. Finally, a field test
So this experiment is entirely subjective and not scientific. I compared this newly fashioned orange Prime Judge with a brand new gray swirl Prime Judge and a very seasoned Classic Judge in yellow that I’ve been throwing for several years now.
After many throws and putts, I can easily see a difference in flight between the three molds.
- The brand new gray Judge, the control group per se, didn’t turn much on long throws, faded out quickly, and exhibited less glide in the circle.
- The orange Judge we artificially broke in flew mostly straight with a very slight turnover at high power. It also didn’t fade as much as the new disc and had significantly more glide inside the circle.
- Finally, representing the goal, the yellow Classic Judge turned over the most and had the least fade.
So, with just a little work I was able to begin the break in process for a base plastic disc. I’m guessing a premium plastic would take many more cycles to achieve results.
Wait, is this even legal?
Rule 801.02 B of the PDGA Rulebook states:
A disc which has been modified after production such that its original flight characteristics have been altered is illegal, excepting wear from usage during play and the moderate sanding of discs to smooth molding imperfections or scrapes. Discs excessively sanded or painted with a material of detectable thickness are illegal.
So this rule is fairly vague. Think about it though – these discs are made of plastic and we intend to hit chains or a metal pole from afar. Our “missed” shots hit the ground, trees, bricks, rocks, roads, etc. So I believe the rule intends to penalize players that are attempting to add or remove substance to create a new disc altogether, not those who break in a disc or sand down the flashing.
So there you have it. With minimal effort and a few common household items, we might be able to break in a disc. However, a disc that has been breaking in over the course of hundreds of rounds is still the best option. I’d consider this method is just a little head start and not a full shortcut to a seasoned disc.
I’m really interested to hear your opinion on this. Is this against the rules? How do you go about breaking in a disc? Or maybe you like the new plastic smell and a broken in disc is just plain broken. Let us know below!
We are affiliated with Infinitediscs.com but we will still provide our honest opinion and will never recommend an item unless we have tested it and believe in its quality. We also fully support Infinite Discs and the customer service that they provide and would do so even without any affiliation.
Great article! I’ve heard of people artificially seasoning discs but personally I don’t think I would try it…maybe with a brand new Star Destroyer, but I still doubt it. I do feel like I’ve gotten to know my discs better by gradually breaking them in, especially my midranges. At the same time, if I were to lose one of those perfectly broken in discs, I would be slightly heartbroken.
Also, great choice in knife! Spyderco Manix yes?
Thanks Eric. I generally agree that learning the disc as you use it is the best way, but I too am worried that losing my perfectly seasoned midrange could cause issues for my game. I suppose that is why the pros recommend cycling discs but it’s tough to find time for that.
And yes, that is the Spyderco Manix, which has been a great knife for me.
Have you attempted to do this with multiple discs at the same time?
I have 3 or 4 discs that I need to season
We haven’t yet. It should work if you individually wrap the discs. Let us know how it goes!
I have been playing tournaments since the 80’s and do not believe ANYONE was ever penalized for altering a disc. When sanding a disc, it should be done minimally to avoid decreasing the weight and more importantly, altering the balance of a disc. Putting more drag along or near the perimeter of a disc (by making it rough) will slow the flight of a disc and make it more under-stable.
Thanks Robert! I agree and believe the intent of the rule is to curtail the more obvious alterations to a disc. Cutting jagged edges into your putter would certainly help it stick in the chains.
Thanks for the guide! How long did your disc tumble in the dryer? Want to break in a shiny-new Destroyer that is a bit beyond my ability to turn over, and the dryer method sounds like a winner.
I recommend trying 10 minutes and see if the disc flies differently. I imagine the perfect time is different for each mold
I could see using this when I have a disc or discs that are more overstable than I prefer, which happens often. I have discs that I don’t even bag/throw because they are more overstable than I prefer, so technically they are wasted money just sitting on a shelf.
I also could see using this for cycling the same mold of (for example) midranges. I might bag/cycle four of the same mold of midranges in different states of wear/stability. for different shot shapes. Sometimes I will lose or break one of those discs and be left with that slot/shot shape open in my bag/arsenal. With this method I could take the next more overstable midrange of those molds I’m cycling that might normally take a couple years or more to beat in to the flight that would fill that open slot or use this method on any or all of them to obtain the degree of turn I desire from each disc. Sure I’ll have to throw them each a few times to become aquatinted with their new flight, but that’s fun.