What is a disc golf stall shot? I’m always surprised by the number of times I’m asked that question when I describe my putt and approach game, but it seems that either the shot or the term is not as common as I had assumed. A stall shot is purposely throwing nose up so that your disc either rises drastically or catches enough air that it stalls early in in the flight path. A stall shot is sometimes referred to as an air bounce because the putter appears to bounce off the air, a bounce putt, a loft shot, rise shot, or generically a nose-up shot. Sometimes this is called an elevator shot, but usually an elevator shot refers to a disc tossed very high over an obstical with the intention of dropping softly striaght down.
That may sound strange to many disc golfers since throwing nose down is stated almost religiously, and it’s true that throwing nose down is usually best. But there are specific times when throwing nose up to produce an intentional rise or stall can be quite germane. I’ll start by providing the basics of a stall shot.
A stall shot may be thrown with any type of disc, but it becomes riskier with faster and longer throws so I typically stick to approach shots and putts. The primary defining characteristic is releasing the disc nose up so it catches more air underneath. For approach shots and putts it’s often advantageous to throw the disc on a downward flight path so that it begins very low then rises, this also allows the bottom of the disc to catch more air as to exaggerate the rise. Adding additional spin to the discs may be a good idea because the air hitting the bottom of the flight plate may cause extra flutter but the additional spin may help counteract this. The extra air resistance also results in lower speeds so extra torso twist can be advantageous to generate power. I’ll usually stand at a 45 degree angle to my target so my feet are staggered to help generate the twist but my body is still open somewhat to the target.
The overstability or understability of the disc is often exaggerated due to the additional air resistance so be ready for something like a Prodigy PA4 to turn a lot or something like a Discraft Zone to fade and hook hard.
One of the most common situations in which I prefer a stall shot is approaching the basket with a putter especially between 100 and 150 feet. The stall can allow me to run the basket with a chance at making the shot but can still prevent me from overshooting and landing outside the circle. This may be particularly useful when dealing with hills or water hazards behind the baskets as seen below on the left. We frequently use bounce putts on Burchfield Park Devil’s Den hole 3 when we throw short and are faced with pine trees blocking the basket as seen below on the right.
Other times I use a rise shot to throw below an obstacle without laying up. For example, a tree halfway to the basket may extend across the desired flight path so that laying up would land outside your confidence circle. However, if you (or in this case the disc golf sasquatch throwing a Wizard) can throw a rise shot you may be able to throw under the tree and still gain distance beyond.
I sometimes use a rise putt when putting into a head wind by throwing my putt low and soft with the nose up so that it rises up with the wind and catches the chains from underneath. Nose up shots, however, are especially susceptible to wind gusts so the higher the wind speed the riskier it is to throw a nose up shot so you should use extreme caution when performing the putt I just described. The advantage is that by keeping the putt low it often won’t be pushed as far away from the basket by the wind as a high hanging putt.
There other risks of course. Because of the extra movement and air resistance, rise shots are typically not as consistent as nose down shots. I’ve written many times about the importance of consistency even if it means laying up at times, so I don’t recommend throwing stall shots before you’ve practiced them sufficiently. Accuracy may also decrease, partly because of the decreased consistency and partly because the disc approaches the basket with more movement. This may be a worth-while trade off if it guarantees landing inside your confidence circle, but not always. It’s important to carefully consider the risk vs. reward relationship, and I find that approaching the basket with a stall shot is often the safest but most effective option that I have.