Most disc golfers categorize their putting style as spin putting or push putting. Sometimes a player has a slight mix of styles and I’ve often described my putting style as a straddle spush putt. I’ve been thinking a lot lately and I believe the straddle putt stands alone as a putting style. Here’s my implementation of straddle putting.
I’ve had several discussions with disc golfers about my straddle putt form, online and in person. I’ve paired up with many random groups on the course and reactions to my putting style are usually the same. At first people chuckle and snort but as the round carries on and I continue to putt well, these same players start trying it out for themselves. Sometimes they hide their interest in my technique (yes, I see you air putting from across the fairway) and sometimes they come right out and ask for advice.
The straddle putt is something that we’re all told to practice, you know, just in case a tree gets in the way. However, straddle putt specific resources are scarce and you don’t often see professional players using the straddle as a primary putting style. Nikko Locastro seems to use an offset straddle fairly often and Paul McBeth has been switching back and forth from the straddle to his normal spin style, citing reduced fatigue and more consistency.
I feel like straddle putting combines the best features from push putting and spin putting. I get the straight lines, fewer moving parts, and closer leaves of the push putt style and the extra power and better performance in the wind of a spin putt. That’s why I putt like this full time.
I recommend putting with a fan grip. Concentrate on the pinky, the ring finger, and your thumb. These three digits need the best grip in order to impart spin on the disc. Remember this is a control shot and you shouldn’t be attempting to apply the same torque as your drive. You can leave your finger on the rim if that is comfortable. I have noticed when I hook any finger around the rim I tend to putt less consistently. Everyone’s fan grip is a little different, but remember to spread the fingers on the bottom of the flight plate.
I prefer a slightly offset stance with my right foot very slightly ahead of the left which gives me a chance to power up from that back leg and also keeps my shoulders square. Your knees should be slightly bent and feet shoulder width apart with the weight equally distributed across your entire foot. Depending on your athletic background this could remind you of an infielder in baseball, defensive position in basketball, and a middle linebacker at the snap in football. You should set up in the typical athletic position.
Starting with the disc at chest height and the arm fully extended, lower the disc between your legs while bending your knees and moving the weight back on your heels. You should feel tension in your rear similar to a squat or deadlift at the gym.
Keep your shoulders square to the basket like a basketball jump shot as you pull the disc forward with your throwing arm. Your weight shifts to the front onto the ball and toe while you fire your hips forward. Make sure your arm fires straight at the target, usually the center pole, and don’t let it pull off right (for a righty) in attempt to get more power.
If you’ve ever done a kettle bell swing at the gym it mimics this motion perfectly. In fact, that’s a great exercise to develop timing and power. Here’s Justin Grinnell from State of Fitness explaining and demonstrating the kettle bell swing.
Personally I concentrate on my hips for the power and I make sure my arm follows through toward the target. I can straddle at 80′ with pretty solid consistency (I’m not saying I make a lot from there, I’m happy with the result though).
Here’s a quick form video I put together:
So I’ve done my best to describe my putting motion for straddle putting. Here are answers to some common questions.
I can’t get putts to go further than 30′
My long putts go really high
Power comes from the ground. Your feet and hips will determine how much velocity you can impart on the disc. The hip thrust used in the kettle bell swing will get you on the right track. Your “backswing” should load the weight on your heels and you should finish up on your toes for the long putts, similar to a good free throw shooter.
What disc angle do I use?
Because your release is lower than normal, you’ll probably feel like you are throwing a little nose up at first. Your goal is to have a higher release with a slight nose-down angle.
Do I twist my body or turn my hand?
All of our force vectors should be moving toward the target. No twisting of the body and minimal turning or rotating of the wrist is necessary – your hand should flick more than rotate. This may look like a rotation but the goal is a forward movement.
How do I follow through?
You should attempt to point your throwing hand at the target. Your arm will probably continue to rise above your head if you intend to keep it attached to your body.
What expectations should I have?
At first, just concentrate on your putts inside the circle. After you get these down consistently you can begin to work in the longer putts. I am trying to make anything inside of 50′ unless a major hill or hazard is near the basket. The longer putts will certainly fade, but you’ll notice the missed putts don’t glide past too far. With no hazards nearby the basket I’ll often try to run the longer ones too. Outside of 80′ I have some other shots that tend to be more consistent.
What about jump putts?
For super long putts I’ll step from my straddle stance. Instead of popping up on your toes, you can also leave your feet into a jump. It will take a little practice, but I think you can get it.
Why do I keep missing to the right?
This is probably an attempt to gain extra distance. Aside from the fade of the disc, your putt should miss high or low much more often than side to side. This is similar to a push putt.
What do I do with my off hand?
Just get it out of the way. Don’t rest it on your knee in an effort to brace your stance as this will disengage your core and force your back and shoulder to do a lot more work.
Where do I aim?
Inside the circle I am at the center pole. As I get further away from the basket I’ll begin to aim a little more to the right so the fade drops the disc into the basket.
As some of you have noted, there’s a lack of resources available on straddle putting. Here’s a video of Scott Papa explaining the technique.