Is the reachback effective in disc golf?

How many times have you heard the term “reach back” in Disc Golf? If I had to guess, most Disc Golfers have heard this term more times than not. So, what exactly is a reach back?

What is a reach back?
A reach back is when you fully extend your arm straight back behind your chest, allowing your throwing shoulder to be parallel with your wrist. This movement is what the majority of Disc Golfers have been taught as proper form.

It’s also emphasized that having a fully extended arm on a reach back helps gain maximum distance. So, is the reach back all it’s hyped up to be?

My experience with reach back
For many years, I tried to perfect my form by implementing a fully extended reach back. I noticed that sometimes I fully extended, and other times I don’t. On most of my drives, my wrist is slightly curled in, and my elbow is somewhat bent.

I found that depending on the hole, my disc golf form varied. Ultimately, my style of throwing worked for me and really found success in it.

However, even though my style of throwing worked really well for me, I still felt that I had flaws in my form because I didn’t have a straight reach back. I felt like I wasn’t doing it right because I was taught a straight reach back was “necessary.”

Closer look at reach back
The reach back involves reaching your arm straight back fully extended, with your wrist being parallel to your shoulder.

Now, for some people, the reach back could be what’s hurting their game. Other people, not so much. It really just depends on your unique body mechanics.

When your arm is directly straight back behind your chest, you may not be giving yourself enough space for the disc to come through. That is why sometimes you’ll throw a disc and hit your chest when pulling through. And trust me, I have done this multiple times.

When you don’t create enough space for the disc to come through on one solid linear path, you end up rounding and over-rotating your shoulder.

Now, not everyone that has a straight reach back has this issue. I know many people that throw this way and are amazing at the game!

If you consistently find yourself hitting your chest or your throw feels all over the place, you can try what is called a “reach out.” Instead of reaching your arm straight back behind your chest, you’ll want to reach your arm out to the side away from your chest.

By reaching your arm out, you’ll create more space you need for your shoulder and elbow to come through across your chest. This movement allows your wrist to come through on one solid linear path since you’ve created enough space on your pull-through.

When your arm is straight back, it could potentially cause your shoulder to come into contact with your chest, thus restricting the rotation of your shoulder.

Having a reach out simply helps you to have more space for the disc to come through on one smooth linear path.

Additional tips for reach out
When I say reach out, I mean reaching back like you normally would and moving your arm at least 6 inches to the right. That is if you’re a backhand right-hand thrower. If done correctly, your shoulder should be diagonal with your wrist. Your wrist will be farther out than your shoulder.

Practice keeping the disc away from your chest. Really emphasize having the disc farther out so your disc can fly on one straight line.

Beginners should start their run-up from the side instead of starting forward. This will ensure that your body will stay in the same line from start to finish. It also eliminates rounding and not over-rotating your shoulders.

When reaching out, do what feels natural. For me, that is typically having my arm slightly bent. I rarely ever do a full extension on my reach out yet my max distance is solid.

This style of throwing is what has worked for me for years. In addition, make sure to be relaxed and do what feels right for YOU.


Simply put, there is no “right” or “wrong” way. Are there guidelines that will help you to have good form? Yes, but ultimately every body is different in how they operate. I personally use both the reach back and reach out for different types of shots.

You can take tips and guidelines from experienced players that will improve your game and add it to your own natural throwing style!


For years, I felt like I had flaws in my form because my arm wasn’t fully extended.

I now realize that my form doesn’t have to be exactly replicated to someone else’s. Not one body works the same mechanically. That is the beauty of Disc Golf. What works for you may not work for someone else!

I hope these basic guidelines will improve your form and that you learn to love your unique throwing style. Remember, that is what separates you from everyone else. Why not embrace it?