You want to try out some freestyle Frisbee tricks on the spur of the moment? Not a bad idea! Because apart from the right disc, all you really need is yourself, a few square feet of space and maybe a bit of nice company. And then it’s a case of “practice, practice, practice”. With the help of the following tips and suggestions, it might even work faster than you think.
What you learn in this article:
- What Freestyle Frisbee is all about,
- and what makes the ideal discs for this sport.
- Which tricks are particularly popular
- and which other accessories are particularly useful for throwing the Frisbee.
What is Freestyle Frisbee?
As the name suggests, it’s about throwing the disc in the air and catching it in a creative and artistic way. You have a free choice of different figures, which you can combine in any way you like. A certain difficulty factor makes the whole thing particularly exciting, of course. This is mainly due to the flight behaviour of the disc. It can not only fly horizontally and vertically at different speeds, but also sail. Rotations are also included in the programme. Therefore, many tricks seem quite easy at first glance, but turn out to be quite tricky when you try them out …
However, the simple throws with the edge of the disc at the top or bottom are comparatively easy to learn, so that the first small feelings of success are not too long in coming with a little skill. An example: If you have turned the edge of the disc upwards and the disc is lying on your forearm, you can hold it with your fingers from below. Your thumb will be on the edge of the disc and will rotate it as you throw it, using your shoulder and wrist for momentum.
Once this is working well, you can move on to more complicated tricks as you progress, which will be discussed in more detail later in the text. It’s up to you whether you practice alone or arrange a coop meeting (tricks with several people) with friends. The choice of location (park, forest, beach, car park, etc.) is also up to you. To cut a long story short: thanks to the great variety and the uncomplicatedness in terms of location and equipment, freestyle frisbee has rightly found more and more fans over the last decades. So it should come as no surprise to you that there are now a large number of tournaments, championships and world championships. Maybe one day you’ll even be part of it?
Freestyle Frisbee Discs
The good news first: To start freestyling, you really don’t need to spend a lot of money. In principle, you can start with many light discs with a smooth top and bottom. But if you want a real freestyle Frisbee*, you should pay attention to the following features:
- It has a very smooth underside and a higher edge, which helps you catch and balance on your fingernails.
- The disc has a diameter of about 9,4 to 10,2 inches and a weight of about 4,6 to 5,8 oz.. This makes it smaller and lighter than Ultimate discs, for example – but there are good reasons for that.
- Freestyle Players Association hails Sky-Styler as the best freestyle disc ever made
- Perfectly weighted for brushing and guiding
- Has been used by more World Champion Freestylers than any other
- 160 grams
A particularly popular and appreciated model is the Discraft Sky-Styler*, which comes across as quite soft – which is very pleasant, especially when catching and delaying (rotation on the fingers). Alternatively, the HDX model or the High Rigidity Disc from Wham-O are also recommended. And – fairly new on the market: the X-Disc. It has a pyramid in the middle of the top. This ensures that you can try the Nail Delay in a fairly relaxed way, because the pyramid keeps your finger in the middle of the disc. This way, you can concentrate more on the movements and don’t need to pay full attention on all fronts.
Learn Freestyle Frisbee Tricks
Nail Delays are one of the most popular tricks incorporated into a combo (choreography). This is because the disc can be “parked” for the following move and still look active due to the rotation. With the delay, there is the possibility of both
- a clock delay (clockwise)
- as well as a counter-delay (counter-clockwise).
Since the technique is not quite identical, separate exercises are needed for each. In addition, however, there are also…
- the centre delay (flat balance on the fingernail, preferably with a lot of momentum) and
- the rim-delay (here the disc hangs vertically or diagonally with the rim on the nail)
… as tricks of their own.
The lacer pull harmonises best with a spin movement because many other moves are possible afterwards. First of all, you play the disc flat clockwise (if you are right-handed, otherwise everything is reversed), before you take a lunge forward with your left foot in the direction of the now falling disc. This will place it more or less behind your back. Bend forward slightly and position your left hand under your left leg. Now watch the disc over your left shoulder and position your body to catch the disc with your left index finger. Now pull your arm and the arm with the disc back up through your legs in an arching motion.
Self Set Throw
The Self Set Throw makes the disc come back to you. First of all, you should position yourself so that you have a tailwind. Then grip the disc with a backhand in the middle of the right outer edge, lift your arm and turn your elbow so that the grip point of your hand is exactly in front of you. This creates an approximate 45-degree angle. Then you can give the disc a spin with the help of your wrist so that it ideally floats upwards in front of you and relatively straight back down again.
Tip / Tap
Tip or Tap? That’s not really the question with this Frisbee freestyle trick, because both names refer to an identical throwing technique. Here you give the disc a short, punctual push from below to the centre of the underside, so that it is quickly beamed upwards. A technique that is quite uncomplicated and is also often used in other Frisbee Games such as the Double Disc Court. However, a multiple tip requires some practice and concentration. Especially when it is played not only with the fingers but also with the head, elbow, knee or foot, as in freestyle.
The cuff is one of the freestyle techniques for advanced skiers, because it requires sensitivity and you have to know exactly how the disc behaves. The trick is that the trajectory of the disc is altered by subtly pushing the underside of the disc.
Against the Spin
You don’t always have to be against everything – but playing against the spin is a lot of fun in freestyle Frisbee. The aim is to play the delay against the actual direction of rotation of the disc. Which is not so easy, because it goes against the physical conditions.
Chicken Wing Throw
The chicken wing throw is not entirely dissimilar to a backhand throw. However, you don’t throw the disc across your body and use a pull-back to generate spin. Instead, you bend your arm under your armpit and create the disc rotation with a wrapping motion. Got it? If not, here’s the long version. First, grab the disc and bend both your wrist, elbow and shoulder so that you are holding the disc under your armpit. If you are doing this with your right leg, you now step backwards with your left leg (otherwise the other way round) and turn your back in a little. Then relax like a spring and let go of the disc at the end of the movement. Done!
Behind the Back Swoop
The sweep (or swoop) is a rim delay where you move the disc from one side of your body to the other – a classic freestyle Frisbee trick. The Behind the Back Swoop is about passing the rotating disc behind your back in a kind of wiping or sweeping motion or shooting it slightly into the air.
With the Twirl, everything revolves around you … well, almost. Because actually, the disc rotates eccentrically around your fingertip with as much speed as possible. You have the possibility to actively control it because it is permanently in contact with your finger. This works best with a finger without an artificial nail – like the middle finger.
Admittedly, it sounds a bit like sushi or other delicacies, but it actually has nothing to do with them. With the Body Roll, you let the disc roll from the outer edge of one hand over your chest or neck to the other. Ideally, your ‘starting hand’ is positioned higher than the ‘receiving hand’, which supports the rolling movement.
The Air Brush is ideal if you…
- increase the rotation speed of the disc,
- give the disc a different direction of flight or
- want to achieve both effects at the same time.
To achieve this, you strike the already rotating Frisbee on its outer edge with the palm of your hand or foot. For this to work particularly well, it is best to pay attention to the direction of the wind: Into the wind is always an advantage. Additional tip: Try this trick with whiz rings, which are made for this purpose due to their light weight and pronounced hovering abilities.
The padiddle goes back largely to the freestyle Frisbee players John Anthony, Jim Brown and Bill King and at first glance seems like a centre delay. But they are not quite identical. While the Delay is constructed on the fingernail, the Padiddle uses the fingertip for the sweeping, circular rotation.
As with the throws, there are many different options for catching freestyle Frisbees. Here is a quick overview of some of the most popular:
Behind the Back Catch
The Behind the Back Catch is one of the basic catching tricks, but it also requires good timing. To perform it, you throw the disc so that you can step forward with your left foot (if you are right-handed). At the same time, reach around with your arm behind your back and grab the disc under the edge with your nails. Then you can let it start again after a downward and upward movement of your arm.
The “chair” is one of the catches after low throws and requires the disc to be no higher, ideally a little lower than your knee height before catching. Put both legs together, do a half turn and catch the disc behind your legs with the rest of your body position as if you were sitting on a chair.
Under the Leg
Comparatively simple, but impressive – this is how catching the disc under your legs works. How high the disc may fly depends on how high you can lift your leg. As a rule, however, it is probably not higher than your waist, but rather a little lower. But if the movement that follows is right, that doesn’t matter. After all, you can always keep practising. Which brings us to the movement sequence. First of all, make sure you have a stable stance and keep a close eye on the disc. If it comes at you from the right, lift your leg, let it through and grab it with your right hand at the right moment. Alternatively, you can do a crossed under-the-leg grip by lifting your left leg, waiting for the disc and then grabbing it again with your right.
Triple Fake Catch
For the Triple Fake Catch, stand facing the flying disc before reaching over your stomach and around your back with your catching hand. As soon as the disc is just in front of you, turn around, bring your other (bent) arm up a little so that the disc can fly under it and grab it.
Flamingo Osis Catch
The Flamingo Osis Catch is one of the more difficult catches, but due to the special kind of body movement it offers a particularly impressive picture. Here is the sequence for a right-handed person: First, you throw the disc to turn it, turn yourself to the left and place your right foot comparatively firmly on the ground. Then lunge upwards with your left hand and reach behind your right leg with your right hand to catch the disc. During your turn, turn your head quickly and watch what the disc is doing to find the right moment.
Tools for Freestyle Frisbees
Disc? Check! You have yourself with you? Check! What is still missing? A few helpful accessories that will make your playing fun and your skills even more effective. These include among others …
Since there is hardly anything more important in freestyle than minimising the friction between your fingernail and the disc, a grease-free lubricant is the first choice for freestyle Frisbee accessories. Silicone sprays* have proven to be ideal for this purpose, as opposed to lubricants containing oil. To use them, simply spray them on the underside of the disc and wipe them off with a clean cotton cloth. For upside-down games, the centre of the top side is also in demand. In this way, you prevent dust or other impurities from settling on the disc and causing involuntary braking.
Due to many nail delays, it can happen that your fingernails get damaged. But no problem: plastic nails* are flexible, stable and easy to apply and remove with double-sided adhesive tape. The flexibility of plastic nails (which doesn’t just apply to colour and design) also simplifies complicated tricks like rim delays. However, a prerequisite for this is good (artificial) nail care. That’s why you should make sure that both types are as clean as possible before applying them.
The finer the better, it turns out. With sandpaper*, you can repair deeper scratches in your disc so that it literally runs smoothly again.
Other useful accessories
- A pair of mini scissors to cut off the tape if you want to apply your artificial nails on site.
- A small flag to help you determine the ‘current’ wind direction.
- Speaking of wind: With Whiz Rings* you can practice kicks, body rolls and airbrushes even better in windy conditions and include the moving air as a great sparring partner.
- alone or together with friends for a coop,
- in the garden, in the park, on the beach or somewhere else,
- in a very simple or very elaborate combo,
- for pure fun or with competition character –
Freestyle Frisbee tricks always provide a lot of fun and don’t even require complex and expensive equipment. Of course, you need a certain amount of practice so that all the tricks and especially the transitions work smoothly and harmoniously. In return, you are guaranteed the admiration of your audience. And if you don’t have a certain trick down pat, don’t give up too quickly. No master has fallen from the sky – and you can play it safe for your first performance. Later on, the level of difficulty will increase in proportion to your skills.
Sources & credits: