Flex on ’em.
April 19, 2022 by Steve Andrews in Instruction, Opinion with comments
Nikko Locastro. Photo: DGPT.
The flex shot is the hyzerflip’s evil twin. While the hyzerflip uses a hyzer angle to maximize the flight of an understable disc, the flex shot flips the script and uses an anhyzer release to get more distance and different flights out of overstable plastic. It is also a great shot to incorporate into your short game to add consistency in all kinds of weather.
But it can be an evil twin because it is a shot that can easily lead to bad habits. As many new players have discovered, cranking a shot over on an anhyzer is the best way to get distance out of discs that you do not have the arm speed to throw on a flatter angle. For a beginner who comes out to the course with a brand new 175g Champion Destroyer, a flex shot may be the only way they can keep that disc in the air. Thrown flat, that Destroyer will probably crash out after 75 feet. Thrown on a steep anhyzer, however, it will take time to come out of the anhyzer angle and flip to hyzer, covering much more distance. Getting that Destroyer to go 200 feet on a flex line seems, to many new players, like obvious evidence that this is the right way to throw a disc.
However, learning the game this way can endanger a player’s longterm development. It may become the way they throw every disc and players can find themselves trapped by their form, unable to throw less overstable discs that might better match their arm speed because their ingrained anhyzer release sends less stable discs rolling off to the right. Many players – including me – may battle the tendency to throw with too much anhyzer for years.
However, the flex shot is also one of the most useful shots in disc golf and is a great way to get more lines out of your discs. Compared to the hyzerflip, the flex shot is technically easier to throw and more dependable in windy conditions. Paired together, these shots will enable you to take your shotmaking to the next level.
The flex shot is less of a magic trick than a hyzerflip. The hyzerflip is counterintuitive – taking an understable disc and throwing it on a hyzer feels like a weird way to make a disc fly straight. The flex shot is, in many ways, a natural way to get a disc to stay in the air and push for distance. The basics of the shot are simple – take an overstable disc and throw it on an anhyzer angle. Delaying how much time a flex shot takes to roll back into a hyzer can stretch out the distance a player can get out of an overstable disc.
This is especially true when a player doesn’t produce enough spin or velocity to match the stability of a disc and keep it in the air. But the flex shot is not just a way for soft throwers to steal distance. Ricky Wysocki describes himself as a “natural flex thrower” and throws absolute bombs with his overstable drivers and fairways. Nikko Locastro may be the poster child for great flex shots. Although he can shape his shots in every direction, his go-to throw is often a power flex shot that he has the confidence to throw in nearly any situation.
Like hyzerflips, the key to flex shots is balancing disc stability, angle, and arm speed. A disc that is too overstable for your arm speed won’t effectively get over on an anhyzer angle or will flex out too quickly. A disc that is not overstable enough won’t fight back or might even turn into a roller. You need to balance the disc’s overstability with the correct amount of power and angle. Work on setting a moderate anhyzer angle on your throws and then begin modifying how much power you put into the shot. What you hope to see is a shot that starts out to the right, then flattens during the mid-flight and then moves back to the left (for a RHBH.) As you increase the overstability of the disc you are using, you will have to add more angle or more power to keep the disc on that flex line.
Using overstable discs makes the shot more predictable since the disc, if it is overstable enough, is always going to come out of the initial angle and get back to a hyzer. This is one of the big advantages of a flex shot. Most players can find a disc that is overstable enough that they can’t accidentally roll it. You can choose a disc that you can throw very hard and still get the flight you expect – which is great when you are under pressure in the closing holes of a tournament. The flex shot has a wider window of acceptable speeds and angles since the shot works with the discs natural flight (unlike a hyzerflip, which needs to keep an understable disc flying straight rather than turning.) This overstability also makes flex shots more resistant to wind.
Shotmaking with the Flex Shot
However, don’t fall into the trap of just grabbing your most overstable disc and throwing it on a super steep anhyzer. This kind of shot can work, but you may be giving up a lot of distance and control. While a big anhyzer release can feel powerful, many players actually lose speed as they go into a steeper anhyzer. You need to make sure your body stays connected to the shot and maintain control over the nose of the disc. Throwing a flex shot with the nose up will cause the shot to lose distance and hyzer out too early (and you may not even realize it since that flight generally matches the shape you are hoping to throw.)
Instead, try to develop a “baby flex” shot where you throw a moderate anhyzer angle with a slightly overstable or even stable disc. Thrown at your usual pace, you can get beautiful flights that have a straight midflight that matches a well-thrown hyzerflip. This is an easy way to stretch the distance you get from your discs. A stable disc like an Explorer or a Savant may add an extra 10-20% of its normal distance just by adding in a bit of anhyzer flex at the beginning of the shot. This can also be a great way to throw shots in the woods – aiming at the right side of the fairway and letting a gentle flex bring the shot back to the middle. It allows you to utilize the full width of a fairway and keep control over flight of the shot. Some players find this easier than trying to keep a disc dead straight or throwing a hyzerflip.
This baby flex is also great for going around corners or doglegs. If you are looking at a dogleg to the left, for example, a natural shot for a RHBH player is to throw a hyzer that matches the turn. The biggest danger, however, is to hyzer out short of the turn or into the left trees. The flex shot is perfect for this situation. You can aim at the right side of the turn and allow the disc’s stability to move it back to the fairway around the corner. You have given the disc the greatest amount of space to complete its flight and get you safely past the turn.
If Jeremy Koling is the King of Forehand Hyzerflips, then Ohn Scoggins may be the Queen of the Flex. A player not known for her power, Scoggins gets great distance out of her flex forehands. The flex forehand is the way many players first gain distance on the course, and it is amazing how far beginners can throw a Destroyer on a chop anhyzer. A forehand that allows the wrist to roll over is a natural throwing motion that many players can bring over from baseball, football, or other throwing sports. And it works — as long as there is room for a giant flex shot.
But, as with the backhand, throwing only very overstable discs on big anhyzers can limit your shotmaking. The wrist rolling that is necessary to throw a huge flex will send stable or understable discs flipping over or crashing out. It is okay to use this shot as your standard forehand shot (especially if you are a backhand dominant player), but it is important to build out your forehand to allow you to throw hyzerflips and flatter angles.
Even if you don’t want to move all the way to hyzerflipping understable Roadrunners and Mavericks, try and dial back your flex angles by throwing stable fairways like Explorers and Teebird3s. Developing this part of your game will allow you to get the benefits of a flex shot (extra distance and reliability) and throw them in situations where you can’t throw a wide, high flex shot.
The Short Game
One of the best uses of the flex shot is not about getting more distance or even shaping a shot. In the short game, the overstability of an approach disc can be used to control distance and ground play. The flex shot is a powerful weapon to give you control over your approaches and upshots.
It is certainly possible to throw upshots and approaches with your regular stable putters and mids. But these kinds of shots demand a lot of practice and touch. These discs are also glidey and more affected by wind, so gauging how to keep them close can be tricky. This is a spot where I have recommended a flex shot with an overstable putter such as a Harp, a Zone, or a Pig. On backhand, you can throw these discs right of the basket with a touch of anhyzer and know that they will flex out and not glide past the target. Their overstability will help you if you slightly miss the angle and a shot on this soft flex will stop quickly. It is an easy and repeatable shot, and the overstability of the disc helps it self-correct and get close. This is an especially useful shot in headwinds where a less stable disc may easily sail too far.
The flex shot is a perfect partner for the hyzerflip, but some players may be much more comfortable throwing one rather than the other. As a player who struggled with throwing with too much anhyzer, I stayed away from flex shots in favor of flat shots and hyzerflips. I could throw a big turnover, but I was scared working on baby flexes and slight anhyzers would undo all the work I spent trying to make the hyzer release feel natural.
However, there are just too many times when the flex shot is the only way to get the disc to your target. Adding more flex shots, especially on the forehand side, has expanded my shotmaking and helped me score. I still will throw a hyzer or hyzerflip whenever I can but gaining confidence in the flex shot is essential to have the shots you need.