How to Throw a Thumber

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The thumber is a utility shot used in a disc golf game. In this overhand shot, you throw the disc like a baseball with the disc on its sides. The disc travels straight upwards, and as it begins to descend, it flips upside down and moves on its side.

A great golf disc player must know how to throw a thumber.

How to Throw a Thumber

A thumber is a throwing technique that can get you out of trouble when traditional lines aren’t available in a disc golf game. Overhand shots are thrown over tall obstacles without the disc disappearing far to the other side. The direction is determined by whether you throw a Thumber or a Tomahawk.

A person playing disc golf

A thumber is the most accurate and reliable shot that you can throw in a disc golf game. To achieve a precise thumber throw, here are factors to consider:

Proper Grip

Keep the grip simple when throwing the thumber. Using your throwing hand, make a fist and hold it tightly. Grasp the disc upright, putting the faceplate away from the thumb. Place the disc between the index finger and your thumb, your thumb inside the rim.

Correct Arm Motion

The perfect arm movement is like someone throwing a baseball. The player’s arm should rotate from behind, going up and over the shoulder. The arm ends in front of the player with a follow-through. A circular movement on the shoulder will allow the arm to move from behind to the front.

Proper Disc Selection

Different discs have different flight patterns when thrown. When you thumber with an overstable disc, it will flip faster, preventing a far throw. It will get more distance when you thumber with an under stable disc because it overturns slower. Understable disc alights on its faceplate, while an overstable disc is likely to stab the ground.

Focusing for Distance

You can throw the disc at 34-45 degrees for maximum distance. To control your throw, you regulate the height of your throw. Throwing the disc lower than the optimal height will give a shorter distance. Throwing the disc higher than the optimal distance height will provide a shorter distance too. The thumber flight path takes much of straight air space as the disc flies, turning to one side and fading to the other side.

A person throwing a disc

Best Discs for Overhand Throws

An overstable fairway driver is the perfect thumber disc for distance. The longer the disc stays in the air, the more distance is attained. You can also use lower-speed overstable distance drivers for distance.

Best thumber discs can be made from relatively overstable and fast drivers. They include:

  • Innova Destroyer
  • Westside Discs King
  • Latitude 64 Ballista
  • Discraft Nuke
  • Dynamics Discs Sheriff

The tomahawk throw is also an overhand shot similar to thumber. Tomahawk moves in the opposite direction of thumbers. For best tomahawk discs, use stable control drivers. Some of the best discs for tomahawks include:

  • Discraft Undertakers
  • Infinite Discs Aztec
  • Axion Wrath
  • Dynamics Discs Convict
  • Latitude 64 Saint Pro

Difference Between Thumber and a Tomahawk

Just the thumb on the disc rimMultiple fingers on the disc rim
Major distanceLess distance
Stronger gripRight to left trajectory

An overhand shot with the fingers on the disc rim is a tomahawk, while a thumber is an overhand shot with the thumb on the disc rim. They move in opposite directions. Many disc golf players can throw thumbers far more than tomahawk.

It is easier to grip the disc more strongly with your thumb than fingers. The disc moves to the right before turning over and moving to the left when throwing a tomahawk. Left-handed tomahawks experience the opposite flight.

When throwing a thumber with the right hand, the disc moves to the left as it falls, then flips and moves to the right. Left-handed players experience the opposite flight.

Steps of a Disc Overhand Throw

The disc golf overhand shot entails throwing a disc-like baseball with the disc tipped on its side. Tomahawks and thumber are the overhand shots in disc golf.

There are three steps one can perform for an efficient throw.

A woman shows how to throw a thumber

Step One

Select your target and grip your disc firmly in your throwing arm facing your target. Make one step with your non-throwing leg. If throwing with the right hand, step with your left leg to put your body 45 degrees from the target.

Step Two

Cross your hind leg behind your front leg to draw an x step. Withdraw the disc behind your head and aim at your target. Ensure your elbow is up and points backward as you draw your disc. Bend your knees to throw with power during your shot.

Step Three

Your non-throwing leg should face directly at your target. Turn with your hip and push yourself with your back leg to spawn power. Land on your front foot for stability. Put your elbow out and snap your wrist forward to throw the disc. Follow through your throws to avoid putting stress on your joints which causes injury.

What Makes a Good Thumber Disc

Every golfer prefers different discs depending on the type of disc movement and speed they aim. A large amount of snap is generated in overhand throws. Stiffer premium plastic is better for the best results. However, flex plastic is also used.

There are golf disc ratings that you can consider when selecting a good thumber disc:

  • Speed – how the disc is thrown to fly correctly. Ranges from 1-14.
  • Turn – how much the disc turns to the right when thrown. Ranges from 1-5.
  • Fade – the higher the number, the more they fade. Ranges from 0-5.
  • Glide – how long the disc can stay in the air. Ranges between 1-7.

Speed is a very crucial factor when choosing a good thumber disc. If you are a beginner, use a disc with a speed of 7 or less.

Types of discs

  • Putters; slowest flying discs
  • Mid-range discs; used in any situation
  • Fairway discs; are a little accurate and easy to control
  • Distance drivers; designed to fly fast and far

Related Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about throwing a thumber.

How Far Can You Throw a Thumber?

This depends on your ability to throw, however, if the technique is performed correctly it can go as far as 250 feet. Regardless of that, the distance of your throw will solely depend on your skills.

Why Is It Called a Thumber?

This technique is called a thumber because it requires you to tuck your thumb into the frisbee’s rim. This grip ends up with the frisbee being held between your thumb and the rest of your fingers.

Do Thumbers Go Right or Left?

Although this can depend on how you execute this technique, it usually goes left and then right at the end of its trajectory. Though, this is if you throw it with your right hand; if you do it with your left hand, the directions invert.


Mastering how to throw a thumber in disc golf is an excellent skill to have. This overhand shot helps to deal with difficult game situations. You need to learn the correct steps and maximize your shot. Practicing on the field can help you master this technique. Make sure to wear the best shoes for disc golf to avoid straining your legs while playing.

Tim Frechette is an avid athlete, having played sports like soccer and basketball his entire life. He brings a wealth of athletic knowledge to his writing.