The Thumber and the Tomahawk: two somewhat similar, yet very different shots in disc golf. They’re intriguing, have a crazy flight, and can help us get out of some of the toughest spots on the course, but most disc golfers barely use them.
Why is that? Well, they’re just not that popular. But I love these shots and I use them as often as possible. But I still don’t prefer them over them over the traditional backhand or forehand shots. I guess that’s just where they stand.
Even so, the overhand shot can be an absolute lifesaver and is a hugely underrated shot. Most don’t even pay this shot any mind, but if you’re reading this post, clearly you use this shot.
So in this post, we’re going to look at a couple of different things regarding the overhand shot:
- What to look for in a good overhand disc
- The 7 best disc golf discs for tomahawks and thumbers and…
- The quick guide on how to throw a tomahawk and a thumber shot (at the end of the post so don’t leave before you check that out)!
What to look for in a good overhand disc
There are a couple of things you need to look for in a good tomahawk disc. Now a thumber and a tomahawk are essentially the same shot, just on completely opposite flight paths and with different fingers (thumber uses thumb then curves left and curves right/tomahawk uses pointer and middle finger then curves right and curves left – one is just the exact opposite if the other). So with that being said, you want:
Pretty much the only real requirement for a Thumber/Tomahawk disc is an overstable disc. Stability itself is how a disc immediately flies after it is released from the throwers hand straight and flat. Now we know that with thumbers and tomahawks, they are not released straight and flat. With that, we’ve got to know how stability affects a disc that’s flying up in the air and upside down through its flight.
So out of all of the research I’ve done on the overhand throw, I’ve found that overstable discs are the discs that work the best when throwing any type of overhand shot. Overstable discs are the most important factor for throwing thumbers and tomahawks.
Overstable is when the disc has to be thrown at a higher speed in order for a disc to follow it’s intended flight path before fading to the left (for right-handed backhand throwers).
Okay so why overstable for overhand throws? Well, when a disc is thrown as a thumber or a tomahawk, the disc flies up into the air and starts to flip over, with its flight plate (top of the disc) facing the ground. You want overstable discs because they will turn less slowly after being released and have the ability to fly farther in the air.
After you throw the disc up in the air on a thumber, you want the most stability so that your disc will resist turning over too fast.
With a thumber, your disc will turn over quicker regardless, so you want the most overstable discs with a thumber.
With a tomahawk, you want discs that are a little bit less overstable because the disc isn’t going to turn over too fast (or as fast as a thumber throw).
So for thumbers, first off, very overstable. For tomahawks, stable to overstable discs are fine.
Speed of a disc is the other factor that you need to look at. Speed, in regards to throwing overhand shots, is pretty straightforward. The faster a disc’s speed is, the faster it’s going to flip over. So depending on which shot you’re using is what kind of speed you want for your disc.
Tomahawks don’t tend to flip over very fast, so you need a faster disc. A disc with more speed is perfect. Thumbers flip over faster so you need a slower disc is this regard. A disc with less speed is perfect.
So for tomahawks, you want a faster, overstable disc.
(Discs with 10+ speed and +1 to +3 speed)
For thumbers, you want a slower, very overstable stable disc.
(Discs with 7-9 speed and +3 or more speed)
Discs that fly well/work for you
Obviously there are no really written-in-stone rules for overhand throws. But the first two are just general rules to follow because of how stability and speed affect the disc. I would just test out your discs and see which discs work best for you.
The 7 best disc golf discs for tomahawks, thumbers, and overhand throws.
If you can get your hands on it: Discmania Tilt – control driver (9, 1, 1, 6)
Best for: thumbers (world record throw was a thumber)
This disc is pretty much going to be the king of overhand thumber throws. It is by far one of the most overstable discs on the market (if not THE MOST overstable disc) and does not hardly turn at all. This disc was designed by Discmania (with the input of disc golf pro Simon Lizotte) to be “Simon’s dream disc.” Basically, Simon wanted a ridiculously overstable disc and this is it.
As for the flight ratings, it has a 9 speed, so slower on our overhand scale making it better in the thumber category. Almost no glide, the least amount of turn possible at 1 and a 6 fade rating! This disc is going to be a ridiculous disc for huge flex shots (anhyzer release with an overstable disc) but I honestly believe that Simon wanted this disc for overhand thumber shots. Who knows, maybe he likes flex shots or he thinks he can handle this disc. Whatever he wanted, it’s an overstable plastic beast. If you can find one, get it for thumbers.
World record update: as of September 23rd, 2021, disc golfer Seth Day used this disc to break the “upside down” distance record with a ridiculous throw of 176.6 meters or 579.6 feet. This is almost 100 feet farther than the previous record of 142.2 meters or 482 feet 11 inches. You can see Seth Day’s world record upside down throw in the video below ⬇️:
Our #1 Pick – Latitude 64 XXX – control driver (7, 3, 0, 4)
Best for: better for thumbers (or tomahawks) – broke the world distance record as a tomahawk throw in 2014.
The reason I put the Tilt at the top is because it’s not really my #1 pick just yet. More along the lines of this disc COULD be awesome but I haven’t been able to try it out yet because of limited supply and price. Note: the Tilt currently holds the upside down distance record so it’s gotta be an awesome disc.
My actual #1 top pick is the Latitude 64 XXX and I put it at the top spot for a reason: this disc held the record for the longest overhand distance throw at 483 feet for a long time. The record was set by Jason Cortella with a 177 gram Latitude 64 Opto XXX in 2014 according to the following sources:
- This post here on Bestdiscgolfdiscs.com
- The video below showing the “Upside Down” world record throw on YouTube ⬇️:
This disc features flight ratings of 7, 3, 0, 4, making it a fairly slow, yet very overstable control driver. The speed and stability of the XXX make it absolutely perfect for thumbers but you’ll see in the video above that Jason Cortella broke the record with a tomahawk throw, so either throw is fine with this disc. But it should fly better for thumbers.
If you’d like to try out the XXX for your overhand throws, grab one here on InfiniteDiscs.com.
2. DGA Hellfire – control driver (10, 3, 0, 5)
Best for: thumbers
The DGA Hellfire is the next disc on this awesome list and it’s a doozy. The Hellfire is a hugely overstable control driver and one of the most overstable drivers in disc golf today. Before the Tilt, not many discs could say that they had so much meathook potential. I mean, this disc makes normal overstable discs look like understable beginner discs.
At 10, 5, 0, 5, this disc is a perfect disc for either overhand throw, but it destroys thumbers. The speed is not too bad and the stability makes it an overhand thrower’s dream. Great disc, overall. This disc, the Latitude 64 XXX, and the Innova Firebird below are the three most recommended discs in the #discgolfcommunity and I can see why – they’re just awesomely overstable discs and they both fly well for overhand throwers – especially the Hellfire.
If you want a great overhand disc, grab the Hellfire here on InfiniteDiscs.com.
3. Innova Firebird – control driver (9, 3, 0, 4)
Best for: either shot
The Innova Firebird is overall just a fantastic overstable disc. This bad boy is bagged by A LOT of disc golfers because it is so dang reliable. As for overhand, the Firebird is money. It may seem like it has better flight ratings for a thumber, but the flight ratings are similar to the XXX from Latitude 64 (although the Firebird has more speed). Since the XXX was a world record disc using a tomahawk throw, it would only make sense that this disc could be a better tomahawk disc. But either throw is fine with this disc.
If you want to try out the Firebird, get yours here on Discgolfunited.com.
4. Discraft Nuke OS – distance driver (13, 4, 0, 4)
Best for: tomahawks
The Nuke OS is a beast. No, wait, it’s a Nuke OS from Discraft. Seriously, though, this disc is tough. It’s VERY fast and VERY overstable. Not quite as overstable as the first two discs, but enough to do the job as a proper tomahawk disc.
I haven’t been able to test out the Nuke OS for overhands just yet, but here is an awesome review of it on InfiniteDiscs.com: “I use it primarily for thumber (overhand) shots. That being said, I can throw the Nuke OS about 250-265ft in the air using the thumber shot with great accuracy, and when it hits the ground, most times it rolls annother 20-30 ft. I highly reccomend anyone trying to develop an overhand shot to try the Nuke OS!”
That all sounds good to me. If you’d like to try out the Nuke OS, grab one here on InfiniteDiscs.com.
5. Dynamic Discs Felon – control driver (9, 3, 0.5, 4)
Best for: thumbers
I’m a huge Dynamic Discs fan, and wouldn’t you know it, I like the Felon, too. But this disc is a meaty son of a gun. This meathook of a disc isn’t going to get you very far down the course before fading out on you.
But if I did ever actually bag the Felon, it would be for overhand throws. If I had to compare the Felon to any other disc, it would probably be the Firebird on this list. The 9 speed and the 4 fade make this a good disc to try the thumber, but it would probably be okay on either type of overhand shot.
If you’d like to try the Felon, grab one here on InfiniteDiscs.com.
6. Infinite Discs Scepter – control driver (9, 4, 0, 4)
Best for: thumbers
The Scepter is a really interesting disc from the Infinite lineup. It’s a very overstable, decently fast control driver that’s perfect for the overhand throw.
Here’s what one reviewer said on InfiniteDiscs.com: “Similar to the Firebird in flight, this disc is excellent for forehand power throwers, sky high grenades, or thumbers and tomahawks.”
7. Innova Destroyer – distance driver (12, 5, -1, 3)
Best for: tomahawks
The Innova Destroyer is such an awesome disc. Very tough to throw, but an absolutely perfect distance driver if you are skilled enough to throw it. This disc is really fast and really overstable, so when I say you better be ready to throw it, you better be ready.
As for overhand throws, this disc is perfect for tomahawks but I’m sure would do well with thumbers. It’s a little bit faster than most of the other discs on this list and less stable, so it can be a tomahawk thrower’s best friend out in the course. Overall, fantastic disc to have in your bag (and believe me, a lot of players do have this in their bag).
If you’d like a Destroyer, grab one here on Discgolfunited.com.
Other discs you can try out on the overhand throw
- Discraft Machete
- Dynamic Discs Defender
- Discraft Flick
How to throw an overhand throw (the quick guide)
I really don’t like the Tomahawk throw as much as the Thumber. To me, it doesn’t feel very natural and never turns over as well. But I can see why some would like it. Normally, if I need a shot that finishes left, I’ll just throw a regular backhand or a bigger hyzer backhand. That almost always does the trick. I think I’ve only used the tomahawk once or twice with little success.
The grip for the tomahawk is your pointer and middle finger on the inside ring of the disc. The ring finger and pinkie finger curled in on the outside rim of the disc. And the thumb is on the outside flight plate of the disc, roughly lined up with your fingers on the inside of the disc.
How it flies
For right-handed throwers, the tomahawk comes out over the top of the throwers hand and up into the air. As the disc starts to turn and flip over, it will pan to the right at first, then will fly back to the left.
For more on how the tomahawk flies, check out the video in the section below ⬇️.
When it comes to both of these specialty shots, I personally like the thumber better. For me, the grip is more comfortable, the throwing motion is much more natural, it curves better for me, and I just like throwing it more. But that’s just me. You can choose your own favorite.
The grip of a thumber is mainly using the thumb (shocker, I know) to grip the inside ring of the disc. The pointer and middle finger are gripping the top flight plate of the disc and the ring and pinkie are gripping the outside rim of the disc.
How it flies
The thumber flies on the complete opposite trajectory as the tomahawk. You throw the disc overhead, it flies up, and as it starts to turn and flip over, it will pan to the left, and then back to the right.
For more on how these discs fly, check out the video below from JK Disc Golf ⬇️:
So that’s all of it
The overhand throw is awesome. But it’s so entirely underrated. Thumbers and tomahawks just don’t get used as much as they should. I use them sometimes, and now that I’ve really dug into the details of overhand throws, I’m definitely going to use them more in my rounds. Hopefully you will, too! Thanks for reading, disc golfers.
Don’t forget to check out the book!
Before you go, don’t forget to check out the best beginner disc golf book on the planet, “The Disc Golf Player’s Manual.” This ebook is packed with over 200+ pages of the best tips, tricks, and advice for new players. This book is Epic. So don’t miss out!