As a brand new player, seeing the numbers on a disc golf disc can get really confusing. Especially when you start hearing different terms like disc numbers, flight ratings, stability, speed, glide, turn, fade, or anything else relating to that disc you’re throwing.
But the numbers on a disc golf disc aren’t that difficult to understand. It’s a simple system meant to help you identify discs and understand exactly how they fly. Let’s take a look at what those numbers are and help you learn exactly what they’re for. So, what do the numbers mean on a disc golf disc?
What do the numbers mean on a disc golf disc?
The 4 numbers on a disc golf disc tell you the speed, glide, turn, and fade of each individual disc and represent a flight ratings system that shows you exactly how a disc should fly through the air, and in a way, giving discs their own unique “personality.”
There’s a little bit more to those numbers, but here are the main things you need to remember:
- The numbers – or flight ratings – tell you how a disc should fly and…
- Those numbers show you the speed, glide, turn, and fade of every disc.
It’s actually a very simple concept once you learn all of the individual ratings, so let’s check them all out. Here’s the breakdown of Speed, Glide, Turn, and Fade, to help you understand what the numbers on a disc golf disc actually mean.
The Speed of a disc golf disc is how fast a disc must be thrown to fly correctly, according to the other 3 flight ratings. Speed is the first flight rating, ranging from 1-15, with higher speeds meaning the disc must be thrown harder.
Less speed means you don’t have to throw the disc as fast. More speed means you have to throw the disc faster. If you don’t throw a disc fast enough, the rest of those flight ratings don’t really matter.
Again, speed is how fast the disc must be thrown, NOT how fast it will fly.
As a new disc golfer, you need discs with less speed. So find discs in the 1-6 speed range.
For more on speed, check out this post here – What is Speed in Disc Golf?
The Glide of a disc golf disc is how long the disc will stay in the air after it’s thrown. Glide is the second flight rating, ranging from 1-7, with a lower glide number meaning less flight and a higher glide number meaning more flight.
Glide is probably the most simple of all the flight ratings. More glide means more time in the air. Less glide means less time in the air. Easy peasy.
As a new disc golfer, you’re looking for a disc with glide in the 3-7 range. The higher the glide, the better.
For more on glide, check out this post here – What is Glide in Disc Golf?
Turn (High-speed turn)
High-speed Turn is how much a disc turns to the right immediately after being thrown (by a right-hand backhand thrower). Turn is the third flight rating, ranging from -5 to 1, with a more negative number meaning more turn and a positive number meaning less turn.
It might sound confusing, but turn is simple – right after you throw, your disc is going to immediately start turning to the right. The more turn your disc has, the more it will turn to the right.
The more negative the number, the more turn your disc has, and thus, the more the disc will turn to the right. Pretty easy to understand.
As a new disc golfer, you want a disc with turn in the -1 to -3 range. -4 to -5 discs are extreme and tend to turn too much, while 0 to 1 discs are a little bit tougher to throw.
For more on turn, check out this post here – What is Turn in Disc Golf?
Fade (Low-speed fade)
Low-speed Fade is how much a disc turns to the left at the end of flight, once it starts slowing down. Fade is the fourth flight rating, ranging from 0 to 5, with a lower number meaning less fade and a higher number meaning more fade.
Just like turn, fade is fairly simple to understand as well. After you throw, your disc will turn to the right and keep flying. Once your disc starts to slow down, fade will kick in, and your disc will start fading to the left as it eventually falls to the ground. The higher the number, the more your disc will fade to the left.
So for most throwers, turn goes right, fade goes left.
As for new disc golfers, you want a disc with fade somewhere in the 0-2 range. Discs between 3-5 tend to fade hard to the left, so they’re very hard to throw for new players.
For more on fade, check out this post – What is Fade in Disc Golf?
How to choose beginner discs based on flight ratings
When looking for discs as a new player, you need to focus on finding decent, easy-to-throw discs based on the following flight ratings:
- Speed: beginners want between 1-6 speed.
- Glide: beginners want between 3-7 glide.
- Turn: beginners want between -1 and -3 turn.
- Fade: beginners want between 0 and 2 fade.
Once you start looking for discs, try to find discs at your local disc golf store that match those flight ratings. It shouldn’t be too hard. Stick to putters, mid-range discs, and control drivers. Stay away from distance drivers until you’re an intermediate player (or at least for the first few months).
If you don’t want to physically search for discs, find what you’re looking for online on InfiniteDiscs.com! Check out InfiniteDiscs.com’s advanced disc search tool here.
However, if you’re looking for a couple of good recommendations instead, check out the 3 awesome discs below:
1. Dynamic Discs Judge (2, 4, 0, 1)
2. Discraft Buzzz (5, 4, -1, 1)
3. Innova Leopard (6, 5, -2, 1)
Quick note for beginners before you go…
Understanding the numbers on a disc golf disc is easy. Hopefully this post has helped you learn them. Once you truly know the numbers, it’s almost like unlocking a new language.
You’ll know exactly how discs fly, how they can be used, which discs you like best or throw best, and you’ll be able to pick out discs for yourself with ease. So learn the numbers on a disc golf disc as soon as possible. Once you do, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an elite disc golfer.
Don’t forget to check out the book!
If you’re looking for more tips and tricks on how to play disc golf, check out my book, “The Disc Golf Player’s Manual.” This ultimate beginner’s guide is loaded with over 200 pages of content, helping you to improve your game AND lower score on the disc golf course. Check it out here on my site.