Overstable Vs Understable Discs

overstable vs understable

Overstable vs. Understable Discs: Explaining Whats the Difference?

In the fascinating world of disc golf, understanding the differences between overstable and understable discs is like unlocking the secrets to shaping your shots with finesse and control. These terms refer to the flight characteristics of discs, and knowing when to utilize each type can be a game-changer on the course. In this article, we’re delving into the realm of overstable vs. understable discs, breaking down their flight patterns, and exploring how they influence your game.

Imagine your disc as a skilled aerial acrobat, maneuvering through the air with grace and precision. Overstable and understable discs are like two sides of the same coin, each offering unique advantages depending on your throwing style and the shot you want to achieve. From nailing those long-distance drives to deftly navigating tight fairways, understanding the nuances of overstable and understable discs will empower you to make informed disc selections and take your disc golf skills to new heights.

So, whether you’re a beginner seeking clarity on these flight characteristics or an experienced player looking to fine-tune your disc selection, get ready to dive into the captivating world of overstable vs. understable discs. Let’s tee off on this exhilarating journey and uncover the secrets to unlocking your disc’s full potential, one flight path at a time!

Understanding turn and choosing the right disc stability


What will we will cover:

  • What is turn?
  • How turn affects disc flight
  • Key factors that impact turn
  • and answer: Which level of turn should you use?


So what EXACTLY is “turn”?


Turn is the measure of high-speed stability. This statement can be broken down into two parts:

  • The first of which is “high speed” which defines the initial part of your throw when the disc is traveling at the highest velocity
  • The second part is “stability.”  Stability is a sliding scale measuring turn from 1 to -5, with 1 representing the most overstable desks and -5 representing the most understable disks.

To demonstrate the difference between overstable and understable discs,  an overstable disc at high speed is going to have a tendency to follow a natural arcing pattern to the left.  Understable discs, on the other hand, will have a much higher tendency to turn over in the high-speed portion of flight, actually bending off to the right before fading back to the left in the slow speed portion of the flight. Check out the flight path graphic below.


flight path overstable vs understable discs



We defined turn as the overstable vs. understable tendency of a disk to turn over, but what we really mean is “velocity required,” because the reality is all drivers will turn over if they are thrown with enough velocity. This is the concept that many of you will recognize from our post on Choosing Drivers for Maximum Distance.

Let’s say for example we have two discs, one of them rated as understable the other rated as overstable. Both of these discs will produce understable and overstable flight patterns, the difference being the speed required for each disc to generate the different flight patterns. With the understable disc having a higher tendency to turn over it may provide the optimal flight pattern at a velocity of 60 miles per hour, where the overstable disc, on the other hand, may require a speed of 70 miles per hour to generate that same flight pattern.


So which do you choose?


There are really two variables to consider. The first of which is optimizing for distance when you’re throwing. The second of which is dialing-in consistent performance.  Unfortunately, these can sometimes be opposing concepts when selecting a turn rating for your disk and create a situation of “risk vs. reward.”


To illustrate, let’s say we have a disc golfer that has selected a disc that at his release speed provides the optimal flight pattern for maximum distance. Let’s say the player has an average throw speed of 60 miles per hour, and has selected disk that provides the ideal amount of turnover at 60 miles an hour — right at his average throw. While this combination does provide maximum distance when everything goes correctly, let’s say there is a strong headwind or the thrower has an unusually good throw with excellent release velocity. In that scenario, the disc is going to turn over much more than the player is normally used to,  creating a flight pattern which will be extremely understable.



disc stability ranges


Conversely, let’s say the player has an unexpected tail wind or a poor release. In that scenario the disc will get a much more overstable flight pattern than expected, creating the opposite problem.


For the sake of comparison let’s say that this same player now selects a much more overstable just a disc that will not provide the ideal amount of turnover until it is thrown 80 miles an hour (much more quickly than this player is capable of releasing). Also let’s say the player adjusts his line of released to the right to compensate for the overstable flight pattern that he knows is coming.  With these three throws, even if variable conditions are experienced all three flight patterns are going to be very similar because the player is not even beginning to approach a speed at which the disc would begin to turn over in flight.


Comparing the landing positions of the three throws you can see that with the understable disc optimized for distance, the player did have a shot at making it all the way to the hole but fell victim to potential variable conditions.  With the overstable disc, while he unfortunately could not make it all the way to the hole he eliminated the risk of the trees, the risk of the water, and had three very consistent shots.




As we reach the end of our exploration into the world of overstable vs. understable discs, we hope you now have a deeper understanding of these flight characteristics and their impact on your disc golf game. Mastering the art of selecting the right disc for each shot can significantly elevate your performance on the course and open up new possibilities for shaping your throws.

Remember, overstable and understable discs offer a spectrum of flight paths, and the key is to know when to deploy each type to your advantage. Overstable discs excel in windy conditions, providing reliable fade and control, while understable discs are ideal for shaping shots and gaining distance with a smooth release.

As you continue your disc golf journey, don’t be afraid to experiment with different discs and learn from your throws. Each round presents an opportunity to refine your understanding of how discs behave, helping you make more informed decisions on the course.

Furthermore, consider seeking advice from experienced disc golfers and studying the flight charts provided by manufacturers. Their insights and resources can be valuable tools in mastering the intricacies of overstable and understable discs.

Above all, have fun and embrace the process of discovering the full potential of your discs. Disc golf is a sport of continuous growth and learning, and the joy lies in the journey of improving and refining your skills.

So, fellow disc golfers, go forth and use the knowledge gained from this exploration to elevate your game and create memorable moments on the course. May each throw be a masterpiece, shaped by your understanding of overstable and understable discs, and may your disc golf adventure be filled with joy, camaraderie, and unforgettable flights. Happy disc golfing!

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I have been playing disc golf for over 15 years. I love sharing my passion for disc golf with others. I created golfswingguru to share my knowledge of the sport and community I love. I hope you enjoy your visit!

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Hi I'm Adam

Hi Everyone! My name is Adam, and I am the disc golf swing guru. I live in Charlotte NC. A great city for disc golf, and have been playing for over 15 years. I created this site to share my love of the sport with others. My goal is to create the best disc golf community on the web. I hope you find the information helpful and informative. Enjoy your stay!

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