If you have been playing disc golf for a long time then you probably know that discs didn’t have the 4 numbers stamped on them like a lot of them do today. And if you have been playing for quite some time, you might already know what these numbers are for. These numbers correspond to certain flight characteristics that are designed by the manufacturer to fly certain ways based on said design. Well you came here to find out about those 4 little numbers on your disc, so let's jump right in.
The 4 numbers on disc golf disc are flight ratings according to the manufacturer. From right to left they stand for - Speed - Glide - Turn - Fade - and each disc is different than the next.
I know, that doesn’t really tell you much when it comes to what they actually mean, and this is supposed to be a 101 on flight ratings right? Well don’t worry, I have pictures and charts from Innova Discs that should help explain everything for you.
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The Innova Flight Ratings System was designed as a way to describe a discs intended flight. Flight Ratings are broken into four main categories: Speed, Glide, Turn, & Fade. These characteristics can be used to rate various aspects of each disc’s flight. Each disc has a distinct "personality"; the flight path that makes that disc unique. Flight Ratings can be used to compare Innova golf discs to each other. Other companies have adopted a similar system, but it’s important to note that flight ratings shouldn’t be used to compare discs between brands since each company rates discs differently. We have over 90 disc models to satisfy a wide range of players and throwing techniques. To learn more about what each of these characteristics mean, refer to the descriptions below. Flight Ratings are based on right hand backhand (RHBH) throws.
The very first number on the left is speed and it has a numerical value of 1 to 14.
Speed is how fast a disc is capable of travelling through the air, if you have enough power to propel it. Obviously a driver disc that has a rating of 14 has the potential to be the fastest disc possible because they have the widest wingspans allowing them to soar much faster than the smaller width discs.
A faster disc has the ability to cut into the wind with less effort and thus, are more aerodynamic reducing drag. These types of drivers are best thrown when you have the wind coming at your face. You can slice through that headwind like a hot knife through butter. These types of discs, however, are not recommended for beginners because they require much more power to fly properly.
Slower discs rely on the disc golfer to use more power to throw into the wind so I wouldn’t suggest trying to do so. These slower speed disc golf discs are easier to throw more accurately and tend to fly farther when the wind is at your back.
The second number from the left is glide and it has a numerical value of 1 to 7. Glide is how long your disc can maintain it flight and is what is referred to as flight time or loft. Discs with more glide are usually better for new players because they don’t require as much power or technique to fly for long distances. The higher the glide number, the longer maximum distance you should be able to produce from a throw.
Discs with less glide are more accurate when there are high winds on the course. The more wind there is, the more your disc will want to catch that wind and glide way off course.
The third number from the left is turn and it has a little bit different rating number than the rest. It is rated at +1 to -5. So far, all of our ratings have been positive numbers. Turn describes the discs tendency to bank to the right or turn over in that direction. This only applies to Right Handed Back Hand throwers, or RHBH for short, during the first portion of the disc flight pattern after the throw. A disc with a +1 rating is most resistant to turning, while a -5 rating will turn the most.
Discs that have a rating of -3 to -5 make good roller discs and are great for dogleg left holes where you really need that right hand turn. Discs with less turn are more accurate in the wind since the wind plays a big factor in how much air the disc picks up. Discs with more turn are much more beginner friendly.
The final number on our discs is fade and has a rating of 0 to 5.
Fade is the discs tendency to hook left (for RHBH throws) at the end of the flight. A disc that has a rating of 0 will continue through the end of the throw in the straightest path possible. A disc that has a rating of 5 will hook left very hard at the end of the flight. Great for dogleg right holes or for fading around trees that get in your way.
Innova has been in the disc golf game for a very long time. In fact, they have been in business for over 35 years starting back in 1983 when they started developing disc golf discs and equipment for an already growing sport. They created the very first disc golf disc that was specifically designed to be used in the game of disc golf called “The Eagle.” This driver allowed disc golfers of the time to have powerful and accurate drives with this well designed disc and they have been creating discs and equipment ever since.
Innova didn’t always have all these numbers stamped all over their discs in order to convey what each disc was supposed to do. In fact, they were in business for over 20 years before they started this system of stamping flight ratings right onto their discs.
They started to stamp their discs with flight ratings in 2009 in order to let disc golfers know about what the disc SHOULD do when thrown at the correct speed and accuracy. If you have horrible form and can’t throw worth a damn, the flight ratings really don’t mean that much.
Try and think of the entire set of flight ratings as a comparison between discs or as a guideline, and not something that is set in stone. You need to find your throwing style and match up with the discs that serve you the best. The first thing you should do is to master your throwing techniques and flight ratings should become the second thing to focus on.
Here are a couple of charts that should help you understand a little bit better how the flight ratings affect each disc.
Innova’s flight ratings are not meant to describe the exact flight of any disc model. They are to be used to compare between models. For instance, a Wraith, with the flight ratings 11, 5, -1, 3 is faster than the speed 10 models and slower than the speed 12 and 13 models. The Glide, Turn, and Fade cannot be compared to other speeds, but can be compared to other discs with the same speed rating. This way the Wraith can be compared to a Mamba or Krait on the same line, but cannot be compared to the speed 7 Eagle.Courtesy Innovadiscs.com
While the flight ratings should give the thrower a good expectation of a disc’s flight, the exact flight is dependent on many factors like the particular material it is made with and, the throwers style and speed. Champion plastic generally produces the most high speed stable discs, followed by Star, DX, Pro, and R-Pro.
While each number can stand on its own, there is a relationship between all of the flight ratings. Turn and Fade will give you a good idea of the entire flight of a disc. The FD will have a little turn (-1) and a little fade at the end (1) which results in a very straight flight. A little movement to the right to begin and then just enough fade to bring it back to the middle at the end.Courtesy Discmania.net
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