What is the Difference Between Discs that are Overstable and Discs that are Understable?

Disc Golf can be confusing at times. You have to remember how the stability of a disc affects its flight. On RHBH throws an understable disc turns right. An overstable disc turns left. A stable disc doesn’t turn. So why do i need to change the angles then?

It’s not a perfect world. The earth is not flat, levels change. Things get in the way. Understable discs can fly further on typical RHBH throws as they don’t lose distance curving left. Remember the fastest way from point A to point B is in a straight line. If your disc is curving to the left that’s going to chop some distance off.

But not everything is about distance.


Frustrations Galore

When you begin playing disc golf, one of the first things you will notice is that your disc will not simply cut straight through the air. Even with a stable disc. Or is that neutral? – yes it’s the same thing.

So what’s the problem?

Well in your head you’ve visualized it should go something like this.

Drumroll please……

Your Aviar releases from your hand with such precision starting out straight, it keeps going straight forever, then starts to fade and finally lands at the basket like a UFO landing. Super Ace.

Yeah right. And no i don’t mean understable right. 🙂

The reason why [as you’ve found out the hard way, from it happening over and over again] is the discs used in disc golf almost never travel in a straight line. What’s to blame is because of a term that you will hear quite often in the Disc Golf Universe – STABILITY.

And what exactly is Stability?

Stability describes a discs flight path. The size of the rim, it’s depth, height, and weight all play a role in determining its stability, but these factors are not the only ones that matter. Stability is a characteristic that is inherent to every disc.

The flight properties of a disc, also referred to as its numbers, {click here for explanation of number ratings system} are determined in part by the amount of air that flows both beneath and over the rim of the disc.

A right-handed thrower who uses their backhand will typically produce a flight pattern that fades to the left of its end flight, whereas a right-handed thrower who uses their forehand will typically produce a flight pattern that finishes to the right of its end flight.


What’s The Explanation For All This Disc Turning Trickery?

Air resistance and gravity both have an effect on the spin of the disc, in addition to the design form of the flight plate and rim. It is determined to be an Overstable throw if these elements lead the disc to end to the left when thrown with a RHBH.

Then when a disc finishes off to the right, this outcome is considered to be Understable.

Overstable Disc Characteristics

In simple terms if you have an overstable disc, or if it’s labelled as overstable by Axiom, Innova, DD, or Disc Mania or any of the other disc makers, then you have the assurance that your disc will be able to carry on flying straight after its released flat and continue this way, without turning over to the right too much during it’s mid or end-flight.

Plus you will also have probably heard that if you buy a new overstable disc it will  cut through most wind better and resist flipping and turning over more than an overstable, or indeed stable disc. For even greater success in the wind choose a heavier disc.

So for breezy days and throwing into headwinds grab an overstable disc and throw lower than you normally would. Hopefully you’ve got enough room in your disc golf bag for emergency discs to handle changing conditions.

To put it another way, right-handed backhand throws with an overstable disc cause it to want to go left.


Some practical applications for overstable discs

For accentuating those dogleg shots that need a dramatic left turn, an overstable disc is the first port of call.

For counteracting a headwind use an overstable disc, which will make your flight characteristics somewhat understable. Because of this, you are able to throw further and more accurately than you would be able to if you were to use a disc that was less stable or towards the understable flight scale and hence more susceptible to be blown off course by a strong headwind. Don’t give the disc too much air and go heavier and you will get more accuracy and distance.

If you need to navigate around immovable obstacles, using overstable discs on shorter touch shots or short forehands can help. In these situations, you can have the disc thrown on a slight anhyzer and then it will flip over and fade out in the right direction.



Understable Disc Characteristics

Understability refers to a disc that will be able to flip or turn over. This type of disc will have a  flight pattern that will veer off to the right along the latter stages of its flight.

So for your typical right-handed backhand throws with an understable disc, the disc to moves to the right.

When you are buying an understable disc it could also suggest that the disc will begin to move to the right, then slowly move back to the left for a little bit, until coming to a stop.

If you throw an understable disc flat or with a slight bit of anhyzer and point it a little higher little it will help you with those shots you need the disc to turn wider to the right.

Understable discs are also particularly useful for making longer right handed turns as opposed to a forehand approach from a RHBH player because of the discs stability.


Shouldn’t You Just Pick Discs Blindly And Trust What They Are Labelled as- Understable – Stable – Overstable?

When starting off, it’s easy for novice players to think that all they need to do is buy the latest-and-greatest heavily endorsed discs and dive right in without any instruction or direction.

Understable discs don’t always have to go right. Overstable not always left. Not when you put a hyzer or anhyzer on them.

So here is when you work with the characteristics of a discs stability and change it. Push it too far and you can exaggerate a discs stability and ruin your shot. So if you have an understable disc and throw on a small anhyzer line – by tilting  your disc to the right on a RHBH throw,  this understable disc which wants to go right anyway and you can turn and burn it over to the right very quickly, way much more than you need.

A better way if you want to get the most out of an understable disc, is to put on a slight hyzer – slant the disc slightly to the left, as this will work with discs flight pattern. This will allow you to get the most use out of the disc.



It’s also useful to throw your understable discs into a tailwind since a tailwind works to make the properties of a disc somewhat more overstable which will make it fade out early. An overstable disc is good for headwinds.

So by now you are probably beginning to gather you can use discs to compliment and event counteract their natural flight paths. You will also have learned that understable discs by their very nature are good throwing with the wind. Overstable discs are better for counteracting heavy headwinds.


Understable Discs Are Beginner Friendly

Another interesting thing about understable discs is that they are also recommended for beginners. The reason being is new players can get longer distance without having big arm speed and release accuracy. Understable discs also turn (on a RHBH throw) in the same direction as they spin. So they leave your hand spinning in a clockwise position and turn to the right. This makes for a very natural flight path and release, not a lot of power is needed to pull off this throw.

Understable discs tend not to spin back in the opposite direction as they finish, like overstable discs do. You won’t get a lot of fade. Release it flat with average power and the disc will start off going slightly to the right and keep a fairly neutral flight pattern, with a slight left fade depending on the disc, making it easy for a beginner to maintain accuracy. If you know the disc is going to finish more to the right from where you started, its easy to fine tune this will subsequent throws.

Beginners with less arm power will get more distance out of understable discs.

Overstable discs spin and turn in the opposite direction Unless you have arm strength like popeye and can harness it correctly overstable discs require more power to get the full potential out of them.

Just remember understable discs are not ideal in headwinds as they will flip all over the place.


Now For A Refresh

Use Overstable discs for greater accuracy in windy conditions

Understable discs offer a bigger advantage in tailwinds, are reliable options when attempting backhand turnover shots, and are good for achieving distance with hyzer flips.


Recommended List of Understable Discs

For drivers

Innova Roadrunner

Innova Roadrunner Overstable disc - good for tailwinds

This 9 speed driver is ideal for tailwinds



For mid-ranges

Prodigy M4 

Beginner to advanced friendly straight shooter with great distance, with minimal turn and fade.






List of overstable discs










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Hopefully you’ve found out the difference between overstable and understable discs. And a good bit of info on stability for good measure. If you are struggling to keep your discs on track read this post- “How To Make Your Discs Fly Straight“. Now, go out and perfect how to throw discs to counteract and compliment their natural stability. Work with and against those numbers.


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