Course Conditions - Wind
When we’re on the course, a wide number of conditions can present themselves that make playing more difficult. These conditions can include rain, snow, wind, and heat. Each of them brings a unique set of circumstances to deal with and factors to take into consideration. Recently, there has been an insane amount of wind that just so happens to ramp up every weekend for tournaments. In this post, we will talk about the effects of wind and what to consider when preparing for a windy round.
Please note that for the purposes of discussion and examples, we will be looking at things from the perspective of a right-handed back hand thrower. This is only being used for the clearest explanation and understanding.
When considering the wind, there are four major types of wind direction that you need to consider. If you understand how each of those works, you can loosely apply the principles in most situations. Those four major wind directions are headwinds, tailwinds, left-to-right crosswinds, and right-to-left crosswinds. Each of these can have extremely different effects on your shots. Understanding how the wind works can help you make better decisions on the course and reap the benefits of well-chosen shots.
Disc flight tends to depend highly on the overall effective speed of the disc. The effective speed is a combination of the actual speed of the disc and the wind speed you are throwing into or against. A headwind might be one of the scarier winds to throw into. We’ve all seen someone throw a disc and turn it over into oblivion, but do you know why this happens? Even though you are throwing into the wind, a headwind will actually speed up the rotation of your disc, causing the effective speed to increase. This is why you can throw discs with higher speed ratings in headwinds. The wind itself allows you to artificially increase your throwing speed, giving you the ability to throw higher speed discs.
This is why it’s always important to bring higher speed discs with greater stability when you know you might be throwing into a headwind. A headwind can also be advantageous when you need help throwing a turnover shot that holds its line. The opposite can also be said for a tailwind. Unlike what you would imagine, a tailwind actually slows down the rotation of the disc, causing the effective speed to decrease and make the disc flight more stable. These situations are perfect for understable discs or powering up on lower speed discs.
In addition to lowering the effective speed of a disc, a tailwind will also reduce the overall glide of a disc, forcing it to the ground more quickly. For the most part, headwinds and tailwinds are pretty straightforward to understand and are easily identifiable. Where I typically see a lot of players struggle is with the understanding of how a proper crosswind functions. While a headwind and tailwind changes the speed of your disc, a crosswind will dramatically increase the left to right movement of your shot.
Typical right-to-left crosswinds are sometimes known as a “helping wind” because it allows you to throw your hyzer shot and know that the wind will push it to the left for you. You can use this help to get more lateral motion from your shot and navigate corners or push your throw longer over large gaps. The danger is with releasing your disc on any kind of anhyzer angle because the wind will push your shot to the ground.
Left-to-right crosswinds might be one of the worst backhand winds to throw into. This can be helpful for high anhyzer shots that need to push forward, but for your typical backhand, this wind is problematic. When you expose the flight plate to the wind, your shot will be forced to the ground quickly. Plus, if you turn over your disc, it will never come back.
Understanding these different types of winds is helpful, but it goes so far beyond just these basic principles. You need to also understand how to read the wind ahead of you. If you approach your lie, you can see gusts up ahead and read the wind off of trees, flags, or anything the wind is moving. The key is to remember that there is wind where you are at and wind where you are throwing. Both of these may not be the same.
Another great tip is to look at the terrain you are throwing over. If you are throwing uphill or downhill, you need to take into consideration that the wind will be traveling along the slope, causing the wind to hit your disc at a variety of angles. You might even be throwing from an area of no wind like the woods and out into a gap in the open where wind may come into play.
Why does all of this matter so much? It’s because understanding the wind and how it can affect your shot can help you shave numerous strokes off of your game. One thing you’ll learn with the wind is that you can be knowledgeable and prepared, but sometimes, you’ll be wrong and the wind will catch you off guard with a gust or a swirl. However, if it’s one stroke or ten, being ready to read the wind will improve your game and make you more competitive with others. Never throw too fast or miss an opportunity to read the wind from an opponent.
Next time we dive into course conditions, we’ll check out rain and the joy of playing a fully wet round.
- Gary Daddario (www.thumberlife.com)