Ultimate frisbee has exploded in popularity over the last decade, becoming one of the fastest growing sports worldwide. With its fast-paced play, athleticism and team spirit, it’s easy to see why more and more people are getting hooked on “ultimate”. But like any sport, having the right gear can make a huge difference in how you play. For ultimate frisbee, the key piece of equipment is your disc.
With so many disc brands and models available, how do you know which one is best for your skill level, throwing style and game conditions? In this complete guide, we’ll cover everything you need to choose the top discs for ultimate frisbee. You’ll learn the key factors that make certain discs better for backhand, sidearm or hammer throws. We’ll also review the top 5 discs recommended by ultimate players across the country.
Whether you’re a beginner looking for your first disc or a seasoned veteran wanting to try out new models, this guide will help you find your perfect plastic. Let’s get started!
How to Choose the Best Ultimate Frisbee Disc
Choosing an ultimate disc is part science, part personal preference. Here are the key factors to consider:
The four flight numbers help you understand how stable, understable or overstable a disc is:
- Speed – Rate of high-speed turn
- Glide – Ability to maintain lift
- Turn – Tendency to bank right (RHBH throw)
- Fade – Ending lateral movement left (RHBH throw)
Overstable discs resist turning right on release while understable discs will bank more right when thrown at full power. Stable discs hold straight lines before fading left predictably.
For beginners, choose stable discs with lower speed ratings to get clean releases. Intermediate players can handle faster understable drivers for longer shots. Advanced players have the arm speed to flex overstable drivers for precise lines.
Discs come in baseline, premium and specialty plastics:
- Baseline plastic is grippy but wears faster. Great for new players due to lower cost.
- Premium plastic lasts much longer but costs more. Ideal once you settle on favorite molds.
- Specialty plastic provides unique feel, durability or look. Popular for experienced players.
For newer players, start with a baseline putter and mid-range. As your skills improve, try premium plastic drivers for longer flights.
Rim depth, width and edge impact comfort and flight:
- Shallower rims are easier to grip for smaller hands. Good for control.
- Beaded rims provide extra grip, especially in wet conditions.
- Beadless rims promote clean releases for sidearm and hammer throws.
- Wider rims with sharp lips give added spin and range. Better for experienced players.
Evaluate rim types when buying discs to suit your hand size and throwing style.
Diameter and Profile
Standard discs are 21-22cm diameter. Larger drivers over 22cm have wider rims to boost distance and control wind better. Smaller mid-ranges and putters under 21cm offer more precision.
Flatter top profiles provide longer, straighter flights while domed discs fade quicker with more glide. Try both profiles to see which release you prefer.
Matching Discs to Skill Level
Beginners should stick with putters and mid-ranges under speed 5. Look for stable, neutral flights to build good form. Add an understable fairway driver for distance as skills improve.
Intermediate players can handle fairway drivers with some turn and fade. Speed 6-8 discs will add distance off the tee and from range. A stable putter complements understable drivers.
Advanced players have the arm speed for high-speed distance drivers speed 9+ for huge distance potential. Overstable drivers resist turn for pinpoint accuracy too. Carry a mix of stability for any possible shot shape.
As your power and control improves, gradually work your way up higher speeds to unleash the full flight spectrum.
Choosing the Right Flight Numbers
Reading flight numbers takes some practice. Here are tips for selecting the right ratings:
- For straight approaches, choose turn and fade under 3. Maximum glide is ideal.
- For gentle turnover shots, choose discs with turn higher than fade by 1-2 points e.g. -2 turn, 0 fade.
- For stable driving, look for turn and fade close to equal. Speed 9+ for max distance.
- For hyper flips, max distance or rollers, choose extreme turn over fade e.g. -5 turn, +1 fade.
- For heavy hooks, spike hyzers and flex shots, select high fade over turn e.g. +3 turn, +5 fade.
- For putters, lower speeds under 5 provide predictability within 20m.
- For approaches, speeds 4-6 give a true flight path from 20-70m.
- For drivers, speeds 7+ enable 70m+ distance when powered up.
Learn the angles and shapes you can achieve with different turn/fade combinations. Fine tune your disc selection for any possible shot!
How Weather Impacts Flight
Wind, rain, snow and cold affect disc stability and flight. Here’s how to adjust:
- In headwinds, use more overstable discs to resist turn. Slightly lighter weights can help fight the wind.
- With tailwinds, use understable discs for added glide and turn. Go heavier to avoid excessive turn.
- In crosswinds, use overstable putters and approach discs. Hyzer flip drivers to minimize wind impact.
- For rain and snow, choose grippy plastic or towel off discs frequently. Opt for heavier discs if possible.
- In cold weather, use flexible baseline plastic. Premium plastic gets stiff. Avoid lightweights that become too understable.
Learn how your discs fly in different conditions. Carry a range of stability and weights to adapt when the weather changes.
How Many Discs Do You Need?
For beginners, start with 2 putters and 2 mid-ranges, ideally in baseline and premium plastic. Learn control before worrying about distance.
Intermediate players should add 1-2 control drivers (speed 7-8) and 1-2 distance drivers (speed 9+). Carry 5-6 molds total.
Advanced players can handle 10+ molds to cover all possible shot shapes. Carry 2 putters, 3 mid-ranges, 3 control drivers and 2-3 distance drivers.
It’s better to master a few molds than carry a mountain of discs you can’t control. Start slow and work your way up to a stacked bag!
Reviews of the Top 5 Ultimate Discs
After extensive research polling top players, these are the 5 ultimate frisbee discs that come most recommended across all skill levels.
1. Discraft UltraStar 175g
Key Features: The official disc for ultimate tournaments, available in a range of weights from 165g to 175g. Excellent grip even when wet. Stable flight with dependable end fade.
Flight Rating: Speed 3, Glide 3, Turn 0, Fade 2
Plastic Types: Baseline and premium plastics available. The UltraStar is only disc approved for official tournament play.
The USA Ultimate-approved UltraStar 175g is the undisputed #1 choice for ultimate tournaments and pickup games. With its grippy plastic blend, consistent straight flight and gentle but predictable fade, the UltraStar is easy to learn for beginners but still delivers precision and control for experienced players. Its neutral stability handles any wind condition. The UltraStar should be the first disc in any player’s bag.
Ideal For: All skill levels. Official tournament & league play.
Pros: Excellent grip, even when wet. Neutral stability perfect for upwind/downwind. Available everywhere. Familiar feel breeds confidence.
Cons: Baseline plastic beats in somewhat quickly with heavy usage. Preferred by some only for casual, non-competitive play.
2. Discraft Jawbreaker Zone 173-174g
Key Features: Unique dual stability flights. Short straight mid-range combined with late fade driver utility. Beadless rim great for sidearms.
Flight Rating: Speed 5, Glide 3, Turn 0, Fade 3
Plastic Types: Jawbreaker plastic provides the best grip on release. Also in premium plastics.
The Zone is the ultimate utility approach disc, delivering pinpoint accuracy and dependable fade on mid-range and approach shots. Advanced players love the Zone for technical sidearm shots and spike hyzers that stick the landing every time. With a shallow, beadless rim and overstable profile, the Zone is easy to control for short drives, approaches, and get-out-of-trouble shots. Grab it in grippy Jawbreaker plastic.
Ideal For: Intermediate and advanced sidearm throwers. Short drives and reliable approaches.
Pros: Versatile stability handles multiple shots. Clean releases and wind-fighting fade. Unique flight extends usable range.
Cons: Too overstable for some beginner backhand styles. Requires decent power for full flight.
3. MVP Neutron Reactor 173-175g
Key Features: Straight flying understable driver. Max distance potential with minimal fade. Large diameter improves grip and control.
Flight Rating: Speed 9, Glide 4, Turn -2, Fade 1
Plastic Types: Neutron offers premium durability, gyro-overmold improves consistency across conditions.
The MVP Reactor is a top distance driver, delivering massive air under high power throws while resisting unwanted turnover. With its understable -2 turn and gentle 1 fade, the Reactor will hold ultra long turnover lines before a predictable fade finish. The overmold gyro rim technology provides excellent grip and consistent release, improving control at high speeds. Choose bright Neutron plastic for visibility and durability. This disc bombs!
Ideal For: Huge turnover distance off the tee. Weight tilt produces laser lines.
Pros: Max distance potential. Clean release and massive glide. Tuned gyro technology improves accuracy.
Cons: Demanding power required to unlock full flight. Not ideal for newer players.
4. Westside Discs Crown 300 PA-1 350G
Key Features: Overstable driver with wind-fighting reliability. Ideal for sidearms, flex shots and skip approaches. Available in retro 300 plastic.
Flight Rating: Speed 11, Glide 2.5, Turn 0, Fade 4
Plastic Types: Premium retro 300 series plastic. Also available in VIP for added stability.
The Westside Crown is a consistent overstable control driver, resisting turn and fading hard on command. The large profile delivers added torque and spin for experienced players. With its high fade rating, the Crown excels at sidearms, flex shots, hyzer flips and skip approaches when you demand a hard left finish every time. The 300 series plastic withstands tree hits with ease while providing excellent grip. This disc dominates in the wind.
Ideal For: Advanced sidearm and backhand throwers. Overstable utility approaches. Windy conditions.
Pros: Overstable reliability. Extra torque and spin generation. Unique retro plastic available.
Cons: Too overstable for newer players. Requires heavy power to flex or turnover.
5. Discraft Roach 177+g
Key Features: Straight shooting putter with minimal fade. Amazing glide extends range. Tacky grip stands up in windy conditions.
Flight Rating: Speed 2, Glide 4, Turn 0, Fade 1
Plastic Types: ESP FLX provides the best grip while maintaining stability. Durable Big Z also available.
The Roach is a revolutionary putter featuring massive glide for its low speed class. This disc seems to float in the air on gentle turnover approaches, yet reliably fades back at the end of flight. With a comfortable rim profile and soft tacky plastic blend, the Roach also excels as a driving putter for newer players. Choose max weight ESP FLX plastic for superior wind handling and durability. You’ll keep finding new ways to utilize the Roach in your game.
Ideal For: Approach putter shots. Windy drives and upshots. Early disc golf learning.
Pros: Excellent grip and glide. Straight flight with gentle fade. Beginner friendly for drives and approaches.
Cons: Too understable for powerful throwers. Lightweights flip in headwinds.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have questions about choosing the ideal discs for ultimate frisbee? Here are answers to some common questions:
How many discs should a beginner start with?
2-3 discs is ideal to begin: 1 putting putter and 1-2 neutral mid-ranges for throwing. Learn control before trying distance drivers.
What is the difference between a putter, mid-range and driver?
Putters have low speed for short shots within 20m. Mid-ranges are for approaches 20-70m. Drivers have higher speed for 70m+ distance.
Should I choose heavier or lighter discs as a beginner?
Try weights 165-175g to start. Heavier discs resist wind better but require more power. Lighter discs are easier to throw but can flip in wind.
How long do ultimate frisbee discs typically last?
With frequent use, baseline plastic will wear within 3-6 months. Premium plastics can last years with care. Replace discs with visible wear.
What accessories do I need to play disc golf?
A trusty putter and a couple drivers suited for wooded courses is a good start. You’ll also want a portable bag/carrier for discs, mini marker, towel and water bottle.
What’s the best way to clean dust and dirt off my discs?
Rinse with mild soap and wipe gently with a microfiber cloth. Avoid harsh chemicals that can damage the plastic.
Can I use any disc in a competitive ultimate tournament?
Official tournament guidelines only allow the 175g UltraStar disc for fairness. Other discs like drivers are allowed in casual play.
Choosing your frisbee arsenal doesn’t have to be intimidating. With the right discs tailored to your skill level and playing style, you’ll gain confidence to unleash your maximum throwing potential on the course.
Start with neutral stability models recommended here to develop sound technique. As your power and accuracy improves, try out faster understable drivers for big distance lines. And be sure to fine tune your selection as you gain experience.
The thrill of a perfect pull that floats endlessly downfield. The cheers for a layout catch in the endzone. The fist bumps after a hard-fought game. That’s the community, passion and spirit of ultimate frisbee. So get out there with your new discs and play on!