When new disc golfers first encounter experienced ones, they're bound to hear lingo that's completely unfamiliar. For example, in my early disc golfing days, an experienced disc golfer stopped to tell my group that an area was "OB," and we had no clue that what he was saying (obie? opie? oh! bee?) was common shorthand for "out of bounds."
But while the acronym "OB" has a very clear source, that's not the case for one of the most commonly-used words in disc golf: "hyzer."
Here you can learn both the meaning of hyzer – and its counterpart, "anhyzer" – and how the unusual word entered disc golf vocabulary.
A Note Before Moving On
The word "hyzer" was originally meant to refer only to the angle of the disc at the point a player released it. However, it's very common for disc golfers to use this word to describe flight patterns and the angle of a disc in the air.
Since we want to help newer players understand what they hear on the course, we've opted to use "hyzer" and "anhyzer" in their colloquial rather than technical senses in some sections.
What Is a Hyzer in Disc Golf?
Hyzer refers to the angle of a disc at the moment of release. If the ungripped edge of a disc is closer to the ground than the edge in a player's hand, the disc is on a hyzer angle.
You can see a visual example of a backhand hyzer angle below:
The terminology stays the same when throwing forehands, too. If the ungripped edge of the disc is closer to the ground than the gripped edge, the disc is on a hyzer angle. Here's a visual example of a forehand soon to be released on a hyzer angle:
If someone is telling you how to throw a disc, they might tell you to throw it with more or less hyzer. Throwing a disc with less hyzer means to make it leave your hand closer to parallel with the ground (or flatter), and throwing a disc with more hyzer means the disc should get closer to being perpendicular with the ground:
Where Does "Hyzer" Come From in Disc Golf?
The late Dr. Stancil Johnson (1933-2021) officially introduced the word "hyzer" into the disc golf lexicon. The Disc Golf Hall of Famer and very early member of the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA #9) coined the term in his 1975 work Frisbee: A Practitioner’s Manual and Definitive Treatise. On page 57 of the book, there's an entry called "Angle of Hyzer" where Johnson wrote:
This is the angle the Frisbee makes at release in relation to the ground. Hyzer problems are the bane of the beginning player. Rule: the unheld (9 o'clock) side (wing) of the Frisbee is lower at release than the held side. The angle will vary for curve throws and cross and against winds.
The word "hyzer" has no scientific origin (Dr. Johnson was a psychiatrist, not a physicist). It's an homage.
Dan "Stork" Roddick — another hall of famer and a seminal figure in disc sports who, along with many other contributions, helped invent disc golf's two-meter rule — has a copy of an unfinished book Johnson was working on prior to his passing called The Disctionary (spelling intentional) and graciously let us see sections of it. There, Johnson described exactly how he settled on the word "hyzer":
The term Hyzer Angle, first came into print in my 1975 book, Frisbee, and I named it after the late and great, virtually mythic, long distance champion H.R. "Fling" Hyzer, who employed it with such success in the early 1960's at the International Frisbee Tournament in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the grandaddy of all Frisbee tournaments.
Though Johnson used many other terms in his book that didn't catch on in disc golf, "hyzer" stuck. Peculiarly, it's not used in other disc sports. For example, ultimate players call a hyzer an "inside-out" angle.
What Is a Hyzer Shot/Throw?
A throw released on a hyzer that keeps its release angle throughout the flight is often called a "hyzer throw," "hyzer shot," or simply a "hyzer."
Here's an example of what many disc golfers call a hyzer shot in a short clip from tournament coverage by JomezPro:
What Is a Spike Hyzer?
A spike hyzer is when a player releases a disc with an extreme hyzer angle (not too far from perpendicular to the ground) high into the air, and the disc keeps the same angle throughout its flight. Due to the angle, direction the disc is spinning, and distance the disc falls from, when a player throws a spike hyzer, the disc "spikes" into the ground – i.e., hits the ground hard and typically doesn't skip.
Here's a clip from a spike hyzer tutorial video with touring pro Eric Oakley:
What Is a Hyzer Flip?
A hyzer flip is a throw where a player releases a disc on a hyzer angle, but the disc turns up to flat or to what most disc golfers would call an "anhyzer" angle (see explanation in a later subsection) during its flight. This sort of shot is typically done with an understable disc.
In the clip below from Disc Golf Stream, you'll see Finnish player Väinö Mäkelä throw an excellent hyzer flip down a straight fairway. It happens quickly, but keep an eye on how he releases on hyzer, but the disc flips and finishes to the right:
What Is an Anhyzer in Disc Golf?
An anhyzer angle is when the gripped edge of the disc is closer to the ground than the ungripped edge at the point of release. In other words, it's the opposite of a hyzer.
Here's a visual example of an anhyzer release:
Like the hyzer angle, the definition of anhyzer stays the same in backhand and forehand throws.
On right-hand backhand throws, the point of an anhyzer angle is to make a disc travel to the right when it leaves the hand. Depending on the flight characteristics of the disc and the power of a thrower, a disc released on anhyzer may continue to travel right (sometimes hitting the ground and rolling) or fade back to the left as it nears the end of its flight. You can apply all of these flight patterns in reverse to a right-hand forehand released on an anhyzer angle.
You might have noticed that the angle of the disc on a backhand anhyzer is the same as a forehand hyzer and that a forehand anhyzer puts the disc on the same angle as a backhand hyzer. Why is there a need for multiple methods to throw discs on the same angle?
The difference is that gripping the disc on a different side during the throw causes it to spin in the opposite direction once released (e.g., a right-hand forehand hyzer spins counterclockwise and a right-hand backhand anhyzer spins clockwise). The different spins open up different flight possibilities and can alter how discs interact with the ground when they meet it.
Where Did Disc Golfers Get the Word "Anhyzer"?
Unfortunately, the precise origin of the word "anhyzer" is currently obscure. Clearly, it was created by someone as a logical opposite to Johnson's "hyzer," but even Johnson admitted in a 2020 interview that he didn't know who had done it.
In his unpublished Disctionary, however, Johnson suggested a rough time frame for when the word was popularized (note that he capitalized all phrases he defined in the text):
[I]n the 1980's as throwing dynamics improved[,] power throwers were Turning Over every disc they threw regardless how much Hyzer they used. Overstable Discs were developed to solve the problem. At this time the term Anhyzer Angle came into use. The Overstable Disc Released in a steep Anhyzer Angle could now fly further [sic] than any Flying Disc ever had.
If you happen to know something about the origins of the word "anhyzer," please get in touch with us. You can find the best email address to reach us at in the next section.
What Else Would You Like To Know?
For those who liked this piece, know that we've done quite a few posts explaining various disc golf vocabulary. Here are a few of them:
- "Disc Talk, Pt. 1: Flight Plate, Bead, Tops, Bevel, & Injection Point"
- "Disc Talk, Pt. 2: Rim Width, Stability, Weight, Durability"
- Throw Talk: Important Vocab For Learning Disc Golf Form
We're very interested in doing more pieces like this, so if you have burning questions about the meanings or origins of specific disc golf vocabulary and are having a hard time finding answers, feel free to get in touch. Alternatively, if you have knowledge of little-known history behind everyday disc golf vocabulary, we'd love to hear about it.
You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.