The hammer, for all intents and purposes, is one of Ultimate's riskiest and flashiest throws, a delicate, intricate move that flips everything you thought knew about frisbee on its head -- literally! Given its high-percentage chance for self-inflicted turnovers, people are often incredibly weary to use the hammer unless the situation is dire and desperate. However, it's important to master the fundamental basics of the hammer so that you can work your way out of any last-second pinches or, at the very least, have an acceptable way to punt the disc downfield and away from your end-zone.
Of course, it can be a difficult motion to wrap your mind around and it's likely a throw that you'll never fully master. Each scenario will call for subtle differences, so take CoachUp's Hammer Guide and put it to work. Although players are nervous to use the throw, that doesn't mean you have to as well -- master these skills and abilities and you'll be dropping full-field hammers on defenders in no time, so let's get started!
Now, believe it or not, the grip is actually identical to the forehand, which is why it becomes a popular throw during high stall counts and aggressive defense. All it takes is a quick change in direction and you're ready to go from the forehand to the hammer in an efficient and flawless motion. First, we'll grab our instructions from the forehand flick article and go from there!
To begin, make your throwing hand into the classic imaginary gun formation -- for those unfamiliar, stick your thumb, index, and middle fingers straight up and hold them there. Then, grab the disc and slide it in between your index finger and thumb, placing your thumb on top and the two fingers pressed tightly against the inside of the rim. Stack your ring and pinky underneath the bottom of the disc for added steadiness and support.
With your forehand grip applied the disc, you'll want to start bringing the disc back behind your head so that your throwing arm is bent at the elbow. This, of course, is where most novice Ultimate players go wrong as they'll bring the disc straight up above their shoulder. Unfortunately, this is incorrect as it will not encourage the disc to flatten out and will often fly erratically and inaccurately, if at all.
Once the disc is back behind your head, noting that the disc should be theoretically upside-down, bend your knees a little bit for power depending on the distance of the intended throw, and really exaggerate moving the disc as far across your body as possible. Seriously, the best hammers are often released over the opposite shoulder, this should guarantee that the disc will move on a flat, horizontal plane towards its target.
At the end of this fluid motion, with the disc behind your body and across the opposite shoulder, it will be the snapping motion of the disc that generates most of the force in the throw. Obviously, this makes it the most un-Ultimate throw of the bunch, so don't worry if it feels a little unnatural at first. It will be weird, clunky, and difficult, but keep working at it and remember to follow-through after the release.
It may seem odd, but try imagining it as throwing a football, just over the other shoulder -- the cock-back and release are similar, but just be sure to fully exaggerate how far across your body you throw it as this is the most key detail of it all. Additionally, if you want a floatier hammer instead of a faster, angled attempt, release just a bit earlier than usual to add that extra few meters of height you're looking for.
(Related: Read about playing fantastic man-to-man defense here.)
Frankly, it's difficult to truly put the Hammer into easy, digestible words, so get out there and try it yourself. Believe us now, your training will be full of trial and error as you workout the funky motions of the throw. Inherently speaking, you'll struggle at first, but remember that you can never really be too far across your body and the more your train yourself under that ideal, the better. Of course, you can modify the throw as you become more comfortable and make it your own, but stick to these general guidelines at first, you'll thank us later.
However, if you're still struggling with the Hammer, consider booking one of CoachUp's private trainers to help you out with one of the sport's most difficult throws. Truth be told, you won't typically need to rely on the Hammer for success, but having it nailed down and ready to fire will only elevate your overall game further. If high stall-counts, aggressive defenders, or pressure worry you, then a well-placed Hammer will help quell all those worries -- what are you waiting for?
Be prepared for the biggest moments by mastering the small ones off the field.