Disc Dog Flipping Basics

Disc Placement

Flips Happen Behind the Dog

Notice that the largest part of the flip zone lies behind the dog. That is very important. The disc must be tossed and caught behind your dog in order to get her to flip. There is a small sliver of ‘flip zone’ in front of the dog, but this asks a dog to move forward on their flips, and not many dogs do that naturally.


There is a flip where the dog travels forward during the flipping trajectory, this is called a Gainer Flip, and may or may not be your dog’s proper flipping technique. But even then you are throwing a disc to a spot behind your dog’s head.

Distance from Midline

The distance from the midline will determine how aggressive a flip is. If we place the disc right over the dog’s head (B), we will get a vertical flip (dog’s rear end winds up over top of his head); a loop. If we place it at (C), we will get a spinning movement (rear end stays at about the same height throughout). Placing the disc at (A) will give us a nice mix between the two.

Flips get more vertical the closer you get to the midline.

Flipping Principles


This is a good starting point from a disc placement perspective. The trajectory of the dog going after this target will be a mix of a vertical flip and a spinning flip. This is where most flips are placed with dogs that are new to flipping.


This placement will yield a very aggressive, vertical flip. It requires a very athletic dog. Because the dog is upside down, it should be very closely monitored and probably not be done by new players without supervision from a more experienced player.


This placement will yield a spinning flip that will spin horizontally. This is the place you will wind up if your dog is not very good at flipping, allowing your dog to be aggressive. You can start to slide this in towards A as your dog becomes better at it.

Flips happen behind the dog.
The closer to the midline the more vertical the flip.

Dog Position

Consistent Picture

Flip to Dog Catch

Position is extremely important on flips. Try to present a consistent picture to the dog so that these flipping skills become habitual. It’s not just about flipping performance and understanding, muscle memory and a high success rate are important as well.

Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.

Front, Heel and Side

A solid front, heel and side position will allow the dog to flip from each of these static positions successfully. Knowing where the dog is at, and where she will be is necessary to provide the correct placement and angle of the disc required for successful flipping.

Each flip that can be done in front position, in theory, can be done in heel and also in side. This means triple the number of types of flip in a team’s arsenal of tricks.


A ‘Wait’ is a cue given to a dog means, “Wait there until it’s time.”

A good wait is a must have tool for both training and competition. There are times when the team needs some time to breathe and there are times that we need to bring the energy level down a notch and do some careful or thoughtful work. A wait is a very important piece of a disc dog foundation.

Nothing is more frustrating, for dog and handler, than having a great jam session destroyed because part of the team couldn’t make a wait happen. Having a solid wait will make training sessions more effiicient, and your jam sessions more flexible.

Putting it Together

If we are good at positioning our dogs and strategically putting our discs in those spots that create and nurture flips, we will have less confusion, more success to build on, and the ability to keep things safe for our dogs.

Related Articles

Throwing With Intent

Throwing with Intent is throwing a disc to your dog with the intent to make them look good. Throwing the disc to promote a big leap, to hit the dog in stride on the run or throwing a disc that your dog is going to flip for 10 yards away, is the sign of a mature handler.

Patron’s Choice: Shaping a Leaping Catch | Creating a Late Read

Reading the disc is a skill that astute dogs and humans pick up rather quickly. The float, the spin, and the speed can reliably be gauged and predicted after several reps. Of course this changes with wind, disc choice, and throwing ability but, generally speaking, the flight path of a disc is easily predicted.

Spot Training as Set Up Move

Spot training can be used as a set up move and can increase the efficiency and flow of a training session.


  1. Apparently we have a “what is a flip” problem here at Capt Jack’s house now that Jack is back in town. By the way Rick R. wisely pointed out that I must be the Captain since he is already Jack!) 🙂

    So… if the dog only does a 180 and lands facing away from you is that a flip? Or does it have to be a 270 or a 360?

    Disagreeing in Florida! 🙂

  2. Captain – 1; Jack – 0

    We’ll get some video tomorrow… interestingly enough he can get her to flip with flair off of her right – what I get is just OK (I’m right handed and have trouble with that toss). We both get the same thing off of her left but he didn’t think it was a flip and I did. It is a flip – it just isn’t flashy.

  3. I am having trouble with flipping to Ember’s right as well, Kat. Ember flips better on that side but my throws stink over there. Any tips?

  4. Hey Ron,

    Video footage here !

    Flip Series 1

    1. I see I’m perhaps not throwing it high enough? Obviously, other tips welcome
    2. A couple of times, she drops and I reinforce with a regrab. Probably not as good as Apryl ;-). Suggestions for improvement ?

    Flip Series 2

    1. at 00:52 I went down on one knee and the flipping was better there for a while
    2. any comments on integrating the bite work for drop also welcome.


    1. Sue and Ella –

      Flip Series #1

      Not much flipping going on inn this video here, Sue. The results of your bitework sure are coming through though. Great job ladies!

      Great amount of time to work as well!

      Flip Series #2

      OK… You are really tentative here Sue… Almost as if you don’t know what you’re doing… 😉

      You know what you’re doing… Don’t get caught up in that. You are the leader out there on the field. Even if you’re not quite sure how to get it done, don’t let Ella in on that… Fake it!

      I like the way you are reinforcing the drop with the flip toss, it’s real nice. Not necessary all the time though.

      Just call the drop, you don’t even have to mark it, and get prepared for the flip… She’ll most likely freeze and give you eye contact. Mark that and toss your disc as reinforcement. I’d add some additional latency between the Drop and the Flip Toss too in order to separate the skills.

      And you really don’t have to mark any of this. She’s game and on track. I guess what I’m saying here is that you should not feel compelled to HAVE to mark something.

      The knife and Sail

      Pay close attention to the wind direction. It was blowing from your right to left (Left to Right for the Viewer and Ella). You were presenting the Sail to the wind, and the Wind Moves Sails. That’s why, even though you were tossing it to your Right (our/Ellas Left) it was floating on over to the other side.

      When you throw flips with a vertical orientation, you want the wind in your face or at your back. Apryl says to the Ladies,”You want your hair blowing in your face,” and it’s a great tip.

      So make sure you are presenting the rim of the disc into the wind as opposed to the top or the bottom of the disc.

      They need to be higher, but more importantly, they need to be delivered with intent and with clarity.

      Some tosses are in this video and some are not.

      Settle in, envision where you want it. 1.2M off the ground, arcing over her butt.

      @:48, you got a real nice flip out of the easy crossing motion from Ella. That might be something you look into as far as a type of flip. She looked quite comfortable doing it.

      If you do that, you have to make sure that she’s not carrying any speed. The faster she’s moving across, the harder the landing is on her.

      Again… a bit more latency between the Drop and the toss. This is a Flipping Session, not a Drop Session. You’ve done the work, now use the skill.

      Fake the Toss

      “Drop/Yes!… wait… Fake toss… Fake Toss… Throw… ” You might be able to frustrate her into giving you a serious flip. You will also separate the Flip from the Drop, providing for that extra latency.

      Wrapping it Up

      Nice work Sue. A bit more intent and deliberate placement – Confidence… even if you have to fake it – and some latency between the bite and drop.

  5. Great comments Ron. I’m going to try to get a little session in before we chat this evening to put your feedback into play. thanks again!!!

  6. Hey Ron,
    Last night on chat I mentioned that Groovy has a “lazy” flip. I’ve tried different tosses, etc to try and get her to do what I think is a flip. The best I can get is when she is moving one way and I get her to jump for the disc the other way (see video when she goes under and around my leg). Most of the time I think she is doing a rounded off jump, not really a flip. Please give me your feedback and how I might toss the disc differently to get more of a tight flip. Thanks

    Here’s the vid: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHxRp2Fi03k

    1. 0:00-0:40

      The first one looked pretty good to me. Do you not consider that a flip?

      That circling behavior from 0:04-0:16? A front cross to front position should do the trick. That’s part of what flatwork is for….

      The flip at 0:16 is probably what you are talking about… The throw and set up is quite deliberate – it’s not very exciting. I can see why she’s not overly aggressive.


      As you start to do a bit of faking out and offer some unpredictable things do you feel the energy bump up. I can see it…

      She’s backing up and you are following her. Don’t follow her when she backs up. This pressure could be part of her desire to take a step back before she flips. Dogs are often uncomfortable leaping with things near them. She may be seeking some relief of your positional pressure with her initial move back on her flips.

      I might even back up myself when she backs up like that so she feels as if she’s too far away. Backing up on the initial setup, perhaps a smooth backing up movement that you set the flip off of might be a good idea as well. Try to draw her in initially, Jack. Make her first move to the disc on a flip come from forward momentum, or the halting of that forward momentum. She can’t be backing up like that little reset she does if she’s moving forward…

      0:48 wasn’t bad. Do you see any backwards motion in that one?

      @ 1:04, instead of giving her the bite, make it a front cross instead, it’s right there! That would be nice to not get the disc there, perhaps getting her a bit more excited on the flip.


      The flowing stuff you do after 1:06 is pretty nice, actually, you can see a pickup in her intensity level, you can see the moving forward thing in action – the resetting of the feet is a little less intense… although the effort is still fairly half-hearted…

      Bite and Drive Building

      I could be way off base here, I forgot Groovy’s bitework history 🙁 , but is it possible that you have done a lot more tugging than striking in your bitework? Or you have had trouble with bitework and have not done much?

      She’s not really aggressive going after targets that are not moving away from her and you. One of the things does is that it desensitizes soft dogs to flying around and biting around their handlers. A whole lot of the bitework done by people with soft dogs is about increasing their drive, generally speaking, so there’s a lot of tugging and battling over the disc. The sharp striking of a disc is not worked as much. This makes dogs apprehensive about biting things in close to the handler.

      If you take a dog’s eye view of Groovy and compare the flip in close to you and a strike on a floating disc or even a distance flip, you’ll notice one startling difference: there is no handler out there. In bitework and with flipping from the front position, the handler is the dominant object in the handler’s field of vision. If the handler doesn’t to cultivate that striking behavior in and around him or herself with a soft dog or a dog that is sensitive to pressure, then the dog is likely to be timid when the handler dominates the field of vision.

      You might want to revisit bitework and see if you can cultivate an urgency to bite the target when you are around.

      Try this:

      Jack there are so many options for you in addressing this problem. Too many to list here. So I’ll just mention a couple important concepts: Pressure and Trajectory.

      Relieve Pressure

      You could try side or heel position to relieve pressure. You can try backing up and pulling her in to set the flip. I’d strongly recommend those options. I’d stay away from the static start or following her as she backs up. You could also try to lean back a bit during your flip.

      Change Trajectory

      Your throws are landing at least 3 feet behind her. I’d try to bring that in at least by 1/2. I’d also try popping it up, a really acute parabola, in front of her head. You can step aside to ease the pressure. I think you will get much mileage from her first movement into the flip being forward. This will be a gainer flip.

  7. Jack looks like your dog mostly takes a couple of steps back before it jumps, and when you are throwing to your. Left you throw kind if flat. Don’t know if that helps at all

  8. Yeah Bob, the taking a couple steps back thing makes it tough for me to gauge my throw. I find it easier to try to throw the flip toss when she is on the move rather than from a stand still position. When she’s on the move she’s more amped and less likely to take that fall back step or two. Thanks for the observation of the throw to Groovy’s right. I can play with that a little and see if it makes a difference for her.

  9. Blu and I love you for this video! I used to throw the frisbee completely vertically for her to flip (on her good side) and of course she couldn’t always catch it. I was wondering myself how on earth she would catch it and we had many failures.
    Two days ago I watched this, I turned the rim the opposite way than I naturally throw and definetely not vertically and that was it! We are almost always successful now and it’s such an impressive move! Thank you!

    Sometimes we can’t see ourselves the simpliest things :-p
    Or have the time to watch this enlighting stuff. We are grateful!

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