Runners and Floaters

Floaters Hover and Runners Run Away

The longer the disc floats or hovers at the target, the more likely the dog is to feel the need to leap for it. Sometimes discs float so much it seems like they will never come down. Those are the throws to make, frequently, during freestyle routines. Floaters set a dog up for big, safe, thoughtful leaping and are the hallmark of a mature disc dog game.

Runners are what you see in Toss and Fetch, long fast moving throws that never really slow down and hover — they just continue streaking forward slowly losing altitude as they fly away. Runers ask the dog to run through the catch and stay on the ground. They often ask the dog to run fast as well which can create a habit of blinding speed that makes playing safe very difficult.

Floaters are most often used with an Interception and are a vital component of teaching dogs to leap and to leap safely. Perfect Floaters in the 7-15 yard range with all releases is what all serious disc doggers should be shooting for. That is how the big reliable leap is manufactured.

On the Ground or in the Sky?

A floater makes for an inviting target, but it also requires a plan of sorts, especially when thrown as an interception, and a dog that is used to chasing discs finds the floating target too hard to handle quite frequently and is prone to Irrational Leaping or Premature Ejumpulation, as he is not familiar with planning a leaping catch.

A dog that see a lot of floaters is familiar with planning a leap. He is more methodical and slow moving, taking his time to get to the target. He times and spaces things out, specifically, for a successful leaping catch. That kind of approach leads to successful, stylish and safe leaping and freestyle disc play in general.

Check out this Runners and Floaters segment from our show…

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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.


  1. OK 🙂
    To hover, a floater need a slight air-bounce at the beginning.
    That means nose up, easy push on release and adequate spin.
    Am I right ?.

    1. Yup, you are right…
      I am almost ready to talk about it. 😉
      Be sure to check the latest blog entries so we can have a similar understanding.


    1. 7-9M, probably. Definitely under 10M.

      You can and should work this at various distances, but that 7-10M distance is quite challenging and very useful.

  2. I tried this drill today for another eye-opening experience 🙂 It looks like my training consisted of mainly holes… to make a long story short I have a practice routine where I practice backhands only with distance throws and throw shorter tosses only when practicing “something more complicated than backhand”. End effect – throwing 7 yards took me 3 sessions to accomplish. First I simply tried to decrease spin on the disc, stupid solution, there’s no way anything will hang in the air without spin and had a breakthrough moment when I remembered someone’s comment that it “kinda like an air bounce”. That seemed an effective strategy of accomplishing the task. Still by no means perfect, but lots of motivation to work this through.

    1. Great observations, Justyna!

      Really common approach there, for sure. It takes many people several reps to get the gist of that short floater.

      I like to think of throwing a 30 yard throw and taking 21 yards off of it via the Flick Myth concept – you get the arm moving as if you’re going to throw pretty far and then at the last moment you tear back removing most of the forward momentum you have generated.

      This gives you both the shorter distance and the spin required to hold and hover even in the roughest of wind. Remember to throw these into the wind for maximum effect.

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