The Effects of wind
Although trees might be the main thing that keeps disc golfers up at night, the wind can do it's fair share of damage as well. Luckily, with a bit a head knowledge, you can typically counter the wind with a good strategy. Once you get familiar with how your discs fly on calm days, don't expect the same results when wind is added to the equation. Let's take a look at some of the basics.
Headwinds and Tailwinds
A headwind is when the wind is coming straight from the direction that you are getting ready to throw. The flight numbers on a disc are based on how fast the disc is moving through the air. Faster speeds will engage the disc's "turn". When a disc is thrown into a headwind, although you aren't throwing it any faster, it is moving through the air around it quicker. This is because the disc and air are moving in opposite directions. This makes the disc think that it is flying faster, so you will start to see the disc "turn".
Headwinds will generally result in less overall distance, although the disc may stay in the air longer because the headwind will be causing the disc to lift during it's flight. Throwing with the leading edge of the disc down is key to maximum distance into headwinds.
It is generally recommended that you throw an overstable disc into headwinds to achieve a more predictable flight since they are less likely to turnover. As always, there are exceptions to this, but this is a good rule of thumb for beginners.
A tailwind is when the wind is blowing at your back, toward the direction that you are getting ready to throw. The flight numbers on a disc are based on how fast the disc is moving through the air. Slower speeds will engage the disc's "fade". When a disc is thrown into a tailwind, although you are throwing the disc at the same speed, it is moving through the air around it much slower. This is because the disc and air are moving in the same direction. This makes the disc think that it is flying slower, so you will start to see the disc "fade" earlier than normal.
Watching your disc fly in a tailwind is very different than a headwind. Instead of the disc being lifted in the air, its kept more on its original line (sometimes even pushed down). Discs with a high "glide" will get you some good distance in a tailwind.
It is generally recommended that you throw a neutral/understable disc into tailwinds to achieve a maximum distance and a less aggressive "fade". As always, there are exceptions to this, but this is a good rule of thumb for beginners.
When dealing with crosswinds, there a few things to keep in mind. When you step up to a hole, we recommend that you find out which way the wind is blowing. A simple crosswind, either right to left or left to right, can sometimes let you know that you need to change your strategy.
When you throw a disc and allow the wind to go over the top of the disc (see top of 1st picture), you can expect the wind to start knocking your disc down. This will greatly reduce the distance that you are able to achieve, but it can also increase your accuracy which is why it's recommended to "fade" into the crosswind on your approach shots.
When you throw a disc and allow the wind to go underneath the disc (see bottom of the 1st picture), you can expect the wind to lift the disc in the air and start pushing the disc more in the direction that the wind is going. This can result in more distance but you tend to sacrifice accuracy. If you are needing to get further around a corner, you can use a crosswind to help carry your disc toward the basket (see 2nd picture).