As a beginner, I’ve often heard other disc golf players refer to different terms that can be slightly confusing to someone new to the sport.
One term in particular that any beginner is sure to hear in disc golf is the taco. The meaning of this term makes more sense than it seems, too.
Here is What a Taco Means in Disc Golf
A taco in disc golf is when a thrown disc strikes an object like a tree, rock, or other structure at a high rate of speed. The force of the impact causes the disc to bend in on itself in the shape of a taco. Lower quality discs can be permanently damaged, while other discs will retain their shape.
In this article, I’ll explain what causes a taco and how this can affect your disc–both good and bad.
How Can a Taco Affect Your Disc?
Depending on the quality of plastic the disc is made from, a taco can affect the flight characteristics of the disc.
This can mean that the disc will perform slightly differently after a very hard impact if the original shape of the disc has been changed.
In certain situations, a disc golf disc can wear out over time. The reasons for this can vary. A disc will eventually become “beat in” or “broken in” over the normal course of its lifetime.
Breaking in a disc golf disc means that slowly, the disc will change its flight pattern the more it’s used and the more pliable the plastic gets.
Breaking in a disc is OK up to a certain point. A lot of players will intentionally break in a disc to make it perform exactly how they want it to each time it’s thrown. A great beat in, or broken in disc might have a flight pattern that is hard to duplicate.
If you repeatedly strike a disc against an object hard enough to taco the disc, it will eventually change the way the disc performs when thrown.
This can be bad if the disc becomes unpredictable.
Can I Still Use a Disc After a Taco?
The grade of plastic can make a difference in how long a disc will last before it finally wears out.
Low-grade plastics that are used for some discs will significantly decrease the lifespan if you taco it one too many times.
A disc that has taken impacts with rocks, buildings, trees, and other hard objects can reduce the overall lifespan of the disc.
On the other hand, a quality disc with normal use can last many years even if it has taken a few hard tacos.
What If Your Disc is Unpredictable After a Taco?
Experienced disc golf players know exactly how each of their discs will perform when thrown. The flight pattern of a specific disc will dictate whether it’s used in certain situations.
But, if your disc is not flying in a consistent manner or a predictable flight pattern, you’re going to lose confidence in that disc to do what you want in those situations where a specific shot is required.
This can happen for many reasons, warping, extensive breaking in, worn down plastic, cracking, or splitting of the disc can all affect the flight pattern of the disc.
But, if you taco your disc against a tree it can permanently alter the way the disc performs.
If your disc becomes unpredictable, the only option here is to stop using the disc because you’ve lost confidence or understand how else the disc can be used with a different flight pattern.
Times When you Might Want to Taco Your Disc
Some players will throw their discs against objects on purpose to speed up the process of breaking a disc in. This includes a taco or two, and that’s exactly what they wanted to do.
The advantage of a beat-in disc is that when the disc has finally broken in for your liking, you’re going to be left with a disc that flies exactly how you want and expect it to.
This can mean the disc is a little more understable than it was originally meant to be as a brand new disc. Other advantages will be the familiarity and comfort of the disc.
A beat-in disc can mean more accuracy and consistency for a player using a disc that they know exactly how it will react when thrown. This is a major advantage of a disc that has been broken in.
What Does it Mean to Beat in a Disc?
Beating in a disc golf disc is exactly how it’s described. The disc has impacted objects like trees, the basket and chains, the ground, and any other object.
The accumulation of these impacts can over time, slowly change the way the disc flies.
For some players, this is a good thing. They describe their disc as being “seasoned”. What is happening, is that the disc will eventually become more understable.
So, if your disc was overstable as a brand new disc, eventually it will move to a neutral or understable flight characteristic.
What this means is that the disc will start to fade to the right when thrown by a right-handed backhand thrower. The more understable the disc, the more it will fade to the right.
Disc Plastic Grade and a Taco
Discs are made with various grades of plastic that can affect the amount of time it will take to beat in a disc. Generally, the higher grade of the plastic, the longer it will take.
The feel of the grip can also be changed depending on the grade of the plastic used. The grip can affect the release of the disc when thrown.
Here are the different types of plastics used for disc golf discs:
- Basic Quality: Low-grade plastic that wears quickly and easily. Susceptible to nicks and scratches.
- Medium Quality: Few discs use this grade. Slightly more expensive than the basic grade but only marginally better quality.
- Ultra Quality: Hard plastic that is durable even after high-impact use. Keeps it’s original flight characteristics longer.
- Premium Quality: Outstanding grip and durability. Most expensive grade with outstanding quality.
Final Thoughts | What is a Taco in Disc Golf?
Most of the time, if you taco your disc it’s not going to be a positive experience. Mostly because it means you’ve not thrown the disc where you originally intended, and it could damage your disc permanently.
Disc golf has its fair share of slang terms, and the taco is probably one of the strangest terms. But, once you know what it means it’s pretty self-explanatory and weirdly very fitting.
The next time you happen to taco your favorite disc, check it for damage and give it some practice throws to make sure it’s not changed from its original flight pattern.