Matt Demonstrates Learning the Center Nail Delay

The center nail delay is the basis for much of Freestyle Frisbee. It is the act of spinning the frisbee on your finger nail. Matt explains how to practice so you can master this skill.

First, give yourself a two handed throw. Be sure you choose the spin, clock or counter, that you want to practice. This throw is good because the disc comes to you perfectly flat. Now, let the disc land softly on your finger nail. Most people use the index finger, but any finger nail works. In fact sometimes I use two, or all five (the claw). Keep the disc above your head so you can see the center. As the disc slides on your fingernail, move your finger so it stays in the center. This may mean moving your feet to pursue the disc. Stay loose and chase it around. If it falls all the way to the rim, no problem. That’s called a rim delay. Just let it spin there, trying to keep only your fingernail contacting the disc. The rim delay is also a useful skill. As you get better at both the center delay and the rim delay, bring your arm down until you have control while looking at the top of the disc.

Have advice for someone trying to learn this skill? Let us know in the comments.

Rim Delay to Center Delay

Lori Daniels demonstrates going from a rim delay to a center delay. This is a critical skill that marks a new level of nail delay control in one’s game. It is used all the time since the disc may come in at and any angle. It is also used if center control is lost. As this skill improves so will center control and eventually you’ll be able to set and angle you want.

Here Lori uses a technique swooping down and then lifting upwards. As the disc travels up push across at a right angle to the center. This will cause the disc to tilt and flatten outs. As it flattens spiral your nail in towards the center and gain center delay control. For an in-depth written description of this skill, check out this article I wrote back in the 90s.

The Outer Rim Delay

Paul Kenny explains the Outer Rim Delay.

In this trick, you nail delay the disc on the outside of the rim. The only more difficult nail move I can imagine is a rim delay on the top lip of the disc. Anyhow, the wind can be a key factor so be sure to face the wind before you start. Then give yourself a ton of spin. Rim delay the disc so the nose is up into the wind. With your other hand put three fingers together so the finger in the center is slightly lower than the other two. Now place your nails against the outer rim. The disc should ride in the grove created by your fingers. Try to balance it there and chase after it if it begins to fall. Note that your nails will be between 6 and 7 for clock or 6 and 5 for counter.

Once you feel comfortable with this, try landing the outer rim delay from an airbrush or off of an skid or other restricted angled set. If you can pull that off you will be one of maybe five people in the world who can, and that deserves a 10 on anyones judging sheet.

By the way, does anyone know if this move has a more official name?

Matt Teaches the Rim Delay

In this video, Matt Gauthier teaches how to do a rim delay.

A rim delay is a form of nail delay, or spinning the frisbee on your finger. When most people think of the delay, they think of the frisbee balanced in the center on their finger nail. A rim delay is different. Instead, the inside rim of the frisbee is balanced against the nail. Though a rim delay does take practice to master, it can be faster to learn that the center nail delay. Yet when it is mastered, it provides an enormous depth of tricks and control over the flight of the frisbee. It is truly one of the fundamental skills of freestyle frisbee beyond throw and catch. Check the video for an indepth tutorial on mastering this skill.

Inverted Nail delay

Here I describe how to do an inverted nail delay. The inverted hand position is where you twist your wrist so that your palm and elbow are facing up. This arm position is considered a restriction in freestyle frisbee because it reduces the movement of you elbow.

So, to get center delay control when in this position, you must move your whole body to follow the disc while keeping your arm and hand locked in place.

With clock spin, the natural rotation of the disc will cause it to turn into your wrist so you must be quick to move and keep it in the center.

On your right hand, with clock spin the disc will fall and rotate under your arm pit. It’s easy to allow this to turn into a with-the-spin crank. Don’t let it. Force the disc back to the center by rotating your body.

Once you’ve mastered this delay position, try setting it or taking it under your leg while in this position. It’s a double restriction!

Then Rim Shoot, by Ryan Young

Ryan Young explains how he does a rim shoot. A rim shoot is a nail delay trick where the disc is set from your nail up into the wind on an angle. One use for the rim shoot is to move into a trick catch. This is because the rim shoot place the disc on an ideal catch angle. A rim shoot can also lead to other nail delay or air brush tricks or can be a pass to a partner.

To perform a rim shoot, first get the disc on a center nail delay. Then, bring your nail towards your body so the disc will tip with the nose towards you. You are now on a rim delay. Now, push gently around the rim so the nose is away from you. As you push, slowly accelerate your speed and nail pressure. When the nose is away from you, push the disc off your nail, propelling it up and into the wind.

At this point the disc will float up and away. As the wind blows and as gravity pulls the disc down, it will float back towards you. Now, make a trick catch or other freestyle frisbee trick.

Lori Daniels Demonstrates the Invert Delay

Lori Daniels demonstrates the Invert Delay and two sets that can be performed from the Invert Delay position.

The Invert Delay is a flat nail delay where the wrist and hand are rotated inwards until the palm is up. In Freestyle Frisbee this is the Invert position since the hand is inverted from a normal palm up position. This is considered a restricted position since the mobility of the arm, elbow and shoulder are greatly limited.

Once the nail delay is established in this position, Lori demonstrates setting the disc under the inside of the same leg or outside of the opposite leg. Setting under the outside of the opposite leg in the invert position is also known as the Digatronic set. This is one of the most restricted tricks in Freestyle Frisbee.

Nuances of Spinning a Frisbee on Your Finger Nail


In this video I talk about the basics of a flat nail delay and a rim delay.

In Freestyle Frisbee, a Delay is when the Frisbee is kept spinning on one’s finger nail. This can be done either in the center of the Frisbee on in the rim of the Frisbee.

Most people want to learn the Center Delay immediately. However, it can take many hours of practice to get it down.

The way I learned was by starting with the Rim Delay. This kept me from getting frustrated by not mastering the Center Delay right away. I learned to pass the disc under my legs and behind my back, all with a rim delay.

Over time, I began to understand how the disc progressed naturally in a circle and how to control it better. And then, one day I could keep it in the center.

So, don’t overlook the rim delay as you’re learning new tricks.