People come to the disc golf course for different reasons, whether it be competition, friendships, or just to enjoy nature. But everyone can agree that improving and doing better each round is rewarding.
The mindset you bring to the course will greatly affect your round, so it’s just as important to work on as anything else.
Though “winning” might mean different things to different people, here are some useful tips to help you achieve your goals, whether that be winning a round with friends, clenching a tournament victory, or just having a good time.
Play Against Yourself
First and foremost, remember to play against yourself.
Hemmingway once said that “there is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self,” and that rings especially true in golf.
Everyone brings different levels of experience and skills to the course and comparing yourself to others can be detrimental because it will set your expectations too high or too low. Instead, focus on playing against your former self, beating your personal record, and improving other aspects of your game.
Bringing this mindset to the disc golf course will help you concentrate on improving your skills, which often translates to tangible results.
Even if you don’t win a round or a tournament, if you are able to play the best round that you are capable of, that’s a win, and overtime the mindset will lead to the external validation you might be looking for.
Stick to your Plan
While playing against yourself is a good mindset to bring to the course, its not very practical advice. That’s where sticking to your plan comes in.
You should always play your own game, regardless of how other people might be playing.
What sets disc golf apart from other sports is that you aren’t really competing against other players, rather, all the players are competing against the course. How well or poorly someone else is playing doesn’t have an effect on your game, so don’t let it.
Everyone has different skills, so when someone threads a needle or bombs a drive down the fairway that means they are successfully playing their game. Just because someone else attempts a risky throw doesn’t mean you have to. Rather, play the hole the way you would if no one was watching.
Regardless if others might consider your shot “safe” or “risky,” you know it can work for you.
What’s more, sticking to your plan allows you to take advantage of previous rounds. By sticking to a shot you always take, you know the different outcomes and can prepare for them better. Taking a different shot just because someone else does brings you into the unknown, which can have unforeseen consequences.
Sticking to your plan lets you best utilize your own skills and experience and, because it makes decision making easier and frees up extra mental energy to focus on shot execution, it will often result in a good score.
Sticking to your plan will help you with another important aspect to having a winning mindset, and that is to be present.
It is so easy to let your mind wander backward or forward in time while in the middle of a round:
“if only I had executed that shot, if only I had made that putt, if I birdie the next few holes, if I play better next round,” etc.
While these thoughts come from a place of trying to improve, during the round is not the time for reflection.
Its important to take it one step at a time and commit your full mental ability to every throw. Nothing is guaranteed. Even if you have completed a shot 1,000 times, or if the putt is just a 10-foot throw, it is not a sure thing.
It’s important to be present and give every shot 100% effort, because it’s when your heart isn’t in it and your mind is elsewhere that things start to go wrong.
Perhaps the most important ingredient to having a winning mindset is to stay positive.
Self-talk and attitude go a long way in a sport like disc golf because it is such a mental game. Regardless of how you are playing, its important to stay positive.
Growth is a slow process and every round can’t be your best round. Think about it: you can’t always beat your personal record, that’s why its your personal record.
Sure, it’s important to strive for excellence, but that has to be balanced with realistic expectations. If you go into every round with too high of expectations, you will become frustrated and end up playing worse.
Just because you aren’t going to win the round or beat your record doesn’t mean the round is a waste. You are still improving. Even on your worst round, you can play a few holes the best you ever have.
In fact, you probably learn more from a bad round than a good one.
Staying positive will help you to keep improving over the entire length of your career and will make the sport more enjoyable, it will enable you to appreciate the wholesome aspects of disc golf like being a good card mate and having a card mate be encouraging back to you, and, most importantly, it will keep you coming back for more, which is really the only way to improve.
The mental side of disc golf is an important one, and hopefully this article will enable you to reflect on your own mindset when playing, so that you can leverage the mental aspect of your game, to improve the physical aspect of your game!
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Sam is a contributing writer for Disc Golf Guys who we are glad to have on board! He has been playing disc golf for a little over a year after a decade of competitive Ultimate and is eager to learn as much as possible about the sport. He Lives in Jackson, Mississippi with his fiancé and their dog, Dexter.
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