Sometimes, I find packing up my NutSac for a round incredibly hard. I stand there, surrounded by stacks of plastic, with an unexplainable urge to take one of each disc with me for my round.
Disc Golf Philosophy
"There are no trees, Neo, there is only the idea of trees."
Last week on the Disc Golf Answer Man, my Mind Over Plastic segment focused on taking stock of the previous year. Looking back and making note of what went well and making plans to improve on the things that didn’t. As it gets colder and darker outside, I become more introspective. The furious activity of the summer gives way to to a quiet contemplation.
I’m from Colorado. One of my favorite things about Colorado is the weather. Over 300 days of sunshine every year. How can you not love that?
But I don’t just miss the weather. I miss people’s attitudes about the weather. Hot and sunny? Time to go hiking in the mountains! Raining? The fishing will be good tomorrow! 3 feet of snow? Time to go skiing! My Grandfather was one of those people.
We were walking up the 18th fairway and my doubles partner was pissed. For me, playing in the Saturday morning league was an attempt to get out and play some disc golf with other people instead of my normal early morning solitary rounds. For him, it was a way to earn beer money for the weekend. In fact, he had planned his whole Saturday around starting it off with winning that beer money.
As he was griping and complaining, I asked him what he was so upset about.
The next time you are out on the course, try to keep track of how many times you say to yourself, “I wish I could…”. I bet it’s a lot more than you think.
I wish I could drive further.
I wish I could putt better.
I wish I could throw more accurately.
I wish I had this or that disc.
I wish I had a different bag.
I wish our course was better.
In the last couple of newsletters, I’ve touched on motivation (if you don’t get the newsletter, you are missing out, subscribe below!). Last week’s Wisdom Wednesday post was about maintaining regular motivation. But try as we might, no one can keep themselves motivated all of the time. Even when you purposefully surround yourself with motivating things, you will still sometimes lose your spark and drive.
So what to do when that happens? How do we keep ourselves moving forward when all we want to do is stay in bed 10 more minutes? The answer to that is habits.
“How do I get better at disc golf when I don’t have time to practice?”
I started listening to the Disc Golf Answer Man podcast long before I ever had the opportunity to be on it. From the beginning, I’ve heard this question in various forms at least once an episode. If you keep up with any disc golf forums, you’ll see it there too. Heck, I see this question everywhere in life.
In today’s world of “hacking” everything around us, everyone is looking for the short cut. We all want that one tip or trick that’s going to make life easier for us. Don’t believe me? Check the headlines you see on TV or the inter webs…
“Lose 10 pounds with the cheesecake diet!”
“Earn 6 figures by sitting on your couch!”
“10 ways to get a promotion without doing any work!”
Everyone wants to know how to get great results without actually putting in the effort to get them. Welcome to 2015, right?
First, let’s “keep it real”, as Bobby Brown would say on the DGAM podcast.
You’re never going to get results you don’t work for. Yes, there is the oddball person out there to whom everything comes easy. Unfortunately that person isn’t you or me. No amount of shortcuts or hacks is going to change that.
The truth of the matter is, if you want to get significantly better at disc golf, you have to make the time to practice. Sure, we can make some progress by just playing a lot. But not as much as we’d like to convince ourselves we can.
If you play regularly, in a few years you’ll look back and realize that yes, you have improved. But you’ll also look at some of the people you play with and realize that they spent the same amount of time getting in some real, significant practice. Now they whup you every time you play them. They out drive you. They out putt you. They play in a higher division in tournaments.
Here’s where we need to back up a step and start being brutally honest with ourselves. We need to look in the mirror and answer a couple questions. First…
Get better at putting? Throw your drive further? Win a tournament? Beat that unbeatable friend? Move up a division? Shoot a 950 rated round?
Take a minute and think about what they are for you.
Be specific and detailed.
Now ask yourself this question…
In other words does what you are doing match what you are saying? That’s called integrity. That’s also called being honest with yourself. There’s and old saying, “I see your lips moving, but your actions are speaking so loudly I can’t hear what’s coming out of your mouth.”
Did you say you want to get better at putting but you never practice putting? Did you say you want longer drives but you never do any field work? Did you say you want to lose weight but all you eat is cheesecake? Life doesn’t let you have it both ways. You have to pick one.
It’s like Mr. Miyagi said in the Karate Kid:
“Walk on left side of road, safe. Walk on right side of road, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later get squish, just like grape.”
In other words if you’re committed to disc golf, be committed. Let your actions reflect that. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to make time to practice when you are truly all in.
If you aren’t, that’s cool too. There are a lot of people out there for whom the idea of practice is a lot more appealing than actually practicing. Deep inside, they’d rather be watching TV. There is no wrong answer.
That’s where the title of this post comes from.
Disc golf practice isn’t for everyone. Some people really should just blow it off and watch TV instead. It’s more in line with their values and they’ll be happier too. No one ever said disc golf needed to turn into work. In my opinion, the first priority for every disc golfer should be to have fun. When it stops being fun, you’re doing it wrong.
This also helps answer the question of how you get better at disc golf without practicing.
But if you hurry I think the new episode of the Walking Dead is just about to start. I hear that show is pretty awesome.
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Can You Handle It?
Pressure. It’s the silent killer of our best day on the disc golf course. All the preparation and practice in the world can be crushed by the mounting tension placed on us by a tough opponent, a close tournament round, or the self induced stress of trying to beat our personal best score on our home course.
Many top pros have made the observation that what separates the winners and the losers of major tournaments is the ability to handle stress. All of them have a very similar level of skill. It’s what they do with it under pressure that determines how they score.
That’s all well and good, but how exactly do we learn to deal with pressure out on the course? It’s not like there is a field work drill designed to deal with competition related stress. What are those of us not named McBeth supposed to do? One possible answer lies on the basketball court.
Did you just master disc golf?!?!
“I’m the perfect disc golfer. I’ve learned all I ever need to know about disc golf and have nothing left to add to my vast knowledge of the sport. When it comes to putting plastic discs into baskets surrounded by chains, I’m the undisputed master! Kneel before Zod!!!”
As much as I’d like to be able to say all that, it’s just never going to happen. (although I have been known to yell out that last part every now and again). I’ll never master disc golf.
If you have dreams of someday reaching that level of skill at disc golf, I’ve got some bad news for you. It’s just never going to happen. Don’t be mad, I’m just the messenger. Facts are facts. You’ll never master the sport.
Despite what some people proclaim on disc golf forums, Reddit, and Face Book, no one has reached, or ever will reach, that level. No one.
This is where the wise statement below from Lao Tzu comes in. As travelers on the road that is disc golf, we must first realize there is no destination. We will never “arrive”.
Instead, we have to understand that it’s the trip itself that contains all the fun. It’s the daily struggle to get better. It’s the regular rounds with friends. It’s the awe of the occassional perfect throw. Those are the joys of our sport.
For those that can wrap their heads around this concept, life is a lot more fun. They stop beating themselve up when things don’t go exactly as intended. They understand that each throw is one more step along the road.
For those that can’t, both disc golf and life can get pretty frustrating.
So, if you miss a putt, don’t sweat it, that’s one more step. If you shank a drive, yep, just another step. Find yourself in the bushes? Your moving a couple more steps on down that road.
Oh, and if you get an ace that helps you win a match and crush your friend’s hopes and dreams of beating you that round? Turn, look at them, and yell…
“KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!!!”
Another thing that can help you enjoy this great journey is subscribing to this blog. If you could use weekly tips, inspiration, product reviews, and other awesome disc golf goodies, Mind Body Disc is for you! Just enter your email below and we’ll make sure you don’t miss a thing. We won’t spam you or anything (we like you too much for that!).
Almost every one of us wants to improve at disc golf. I don’t know of any disc golfer who is 100% happy with their current skill set. Even Paul McBeth, the highest rated disc golfer in the history of the game, works daily to improve his disc golf skills. He is constantly measuring his performance, his improvements, and the distance to his next goals.
If you were to take all of the posts about improving people’s disc golf games off of Facebook, Reddit, and DGCR, you’d reduce web traffic from disc golfers by half at least. All that would be left is people bickering about which brand of disc is better or bragging about their 500 foot drives that aren’t real.
One of the most fundamental aspects of improvement in any field is that what gets measured gets managed. Measurement is critical in almost anything you want to do well. Without it, improvement is exponentially more difficult.
First, how do we know if we are improving if we don’t measure? Do you know your make % from 30 feet? Do you know how far your average 200 foot approach shot lands from the basket? Do you know how many times a round you 2 putt from inside the circle?
If we don’t take the time to measure the things we are trying to improve, we don’t really know if we are improving or not. Even if we notice some improvement, we don’t have a clue as to how much!
Second, without measurement, how do we know the biggest area of opportunity in our game? We might think that driving distance is our weakest point, but then when tracking we realize that 30 more feet on our drive wouldn’t actually lower our score at all.
We might think that putting is what we need to work on because we missed a big putt in competition. But then when we look closely we realize that was the only putt we missed inside the circle that whole day.
By measuring our skills, we get a clear idea of what needs to be “managed” in the first place.
Third, how can we set targets for improvement if we don’t know where we started or how much better we need or want to be? If we don’t measure, then we are left with the very vague “I want to get better”. That’s a very tough target to hit.
Now for the bonus. Often the simple act of measuring will produce improvements on its own. Just by paying attention to a particular aspect of your game, that part of your game will naturally improve.
I’m reminded of this past winter when I decided to finally learn to putt. I kept a putting log that kept track of thousands of practice putts over the span of several months. The simple fact that I had committed to myself to make entries in that log every single day is what motivated me to actually practice every single day (that and the fact that I was posting weekly updates here for all of you as well!!!). That, in turn, led to a vast improvement in my putting.
If I hadn’t started to measure, I never would have seen the improvement that I did.
The challenge is to actually pick some things you “think” you need to work on and measure them. Once you do, you’ll know if you really need to work on those disc golf skills or not.
If you decide that you do, indeed, need to work on those things, now you are well equipped to make improvement. You have a starting point determined. You can regularly compare to your starting marks. You can easily set a goal for improvement, giving yourself a target you can reach for daily.
If you think about it, almost all of you already do this in a broad sense anyway. It’s called keeping score. Your scores going down are how you know that you are getting better at the game as a whole, right? All this is is taking that broad measurement and making it more narrow in focus. Measure specific skills instead of the game as a whole.
So what do you need to measure? How much better do you want to get? What goal will you set for yourself based on that measurement? How are you going to improve your disc golf skills?
One way to help yourself improve is to subscribe to this blog. We’ll email you a really swell newsletter every Sunday with links to all of that week’s posts along with unique content that you only get in the newsletter. You’ll love it or your money back!