We are our own worst enemy. With all the negative voices coming from the news, our coworkers, our friends, and our families, the biggest negative voice in most of our lives lives right inside our own head. This can be especially true on the disc golf course.
A bunch of years back, I was a regular at our local leagues. It was a great learning experience, good practice for competition, an awesome way to practice pressure putts, and probably one of the least enjoyable times I ever played disc golf.
At the time, I couldn’t putt. I wasn’t bad at it, bad would have been an improvement. I was horrific. A blind, 3 legged goat could have putt better than me at that time. People really started to complain about getting me as a partner. Not to my face, but they didn’t hide it, either.
It’s no fun to play like that so I was thrilled when I finally learned how to fix my problem. In order to fix my problem, I had to realize what my problem really was. It wasn’t actually my putting that was at issue. It was my behavior as it related to my putting.
I’d start the round by apologizing to my partner about how bad I was at putting. I prefaced EVERY putt with, “you better stick around, I’ll probably miss this”. I followed every missed putt with a reinforcement of how bad I was. I sulked and pouted like a 3 year old. I didn’t talk to people socially, instead I brooded like one of the Goths on South Park. I wasn’t having any fun and neither was anyone in my group. To all those people whose Saturday mornings I ruined, I apologize. Turns out people play leagues to have fun, who knew?
So you’re probably glued to your screen wondering how I fixed my problem, aren’t you? Like many great solutions, mine came in the form of a great piece of advice:
“Stop punching yourself in the face.”
I didn’t get it at first. Probably because the exact phrase was, “Stop punching yourself in the face or I’m going to start doing it for you.” I was a little worried about actually getting punched so I wasn’t really looking for metaphorical meaning at that time.
One of my favorite quotes is by Henry Ford. “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” Aha! Once I realized that this is a nicer way of saying “stop punching yourself in the face”, it clicked. I was doing exactly what I was telling myself to do… Suck at putting.
I worked very hard after that at improving my attitude and mental state while playing. I can’t begin to describe the benefits. Let’s just say that I no longer punch myself in the face. It’s a lot more fun for everyone involved. It didn’t hurt that I also learned how to putt!
Here’s the top 8 things you can do to prevent your face from self inflicted assaults.
1. Don’t compare your beginning with someone else’s end. One of the reasons I’d get so frustrated is that there are some really good players that attend our local leagues. People who have been playing forever. At the time, I’d been playing under 2 years. I looked at those people’s putting and thought I should be at the same level. Comparing your performance to that of someone with much more experience and skill is just asking for a bad mood. Instead, compare yourself to yourself. Are you improving over time? If yes, be happy!
2. Be grateful. It’s virtually impossible to be upset or unhappy if you are experiencing true gratitude. Realize that you are healthy, have friends and family, a roof over your head, food to eat, and that you are out throwing a disc around for fun. If you can find things that you are truly grateful for, how you putt that day can’t possibly ruin your mood.
3. Realize that you are playing a sport, not curing cancer. If you miss a putt, no one will die. No one will lose their job. No one will get terminally ill. In fact, no one will remember once the next hole is over. For crying out loud, lighten up!!!
4. Embrace that your mood rubs off on others. I’m lucky enough to be able to find time to play almost every day. On days off, I leave when the sun comes up and come home well after sunset. Many others are not as lucky. The folks we play with in leagues and tournaments often can only play those rounds. That 2 hours on a Saturday morning is their only escape for the entire week. Realize that what you do significantly impacts whether or not those folks get to enjoy their only round that week. Don’t be a… Make that time special for those folks by being enjoyable to be around. Everyone will have a better time because of it.
5. Realize that you play better when you are having fun. Most people play better when they are having fun. Being miserable, throwing your bag, yelling, cursing the basket, shaming squirrells, none of these things will help you play better. None. Of. Them. Playing poorly? Your best chance of improving mid round is to get yourself in a better mood mentally. Knowing that’s where you need to be is half the battle.
6. Start practicing. It might sound obvious, but if you don’t practice, you have zero right to expect a solid performance. Don’t get upset at the bad shot you just threw, get upset that you skipped practice this week to sleep in.
7. Warm up. I do field work 5-7 days a week. Every single time, my first 20-30 throws are sub par. It takes a good amount of activity to get your joints lubricated, muscles limber, and muscle memory grooved in. If you get out of the car, throw 3 practice putts, and then play, you are NOT playing to your potential.
8. Ask for help/accountability. This was the hardest for me, but one of the best things I did to change how much I enjoyed leagues. Instead of telling my partner I sucked, I’d say this instead, “Hey, I’m excited to draw you as a partner. I really enjoy playing with people better than me. Lemme know if there’s anything you see that I could do better.” First, in a nice and positive way, you’ve told them you have opportunities in your game. Second, you’ve complimented them. Third, you’ve laid the groundwork to get better. You’ll be surprised at how helpful your partner can be if you simply ask.
I can’t tell you how much more fun I have playing since I fixed this issue. Do you or someone you know have the same opportunity? I’d love to know what you have done to fix it!