Building the Perfect Bag | Addition and Subtraction

Building the Perfect Bag

The Dilemma

In a previous installment of Building the Perfect Bag, we addressed the topic of who does the work, you or the disc. We talked about the necessity of altering both your disc selection and your throw in order to cover all the possible flight lines you might need in a round.

That conclusion naturally leads to the dilemma of how many discs we actually need to carry. If some shots rely on a change in throw while others rely on a change of disc, how do we decide what to carry on any given round? Can you cover all needed flight lines with 3 discs? How about 10? Does it take 30? The real question is where is the balance and how do you find it? Not only that, where is the balance that is appropriate to our own individual game? That’s really where the secret sauce is.

From my experience, there are two ways to approach finding that balance. One we’ll call an “additive” approach, The other is a “subtractive” one.

Two Possible Solutions

A subtractive approach is when you start with 25-30 discs (or as many as you can cram into your bag or cart). You lug that big ass collection of plastic around on every round. You throw multiple discs on each shot. You never really get good with any particular disc because you always have a different disc in your hand. Every 10-20 rounds, you go through the bag and subtract what isn’t being used because you have a stack of new plastic you’ve been itching to get into the rotation. You constantly plan on slimming down your bag, but never seem to do it.

Is it better to add to your bag or subtract from it?

Is it better to add to your bag or subtract from it?

The list of thoughts that go through your head when building your bag this way sounds something like this… “Oh, I might need that one, I’ll leave that in.”. “Oooh, this one feels really good, I should probably start throwing this one.”. “I totally forgot I had this one, I’m definitely going to start throwing it.”. “I can’t take this one out, that dye job is so cool!”. “I should probably keep these 4 backups in here just in case”. “What if, what if, what if?”. The litany of justification goes on and on until we end up with an overstuffed bag full of situational discs we rarely throw.

The additive approach is when you start with just a few discs. You work with them exclusively. You learn them better than any of the other plastic you own. You play with a hard and fast restriction on the number of discs you will carry. Once you know them and have maximized what you can do with them, you look for the holes. What shots can you simply not cover? I mean really not cover. The shot just isn’t there. You identify the biggest of those holes and plug it with ONE more disc. Preferably this new disc can be used to fill several holes as you learn it deeply. You keep doing that until there aren’t any more holes to fill.

Then you stop adding new discs. Period. End of story.

Our Recommendation

You can probably tell by my descriptions which method I prefer and recommend. That’ right, the additive one. The one that takes more time, more patience, and isn’t as fun. In fact, it can be downright painful. When you are out on the course trying to execute a shot that you’ve never done with just a few discs, it can down right suck. When you don’t have that vast selection to dip into it adds a whole new level to learning the game. It’s hard work. It takes imagination, self discipline, self control, creativity, and a willingness to fail multiple times before you succeed.

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s much more enjoyable (in the short term) to go disc shopping every weekend and load the bag to the brim with new plastic. It’s very comforting to carry a disc for every possible shot you can think of. I know this because that was my approach for years. I have a garage full of progressively larger bags and carts as evidence of this. Not to mention the boxes and stacks of unused plastic.

The problem is that while this approach results in an accumulation of stuff, it doesn’t result in an accumulation of lower scores. It does nothing to help improve your results. Having stacks of discs designed for different shots means nothing when you can’t actually execute those shots. And when you carry a ton of discs, you simply can’t get enough quality throws with any one of them to get good with them.

[tweetthis]More discs do not equal lower scores in #discgolf[/tweetthis]

The additive approach was something I always knew I needed to do. Just like I always knew I needed to quit smoking, start working out, and stop eating like crap. None of these things is easy or fun. But the results of all of them are amazing. Most importantly, the results are totally worth the work!

It was the thought of getting rid of my security blanket of 30 different discs that kept me from it for so long. What would I do without all my babies?!?! How would I live without them? And who would be left to blame when I threw a poor shot? I wouldn’t be able to blame the disc by saying, “I don’t throw that one that often”.

The major benefit of the harder process of the additive approach is that it’s the best way to determine where your balance of who’s doing the work is. If you genuinely put in the time, this approach will show you very clearly how many discs you need to carry. This approach will build your bag for you. It will take all of the emotion and sentimental attachment out of your bag building decisions. It also means that starting on the road to the perfect bag is pretty darn simple.

You Don’t Need New Plastic

I know a lot of people have been following this series of articles with their fingers on the “add to cart” button. They’ve been waiting for a magic list of discs they can buy that will instantly level up their game. Unfortunately that’s not how it works. You won’t need to go out and pick out a ton of new or different plastic to start. You only need to start with 3-5 discs. Most of you can do that right now since you probably already own the discs you should start with. No new discs needed, just a bit (or a lot) of self discipline.

Get your finger off the button!

Get your finger off the button!

So put down the mouse and close the tab you have open for that online store. Go over to your current stack of discs and take a good, hard look. In the next article in this series, we’re going to look at just how many discs should make up the core of your set up. Until then, start thinking about which discs in your bag you could live without. Which ones are truly not needed? Go ahead and take those out now. Get a head start. We’ll be back in no time with the next post!

Let us know what you think your starting lineup should be in the comments below, we’d love to hear!


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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”