Abraham Lincoln once said that if he had 6 hours to chop down a tree, he’d spend the first 4 sharpening the axe. Abe was a pretty smart guy. I really don’t think he was talking about chopping down trees and that saying applies to an awful lot of things in life. The only point I might disagree with him on is that I might spend 5 hours sharpening.
21 days ago, I put up the first in this series of articles. This is the 4th post and by now I’m guessing you might have noticed a pattern. While practice in and of itself is a form of preparation, I’ve also spent a lot of time preparing to practice well. You may have heard the old saying, practice makes perfect. Well, that’s wrong. There are two variants to that saying that are much more accurate.
Perfect practice makes perfect.
Practice makes permanent.
We’ve already talked about how going out with a purpose is much more effective than just going out and playing every day (see last week’s post). Sure, it’s fun to go out and play rounds. I have that planned for every Wednesday. All work and no play makes me much more than a dull boy. All work and no play makes me not want to play or work. It’s a great way to make sure I just sleep in every day instead.
[tweetthis]Perfect #discgolf practice makes for perfect #discgolf[/tweetthis]
That’s all well and good, but that begs the question of what your purpose should be when you go out to practice. I wrote an article a while back where I listed some disc golf skills that I wanted to get good at this winter. Here’s that list again:
- The forehand roller.
- The backhand roller.
- The thumber.
- The short range flick.
- The forehand approach (up to 250).
That would be a great set of skills to emerge from the frigid depths of winter with. If I stepped out on the course in May with those shots, I would impress myself and my friends. There’s a problem, though. None of those skills helps me win at the GBO. Oh, sure, they might come in handy here and there, but I don’t think anyone ever said, “Yeah, I kicked everyone’s ass at the GBO because I throw a bitchin’ thumber.” I’m betting you won’t hear, “I whooped up on Dave Feldberg and Eric McCabe with my awesome forehand roller.”
I had to sit down and really think about what shots I want to walk on to the courses in May and be great at. Not just competent or good. What skills do I want to hang my hat on? What skills will make the biggest impact on my actual score during the GBO. What skills do I spend that 4 hours of axe sharpening time on?
This is an appropriate time for this post being that it’s a new year. It’s the time of New Year’s resolutions. For the last several years, I haven’t made any. I’ve developed a different practice that turns out to be much more effective. A few years ago, I read a book called “One Word That Will Change the Rest of Your Life”. It’s a short read, but it’s an amazing book.
In short, the authors contend that instead of making resolutions every year (most of which no one actually keeps), you come up with one word that serves as your theme for the entire year. One word that will serve as a guide post for all of your decisions and actions for the upcoming year. Well, I’ve changed that a bit to coming up with a phrase instead of a single word, but it’s just as effective for me. My phrase for this year is:
Go deep, not wide.
My guiding principle this year is depth (OK, I supposed that could have been my one word). Instead of being mediocre at a bunch of things, I want to be amazing at just a few. This applies to my personal life (deep meaningful friendships with a small number of people instead of a broader range of acquaintances), my work life (teaching my team to be outstanding at just a couple of critical skills), and my disc golf life (not carrying a million different discs and molds by becoming an artist with just a few – more on that in another post).
Another aspect of my disc golf game that this applies to is the skills I’m practicing for the GBO. I could spend the next several months getting pretty good at a bunch of different things, or I could become amazing at just a few critical skills that will put a dagger in the heart of the competition. It’s sort of the 80/20 rule that I’ve mentioned a few times before.
So what are those few critical skills? I’ve thought about that a lot. While my list isn’t 100% final, this is what I’ve got so far:
- Standard putts inside the circle.
- Straddle putts inside the circle.
- Putting in the wind.
- Running at the basket from 125′ and in.
- Stand still putter shots 225 ft. and in. (anny, straight, hyzer)
- One step putter and mid shots from 300 ft. and in (putters 250-275, mids 250-300). Anny, straight, and hyzer.
- Short flick shots 150 and in with mids and putters.
Here’s what I’m not sure about. I would love to hear from all of you as to whether or not you think these should be part of the training plan.
- Spin putts (I push putt normally) from a certain distance. There is a really good chance it could be windy. These are also really handy with a low ceiling.
- Longer forehand shots out to about 250′.
- Short flick rollers for get out of trouble shots.
As you can see, my overall strategy for competing at the GBO is to have the best short game in the tournament. I’m not planning on working on distance at all. My driving practice will be solely focused on accuracy. My only intention on my drives will be to either get under the basket on reachable holes, or to get myself within 250′ of the basket with a clear line in. I really believe that this strategy competes at a high level in any tournament including the GBO. These skills are also key to approaching each tournament round with confidence.
Let’s relate this back to good ole Abe Lincoln. Let’s say that the “tree” is the GBO. Your disc golf skills are your axe. Once you’ve defined what skills, exactly, will make up your axe, you can now craft your practice sessions around that. You can start to set up that “perfect practice”. For me that means I can start to ingrain an incredibly accurate putt and approach game into my skill set in hopes of making it permanent.
If you want to check out specifically what I’m doing each day to sharpen my axe, follow along over on the Facebook page. And please, I’d love your feedback on my plan so far. Any help you’re willing to give would be great! Let me know in the comments below.
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