The mental game of disc golf. It’s always been one of the worst parts of my game. I’m super competitive, having played soccer at the collegiate level. When I started playing disc golf, my competitive drive came along. When my time with collegiate soccer ended, I was very hard on myself for simple mistakes. I’d been playing for 15 years, so missing a simple pass was unacceptable. I brought this in to disc golf, and would find myself frustrated easily. I struggled to accept bad shots, and would hold them in my head for a long time. I’ve tried so many different ways to minimize my frustrations on the course. From making a “chill” playlist on my ipod, to hanging back from the group and trying to distract myself with nature, to punching a tree (I’m not proud of it, but it did happen once).
The first step to recovery was to admit I had a problem Second, I had to accept that I hadn’t played disc golf for 15 years like I had with soccer. I had to accept that I am human and therefore I WILL make mistakes. This helped a little, but I still would find myself stuck in a rut for too many holes in a row. What else would help me?
I’ve consciously tried to find ways to minimize how many holes I let something get to me. Nothing has truly done the job. Yesterday, I was out playing league. My partner and I were shooting hot, getting 9 straight deuces in the first 10 holes. I was making nearly everything inside 45 feet, requiring my partner to putt only once. We stepped up to tee on the 11th hole, to hear some shouting. We looked over, and two holes behind us we watched a near fist fight develop between two of the guys. My partner ran over to diffuse the situation, as he has known both of the guys for a long time. I was stressed out even after it was diffused, because my boyfriend was involved in the near scuffle. We got things straightened out, and teed on our 11th hole. Neither myself nor my partner threw good shots on an easy deuce hole, leaving us with a tough jumper that we both missed. We went to the 12th, and managed a deuce. Stepping up to our 13th tee, I was still a little shaken up. I managed a decent tee shot, and my partner put his shot just inside the circle. When I stepped up to putt, I didn’t feel ready. I stepped back, and took a deep breath with my whole body. I had to tell myself to calm down and that the guys would sort things out like adults. When I stood over the mini again and lined up my putt, I felt like this putt was the only thing that mattered. I got back on stride, went through my routine, and put my disc in the bucket. My partner remarked “When you stepped back, took a deep breath, and settled in, I knew you were back on your game.” From there, the round seemed easy, besides the fact that I wanted to kick myself for not figuring this out for 5 years.
When you find yourself stressed, frustrated, or just not ready for a shot, try taking a step back to take a deep breath and settle in so you can commit to your shot.
And now, I’ll go back to wondering why I couldn’t figure this out sooner.
Happy winter golfing y’all!