How does a typical disc golf round look?
Get to the course
People show up
Someone runs to pee
Tap in putt
For the last 30-45 minutes you’ve been moving around. Tossing some putts at the basket, doing a few drives and getting ready to play. Maybe listening to music and crunching on some Double G Jerky. You’re constantly moving, throwing a couple shots in a row and making corrections, or stretching.
Sometimes I find that by the time I’ve reached the first few holes I’ve lost my mental focus. On occasion I’ve thrown and had to wait 4-5 minutes before I throw my next shot. Whether that’s waiting for everyone on their card to throw a second shot or someone got in trouble off the tee.
How do I keep my mental focus for an entire round?
You don’t. You need some breaks, so balance it out with thinking about other things as well. When you’re not throwing, think about something else. You want to float in and out of thinking about disc golf. Think about your shots when it’s your turn, but if you’re waiting for a group in front of you don’t spend the next 5 minutes thinking about your tee shot. That will lead to overthinking or burning yourself out before the Back 9.
Try a swing thought
I like to try a “swing thought”. Concentrate on a single phrase when you are throwing your shot. This idea was introduced to me by a host on the Grip N Grin podcast that I listen to. He mentioned “Swing Thoughts” about shooting an arrow at a deer, and how golfers use swing thoughts when they’re playing.
So I applied it to disc golf. I think “Through the target” when I throw a disc. Having a single thought when I’m driving or throwing my approach makes it easier for me to maintain focus. To me, “Through the target” is the physical area I want my disc to go through.
For you it could be “keep my disc level” or “follow through” or anything you want to focus on. Picking a single thing to think about when you’re throwing will help you focus.
I take into account lots of things before I step up to the tee pad. Like the wind, the landing zone, am I throwing all my drives left today, but when I get to throwing I think only “Through the target.”
Only think about the hole you’re playing
I’ll admit to being my own worst enemy in this. I get through the first 6 holes fine and then I think to myself I really need 16 strokes to get through holes 7-11 happily. Then I take a bogey on 7 and think okay now I need 12 strokes for the next few holes.
Brain power is limited. What I should really be focusing on is Hole 8, my drive on it. Then when I get to my putt I think about that.
You can’t birdie a hole you’re not playing, and you can’t do much by thinking about it before you get there. Just enjoy the hole you’re on. There’s enough things to think about on one hole.
Go through your pre shot routine
If you don’t have a routine, ask your friends to imitate you on the tee. You’ll find that you have some consistent things that you do every time. Here’s 5x Paul McBeth in the 2014 Final 9 of the World Championships and here he is again 7 years later at the 2021 Worlds.
- Blow on the fingers.
- That little foot shuffle on the tee pad.
- That arm swing through and point at the basket.
You don’t need to copy Paul with his movements, find what works for you. I definitely do the arm swing a couple of times when I’m doing forehand throws because I’m not as comfortable throwing them.
How often do you say “nice shot” to the other players on your card? If you’re like me probably 5-6 times per round. Say it to yourself mentally when you have a good shot. When 3 of my competitors say “nice shot” to me after a drive it’s a real mood booster for me and the card.
If you park a par 3 on your drive you just got to relax! Your tap in doesn’t take any thinking, it’s reflex when you’re inside 5 feet. So think about something else and you can take off until the next tee.
I know this one sounds funny but bring your water bottles. Moderate hiking (basically disc golf) could lead to 1.5% to 2% dehydration according to Professor Doug Casa of the University of Connecticut. After a study conducted at Yale and John B Pierce Laboratory, they found that 1% dehydration led to 12% more total errors.
Basically if you don’t want to short those putts and let your disc slip out of your hands early make sure you’re drinking some water.
Disc golf is definitely a mental game. We’ve all had rounds where we’ve fallen apart mentally and lost focus.
Only thinking about the hole you’re on
Your pre shot routine
I hope that this blog gives you some ideas for what you can do to keep focusing while you’re out there on the course. Let me know if you’ve got any special tips or tricks that help you concentrate when you’re out on the course.
May your discs miss all the trees,
Andrew Streeter #70397