There is a lot we can learn from the success of Ball Golf. The resources invested in the physical and mental strategies of Ball Golf can be tapped for our purposes. Many of their strategies – particularly mental focus strategies – can be applied to Disc Golf. I have written reviews on Dave Pelz’s Putting Games and Zen Putting. Here I review The Inner Game of Golf, by W. Timothy Gallwey and summarize three mental exercises for use by the Disc Golfer.
1. Identify your Self 1 Voice. Gallwey names 2 separate identities within us as athletes – the one that is competing and the one that is telling us how to compete. Self 1 is the instructor voice in our head that knows all about the game. Self 2 is the one that actually has “to hit the ball.” Gallwey believes Self 1 is the enemy of good golf play; “It is the thesis of this book that the secret to increasing control over our bodies lies in gaining some measure of control over our minds.” Once you’ve identified Self 1, and the role it plays in execution, he suggests several techniques to help gain mental control that translate directly to Disc Golf.
2. Find your Back-Hit-Stop. Gallwey teaches a mental exercise that maintains focus and creates rhythm in a Ball Golf swing. In his mind, he says Back when the club reaches its furthest point in his draw back, Hit when the club contacts the ball, and Stop when his follow through has reached its furthest point.
I used this technique to help develop a back hand tee approach. I numbered the main components 1-4: at the first step of my tee approach I say to myself One and ends when I plant my front foot and I say to myself Four. This exercise keeps Self 1 busy so Self 2 can do the real work. It also helped provide a consistent cadence and rhythm to my tee approach and the focus on my line improved. Pick a few key points to your tee routine and partner them with simple words to keep your mind busy and your body in rhythm.
3. The Easy Link Technique: My favorite moment in Disc Golf is the brief jog to the basket after a good putt. “The (easy link) technique is simply to remember or associate with some difficult task … some action that is simple, preferably one that has never failed.” I have often been distracted from the current moment by the thought of past failure. Gallwey would suggest that if you can be distracted by the image of your disc chaining out why can’t you be encouraged by the mental image of jogging to the basket to retrieve your putter? When I find my focus drifting, I visualize myself jogging to the basket right as I take my putt or drive. You can think of anything as long as it is easy and you are universally successful. Replace the image of chaining out with the image of your hand pulling the disc out of the tray; you’ll be surprised how comfortable you can become even at tough lines or long dangerous putts.
These techniques are not for constant use. Employ them to integrate new skills or to rip back control of your focus during a round on the verge of getting away. During my best rounds, there has been very little influence by Self 1; I acted instinctively and confidently. These techniques have helped me keep Self 1 at bay and feel more confident more often; maybe they can help you too.
Heading to Flagstaff, AZ for a weeks vacation and to play the Aspen Sports Treebash Open. I learned how to golf in Flagstaff and can’t wait to see how many league rounds I can squeeze in. I’m going to lend a hand with some course maintenance to kick up the karma for the event. This is the perfect disc golf town and I reserved a room walking distance from Thorpe Park and a 5 minute drive to McPherson, NAU and historic Flag with all my favorite restaurants. Have to get a Stink Burger from Flag Brew.
Happy Golfing and Good Scoring