Growing up in Boston, Massachusetts, I have seen some great professional sports games. My favorite part about going is getting to watch the pre-game warm ups, the stuff you can’t see tuned in from your living room. You can tell a lot about an athlete by watching how they prepare for the game.
Having played organized sports since I was four years old, the idea of a warm up wasn’t foreign to me. The physiology behind it also became quite familiar, especially after earning a degree in exercise science and becoming a certified Exercise Physiologist.
As I began in disc golf, what was unsettling was seeing the typical warm-up routine of disc golfers. Some top-level professionals have recognized the importance of a quality warm up, but the majority throw discs in a field to warm up. They start with putters, move to mid-ranges, and then power their drivers out toward the horizon. You might see a few reach down to their toes or swing their arms back and forth to stretch, but it isn’t structured. And if the weather isn’t cooperating, you see even less of it.
It’s important to rely on more than disc golf to prepare your mind and body to compete. When you implement other warm up routines, you’ll relieve stress, and feel more relaxed before heading to the first hole.
Disc Golf Warm Up Routine
Warming up before you throw prevents bad habits from forming and increases your body temperature, thus reducing your risk of injury. A warm up that is sport-specific is best, because it implements similar movements you’ll be using on the course.
This doesn’t mean taking a lap (unless you’re into that) it means working the muscles responsible for every movement you rely on during play. Try working from the top down and use dynamic stretching.
This technique is my favorite since the stretches are designed to lengthen your muscles while increasing blood flow. Improved blood flow results in improved muscular performance, increased oxygen delivery, better reaction time, and force development, etc….
We first focus on three areas.
- Upper body: Neck rotation, shoulder circle shrugs, arm crossovers, half-kneeling halos
- Core and Back: Straight-arm side bends, side planks (left and right side), mountain climbers, core activation for postural support during during lower body stretches
- Lower body: Lunges, high-knees, side lunges, quadruped hip-extensions with bent-knee kickbacks (donkey kicks)
It’s good to do regardless, but if you find anything particularly tight use static stretching on that area. This is where reaching down to your toes, or holding one arm across your chest is acceptable.
When you take the time to warm up properly your mind and body become ready to focus. You now have the freedom to choose the types of shots you want to practice because you’re throwing warmed up instead of throwing to warm up. Every shot you throw should can be taken seriously.
Ready to Compete
If you’re like me then you started playing disc golf because someone showed you how to play in a recreational setting and you had no idea anyone did it professionally. This may make it difficult for you to transition out of a casual mindset when you start competing, but this transition is key to your success.
The way you prepare for your tournaments can put you several steps ahead of the competition. The pre-round warm up is an opportunity to prepare mentally and physically before your round. Instead of hoping for the best, you walk forward knowing you are prepared to give it your best. Don’t hesitate to create or add to your own warm up. A good routine will help you approach your next tournament with more confidence.
Written by: Hannah E. McBeth