Having a strong mental game is key in disc golf. One area that can be the toughest mental challenge of them all is within the putting circle. Missed putts will easily trigger an (over)analysis of what went wrong. Soon you are changing putters, changing your putting style, or your putting routine all together.
For Team Discmania’s Lykke Sandvik, this was a familiar situation to start out the year. Putts weren’t landing in her first tournament of the year so she switched to a straddle putt for the second tournament and saw much better results. Sandvik could have easily stuck with what was working, but soon realized it was a battle in her head, not her body, that made the difference. Sandvik tells her story and details how you can build up a strong mental game to produce better results on the disc golf course.
When I started playing disc golf I wasn't really good at putting, I loved throwing and didn't really practice anything else the first few months. When winter came I didn’t want to stop playing disc golf, so putting was my only option. We already had a practice basket, so I started putting every morning and evening inside our gym before my weightlifting practice. I wasn't any good but that made me practice even more. When I started I didn't really think there were any other way to putt than with normal stance, so that's what I did! And it worked out fine my first year playing!
This past winter I was more focused on disc golf than weightlifting and practiced more regularly. I've been practicing both straddle putts and normal putts so I can be prepared for everything out on the course.
Our local store has a putting league and sometimes I like to straddle putt just for practice. One time I had a really good round with straddle, better than with my normal putting style, and that made me consider if I maybe wanted to change my putt. I changed it to see if it worked out, but it was still cold here in Norway so I couldn't really try it out on the course and in rounds/tournaments. Even with the change to the straddle putt, I still practiced both styles.
In February, we went to Spain to play two events to start our season, and to get a few weeks away from winter in Norway. The first event went really poorly. My drives were rusty after a long winter and I felt like my putting was off. I couldn't get the disc into the basket and it made me so frustrated! I used both putting styles at that event, because I still didn't know which one to ultimately use.
Before the second event I decided to change my putt to only straddle and see if that helped. I didn't have any confident in my putting so I figured I at least could try and see how things went. I played really well and had three of my highest rated rounds. My putts felt better and I gained more and more confident after every round.
When I look back at that tournament, I think my putting struggles were more mental than physical. I don't think my straddle putt is any better than my normal putt, but for me I think the game changed when I decided to go with one style and stick with it 100%.
I didn't use energy on deciding if I should straddle or not, and If I missed a putt I didn't blame myself for choosing the wrong style for that exact putt. I learned a lot from this. The biggest thing I'm taking with me is that I need to go all in and not go back and forth. I have to be confident in my choices and stick with them!
With all that said, after Spain I decided to actually return to my normal putting style again. I started putting a lot to get my confident back. I had at least 100 putts everyday from short distance like 5-7 meters (16-23 feet), in addition to longer putts. I gained confidence in my putt and the main reason I "changed back" was because I need to putt normal when I'm at 15 m (49 ft) and longer. So if I was to "keep" my straddle I would've needed to practice them both.
Now I mainly practice my normal putts, and do some straddle putting here and there just to keep sharp. I often do 10 rounds of five normal putts and then five straddle. When I change my style every fifth putt it helps me to stay more focused on every putt.
I'm 100% back to my old putting style in tournaments. I only straddle if I have to or if it's uphill or downhill. If my normal putting style isn't working in a tournament I don't switch to straddle, I just try to work mentally and remember how I use to putt at practice. I try to be confident in my putt and focus on that instead of just "blaming it" on the putting style. I have the ability to use a straddle putt if the situation requires it, but I’ve taken the mental side out of it and will focus on one style and only one style.
I putt with an old huklab P2 I got from a good friend of mine. I really love it! When I joined Team Discmania I started putting with the X-line P2 and then I tried the Soft P2, I like both of them so I have five of each with me. When I practice I have my main putter and 4 P-line soft P2s!
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