In nearly any sport, having a strong mental game is commonly the difference between those who are at the top of the sport and those who aren’t. Physical abilities can take you far, but if you can’t maintain the game between your ears, getting to that next level will be harder than necessary.
Developing a strong mental disc golf routine starts before any disc is thrown. The idea of visualization is found in many sports, but it’s also a common technique for those in many professions, or even those in school.
Now, don’t get us wrong. This is more than “if you think hard enough, it will happen” type of thing. It sets the mind in the right direction and can help determine the next steps to take. You need to put in the work, but having the vision of the goal is key.
Time for a Daydream
Think of visualization like a daydream. It’s common to be driving to the disc golf course and waiting for that bomber hole where you can let your new distance driver rip, or that tough hole that you haven’t birdied in a long time. You are visualizing success on how you will tackle those holes. It’s the same thing. You’re thinking about the discs you want to throw and how you can park the drive before nailing the putt. You have just visualized the hole. When you walk up to the tee pad, you’ve already rehearsed this in your mind.
Start with a macro and micro visualization. You start to visualize yourself going to your local course, beautiful day, bag is in the trunk of your car, and you’re ready to go. You see yourself going through all the holes and ending with a smile on your face, knowing you’ve made some great birdies, but you had a great time. Then, when you actually arrive at the course, you’re already in that mindset. You’ve pictured yourself having a great time and now you can make it happen.
The next level is to take a micro approach to it and break it down hole by hole. You think about what disc you start with and the route you want to take. You might even envision a few options based on the weather conditions. You walk up to the hole and you’re ready to go. All you need to do is execute.
Finally, as you walk up to your putt, you focus on where you want to aim and you can see the putt going into the basket followed by you running up and grabbing the putter out of the chains.
Positive Comes First
It is also easy to debunk this whole thing and say that visualization is foolish and doesn’t work. If you want to write it off, that’s fine. There is an old phrase by Henry Ford that can apply here, “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right.”
You might as well take the positive approach. If you walk up to a putt and think you can’t make it... you’re going to miss. Have your mind focused on what you want to have happen and then focus on how to make that a reality.
Another common counterpoint to visualization is what happens when things don’t go how you envisioned. If you pictured your drive landing within the circle for an easy putt, but the drive didn’t fade in as hard and you’re let with a headwind putt from 35 feet, the battle isn’t over.
Now you visualize this shot and making the putt. React to what happened in reality, but understand that you can’t change it. Learn from it and move on. If you waste energy on the undesirable shot you just threw you are going to face a harder time focusing on the next.
One hole at a time and one shot at a time, you can build up a strong mental game through visualization. If something undesirable happens on the course, you’ve built up enough mental strength to put it behind you and recover strongly.
If you can see it happening, you’re on the right path.
Contact the Disc Golf Academy
You can submit your questions for Disc Golf Academy instructors or suggest topics for upcoming articles. Tell us what you'd like to see and how we can help you by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.