If you’ve practiced disc golf before you’ll notice that it can be incredibly taxing on the body. You read that correctly, practice is hard work. When you’re practicing you should expect to sweat more than you do during a normal round. The main reason for this is your lack of walking when you practice. Think about it, when you play a round you do 18 drives over the course of about an hour and a half. But when you take out your 6 drivers and throw for max distance 3 times you’ve basically driven most of the length of a course in a few minutes. Limit your time on the practice field to about 20-30 minutes. If you play more than that you’ll be too tired and develop bad habits.
My first tip is don’t get frustrated by your throws; you really do only have so many good ones in you. Disc golf isn’t like soccer. If you long pass in soccer for 10-15 minutes, that’s a decent warm-up before you play a game. But in disc golf if you were throwing the disc for distance for that long, you’d become exhausted before the round even started! So give yourself a maximum number of drives before you start playing. For me it’s 18 drives when I practice. I don’t throw more drives than that because then I become tired, my throws become errant and I’ve ruined the strong mental game I worked for.
The second tip is to buy a basket. If you think about it, the cost of a good metal basket is the same price as 10 discs. While I’d love to have 10 new discs I know that the basket will make me a better player. My first suggestion is to get a mobile basket, one that you can break down easily and fit into your car. I realize that not everyone has a large backyard like I do, so travelling to a local field may be necessary. Set up your basket and throw upshots to it, throw drives to it, and putt at it. Practicing in a field alone works, but there’s something about having a defining point to throw at that makes everything much more natural when you get onto the course. If you’re looking for a basket, Sabattus Disc Golf has a few for sale which locals can purchase and pick up at the Pro Shop. Of course I’m going to recommend my employer, but I’m sure there are plenty of local shops in your area that carry them or you can just purchase one online. I started practicing putting in my backyard, then I bought more putters and a second basket. My putting used to be the weakest part of my game, now I consider it to be one of my strong points. Once you have the basket, it’s for life.Throwing upshots after dinner, putts in the morning, ace runs in the moonlight; you’ll find that you’re outside working on your game because of how convenient it is. As my mom says “If your gym is far away you won’t work out.” If the basket is in your backyard you’ll be there all the time.
My third tip is going to be to focus on specific things in practice. Don’t throw one overhand, one backhand, one forehand, one roller, because you’re not going to develop that feel that you’re looking for. If you’re practicing 3-4 times a week to get better, make a little practice plan for yourself. Work on your forehand one day, with all your discs. Get those reps in with your drivers, then maybe the next time you step up to a hole you’ll throw a forehand instead of a turnover drive. Practicing one thing repetitively develops muscle memory that you’ll need when you get out onto the course.
It’s tough to stay in your own backyard when you want to be on the course, Covid-19 has taken our ability to travel but not to play. I miss the camaraderie, the laughing, the high fiving, all of it. Right now the only way we can get our disc golf fix in is to practice. If you don’t want to shoot 5 over your average when we’re finally allowed back out, it’s time to do some serious practice. If you have any tips for an effective practice that you think I’ve missed let me know in the comments section.
May your discs miss all the trees,
*Photo credit: @thediscgolfphotographer