Warming up will lead to better, and more consistent scores out on the disc golf course. If you’re playing a competitive round of disc golf I highly recommend you take some time to stretch, get some calisthenics in, and some putts and drives in.
Pro players have a dedicated warm up area on the Disc Golf Pro Tour where they can focus and mentally prepare for their round. You can shake the rust off with some putting, get those drives dialed in, and warm up your elbow with a few forehands before ripping a drive out on the course. I really like this video of Paige Pierce warming up with her coach Seth Munsey of Disc Golf Strong.
If you’re just out to shoot with some friends who don’t play it’s not as important to warm up. If you’re someone who just got their first beginner Innova disc golf set this blog isn’t quite what you’re up to yet. I get a different warmup in, depending on what I’m doing and who I’m throwing with. Let’s focus on a tournament day warm-up.
There’s plenty of different ways to warm up. This week in the blog I’d like to help you develop your own warm up routine. It’s going to take some time to figure out, and you’re going to have bad and good warmups. But let’s examine some strengths of your game and weaknesses, and get you motivated for a good round. I’ll get to a putting and driving routine to follow in a different blog in the future.
First off I want to say that the quality of your practice matters. If you just go through the motions and do 12 drives, 12 upshots, 12 putts, and then go back to your car for 15 minutes to scroll through Instagram you’re not going to have the best game. I’m not saying you’ve got to get pumped up to drive into a net. But getting loose should be one of the fun parts of your day! I like to go around and see the people I don’t see every day. I don’t always check who is on the list each tournament so it’s fun to see friends who I didn’t expect to see, and to catch up with.
Set aside plenty of time for your warmup, and dedicate yourself to having a good practice before your round. I think giving yourself 45 minutes to an hour is the right amount of time. That way you don’t feel rushed. A long slow warmup is going to be much better than you running through your paces.
If you’re playing a semi competitive round, (like a league night) get set up the same way you would for your tournament rounds. Get your disc golf accessories all stored away in your bag or Zuca cart. Things like your towel, chalk bag, umbrella, disc retriever, water bottle, and snacks should be with you so you’re not running back and forth to your car. Sometimes I wish I had one of those big white vans that we used to use for carpentry. With all the compartments on the side so I could have spare stuff just ready to go and I could load my bag accordingly.
What I focus on when I warm up is confidence. You’ll see me start each of my warm ups by hitting two 5 foot putts. I know I won’t miss them and it’s a familiar feel for me to just tap in. But don’t just believe me, here’s how 2022 European Open Champion Eagle McMahon says to do it. Once I’m confident in my 2 short putts I go to ten footers, and then some 15’s and 20’s and eventually you’ll see me working my way back to the circle's edge. I always follow etiquette when I practice putt, I take 2 putters with me and when everyone who is throwing on that basket has thrown I go pick my discs up. My 2 putts at 5 feet are no more important than the other persons at 20 feet.
A mistake that I made in my first tournament was warming up at 40 feet. Just because I saw other people doing it, I thought it was right for me to do. I missed most of my warm up putts, had shaky confidence, and had a very poor putting performance.
Take a few minutes before your round to go before you throw. You’re going to be jostling out there and full of water, coffee, and probably a snack. It’s not just me telling you to do this, it’s science! We’re very conscious at Sabattus and have a portapotty on our 18 hole courses located in the middle of each (hole 8/9/10 Hawk and hole 12 Eagle/Falcon). But not every course has a bathroom out there for you, so if you can, go before hole 1.
I hate lunchtime breaks during a tournament when I’m thinking about my score and how it was just a couple strokes keeping me from a good round. Maybe it’s time to get up and try to work on your weakness of the first round. If your putt game wasn’t working go bang some putts, if it was your forehand upshot game take a few throws of that as well.
What do you need in a warm up?
You need a basket, and space to throw your drives, upshots, and midrange shots. Those are all key things that you need to practice. Bring your whole bag with you.
I recommend that putting is either your starting or ending activity, or both. It’s not time consuming, there’s usually a few practice baskets set up.
You have a few midrange disc golf discs, take them out of your bag and go to a hole to warm up with them. I’m a big believer in throwing mids in wide open fields before I go to long distance driver throws. I just like seeing my Pathfinder fly like I expect it to. This is warming up, so I’m throwing it maybe 150-225 feet. I do this a couple of times to see how the flight of the disc is in the wind, and to get my back, shoulder, and legs warmed up.
For drives there’s a few options.
1. Just play the first open hole on the course.
This works sometimes. If it’s a big tournament you’re going to find there are a lot of people who want to play the first few holes. You can try waiting for a group to play through and then throwing a couple drives, and then picking them up and running back before another group plays through. This works best if there’s a tournament and you’re all teeing off at the same time. It doesn’t work well at a flex or if there are lots of other people already on the course.
2. Use disc golf accessories.
I like the FlighTowel for a warmup. You can get a driver you like and practice your pull throughs without having to go pick up your disc. The downside is that you do not get to see the flight of the disc, but you don’t lose your discs either. There’s also the ProPull resistance trainer. You can use this to get your timing down and warm up your muscles without ever leaving the parking lot. These devices are great if you’re looking to kind of throw something. There’s also disc golf nets that may be set up, but they’re slightly costly at about 70-100 dollars on Amazon and don’t fit well in small cars. I like when courses or TD’s have them set up for me at the course. Bittersweet Ridge disc golf always has them around and it makes dubs warmup easy.
3. Warm up in a field nearby.
If you’re near a school you may find a soccer or football field to throw in. But that kind of depends on kids not having a game or practice going on.
As you can see, warming up with drives is one of the more difficult things to get a hold of. It’s something that lead to controversy in the 2021 World Championships. You should try what works best for you by trying each of these methods for getting your drives dialed in.
Putting everything together in your warm up is going to be a trial and error process. I know what works for me and what doesn’t work. I’m all about keeping my confidence level high, focusing a lot of my energy on warming up on the first hole I’m playing so I put myself off to a good start, and making sure that I have everything I need. I don’t want to be caught on hole 6 all the way out on the course without my cliff bar.
My general advice is to have fun with your warmup. Don’t make it all long distance driver shots, don’t make it all putts. This is an extension of your practice putting and field work. You’ve already put in all the work, this is just you warming up to have a better score. And a better score can mean more fun.
I hope this blog helps you as you continue your journey of finding a customized routine for yourself. You’ll find things that work for you, some things may not work. My advice is to practice, practice, practice, and to believe in yourself. You’re going to do great.
May your discs miss all the trees,
Andrew Streeter #70397