Like all sports, disc golf can be filled with many emotions. Throughout your average round, there will be some highs and lows, and then some fairly boring moments in between. When the pressure is on and you're intensely focused during a tournament round, this emotional roller coaster can be even more dramatic. Let's create a game plan and positive process for your mental game.
They Won’t Like You When You’re Angry
Anger and frustration can get the better of any disc golf player. Even some of the top pros are known for wearing their emotions on their sleeves at times. It can be aggravating to miss a short putt or make a poor throwing mistake that costs you a penalty stroke. You might throw your disc OB or miss a crucial mando. Maybe a card mate called you on a foot fault penalty. It’s very easy to get frustrated after throwing and that’s okay. Don't lose focus. The key thing to remember is to try and avoid getting too angry on the disc golf course.
An angry player is really not very fun to play with. You may have found yourself on the other side of the coin. You see another player on your card melting down. You feel bad for them. It can be a little annoying. It may even affect your own game when someone else is making such a scene. You’ve been around that guy. Or maybe YOU are that guy! Either way, too much anger is one of those lines that is best not to cross.
Extreme situations where you lash out in anger (kicking your bag, throwing multiple discs at the basket and other egregious displays of frustration) can actually cost you penalty strokes (i.e., “courtesy violations”). These are rarely enforced, but they can happen in serious tournament play if a player is getting really out of hand. One little outburst won’t cost you. We are almost all guilty of it at one time or another. However, repeated offenses will eventually add up, especially when you start affecting others by directing your anger toward your card mates or PDGA-sanctioned tournament officials.
Disc golf is a frustrating game. We all make bad shots sometimes. You can chastise yourself after a terrible throwing failure if you want. You can express your frustration. Or, you can find away to channel that anger into positive energy and focus. Have you ever missed a short putt or shanked an easy upshot? What often happens is you lose focus and end up bombing your next drive thanks to a little extra rage. Use that to your advantage. Let a bad shot motivate you to make better shots as the round goes on. Don’t let the frustration add up into a downward spiral or you will never recover.
Have a Little Humility
Rather than an angry outburst, try to just laugh at yourself. A little humility goes a long way. Remember this is just a game. Even when an important tournament is on the line, one bad throwing failure isn’t going to forever change your life for the worse. The other players will make bad shots, too. It’s how you handle your bad throws that makes you a better player. Whether you are able to have a short memory, you laugh it off or you internalize and channel that energy into your next throwing goals. Find ways to minimize your anger and frustration. Work on yourself as a disc golfer and you will see a difference in the results while out on the disc golf course.
If you want to see a good example of this, watch Team Innova player, Jeremy “Big Jerm” Koling, commentate on one of his own rounds. Not only is it highly entertaining, but you will see how he can poke fun at himself and maintain a little humility. During the round, he will show some emotion (both positive and negative). After the round and during commentary, he is able to look at himself from the perspective of a viewer. He can recognize his own mistakes and apply those lessons during his next round. It’s no coincidence that Big Jerm happens to finish strong in many big tournaments, even when he has some frustrating early round struggles.
It’s All About Sportsmanship and Etiquette
The opposite can also be true. You don’t want to be a sore winner or over-celebratory of each good shot you make. That can be obnoxious and a sign of bad sportsmanship and weak mental game. It’s okay to show your emotion on the course, but you don’t have to be over-the-top about it.
If you get annoyed by another player being overly angry during a round, it’s a good reminder not to be that guy. If other players are quiet and extra careful what they say and do around you, then you are the angry one that nobody wants to play with. Though courtesy violations rarely come into play, it’s a matter of common disc golf etiquette. Keep your anger and frustration in check. You and your card mates will have a much better time out there.
Never forget to focus on having fun while playing disc golf. That should always be the number one rule!