Measure Skills, Not Scores
You are playing in a tournament on your home course and find yourself in a foursome with three out-of-towners. You step up to the tee on a hole you have played several hundred times: a 300′ hole with a tight, tree-filled fairway that doglegs to the right. You pull out your go-to disc and lace a perfect, low, slow turning drive that weaves its way through the tree trunks, under branches, and park it. The next player steps up and throws a controlled roller down the center of the fairway that turns over and finishes right next to your disc. Another player launches a high anhyzer shot over the trees with similar results. The last of the four flicks a high sidearm hyzer over the trees and also parks it. You feel your inner monologue nagging at you with the phrase “I have never even thought about playing those lines.”
While your drive was as good as any of the others, think to yourself how many times you can execute that shot with that kind of consistency. Chances are you have hit many of those trees and often need your “A game” to grab a deuce. The big question you should ask yourself is, “do I have all of those shots in my bag?”
For many up-and-coming players, the answer is no. The big follow-up question is: “why not?” A common scenario among developing players is to focus too much on their scores and ratings and not enough on disc skills. While the first part of the learning curve in disc golf generally involves developing technique and focusing on lowering your scores, once a certain level of consistency has been reached, players often neglect developing the full array of shots that will help them become the best players they can be.
What is your mindset when you are playing a practice round? Are you trying new things that you aren’t familiar or comfortable with? Or do you find yourself defaulting to the same shots and attempting to break your personal best? While pre-tournament honing should usually focus on the shots you plan to use in the upcoming competition, the variety of tools you have to work with are developed in practice.
If we return to the scenario above, chances are the other players will end up with better results on that hole if you played it 100 times. This happens because they were able to remove variables that could negatively affect the shot. While the low turnover shot is great when it works, the numbers of factors you have to contend with are larger then they could be. That finesse shot is going to require nearly perfect power, height, angle, turn, wind, and aim. The other lines allowed for a much greater margin for error and could probably be executed more consistently and easily with a greater average level of success.
Everyone eventually develops their preferred shot, but having multiple options that you trust at your finger tips is part of developing a well-rounded game. Spend a period of time focusing more on skills and less on scores. Do you have a straight hyzer? Sweeping hyzer? Knife hyzer? Flattened hyzer? Hyzer flip? Roll curve? Can you throw a sidearm? Overhand? Can you throw a controlled roller? Distance roller? Sky roller? Cut roller? Can you make your most overstable disc fly somewhat straight? Can you make your most understable disc curve hard left? These are some of the questions you could be asking yourself to help solidify your fundamentals and available shot selection. A good way to find out what shots you don’t have is to play your home course carrying one to three discs and seeing if you can make them do what you usually do with a full bag. In the long run, a full repertoire of shots should help you consistently throw better scores.