Stepping up to a gauntlet type hole in the woods, I often take my warm up swings while telling myself “There ARE no trees…” With the emphasis on the word “ARE” to make it sound like a meditation. “Oooooommmm, oooommmmm… there ARE no trees…” And suddenly all the trees disappear and the only thing left is a defined fairway. Nothing left to do now but put my disc where it belongs.
At least this is how it’s supposed to happen. As ‘far out’ as it sounds, it actually does work wonders. We ALL know how things can get into your head when you’re setting up for a drive. If there’s a group of kids off to the right, you’ll think “DON’T THROW RIGHT!” and of course immediately get a case of grip lock and almost take of some poor kid’s head over to the right. The same idea happens with trees- when you focus too much on one, you can end up throwing right at it. The meditation technique is bizarre to some folks, but for someone like myself, it’s a good way to get back to your routine. All the best players at every sport end up in a rhythm and routine: at the foul line, stepping into the batter’s box, the list goes on.
Practice is really the best thing for your game, and then when the time comes, you just want to execute. Keeping this in mind, I like to take the advice of a friend who has a quick routine on the tee box, but he does all of his thinking BEFORE he steps up. He might think, “Ok, I need a hard level shot here where I trust the disc to fade to the left after 180 feet.” That’s a seemingly simple task, but it gets even simpler when you’ve already made the decision upon stepping onto the tee box. Step up, take a practice swing, tell yourself to breathe (or to ignore the trees!), and deliver. You can’t afford to think about your arm angle once you’re up there. You can’t afford to second guess your choice of disc either. Hopefully you’ve already spent some time on a solo round, or in a field, throwing 10 shots in a row hard and level. You already know how it feels and you’re confident that you can do it.
When it comes down to it, you need to do what works. Some days I just can’t stop throwing left. In this case, I’ll just start aiming a little farther to the right. But this is a ‘dirty’ fix for a single round, maybe because I’m tired or something is bothering me. The actual important things to hold onto are the ones that foster consistency in your game. Avery Jenkins pulls his sleeve up on his shoulder before he putts. Dave Feldberg takes a number of pumps at the basket (I think three?) before he putts. This also holds true for the mental game. It’s something I’ve been told many times, to “envision” my shot before I throw it. But instead of stepping up and telling myself to “use my imagination and envision my shot,” I tell myself there ARE no trees. That alone makes me breathe a little slower and start to focus on the fairway. Whatever works people, whatever works…