Monday, December 2, 2013

Patience. NOW.

I was watching a MurderMike youtube video where the Rico brothers interviewed Ken Climo. Very interesting to hear that the champ has had to work to adjust to a more modern game of big arms and overstable drivers. But something that really stuck with me from the interview was Climo's answer to what is one of the single most important aspects to a young player's game. "Patience."

"Overall, through the long haul... patience."

Patience? Huh? I was expecting tenacity, balls of steel or maybe hard work. Patience?!

I sat there mulling on it for the next few days, whenever I had a little quiet time.

Am I patient with my game? Am I patient with my expectations of disc golf?

What does that really mean? I don't have years or decades of time in the sport like Steve Rico and Ken Climo, perhaps it means something to them it doesn't mean to me?

With a little self reflection I realized that I'm not patient. It didn't take much reflecting either. I started playing in May 2013 and I have been rushing to improve everyday since then. I don't want to be patient - I want to be better NOW! Longer drives, better putting, accurate upshots - practice practice practice!

Then I thought about all the blow ups I've had where I hit a tree, another tree, throw OB, roll into a river and I get frustrated and throw worse and worse until I basically just give up - angry with myself and unhappy.

I will watch pro tournaments on youtube and actually feel disheartened when I see the best in the world drain 50' putts over and over, racking up birdies like it's nothing and I consider that from 50' - I am good for maybe 1 of 10. MAYBE. How will I ever be great?!

Hold the reigns for a second there partner, I don't even have a PDGA number. I have played one casual doubles tournament. Why am I even in this head-space of worrying about it? I had made the mistake of going full retard.

I've been playing for so short of an amount of time, but here I am thinking that I should be better than I am. Clearly I've lost my friggen mind - and patience hasn't really been an ideal that I've nurtured.

A week rolled by and as I was playing a round by myself I went back to that thought and it started to take on a new meaning. The game of disc golf is an unpredictable game of mistakes. If I don't want to embrace that fact, then I should do myself a favor and quit.  Wild skips, insane rolls, chains that spit out perfect putts, wind that comes out of nowhere to push you into a lake are just a few of the things I see every round. It's an imperfect game that cannot be perfected. (Not to mention gravitational fluctuations that surround me all the time!)
I can hear people objecting, "Paul McBeth, Will Schusterick and Dave Feldberg play perfect games - 550' drives, 100' putts, world championships!"

They are great, no question. They have the ultimate skill-set at this sport. I'm saying that the game itself can't be mastered. All of those guys have missed gimme putts, thrown OB, and had space-time warp to have a disc pass directly through the chains. Period. It's going to happen to everybody who plays the game.

Ultimately, it takes patience to love a game for it's inherent imperfections rather than curse it. So what can you do in the face of throwing a good shot and having it slow roll 50' past everybody else and into a water hazard? You control your attitude, take a deep breath, smile and think of the champ's words. "To be a great player, you have to have patience."

All this zen shit, man, what the hell do I actually do? Well, how about some more zen shit?

Confidence, Staying Present and Having Fun

Confident shots are ALWAYS better than timid shots. That doesn't mean that a confident shot is always a good shot, but getting tense and tightening your muscles will never throw as smooth as when you're relaxed. Throwing confident shots doesn't mean taking risky shots either. It means taking the shot that is in your skill-set, regardless of:
  1. your score
  2. your opponents score
  3. what happened on the last hole (or what's coming up on the next hole)
  4. if you're playing alone or in a tournament
  5. you're about to lose to your little brother if you blow this up-shot
Step up to your lie, go through your pre-shot checklist: good stance, visualize the flight, whatever you do - shut your inner chatter down and relax and trust your instincts and make your brain get out of the way of letting the disc go in the chains.

Staying present... if I could just put that in a bottle and sell it! The best way I can personally stay present is tied directly to why I'm out playing in the first place: to have fun. You can have fun and play great or you can NOT have fun and play great. You've got options!
But do you want to look back on an afternoon, a weekend, a year, a decade of playing disc golf and realize that you were not having fun while you were playing? Does anybody want to play with the guy who plays great and is having no fun, cursing, and kicking his bag? I don't have disc golfer's digits in my phone who isn't fun to play disc golf with... why the hell would I?

Once the disc is out of your hand, you move on.

But what about when you miss a 10' putt or roll 40' out of bounds - turning a bird into a double bogie? It happened. It's done and over. There's no fixing it and thinking about it will not help you.

At the end of your round - if you realize you were not doing something well, then you have something to practice. Allowing frustration into your game is not allowed because the only shot you get to care about it the NEXT one. If you are staying present - forgetting what just happened - it also lets you have more fun, smile at the fickle game of disc golf and stay loose for the next shot.

Does the outcome of the game matter to your next throw? Should it matter? Are you throwing this next shot in order to affect the outcome or to throw the best throw you can? If your mental game is affected by the potential outcome - you're not staying present and not throwing the best you can. Allow yourself to play each game like the outcome doesn't matter one lick.

It doesn't mean that you don't care. But getting to point where you're playing the best rounds you can - will mean that you let go of the outcome.

But what if the game is on the line? The big tournament is down to the last hole?! Your little brother will beat you AGAIN!? If you win or lose - you're still the same person. You'll play another round.
You'll win and lose and all that matters of the outcome - is how you handle yourself.

Remember you're out there to have fun so... happy disc'ing amigos.

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