Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Finding Balance

Zen time again! It's not too bad though, I promise.
The tee box sits at your feet as you roll the disc back and forth between your hands. Your body is loose, mind is clear and there's not a peep of concern anywhere near the old grey matter.  Step, step, step - blast off. The disc arcs, flexes, skips up within striking distance of the pin.

High fives and pats on the back - you feel your spirits soar. This is gonna be a great round!

Now your disc sits at your feet as you hold your putter loosely in front of you. You go through your routine, your mental check list, practice strokes, lower your center of gravity and quiet any inner voices. You release the disc and watch as it flies just off the mark. Your stomach drops out the bottom of your feet. Your head swims and you feel your neck heat up as your blood pressure sky rockets.

These two emotions are polar opposites: pain and pleasure. Punishment and reward. Sonny and Cher.

Is it possible to perform your best, regularly, when your emotions are swinging back and forth? Do you think these swings in physical and mental emotions help your confidence?

Let's try a strange little exercise. Close your eyes right now. Damn, OPEN THEM BACK UP! I forgot you have to read this first, so AFTER you read this - close your eyes. Imagine the feeling of missing a putt that is well within your range. Tap into the disappointment and anger. Feel it? Not good is it? Now move your imaginary self back 50' from the bucket, and imagine the feeling of a perfect shot floating gently into the chains. Feel the joy of nailing a really tough shot. Damn, that was pretty.

Now back to the miss. Feel that miss... the dissapointment. It sucks.
Now immediately let your emotions go back to the joy of the made shot. It's great!

Now feel BOTH emotions at the same time. Both together. For me it's a very strange sensation - almost like my hands are heavy and my mind is swirling in an other worldly zone.

I think that we can agree that feeling the burn of missing the shot, immediately causes a physical reaction. When I allow myself to go to the missed shot emotion, it's like my hands are heavy, my heart feels low in my chest and my center of balance feels very much in my head. Is there any way that having those emotions is going to help your game? No chance. It's exhausting and not the best state of mind for facing your next shot.

So what can we do to avoid this feeling? It's not just one thing to fix it unfortunately - and everybody is different so let's not think that there's just one road across town. For me what helps is having a thought that goes like this:

I get to take responsibility for what happens before I let go of the disc. I take my time, get into a good place mentally, stay loose, take deep breathes, visualize the flight, commit to my decision, shoot and then I'm done. I've made my shot. In or out, that's not on me. I did my part before the disc left my hand. Every player from the best in the world to me is going to have putts that don't hole out - so I'm going to consider my shot a success if I did my part, regardless of where it lands.

Making your putt is not dependent on the disc ending up in the basket. And that is just a thought from the monk Mr. Rabten HeavyDisc. And when you see me quietly weeping after my brother hits me with a "Steve Perry" right before I bounce it off the top - you can feel free to ask where the Zen Buddha is.


  1. Another great article.. I wasn't actually able to finish it though as my eyes were closed. Was there more to the exercise than just closing your eyes?

    1. SLEEEEEEP ALAN. Sleeeeeeeep.

      When you awake you will be a chicken... and you will never miss another putt....

      3...2...1... And you're back.