It’s Time to Put Your Disc Golf Beginner Nerves to Rest
Picking up a new sport is tough. Chances are you’ll have some beginner nerves if you’re just starting out with disc golf. The following five tips will help reduce your anxiety and get you out and playing!
Tips to Overcome Disc Golf Beginner Nerves
1. Go to an Empty Field and Throw Your Discs to Get a Feel for Them.
We recommend this for a few reasons:
There’s probably a field closer to you than a disc golf course. Maybe it’s even the field you would normally play ultimate on. We like to go to football fields because the distance is marked out and you can measure your throws. If you can’t get to a football field, no problem. Any field will work as long as it’s not crowded with people doing stupid activities like shirtless crossfit, unicycle riding, or old man flag football.
You Won’t Lose Your Discs
It’s a lot harder to lose your discs while throwing on an open field. Notice that I did not say impossible. I once threw a disc that slid under a set of bleachers and got trapped (it’s still there, one day I’ll devise a way to get it). If you just go to a disc golf course without getting a feel for your discs, I promise you that you will spend the majority of your time looking for the discs in thorn bushes, swamps, or grass that the local parks department is too lazy to cut. Less searching means more throwing, and the more you throw the better you’ll get (just like ultimate).
On a disc golf course each hole is different (obviously) with different trees, elevation, and wind direction. There are also other players around you making you adjust your pace of play. On the field however, there are no trees, it’s flat, wind is in the same direction, and unless it is 5:25 and youth soccer practice is starting at 5:30, no one is rushing you. Thus, you can focus on developing a consistent form. Also, since you’re throwing from the same place you can easily film yourself to help understand what you’re doing wrong. Bonus if your phone has slow-motion recording!
You’ll find that as you get into disc golf you’ll be spending more time throwing on a field than at actual courses, so you might as well develop the habit as a beginner!
2. Find Someone to Play with You
Maybe you did this when you started playing ultimate. You were too nervous to go to pick-up alone, so you asked your roommate to come with you (like Brunch), or your Dad (like Nald back in his youth days). Well, surprise, surprise, the ask a friend (or your Dad) trick works in disc golf too.
When you go disc golfing with someone who has played before, that person can act as a huge resource for you. He can offer feedback on your form, answer your questions, and help with shot selection. You can always go disc golfing alone, but going with a friend not only makes it more enjoyable, but it also drastically reduces the beginner nerves you might be experiencing.
3. Play Your First Round at a Local Course at an Unpopular Time
When I played my first round of disc golf way back in high school before I even started playing ultimate, I had one Innova DX Aviar [Infinite]. I went to a crappy 9-hole course ten minutes from my house with two friends who also only had one disc.
Since we were high school kids on summer vacation, we went at like 11 AM on a Tuesday and the course was empty. Which was great, because we were garbage and had no idea what we were doing. Around hole five or six I lost my disc in a swamp. That led me to grab an Ultrastar [Infinite] from my car, and since no one was there I didn’t feel embarrassed playing with it.
So, go check out courses near you on the UDisc app. Then go play a course at an unpopular time if you can. If you can’t get out at an unpopular time because of work, I recommend going to a less popular course. It won’t be as crowded!
Wherever you go, try to avoid throwing into swamps. If you do lose your only disc, don’t let that keep you from playing again for four years like it did to for me! Buy another one on Amazon, on Infinite Discs, or at a local pro-shop, and get right back out there!
4. Don’t Be Afraid Of Making Mistakes
Starting a new sport is tough. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Even professionals throw the disc out of bounds and whiff on their putts. If you do happen to throw your drive into the tree 30 feet in front of you, at least you’re only hurting yourself (and maybe the tree). Alternatively, trying to throw a high-release inside lefty-backhand break on universe point for the first time ever in your life in your last college ultimate game ever doesn’t only break your spirit when it gets hand blocked, but also all of your TEAM’s spirit too. So I guess in that way, disc golf is pretty forgiving.
5. Play Your First Few Rounds Conservatively
If you’ve been playing ultimate for a while then you can probably throw a disc accuratly and consistently . If you can throw a disc consistently three to four times in a row, and you do that for every hole, you’ll end up with a solid score. You might not get any birdies (shooting 1 below par), but you also won’t have any devastating holes where your disc ends up in a swamp.
It’s okay to acknowledge that you’re new to the sport. That teenager in front of you that’s launching discs to within ten feet of the basket has probably been playing since he was eight. He is so familiar with the course that he can play it blindfolded. If you feel like he’s challenging your pride, run a break mark drill with him and you’ll hand block him every time.
Those long powerful shots won’t be there on your first time out, but with some field practice and course familiarity, you’ll be beating that 16 year old kid not only in break mark drills but in disc golf too!
For now, focus on what you can control, which are nice consistent and conservative shots. If you make a mistake, take a second to breath and refocus on your consistent and conservative beginner game plan.
Say Goodbye to Your Disc Golf Beginner Nerves!
Remember everyone is a beginner at some point. You won’t get better unless you get out there and play. We hope that you find the disc golf community to be kind, welcoming, and willing to help out just like the ultimate community. Smile and say hello! (Just not when someone is about to throw the disc). I’ve found most people to be very friendly and have even played rounds with total strangers. Occasionally you get someone who is super focused and serious and doesn’t acknowledge you, but that’s their problem, not your’s. At the end of the day, we’re all walking through the woods hurling plastic, and I hope most people can find the humor in that.
Let us know what you think. Post your questions and comments below! Make sure to check out our Ultimate Player’s Guide to Picking Up Disc Golf next!