The mental side of athletics is often overlooked. We look at professionals and see their amazing abilities but we often forget that their decisions and ability to focus might give them the largest advantage. Disc golf is no different. Two players with similar physical ability can play entirely different based on these invisible factors originating in the mind.
I’ve come up with a simple way to remember the three basic mental steps that should be part of every throw: ACE! After all, why not think of an ace on every shot. The acronym stands for Analyze, Commit, and Execute.
First, analyze all the variables. Do your best to check your distance, the wind direction, slope of the ground at your feet and target, and all potential lines to the basket. This is also the only time where the word “miss” can be thought or mentioned. Think about your line and disc choice and then think about the potential landing areas if the disc doesn’t hit your target to ensure you don’t leave yourself in a bad place. At the end of analysis, you should have gathered enough information to make a choice of line and disc. Take a few seconds now to visualize the shape of your shot based on all of the data collected.
“Every shot you take you should be able to imagine exactly where the shot should land, how it should fly, how it should feel leaving your hand.”
Next, it is very important to commit to these choices. After this point there is no need to think about the variables we have already analyzed. There’s also no need to think about lunch, the big project deadline at work, or the putt you missed three holes ago. You absolutely must clear your mind, commit to your decision, and keep your thoughts on the next shot only.
“Doubt is the unseen killer of most people’s game. Any shot you take, you must believe you will make.”
As you are about to execute your shot, you’ll need to trust everything. Do not second-guess your committed line or disc choice. Do not worry about changes in the wind. Do not doubt your skills. The thinking is over. Trust your analysis, your plastic, and your ability. It is time to let your subconscious take over and just throw.
“Zen in disc golf is to just throw the disc. Don’t get bogged down with too much thinking. Allow yourself to just throw.”
The mental side of disc golf is just as important as technique, fitness, and gear. Analyze, Commit, and Execute should be a basic framework for your approach to every shot. Get out there and ACE your way around the course!