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Byrdman recently posted a blog on this website labelled " A New Found Love of the Game". That blog induced my response below. Here at discgolfersR.us, for whatever reason, Forum discussions are more active than Blogs. Perhaps this topic is worthy of thought and comments. Byrdman's comments are worth reading. Maybe he will join us here, too.


The thrill of competition is so intoxicating when we play well. Yet the disappointment of playing poorly is so intense when we play poorly.

There are some players, with far greater emotional control (and wisdom) than I possess, who can enjoy playing the game even when they play poorly. I am so impressed and envious of players who have that ability. I know I don't have it yet and perhaps never will.

I do NOT view a tournament round as a challenge pitting me versus the other players in my division. I also do NOT view a tournament as a challenge pitting me versus the course. The challenge is me versus myself. I have an expectation of how well I can and should perform. If I play well (based on my expectations) then I am happy and satisfied, even giddy-win, lose or draw. If I play poorly (based on my expectations) then I am disappointed or maybe even disgusted with myself-win, lose or draw.

Some people are good at hiding their emotions. I am not. When I play poorly, even in practice, I am not a happy boy. In that situation, as a matter of fairness and courtesy to others in my presence who are also striving to perform, it is my responsibility to try not to cause harm to them. The whole yelling, bag kicking, delaying the progress of the round with my emotional response is wrong and I try so hard to avoid it. Mostly I just retreat into a shell, say little or nothing and fight to overcome my own funk. There must be some way to break out of that shell. Any advice?

Is it a guarrantee that when we get mad our luck goes bad? Is it true that the madder we get the worse our luck turns out? Does every close putt bounce out when we are really pissed off?

I don't think a player has an obligation (ethically or otherwise) to be happy and jovial and fun to be around while playing. I think players have the right to be unhappy with themselves but not to overtly/purposely interfere with the others in their playing group. This is different for golf than other facets of life and other games. Some games ethically allow us to mess with our opposition ( Hey, batter, batter, batter swing! The pitcher has a rubber arm! Heckling is just part of some games and competitors have to learn to overcome it. Heckling is not accepted behavior in golf. The high standard of courtesy and ethics in golf is one of its true beauties that separates it from other endeavors.)

I had a great coach when I played racquetball tournaments (my sport prior to frisbee) and he had a very wise rule that I have adopted as my own. You have the right to be unhappy with yourself. Try not to be a jerk about it. You can be unhappy following a round, based on personal disappointment, for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes drop it and return to the human race. No more pouting, sulking, griping or beating yourself up after 20 minutes. Get ready for the next round.

The ability to compete absolutely requires the ability to overcome disappointment. Or one bad round will cripple you forever.

I played a doubles tournament with a friend as my partner. He is a good player and and a good guy and I have a lot of respect for him as a player and a person. He is especially good at the skill of putting. Putting is historically my biggest weakness. My goal going into the event was not to cause us to lose based on my putting. Or put another way, I hoped to putt well. ((I expect to drive well. I usually drive well. I did drive well. But driving doesn't matter much because driving does not equate to scoring well.)) As it turned out, I putted well (for me) and we did not even cash. I did not care that we didn't win. I didn't care that we didn't cash. I was a happy boy. I would be happy to play with this partner again. We didn't beat the other teams in our division. We didn't beat the course. But when I met my personal expectations and performed well under presssure, I was a happy boy. If I had sucked then I would have sulked and apologized to my partner for sucking and gotten over it 20 minutes after the round ended. Then I would have had a very cold beer.

That is another great thing about the game of golf. Even if you suck no one punishes you. Even if you suck you can still have a beer when you are done. I think the act of competing makes a person a better, stronger person: physically and emotionally.

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great point the greats don't look happy either they seam to pull it in and crank it to a new level. That's the trick bringing to the new level. Tiger,Jordan, Sampras, when chips are down they crank it up. Looking for that in my game. Maybe that's what has made them so great. How about Climo, I am sure he has had some bad shots but his success stands alone in our sport. Some how he is able to do what the greats all do bring it to that higher level.

mark ellis said:
Chuck Kennedy said:
Mark: If I don't get upset when I suck then what is my motivation not to suck next time? If I had a coach who watched me suck, shouldn't he ream me out for sucking? Doesn't there have to be a penalty for pitifulness?

Chuck: Note I never said you shouldn't get upset at your effort, just your outcome. If the reason for the poor result is based on your mental, physical or practice lapses, versus what happens after the disc leaves your hand that's out of your control, get upset because it's something you can fix. The trick is separating what results were due to your lack of effort versus the more random results that can still occur from a high level of effort.

Chuck, I hear what you are saying but golf is not just about effort. If the task were weight lifting or running or a task where the only real question is how much effort I put out then that would be different. Say I am lifting weights. There is no doubt a form component to my maximum possible performance. But anything within my realistic weight range is just effort. Making a putt is not effort, it is control. Golf is not effort so much as it is a game of control.

Some days in golf your timing is a hair off. Some days in golf your luck sucks and your timing is a hair off. You tried hard. You prepared well. You were close to being effective. But you sucked. In this situation, if you are as as cool as a cucumber and as happy as a clam (or other equally inane cliches) will you perform better and recover sooner?

I have witnessed great athletes under pressure via the magic of TV. Jordan, Tiger, etc. They didn't look to me like they were happy when playing bad or getting unluckily. They looked freakin intense. Did their attitude lead to their greatness?
Thanks Mark for giving me props. I think I will join in on the forum, especially if it is more active. I recently responded to my own blog to clarify a few points. I have been playing the same courses and tournaments for some time and feel I am in a rut. I agree that competition makes a better discgolfer. I want to play different courses and with different players.
Not to say that I will not play with my friends anymore, but I need that fresh feeling. I want to play some PDGA events next year and challenge myself.

The other point was negative players. There are a few players I encounter on a regular basis that treat discgolf like baseball. They intentionally heckle me and other players. They make intentional sarcastic comments to rattle me and I do let it get in my head. Therefore I stated I was going to remove myself from the situation by limitimg my play with these people. To do this, I will play different courses and tournaments. I want to find balance in my game and not act out if I get upset. I want to keep my emotions in check. I do not want to affect another players game in a negative way. I am definately going to try the 20 minute idea, Mark. It is unreasonable to think I won't get upset if I am playing bad, but my response to playing bad is the key. I will play discgolf as long as my health allows!!! Maybe we can have that beer together after a round someday.
Try to stay away from the negative and think positive !!!!
The thing I remember hearing a lot when I used to watch baseball was how some pitcher obviously didn't have his "good stuff" that day, but fought through it, put in a good 7 innings and gave his team a chance. That's what I try to remember when I'm sucking out there. I just try to keep it together to give myself a chance at a good score. Sometimes it's rewarding to put in a substandard score on a day when your game was newbie-ish. Imploding doesn't usually help, though I'll admit to testing it out once-in-awhile, just checking to make sure.

It helps to have sympathetic players in your group, too. A couple of months ago we were playing a mini at a place with an over-the-water shot. It's not a particularly hard shot but a tomahawker had two straight candy discs slip out of his hand and go up, up, up and then splash. He ended up with an 8 on the hole and we all gave him some time to regroup (and he needed it), and we never gave him a pep talk or anything.

I don't like it when someone tries to talk someone out of a bad moment "it's just a game" etc. I'd prefer to be left to act out, get over it and move on. If they do it all the time, I'd not play with that person, but it happens to everyone once-in-awhile. We're human.

I have witnessed great athletes under pressure via the magic of TV. Jordan, Tiger, etc. They didn't look to me like they were happy when playing bad or getting unluckily. They looked freakin intense. Did their attitude lead to their greatness?
Poking fun at yourself when you screw up helps me sometimes to keep cool within a crummy round. Its hard to explain, but its kinda like the redneck-humor comedians. Thats the one I like to use.
One of the best aspects of the game for me and my mindset is, I may make the worst throw of my life, but my next throw maybe the best throw of my life.
No doubt!!!This is a great site. I have really found the info i have been looking for here since i took up disc golf. This is a great article and is making me see that when i put another notch in a tree that i should not get angry but move on and concentrate on the next shot!!

Jack Davis said:
Now there is a good way to look at it!

I swear I thank the DISC GODS that I found this site there is always something to be read and learned here.

Craig said:
when i get stressed/frustrated i try to imagine waters solution to blockage....simply go around. Be like water, flow like water. All problems can be washed away if you are willing to let go.
Byrdman, how'd you get the keys to unlock my brain? Even worse, how could you just go and spew it forth like this all over DGRUS? How dare you ;-P

Thank you for sharing! You are definitely not alone. I've come to the realization that I am my only enemy on the course. I haven't figured out how to let the third missed putt go - 1,2, I'm alright, the third, might as well pack it in - complete MELTDOWN - I can't wait to get off the course, into my car and off to ANYTHING else - chores, taxes, work, volunteering to follow horses on parade, sitting in traffic, ANYTHING else.

I've been given amazing advice about this - from many of the best that have ever played. I've applied some of it...successfully a couple of times, but I inevitably throw all that out the window and delve into the deepest, darkest, negative place I know - I get overly consumed with trying to minimize my impact on others on the course - I'll be the last to walk off the hole, hanging back - throwing on the iPod, ignoring the fun in the game. I stop being social and smoke like a damn chimney. I start suffering from nausea, get headaches - a COMPLETE MESS!

I've been working on it, but I still suffer from it - shooting -6 one round, the next round +1 - it's kind of a sick joke but my Bros simply refer to it as "Suicide Watch." It's been back and forth like this for a couple weeks now where I'm posting great scores for me, but then one of these rounds, where I can't sink a damn 20 foot birdie putt, or save one for par for that matter, sneaks in and my head just explodes.

To me, it's an overwhelming amount of work to keep my composure thorough a bad round - but, that's the bridge I have to cross to continue to elevate my game. I'm just so damn frustrated from being able to produce awesome golf shots regularly, only to follow them up with putting past the basket 30 feet, or shanking the next drive into a tree after sinking a 45 footer. Some say, I love this game too much, it causes me to be unrealistic with my personal expectations - so true!

Just like everything else in this game, the only way beyond it...play through it. Here's to those of us who meltdown...salud! cheers! nostrovia! lahiem!

by Bob Rotella

Sports Psychologist

Rotellas Ten Commandments: (*adapted for Disc Golf)

I. Play to play great. Don't play not to play poorly.

II. Love the challenge of the day, whatever it may be.

III. Get out of results and get into process.

IV. Know that nothing will bother or upset you on the golf course, and you will be in a great state of mind for every shot.

V. Playing with a feeling that the outcome doesn't matter is almost always preferable to caring too much.

VI. Believe fully in yourself so you can play freely.

VII. See where you want the *disc to go before every shot.

VIII. be decisive, committed, and clear.

IX. Be your own best friend.

X. Love your *roc and your putter.

Excerpts from "Golf is Not a Game of Perfect"

...this is the first mental principle a golfer must learn: A person with great dreams can achieve great things. A person with small dreams, or a person with out the confidence to pursue his or her dreams, has consigned himself or herself to a life of frustration and mediocrity.

...golfing potential depends primarily on a player's attitude, on how well he plays with the wedges and the putter, and on how well he thinks.

...champions all have a few common characteristics. They are all strong-willed, they all have dreams, and they all make a long-term commitment to pursue those dreams.

...If a golfer chooses to go after greatness, he must understand that he will encounter frustration and disappointment a long the way. Big improvements require working and chipping away for years. A golfer has to learn to enjoy the process of striving to improve.

...A golfer can and must decide how he will think.

...You cannot hit a golf ball consistently well if you think about the mechanics of your swing as you play!!! A golfer must train his swing and then trust it. When great players are playing well, trust becomes a habit. The golfer executes his shots without being aware that he trusts his swing. He simply picks out a target, envisions the kind of shot he wants to hit, and hits it.

...If you wish to play your best golf, you can't wait until a few putts fall and a couple of birdies go on the scorecard before you start trusting. You have to start replicating the state of mind you have on a hot streak as soon as you step onto the first tee. No matter what happens during your round, you have to strive to maintain that state of mind. You have to stay out of your own way.

...Attitude is what makes a great putter. Putting is largely mental, and you have control over your mind and attitude. To become a good putter, you must make a commitment to good thinking. You have to fill your mind with thoughts that will help you, not excuses for poor putting. You have to decide that, come what may, you love putting and you're glad that every hole gives you a chance to use your putter, because that where you've got a big advantage over all the players who dread putting.

...No matter what happens with any shot you hit, accept it. Acceptance is the last step in a sound routine.

...Good golfers, I think, have to get over the notion that they only want to win by hitting perfect shots. They have to learn to enjoy winning ugly. And that entails acceptance of all the shots they hit, not just the good ones.

...But the question is, does it do any good to get angry? Getting angry is one of your options. But if you choose to get angry, you are likely to get tighter. That's going to hurt your rhythm and your flow. It will upset you and distract you. It will switch on your analytical mind and your tendency to criticize and analyze anything you do that falls short of perfection. It will start you thinking about the mechanical flaws in your sing and trying to correct them. You will very likely play worse. Alternatively you could train yourself to accept the fact that as a human being, you are prone to mistakes. Golf is a game played by human beings; therefore, golf is a game of mistakes. The best golfers strive to minimize mistakes but they don't expect to eliminate them

we have this statement on our club's website ....... as a play aid hope u enjoy it.
I think I could have played a round of disc golf in the time it took to read all thes posts.Great stuff though.Just learn to enjoy it for what it is, a freakin awsome game.
Ever read the Inner Game of Tennis?
It's all about emotions and acceptance.
Accept the shot.
It's when you know you are not trying that's the problem.
Remember Payne Stewart before he started winning?
He was always angry, then learned to let it go.
Life is short, we all must learn to let it go...
Man, this is interesting stuff. I noticed this last season - I would feel negative about a round, but then realize "I just shot my average!" This post (which I'm printing to read again away from the computer) is really positive direction playing. Thanks all.

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