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How to Regain Confidence

By Nicholas Wilson | 04/19/2022
How to Regain Confidence

Confidence on the disc golf course is a fickle beast. One minute you drain a 40-foot putt as confidence soars and on the next tee you hit the first available tree and want to go hide in the bushes. I know the feeling. But you must keep playing. You must keep throwing the disc. But how do you move on from turmoil when you feel your round is circling the toilet bowl? The answer rests in two areas; your mental game and practice.

What Is Confidence?

Google Dictionary defines confidence as follows;

“The feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust.” As well as;

“A feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.”

What this boils down to is your mental game. Your ability to be confident resides in a space where no matter what happens on the course you know you can step up to your next shot and execute. Be resilient. Confidence requires you to be malleable with what happens on the course. Unfortunately, you will not throw every shot exactly where you plan and you will not make every putt. Even the best disc golfers in the world have to deal with disappointment. How is it that players such as Paul McBeth and Ricky Wysocki retain their confidence through struggles? The answer lies in repetition and relaxation techniques.

Confidence Through Repetition

The more you do something the more confidence you have that you can be successful in that endeavor. Disc golf is no different. Practice, practice, practice! It’s all been said before but it is so very true. The arena where this shows up consistently is on the putting green. Putting is the easiest skill to improve upon because putting requires little space to practice. Even if you cannot get out to the course or a field you can find a green space near home to practice your putting. This will give you physical skills as well as the confidence of repetition. Rely on this practice as a means for confidence throughout your rounds.

Nate Sexton is a wonderful putter. He is world-class with his straddle putting stance and is known to be one of the best inside the circle putters in the world. One of his suggestions is to have a putting distance inside which you have the utmost confidence that you will sink the putt. This transfers from practice putting into your competitive rounds. He offers up a tip to regain confidence when a player misses a short putt that was inside their confident zone.

“Say you are unfortunate to miss, say, an 18-20 foot putt. Obviously, you’re going to be frustrated about that…The little mental trick I like to use in that situation is I think back in my round ‘was there a time when I made a putt from outside my confident zone?’ If I had, I like to automatically switch those outcomes in my head and say ‘I made the short one, I missed the long one, we’re at a totally normal day and we’re moving on.’”

Missing short putts can be so frustrating! It can derail a round and send a player on a downward spiral. Sexton goes on to say this about maintaining confidence through adversity;

“What that does for me is insulate me against the feeling of panic that can set in when you do miss that short putt…What that switch(ie tip from before) allows me to do is stay as even-keeled as possible and keep as much of my confidence positive and helping me as I play my tournament round.”

How To Limit Panic And Regain Confidence

So it feels like the wheels are falling off and worlds are colliding. You have lost confidence and everything is confusing. What to do? Remember these four steps. Recognize, slow down, breathe, recite.

  1. Recognize– Know that this negative process is simply making a mental note and you are on your way to redirecting your mental state.
  2. Slow Down– Slow everything. Slow down your decision-making process. Slow down your conversations. Slow down your walking pace. This external softening will lead to an internal softening.
  3. Breathe– Take a minute to yourself and start with three deep breaths. This will calm down the body which will, in turn, calm down the mind. Find some space where you can be by yourself and start to implement calming strategies.
  4. Recite– Implement calming strategies. Recite positive affirmations. These will reinstate confidence in the system with a can-do attitude. These affirmations can be as simple as “Yes” or “I.” Find a phrase that works for you and repeat it throughout your round. Other strategies include listening to music, muscle relaxation, intentionally smiling, and many more. Check out this article from Psychology Today for a more in-depth breakdown of relaxation techniques.

No matter how many times you need to go through this process it is always worth it. Sometimes I recite positive affirmations for an entire round. Sometimes my mental space is simply negative and this is the only way to keep moving forward. And it works. I have played some of the best rounds of my career while reciting such affirmations. Do what works for you and use these steps as long as you need them.

Bringing It All Together

Your disc golf career is a rollercoaster ride. Whether you had a difficult year or week or round or shot, you will be faced with adversity. This is inevitable. The key to maintaining confidence is how you react to such adversity. You can start behind the scenes by having a consistent practice regimen. This instills confidence on a deep level. Then, when adversity strikes on the course, remember the four steps to calm yourself to lead you back into a confident mental state; recognize, slow down, breathe, and recite. I hope you miss all of the trees but if not, may you retain your confidence of mind.

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