You can play disc golf your entire life. Let that sink in. This is one of the main allures of this lifetime sport. Heck, just ask Don Shinn about how the sport keeps him young. Shinn is the world distance record holder for folks over 100 years old at 189 feet. “You have to have ambition and intention to do something; then you make yourself very young.” His sentiment sums up an approach to the sport that will keep you playing throughout your life. Simply put in the effort and concentration, and the sport will reciprocate you with physical and mental rewards all through the years.
Let’s go to where the rubber meets the road. The place where most people accrue injuries and bad habits. Most people play disc golf for the fun of the sport and not for the athletic prowess of being the best. This is entirely understandable. Players often feel like stretching or technique or a positive mental outlook are unnecessary when they play so infrequently. This article will show you how these exact elements will bring joy to your game and longevity to your career, no matter how often you play.
Treat Disc Golf As A Sport
The first step to longevity in disc golf is to treat it as a sport. This means having an approach that respects the sport and preparing your body and mind for action. I’ve seen countless people, myself included, open their car door, walk straight to the first tee, and unleash a max power shot. What?!?! The body may be able to handle this a time or two, but this is not sustainable for a lifetime in the sport. Yes, disc golf may simply be a hobby to you. It may be an activity you do with your friends on a rare occasion. I still urge you to treat disc golf as a sport. This includes stretching, eating proper food before and during a round, and focusing on each and every shot. Applying mental focus makes every activity more enjoyable. It simply means that you care. Disc golf is a rare activity where you only need to apply this concentration for short periods of time. Simply spend fifteen seconds before your shot to analyze the necessary factors, and then let it rip. Then enjoy being outdoors with your friends until it is your time to throw again. This simple concentration will lead to a respect for the game that permeates your enjoyment of the sport.
Warm Up And Stretch!
This may be the single most important aspect of a long disc golf career. Stretching prepares the body for the various stressors put on it throughout a round. The first parts of the body to stretch are obvious; the shoulders and arms. Continue to work down the body until all parts down to the feet are adequately stretched. Many folks balk at the idea of stretching before a round. I get it. Excitement is high, and you simply want to get onto the course. However, adequate stretching can be attained in fifteen minutes and will improve your game.
There are two main types of stretches; static stretches and dynamic stretches. Static stretches are those in which you stand, sit or lie still and hold a single position for a period of time, up to about 45 seconds. Dynamic stretches are controlled movements that prepare your muscles, ligaments, and other soft tissues for performance and safety. A quality disc golf warm-up routine combines both of these. Check out this video from Seth Munsey at Disc Golf Strong for a specific warm-up routine that will have you ready for your rounds.
Learn Proper Technique
Disc golf is a sport with very specific repetitive motions. As a result, players are prone to repetitive use injuries. The best way to prevent this from happening is to learn the proper technique in your throwing motion. This starts from the ground up.
Your legs are the foundation of your throw. Use them! The more you use your lower body, the less you will overthrow with your upper body. This leads to great balance in your throws. No matter what type of shot you are throwing, remember to engage your legs by having a strong
front plant foot. This allows for weight transfer through the most important part of the throw; your hips. Fire your hips through to get your body set up in the power pocket. This hip explosion pulls your throwing arm through to release the disc.
With your technique, remember that slow is smooth and smooth is far. Try not to overthrow as this can lead to injury. This is especially true as you age. Muscle memory is your friend as you grow into the proper technique. Check out Simon Lizotte’s form critique video for a breakdown of proper technique.
Bringing It All Together
Disc golf is a giving sport. Just think how much you have benefitted from the sport. How much time have you spent with friends in the woods? How expensive has it been? How has your physical health improved? How has your mental health improved? There are countless other ways that the sport gives back. If you treat the sport properly and do a few things right, this can be a mutually beneficial relationship for a lifetime. These aspects include treating disc golf as a sport, warming up adequately, and learning proper technique. Do these things, and you will enjoy a lifetime on the course. Who knows, maybe someday you will challenge Don Shinn’s record!