A few ways to overcome the mental hurdles of wet weather
April 18, 2017 by Jacob Wilkins in Instruction with 2 comments
Last summer I had the (dis)pleasure of playing an amateur-only C-Tier event in the rain. It poured for about 10 or 11 holes during the first round of the tournament, and while it was less than ideal, I learned a lot from the experience. And we’re not talking about “pack extra towels,” here. Instead, I learned five things — five mental tips — which I would like to share with you to help you through your next bout of April showers.
1) Come to terms with the fact that you won’t play your best.
Let’s face it: How many times have you scored a personal best during a tournament anyway? There are multiple reasons you might not shoot like McBeth — pace of play limits your ability to “get in a groove” as you’re forced out of your comfort zone; the pressure of actual stakes, instead of just playing a casual round, get to you — and these issues can be exacerbated during rainy conditions. When the weather is worse, you have to adapt your game, once again taking you out of your rhythm. But if you understand that you might not be at your best, you’ve already tackled one mental hurdle. It might sound counter-intuitive, but lower expectations can keep your score lower, too.
2) Be safe.
This sounds much simpler than it is. I’m a firm believer in practicing like you play and playing like you practice. I’m also a firm believer in going into a tournament with a game plan, and the two disc golfers I like to emulate when I think about this are Nate Sexton and K.J. Nybo. Sexton is probably the best at sticking to his strategies; despite seeing players on his card run for greens with towering backhand drives, he’ll throw the lay-up forehand that he practiced all along. Nybo is probably the most prepared player on the course, as he takes his small notebook and documents every hole to a “T.”
Strategies, though, might have to change when adverse weather conditions strike your round. So what do I mean by “be safe”? I mean don’t push yourself to the limit. If you practiced a 90 percent drive leading up to the tournament, but the teepads are wet, don’t be a hero. During my tournament last year, I played my way onto the lead card for the second round. Although the rain had stopped for the most part, teepads were still very slick. One of my cardmates threw a shot at the power he was used to and he slipped on the teepad, resulting in some bruises and a nasty gash on his leg.
While the spill most certainly hurt physically, it also hurt him mentally. He confessed to the rest of the card that he had zero confidence in his ability to drive after the incident, resulting in him throwing the disc nose-up, high into the air. Had this player simply slowed down, shown control, and been safe, he probably would have played much better.
3) Don’t be afraid to disc up.
I just mentioned slowing down, which probably means you’re going to lose some distance. This is absolutely the case for me, and to compensate for this I learned that it’s okay to disc up to a higher speed disc that has more turn. If there was a hole that I could reach with a midrange in ideal conditions, I would disc up to a fairway driver and throw the disc slower and softer. The higher turn discs would fly straight, giving me the same result as throwing a midrange with more power.
4) Know when to disc down.
But wait, didn’t I just say to disc up? In some cases, yes. But, that is only the case for holes you feel like are “must gets.” If there’s a hole you can’t reach in normal conditions, it’s okay to disc down and throw a nice, controlled shot down the fairway. If you usually play a hole driver-putter-putt, maybe try throwing midrange-midrange-putt. This will force you to continue to play safe, as well as play smart. It might seem boring, but it certainly saved me some valuable strokes in my tournament.
5) Find your go-to disc.
While trapped in that first-round downpour, I found myself reaching for the same disc over and over again. Why? I think one reason is that it was a very reliable disc. My McPro Roc3 was beat in enough so that I could hyzer flip it to straight by throwing it gently. I had bagged the disc for every bit of a year, so I knew exactly what it was going to do. Another reason is because the plastic felt good in the hand, even if it was a little damp. I had a sure grip on the disc and had no worries about the disc slipping out of my fingers early. Finally, it just worked. I could trust it to do the job it was supposed to do — get to the middle of the fairway, or close enough for a putt. Even if it’s not a disc you would throw as frequently in a conventional round, feel free to lean on one that you can — literally — grip and rip.
Despite the awful conditions I played in, that’s the tournament I played the best in, according to ratings. All it took was looking on the sunny side, even when the sun didn’t shine. Have any soggy secrets to share? Leave them in the comments below or on our social media platforms and help us keep the conversation going.