We’ve gathered some top tips for women looking to evolve their game
May 16, 2017 by Courtney Elder in Instruction with 2 comments
Managing expectations can be difficult in any area of our lives, and for those of us who are competitive it becomes an even greater challenge on the disc golf course. It’s one thing to want to kick butt during a women’s tournament, but since disc golf is still such a male-dominated sport, how can we grow our skills without getting frustrated that the boys can beat us?
Just a few months ago my husband and I went to California to visit friends and family. We had some free time and decided to meet a long-time friend at one of the beautiful courses in the area. I had commented to my husband that I had never actually played disc golf with this person, to which he replied, “He hardly plays, you’ll probably be better than him.”
Guess what happened: This friend of ours outdrove me on every hole and ended up shooting significantly lower than I did. Now, I’m not that great of a golfer, but the fact that a guy who’s “not that good” can still whoop me really got me thinking: Instead of comparing myself to how a man performs in the sport, what can I do to work on my game?
Know Your Tools
When I first started playing disc golf I was absolutely overwhelmed at the amount of discs there were to choose from. How do I know what plastic to throw, and what’s the difference between all of the brands? For women who are just starting out or are at an intermediate level, there should be a more narrow focus on the discs you throw.
Rather than getting caught up in all the different names out there, focus on finding a lightweight disc that feels good in your hands. I remember one of my first discs I ever got new was a 144-gram Innova Mamba in from Women’s Global Event players pack. I was so excited to get my own disc (all my others were hand-me-downs from my husband) that I felt really tied to throwing it. Unfortunately, the rim was too wide for me to find a comfortable grip, and I ended up being frustrated that it didn’t do what I wanted.
To this point, Open Women’s player Shawna Buzzingham, who plays a ton of events in the Pacific Northwest, offered some advice.
“Buy your own new discs,” Buzzingham said. “It’s exciting to pick out cool colors, slower [and] less stable discs that fit well in your hand and feel good.” Trying to put together a good round with discs that don’t work for you is like trying to run a marathon in flip-flops: It works, but it’ll hurt.
Having recently moved up to the Open Women’s field, Hannah Croke seconded Buzzingham’s advice, noting that “lower arm speed or less power equals lighter discs.” Sometimes it takes a while to really get our form to a place where we have the power required to throw certain weight discs, so keeping it light will help from the start.
Keep It Simple
Remember when I talked about being overwhelmed by all of the discs out there and how I instantly latched onto my first players pack disc? Trying to use too many types of discs before getting comfortable with how they fly is another area where we can really step up our game. I can recall watching several pro men’s “In The Bag” videos, then comparing my bag to theirs and thinking, “Why do they have six different fairway molds, and I only have two?”
It wasn’t just me who felt that way, though. 2014 PDGA World Champion Catrina Allen shared a story that illustrates how even those players who go on to be top pros can have the same experiences.
“When I first started playing, I played my first few tourneys with less than 10 discs,” Allen said. “I won a tournament after only playing for a few months and received a lot of new discs. I played my next tournament with a bag full of new discs. I played so badly that I got last place. I had way too many options. I had someone suggest to going back to my go-to discs and only added discs when I really knew how they flew.”
While Allen’s point is applicable to anyone in the sport, I think it’s common for women to feel like they need a ton of discs just to keep up with the men on the course. I’m certainly guilty of feeling like I should have just as much variety as my husband does in his bag, but then I have to remind myself that he’s been playing four times as long as I have.
How’s Your Form?
Again, discussions about form are relevant for any gender in disc golf, yet I think women tend to fall into the trap of trying to crush to keep up with men and sacrifice learning proper form first.
On tour for the first time, Erika Stinchcomb found that she wanted so badly to throw 350 feet that she didn’t focus on proper technique. The result is that she is working diligently to unlearn six years of bad form, knowing that once her body movements have been dialed in, that distance will return.
“Playing with men and seeing them throw over 400 feet can also be frustrating, so again distance over form becomes the priority,” Stinchcomb said. “Improving your form will lead to more distance. So be patient, work with the distance range you have, and it will improve as your form improves.”
I see this to be true even when doing field work with my husband. He can throw a midrange from a stand-still and it goes farther than my distance driver on a run-up. I even tell him “I just wanna crush it!” but find when I really try to, my form goes out the window.
Don’t Get In Your Head
The mental aspect of being a woman in disc golf seems to have a lot to do with one’s success, as well. Just like with any other element of the game, each person finds different ways that work for them.
“I’m a huge fan of women learning to play with other women,” Buzzingham said. She likes to take the approach of women really sticking together and supporting each other while they learn.
Others like to use competition as inspiration. Still relatively new to the competitive scene, Florida native Abigail Farrow has a different approach.
“I personally love to practice with males versus females,” Farrow said. “When I see the males crush at the course, it makes me work a bit harder!”
Improving your game takes a lot of time, practice, and determination. Remember that your only competition is the course, and give yourself the tools you need to succeed. Do you have any great tips for women players? Share them in the comments below.