Four disc golf-specific training videos will help keep your game upright
August 29, 2017 by Seth Munsey in Instruction with 0 comments
My home course, Ryan Ranch, has a par 3 that can turn into a double bogey, or worse, for the best players. I’m sure there’s a hole like that at your home course, as well.
What makes hole 5 so difficult? Almost the entire hole is played on a steep incline composed of unstable terrain that constantly challenges your footing. If you don’t make it from the teepad to the top shelf on your first throw, you are almost guaranteed to be throwing your second shot from a position that forces your body to work harder simply to maintain balance and stability.
Confidence is one of the first things that can be shaken if the body isn’t balanced and stable when throwing. We have all taken those shots that put us in positions that bring to mind thoughts like, “I better not fall here and break something.” Notions like this affect our mindset, which directly affects our performance.
Training for balance and stability increases confidence and promotes increased mental space to focus more intently on our line and where we want the disc to land.
Balance and stability are essential athletic qualities that are expressed throughout an entire round. In all aspects of the game, your body is always engaging muscles (both big and small), shifting your bodyweight, raising or lowering your center of gravity, and much more — all with the goal of keeping upright and balanced.
Incorporating movements that will improve these qualities will not only make you a stronger and healthier disc golfer; it will also raise your confidence as you throw on unstable surfaces and in unbalanced stances.
What exactly are balance and stability?
Balance is your ability to maintain your center of gravity over your base of support. An example would be when you are in your stance position getting ready to putt. You want to feel as balanced as possible in this position.
When discussing stability, I’m talking about the stability of the muscles surrounding your joints. Lack of joint stability will make it more challenging to stay balanced, as well as increase the risk of injury to the joint itself.
Right now, you may be thinking, “I rarely feel unbalanced and unstable. Why do I need to improve?” Just as pounding the basket will make you a better putter, training your balance and stability will make you a stronger, healthier, and more injury-resistant disc golfer who plays with more confidence during the times when your balance and stability are challenged.
Before we get into the ”how,” I want to quickly address a common myth.
For a long time it was widely believed that, in order to train balance, a person needed to be on an unstable implement such as a BOSU ball or wobble board. That led to many people doing many unnecessary and injury-prone exercises, such as squats on top of an inflated ball. Research has shown this to not be the case.
Studies have actually revealed that training on stable surfaces — but in unstable stances or with an unbalanced upper body — is more effective in most cases. So you don’t have to do one-leg stands on a wobble board to get better at disc golf. We actually train more effectively for the sport by positioning our bodies in unstable stances such as half-kneeling, split-stance, and single-leg stance.
Below are four exercises that, when implemented on a consistent basis, can have a big impact on increasing your balance and stability. I highly recommend you complete these exercises barefoot. This allows the muscles in your feet to engage the ground and relays important feedback to your brain via your nervous system.
This is one of the first exercises I send to anyone I work with. Getting into a half-kneeling stance will challenge the stabilizing muscles in your hips and core, which all play a big role in keeping you balanced. Including the halos around your head with a disc not only increases the balance challenge, but also helps to improve shoulder and upper back mobility. Make sure to keep your torso as still as possible while doing the halos.
Being able to hinge at your hips without bending through your lower back is one of the most fundamental and important human movements that everyone should be able to do. Rounding your lower spine under any amount of load increases the chance of a back injury. Learning how to hinge through your hips properly will lower unnecessary strain on your lower back and distribute it more to your glutes, the muscles in your butt. The glutes are the largest and strongest muscles in your body. They are also instrumental in maintaining balance and stability in your hips and core. Both strengthening and learning how to properly engage your glutes will strongly benefit your disc golf game.
Staggered Stance Hip Hinge with Balance
Once you have a good grasp of the hip hinge movement, it’s time to progress it into a staggered stance position. Essentially you are doing a hip hinge, but with 80 to 90 percent of your weight on a single leg. This position really ups the stability challenge for your hip muscles. Make sure to focus on keeping your hips from shifting left or right as you move through the hinge and into the single leg balance.
Increasing your leg strength with the split squat will not only increase your ability to create power, but will also improve your balance and joint stability in your hips as well. Focus on driving your front heel into the ground as you rise from the bottom position. If you have any pre-existing knee pain, focus on the top three exercises first. They might help your knee pain decrease or go away all together. Then add in the split squats down the road.
I recommend completing 5 to 10 reps of each exercise, 2 to 4 times per week. The slower you move through each rep, the more challenging the exercise becomes, so keep it slow and smooth.
If you want to learn more about staying Disc Golf Strong, visit DiscGolfStrong.com to download a free pre-round warm up e-book, and a free jump start bodyweight training program.