Chris Davies. Edited by Martin Galley
How to Putt more Proficiently by Practicing Properly
Updated: Sep 29, 2022
Many players entirely ignore the mental side of putting – and as a result, they teach themselves to fail, when they practice putting.
It is absolutely true that disc golf is nothing but technique and timing. But, it is also true that the other 95% is mental. And hence this lengthy article.
While many practice regimens address the technique and timing aspects of putting, few properly train the mind, or build deep confidence. Below, I'll detail how other regimens fail, what's necessary to properly train your mind, what you need to avoid at all costs, then I'll provide you with a practice regimen which will advance your putting as quickly as possible, and finally, I'll show you how you can avoid going backwards again in the future.
But first, an anecdote; I often find myself laughing quietly at lunch time during a tournament, as I watch hapless disc golfers stand 10-15 metres from a practice basket, missing shot after shot, after shot, and eventually sinking one. I laugh because this is the very essence of self-destructive mental programming. It is quite literally the worst thing you can do, short of slamming your throwing hand in a car door. EDIT: And due to a violently adverse reaction to the above paragraph from a player at /r/discgolf I now have to explain that in no way am I being an asshole by not trying to help people who are doing what I describe above: standing far away, and missing repeatedly! I do whatever I can, at tournaments, to help people wherever and whenever I can. I hold mini clinics for people at the end of the day, and talk to people in the evening, about things I have seen them doing during the day.
BUT - as a natural teacher I have to be very careful about how I approach people. I must be acutely aware of their ego, and taylor what I say to avoid either hurting people's feelings, or failing to explain myself adequately in a way they can easily understand and apply in their own game.
Often it can take several attempts to explain and demonstrate something before everyone in a group gets it.
On top of this, I am not a young guy, and I need to reserve my energy for the rounds, and I do not want to wear myself out at lunch time talking non-stop to inexperienced players. Plus, I am usually exhausted at the end of every round.
THAT IS WHAT THIS BLOG IS FOR, SO THAT I CAN MAKE A VERY LARGE EFFORT, AND THEN DIRECT PEOPLE TO IT, FOR A FULL UNDERSTANDING OF A TOPIC.
Are we good, now? Great - so let's get on with the article!
Your Inner Asshole
The damage is done not by you, but by the Inner Asshole (ref 1.) who lives inside you. Every human has an Inner Asshole. He (or she!) is the person who tells you not to throw into the pond again or hit that tree like you did last time. They beat you mercilessly as you walk to your terrible lie, or wade to your OB disc.
He or she is a horrible person; they record each and every miss when you are practice putting, and store the information in a perfect database, and they are a great statistician – even if you are not!
Thus, when you stand a long way from a basket, with a pile of discs, and you start shooting, he starts recording your misses. He doesn't remember the times you DO get one in – just the misses. So, if you throw 10 discs and get 2 in, then he knows you miss 80% of those putts!
And, when you are on the course shaping up at the 10-metre mark, your Inner Asshole is whispering in your ear, "You miss 80% of these". And with such encouragement, your chance of making the putt falls to almost zero.
If you doubt the power of your Inner Asshole, consider this: he can actually take control of your lungs and voice box, and cause you to shout out, "OH [YourName], YOU ARE SO STUPID!"
Which of us has not exclaimed this on the course? But it was not US doing it – but rather our Inner Asshole. At no other time in your life would you shout out that you are useless or stupid. And why would you? Because you are NOT useless and you are NOT stupid!
In fact, you are not a bad disc golfer. The problem is, you have an Inner Asshole telling you all sorts of negative things all the time, just below the threshold of conscious thought. And he seriously affects players, by stopping them from playing their Natural Game.
Your Natural Game is the best disc golf you are able to play – unencumbered by a malevolent subconscious entity telling you bad things.
Now there are many other things which can affect your performance, but the biggest influence of all is your own Inner Asshole. So, in order to improve your putting (and your game in general), you have to figure out a way to either get him to STFU or to practice in such a way as to not give him enough information to work out the odds of you missing a putt.
You will probably never banish your Inner Asshole entirely, but you may be able to confuse him sufficiently, and deprive him of enough information, that you are able to putt naturally and be successful.
How to stop your Inner Asshole affecting you when putting
Firstly, and most importantly, we need to understand the difference between practicing failure, and practicing success. We can ALL miss a putt perfectly, and at any distance from the basket! We have practiced missing putts so well, that we are perfect at it, and thus, we do not need to practice it anymore.
What our putting practice regimen needs to do is practice being successful. This produces a positive mental attitude and Deep Confidence. As opposed to Bullshit Bravado. Deep Confidence is the knowledge that not only CAN you make this putt, but that you WILL make this putt. It does not even enter your mind that you could miss, and it does not matter how far from the basket you are.
It also does not matter how good you are at putting. You may miss your putt, and frequently will – but that will not dent your confidence, because you'll never be backing up a miss, with another miss from the same spot, which is the kiss of death to confidence.