Practice like the Pros
Field work is the fastest, most efficient way to get better at disc golf. Practicing in the field will teach you the nuances in the flight characteristics of your discs and allow you to experiment with different shot shapes in a pressure-free environment. You can imitate lines in the field that you can’t find on your local courses. You can film yourself to check form, compare the results of different throws in a controlled setting, and isolate the areas of your game that need the most work.
The field gives you the space to make mistakes and learn from them. Even during casual practice rounds, most players stick to the shots they are most confident in executing. In the field, there are no scores, just practice. That mentality frees you up to work on the weaker areas of your game where you stand to see the most rapid improvement. Here’s some tips to make your practice more productive and a few simple drills to try next time you’re in the field.
Tips For Better Field Work
Quality over Quantity
In a round of disc golf, we are used to throwing about 18 drives. In the field, it is easy to throw many more than that, creating the potential for an overuse injury. There is less time between each throw and you are likely to be practicing the throws that are more difficult for you. Focus on quality over quantity. Warm up and stretch. Spend more time practicing finesse shots than max distance drives. Know that 30 minutes in the field can be sufficient and often more beneficial than longer sessions.
Be Intentional With Each Shot
Going out into the field and throwing around isn’t going to help your game on its own. You need to be deliberate about your shots and analytical about your form. Practice specific drills that focus on the areas of your game that need the most improvement. Watch each throw to learn the unique flight characteristics of each of your discs.
Set up your phone and film yourself during your field work (film in slow motion if possible). Does your form look the way you expected? Often players see videos of themselves throwing and can immediately self-identity issues in their form. Compare videos of yourself with youtube videos of your favorite touring pros. Keep some older videos saved so you have a record of your improvement over time.
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Throw into a Net
Throwing into a net can be a great option to work on technique and get in repetitions. Pick a specific point on the net and try to hit that point at different angles. Since you cannot watch the full flight, all of your focus is on how the throw feels and not how the disc flies. As a bonus, you’ll spend less time picking up discs between each set of throws.
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Make Up Games
With limited free time and only so much energy in a day, you might have to skip your disc golf round sometimes to go practice in the field instead. If you find field work boring, that can be hard to do. Make up games, either by yourself or with your friends, to make practice more like play.
For example, set up stations 150, 200, 250, 300, and 350 feet away from an object such as a portable DISCatcher or your disc golf bag. Take five throws from each station. Bullseye hits are worth 5 points, C1 hits are worth 3 points, C2 hits are worth 1 point. Add rules such as each throw needs to be with a different speed disc or each throw needs to be a different shot shape to make it more interesting. Play against your friends or try to beat your own high score. Make up your own games that focus on the areas where you need the most work.
3 Simple Drills to Practice in the Field
Set up two discs or cones in the field 50 feet away from yourself and 5 to 20 feet apart from each other. Imagine those discs are trees lining the gap on a wooded hole. First focus on throwing straight shots through the gap with each of your discs from Putter to High-speed Driver. Next try to shape hyzers through the gap and then anhyzers, both forehand and backhand depending on what you want to work on that day. Move your starting position off to each side and try to hit the gap from there. You can move farther away from the cones or move the cones closer to each other to make the drill more difficult. Pay attention to each flight and use the practice to better learn your discs.
Place an object such as your disc golf bag or a portable DISCatcher in the field. Set up markers on the ground 150, 200, 250, 300, and 350 feet away from the object. Try to park the object with each disc in your bag. This will teach you how to throw your Putters at longer distances and your Drivers at shorter distances, both of which can come in handy on the course. Practice distance control with straight shots, spike hyzers, anhyzers, and even rollers or other specialty shots.
Set up a line of discs or cones in the field that outlines the shape of the shot that you are trying to practice. If you want to practice an S-Curve that starts breaking to the right at 200 feet and comes back left at 350, draw out that shape in points with discs or cones on the ground. Throw such that your disc flies over each of the points on the ground. You can create any shape shot that you need to practice at any distance.
Combine this drill with the gap hitting drill to recreate specific holes in the field. That nemesis hole on your home course can be mastered in the field without losing your discs or smashing them up on trees.