One simply must practice…

PuttPract2014-06-27 11.56.52Recent heavy rains meant playing outside was a little damp, but I found a place to practice for a bit…

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A lesson with Will Schusterick

Yesterday, something awesome happened. James, my Brother-in-law arranged for

Will Schusterick and I (Will is in grey shirt) at the Shelby Park course in Nashville.

Will Schusterick and I (Will is in grey shirt) at the Shelby Park course in Nashville.

a throwing lesson with Will Schusterick of the Prodigy Disc Golf Team and yesterday was the day! Will is an extremely polite and humble person, he was not offended about the myriad questions about pro disc golf, touring, practice, etc., and he never rolled his eyes as I threw yet another disc into the ground about 10′ from where I released it. If people truly want to grow the sport of disc golf, we need to get Will Schusterick in front of as many people as possible. Will Schusterick is not only an athletic role model, is also a role model of being a decent person.

The first thing Will did was show James and I how to throw a drive. I was amazed at how similar our throwing forms were: Will and I both held the disc in our right hands! Otherwise, everything was different. When you watch Will’s driving instruction video, he is reaching back much further than you think. I will need to work on my flexibility in order to perform his reach back. Will has a very strong grip: there is power in his power grip – mine not so much. His 4-step run up has 5 steps (mine had 3, Will actually has a small hop into the x-step that generates a big result). I was using my wrist to add spin, but enough spin is generated by a proper throwing motion. I was also turning my wrist over. My follow through was not helping me. My left arm was spazzing about which slowed my rotational speed, the left arm should stay compact. I rush myself through the tee box much too fast. You simply must have the correct timing when you release the disc. When you watch Will throw a disc over 600 feet without any appearance of effort it is truly impressive, what you can’t see: the thousands of hours of practice that went into that throw is even more impressive. Last year I went out to fields to practice throwing about 15 times – with all I have to work on, I will need more field time.

Perhaps the biggest immediate game changer comes from the critique Will gave of my putting. I practice putting all the time and feel I have really improved over the year. Will’s advice was to lean and follow through as much as possible. This style takes much more effort than my normal style, and goes in the basket more. Today’s putting practice (in gusty winds and light rain) confirmed the soundness of Will’s advice. Commit to each every putt with proper form and intensity. It is obvious that making more putts will lower your score.

James and I played the Naval Hill Course (it is very fun and scenic) after the lesson. We both threw some great drives (and some stinkers) and we both made some great putts (and missed some too). Incorporating what Will showed us into our games will take dedication, practice, and effort.

It is not in Will’s best interest to teach other people to throw awesome drives – he may now have to compete against James and I (if we work really hard) in a future U.S. Championship. It was obvious from Will’s approach to the lesson, that disc golf is fun for him and sharing is part of that fun. Will did not invite James and I to become part of the Prodigy Disc Golf pro team at the end of the lesson, but he did not say that we should give our discs to people who could actually throw them either. It was big fun, James and I threw a lot of discs, and we learned a ton – now we just need to incorporate this learning.

Putting Practice

Those of you who play with me won’t believe it, but I practice putting. I believe practicing

Practice may not make perfect, but it can make better...

Practice may not make perfect, but it can make better…

my putting has helped my arm strength and my putting. When I first made the commitment to practicing my putting, I worked on form: throwing with a straight arm, turbo putts, straddle putts, etc. and I found my putting got consistently worse. Then I watched a Mark Ellis video about putting with confidence and devoted myself to this task. This program of practice helped me develop the mental ability to putt well – within my limits.

Now that I have confidence built up that I can make 95% of putts within 20′, it is time to begin a new practice routine and start putting from much further out. Initially this will destroy my confidence and will likely require a change in form – which may destroy my current putting ability (and further erode my confidence). If I am lucky, I will develop an accurate distance putt and maintain my current short-range proficiency.

That is the cool thing about disc golf (or life for that matter), no matter how good you are you can always improve… I hope.