Disc golf education is a topic that all players should be invested in. This means more than just playing, it also means learning how to play and learn from other players. How blind are you to your own faults in the game? Reading disc golf articles will open up your eyes by looking at things you were never aware of.
I am by no means a perfect player, but I try to learn from my mistakes and use that information in the future. One thing I have been working on is putting. Regular readers know that I regularly share disc golf tips and advice [hey, if you don't read it, how will anyone else… right?].
Learn from your mistakes and share what you learn is the key to improvement. I've putted a lot this last year, with varying degrees of success [some results have been great while others… not so much.]. I feel like I've finally settled into my putting technique that works for me. Whether its short game advice you are looking for, or you want to get from beginning disc golfer to advanced, gaining knowledge is a great way to do that.
To help me and others with putting I have made up 10 tips you can use to improve your game. Some of these tips might be what you already know, but they need restating because we tend to forget what we know sometimes.
Practice putting during warm up rounds
I've said this a million times but its worth repeating, if you practice properly and focus on your putting during other rounds then you will see improvement in your tournament play. You'll putt better because it is methodically drilled. When people talk about "getting out their putting frustrations" they need to know that it only helps for a little while and then you go right back to your old habits.
Break your personal putting woes down into small segments
When I was having troubles with my PDGA rating I knew a long cold snap was on its way. The goal is to drop enough rounds before the cold snap hits to make up for it. To do that I broke down pad rounds into 5 putt tests: 10, 20, 30, 40 & 50 footers. I know that is hogwash in the long run but I wanted to shoot for 5 putt rounds at least once a round on average. I would time myself after each one and write down the number and how much time it took me to do it so I could maintain consistency between rounds.
Use a metronome.
Most of us have some trouble with rhythm when it comes to putting. This is especially true in disc golf where our muscles are not accustomed to doing some of the things we do on pads and courses. Learning a good rhythm while practicing can greatly help your flow during rounds.
We have been taught to be in a rhythm but not forced into it. The way you learn is by doing the same routine over again while paying attention to what is around you and what your body is doing. While practicing, set the metronome to 60 bpm (per hour) and get your putting at that tempo. Your goal should be to get into a rhythm where you're not bouncing your putter and can keep your shoulders still. You can also try this with a song (60 bpm) or watch TV while playing, but for me the metronome works best because it doesn't distract me.
Get 3-5 practice baskets in before tournament rounds and try to make each putt
Our putting strokes are most efficient when we go full speed and all out at the basket. If you have time while warming up, don't just get warmed up with your drives, throw a few putts on adjacent baskets. This way you can get your hands into the stroke 'n groove' once it comes time to play.
Focus on what feels slow and/or wrong
It's surprising how many times I have been putting wrong (and didn't know it) until I record while practicing or competing. You need to figure out what you're doing, then focus your attention there and start breaking it down into smaller parts. Once you identify the areas that need improvement, you can decide what method is best for you to learn the new way of doing things.
Learn different ways to pick a disc out of the basket
About a year ago I learned how to throw a flick from lefty backhand and it has made my putting much more accurate and consistent. I always take the same amount of steps in for my long putt and then I flicked it. Once you learn a new way to throw you can adjust how much power/speed you need when approaching the basket.
Judge your putting by what happens before and after contact
When judging your putting, don't just think about the result of the putt. Think about the whole process and what you could have done better (or not at all). We can control how we approach the basket but other factors that lead up to and after your putt are beyond your control. For example, maybe you threw perfect speed/power into a headwind that caused it to drop short or maybe you threw too hot and the disc spun out. Putt wisely, but also learn to accept outcomes beyond your control.
Visualize yourself making a putt inside your head before you attempt it
Just like how we practice putting with our eyes closed, there are some benefits from thinking about what we're doing while trying to execute it on a pad/course. This visualization will help you create muscle memory in your brain that can only improve the more you do it.
Practice throwing putters and midranges on flat ground (close to basket)
Many of us learn how to throw a disc from a vertical position (trying to get elevation), but discs thrown flat off the tee or a platform (or on flat ground) have very similar flight path as putters. Try to get the feel for your discs while on a level surface. Then go practice on the course. It is also important to note that you can throw putters and midranges almost anywhere without fear of losing them in obstacles or over water, which makes this exercise a great way to get practice in any time of year.
Practice on an incline or decline
This drill is most beneficial for newer or younger players, but it can also help you learn the sweetspot of your putters and mids. Newer players tend to throw flat from both forehand and backhand and think their disc is always flying the same. This, in turn, leads to inconsistency and difficulty judging their putting distance from different angles. Playing on an incline can teach you how discs react differently when thrown at various heights. Try to see if it makes a difference for you (it did for me!).
Set up two pads side by side on a slight decline (3-4 feet). Take 3 aimed throws at each pad and try to land the disc at a specific spot on the opposite pad. The goal is to learn how your discs react once they get moving or spinning faster in different situations and it's also fun!
You can do this drill with any disc, but keep in mind that different models will fly differently. It's more important for you to learn how your discs react in different situations than it is to just throw at a target over and over again.
Learn the phrase, "I know I can make this putt"
This is something I like to read out loud when I'm putting. Many times the negative (or positive) thoughts we have during a disc golf game are usually exaggerated. Not making the putt you think you should make isn't always a reflection of your consistency or skill level, but it could be an opportunity to learn something new and improve!
So there you have it, 10 disc golf putting tips. I hope that these will help out your game. If anyone has anything to add or wish to request an article on a different topic please comment below and we'll do our best to accommodate.
Thanks for reading!