A couple of years ago, I was a pretty poor disc golfer. Okay, so that’s giving myself a compliment. The truth is that I was a terrible beginner disc golfer. On top of just being bad at the sport, I didn’t want to tell myself that I was bad.
I had no intentions of wanting to improve so I didn’t set any goals for myself to get better. Then came my equipment: I was using drivers and discs that were way above my skill level. I didn’t practice, play as often as I should have, focus on putting instead of driving, learn technique, master my bag, or stay consistent. And I definitely didn’t think I needed a mentor or anyone to help me with my game. So needless to say, I was probably one of the worst beginners ever.
But I changed my mindset. I wanted to get better but I was still bad. One day I was searching for, “how to become a better disc golfer,” on Google. I found a bunch of great tips scattered amongst various websites and forums and that’s when I realized that I was doing everything wrong. That’s when I changed it all up. This 13 step guide is the exact process I used to get better in disc golf. So let’s get to it!
How to become a better disc golfer
Step 1 – Assess your current skill level
Okay, so before you commit to becoming a better disc golfer, you have to stop and take a hard look in the mirror. I want you analyze and assess your current overall skill level in disc golf. If you suck at disc golf, just admit that you do. It’s okay. I still suck most of the time, too. Don’t put pride in your way as a barrier to your success. Just understand where you’re at and find your will to want to get better at disc golf.
Now find your skill level. Are you a true, first day out beginner? Beginner? Amateur? Intermediate? Advanced? Be honest with yourself so you can know what you have to do to get better. Think about it for just a minute and rank yourself. Now that you know you’re a (fill in the blank) disc golfer, you can start working on your game.
The next portion of this analysis involves you
finding your weaknesses on the course. This will require you to play or have played a few rounds. Think back on all of your rounds to date. What part of the game is giving you the most trouble? Or what part of the game do you really suck at? Let’s use an example from when I first started out:
Back when I was a new player, I could actually throw the disc really hard but my accuracy and release were terrible. I could putt up to about 15 feet out with near 100% accuracy. After the initial 15 feet, my putting was terrible and dropped to about 50%. So I saw that I needed to improve driving accuracy and putting. Now I could find ways to practice both of those and improve my game.
Find at least 2 weaknesses in your game and write them down. This is how you get better. Know your weaknesses and strengthen them.
Step 2 – Set your goals
I just want to start this section off by saying that goals are extremely important. I mean, If you want to achieve anything in life, you should have goals. They are fundamental to measuring your success and allow you to keep track of where you are and where you’re going. If you’re looking to get better in disc golf, you have to have clear, written, specific goals.
Here’s a bad example of a disc golf goal (this was basically me starting out): I want to get better at disc golf sometime soon in the future. That’s an extremely vague goal. “I want to get better” could mean anything. Do you want to get better at casual rounds? Competitive rounds? Putting? Driving? I mean, we can do better than that. And “Sometime soon in the future” could mean anywhere from a few months to a few years. Let’s do better. Clear, written, and specific.
You also want to set 2 kinds of goals: long-term and short-term.
Short-term: these are goals that you’re trying to achieve in a short period of time such as a few rounds or a few weeks. These could even be goals youre trying to reach in a single round. A good example of this would be: I want to par every hole during my next round and I want to increase my distance by 25-50 feet in the next 3-4 weeks. Clear, written, specific, realistic, and achievable.
Long-term: these are goals you’re trying to achieve over a long period of time (I would say at least 6 months or more). An example would be: I want to play in my first tournament by August 31st of next year and I want to be able to throw at least 350 feet by then as well. Again, clear, written, specific, realistic, and achievable.
So don’t short yourself on the disc golf course. You have to have goals if you want to be a better disc golfer. I would go ahead and set at least 2 short-term goals and 2 long-term goals right now. Ready, set, go!
For more on goals, check out my goals post here.
Step 3 – Step up mentally
Okay, now that you’ve started to understand your skill level and set some goals, we can move on to the improvement part of this post. Let’s go!
The very first thing I did when I wanted to start becoming a decent, well-rounded disc golfer was to mentally commit to becoming a better all-around player. I knew that disc golf was not just about playing the game. For me it was now about learning the sport.
After you commit, you need to start understanding every aspect of the mental game. There are a couple of parts to mastering your mindset on the disc golf course ⬇️.
- Confidence: you have to have confidence in your game and your ability to play well. If you don’t, your score will suffer.
- Focus: complete, unconditional focus is a requirement if you have any plans on being a competitive disc golfer.
- Positive mindset: a positive mindset can turn a poorly played round into anything better. You have to be positive on the course.
- Patience: patience with yourself during each round and patience in your slowly developing game is crucial to you mastering disc golf.
And those are just a few of the mental concepts you need to understand to become a great disc golfer. I’ve written about how important the mental game is a bunch of times now. Check out a couple of those posts below ⬇️.
Step 4 – Play with the right equipment
The next step in improving your game is making sure that you’re playing with the right equipment. Seriously, equipment matters. There’s a couple of parts to this so bear with me.
1. Discs: okay, so this is partly why I wanted you to assess your skill level. You need to know your skill level so that you can make sure you’re throwing the right level of discs. For example: If you’re a beginner, you need to be throwing with beginner discs. Find discs in your skill level and only play with those until you get better.
If you’re relatively new to the game, check out our 37 best discs for beginners post here.
Also check out our post, “How to Choose Disc Golf Discs for Beginners: Quick Guide.”
If you’re a more experienced player, check out our huge list of the 101 best disc golf discs here.
2. Your bag: the bag you play with won’t make you a better thrower or improve your technique. But it can help you be prepared and organized on the course. It can also help you carry enough drink and water to help you stay hydrated and give you energy to play.
Buying a good bag is important so here are my top 3 recommendations ⬇️.
- Infinite Discs Slinger Bag: the Slinger Bag has become my favorite bag as of late simply as I’ve moved to a more minimalistic approach to disc golf. Less discs and less gear equals a lighter bag and less to think about. Just play. Grab one here on InfiniteDiscs.com.
- Dynamic Discs Trooper Bag: this has been my go-to gear bag for years on the course. Great bag that you can get here on InfiniteDiscs.com.
- Infinite Discs Huck Pack: a brand new bag from InfiniteDiscs.com – so far has earned some good reviews from the #discgolfcommunity. This bag is very similar to the Trooper Bag in look and price. Get one here on their site.
After you get a good bag, you might want to get some gear for it. Check out our post, “How to Build the Ultimate Disc Golf Bag,”“How to Build the Ultimate Disc Golf Bag,” for more on this.
3. Your shoes: now this part of your equipment won’t improve your throwing or your skills either but is a crucial need on the course and can also help you solidify your footing in almost every single situation. Any kind of tennis shoe can be fine for casual rounds. But once you move more toward playing competitively, I would invest in a much better pair of sport hiking boots/shoes specifically for your disc golf rounds.
The reason you want a good pair of sport hiking boots/shoes is because you’re normally trekking pretty rough terrain and essentially hiking a mile or more while you play. You want shoes that have tremendous grip to allow you to maneuver and throw discs from any kind of terrain on the course. Slipping is not an option if you want to play well. And sport hiking boots/shoes can completely solve that issue for you.
I would also emphasize the need for finding a very comfortable pair of shoes. Comfort is definitely needed due to the length of walking you will put into each round. Some courses are 3+ miles in total steps taken and uncomfortable shoes can really hurt your game. You don’t want that.
I would also try to find a pair of shoes that are waterproof. This isn’t a need, but can be a huge benefit in the rain, snow, or early morning dew.
If you’re looking for a couple of good options, check out the following two picks:
- Adidas Terrex Swift R2 GTX sport hiking shoes (link to Infinite Discs). If you can’t find them on there, you can get them here on Amazon.here on Amazon.
• Merrel Yokota waterproof sport hiking boots (link to Amazon). Merrel Yokota waterproof sport hiking boots (link to Amazon).
You can also check out my post herecheck out my post here with 27 of the best disc golf shoes in the game today.
Step 5 – Practice and play often
Playing rounds and practicing different parts of your game are really the primary ways that you’re going to improve on the disc golf course. Everything from step 6 on is to perfect smaller parts of your game. I’ll talk a little bit about playing rounds in the next section. First, I’ll discuss why practicing is important.
1. Practice: you need practice to work on different parts of your overall play. Putting, approaching and driving are all important and you grow those skills by working on them individually. Practice is a key part of your improvement in those areas. Just playing a few rounds here and there won’t help you that much.
Before you say, “I don’t need to practice that much…I’ll just hit the course and that’s all I need,” think of all the greatest athletes in the world. What do they do? They practice and practice and practice some more.
NBA legends Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan were great examples of this. Kobe used to wake up at 4am to get a workout or practice in before breakfast. Then he would eat, get ready, and go practice a second time before his team practice later in the day. MJ was notorious for staying after practice and shooting upwards of 500+ free throws to perfect his game. Kobe would often do the same before his team practices. Their tremendous work ethic and effort in practice made them the greatest to ever play the game of basketball.
Now you may not want to be a disc golf legend, but you have to practice in order to get better. Here are a couple of ways to get the most out of your game by practicing ⬇️.
- Drills: drills are a phenominal way to tweak small details and just generally improve your game. You can make up your own games/drills or you can check our my huge 50 best drills posts here.you can check our my huge 50 best drills posts here.
- Field work: field work is pretty simple but requires you to find a good open field to throw out into. Find that open field, get a bunch of discs, and get to throwing. Make sure to keep working on good technique, use discs in your skill level, and always have some kind of goal for your round. Check out Eric Oakley’s quick tips for field work in the video below ⬇️.
- Practice equipment: in order to really be able to practice as much as possible, you need some practice equipment. For this, you need a good practice basket, a net for throwing discs into and a ProPull Disc Golf Trainer. You can read more about this in our post, “The #1 Way to Improve Your Disc Golf Game This Year.” That post will explain more about all three of those pieces of equipment. You can also get each on in the respected links below ⬇️.
You can also check out this awesome article I read here on why practice is so important in sports.
2. play often: once you understand the need for daily practice and start implementing it, you need to start scheduling more rounds to get out on the course more. Because you need to play as often as possible. Your goal should be for at least 1 round per week at a minimum (if you’re just looking to improve). If you’re trying to become a competitive player, you should aim to play 2-3 per week.
You have to put in the real work if you want to get better. No amount of online or technical knowledge will make you a better player. Only real course experience and a ton of practice.
Step 6 – A month with a putter (or longer)
Step 6 is not hard at all but can offer some tremendous benefits. You can also use this step while you’re doing some of the other steps on this list. I want you to take everything out of your bag but the putters and play with only putters for at least an entire month or more (I really recommend 2 months or more if you can be patient enough).
Essentially, this is discing down to the extreme. Taking a putter or two and going out on the course. A word of caution, though, is that you should expect not to get a lot of distance and speed on your throws. Putters are designed to go slow, so it may be frustrating trying this approach at first. But no matter what happens, focus on using good technique, good accuracy, and trying to up your distance. Once you go back to throwing your mid-range and then your driver, your should throw those discs much better.
Playing with a putter can help you focus on the parts of your game that you may not have worked on before (such as your techniques when you throw and how accurate you can try to be). If you’re fairly new, you might try to go about playing like I did: trying to throw your disc as hard as possible and as far as the disc will go. Seems like a plan, right? Well, the irony of this situation is that you have to start out slow, smooth and technique-driven. That’s how you build up a solid drive and an immaculate throwing ability. Also, putters don’t really go fast anyways.
For a couple of good recommendations of putters, check out our two posts below ⬇️. The first post is for beginners and the second post is for more advanced players.
Step 7 – 10X your putting
Continuing on with this putting concept, step 7 will focus primarily on actually improving your putting. But not just improving your putting a little bit, improving it tenfold or 10X. Because I believe putting is the most important part of your disc golf game. Now I’m not saying that the other parts are not important. They’re all important and you need to master all of them to become a great player. Putting, though, is what normally gets you ahead of the pack and seals the win in competitive disc golf. If you’ve ever heard, “drive for show, putt for dough,” that’s what I’m talking about. Long drives might look pretty but putting helps you win the money.
Here are 4 ways to improve your putting ⬇️.
1. Buy a personal basket: I just talked about how having practice equipment, and specifically a personal practice basket, was important in step 5. So if you haven’t gotten one, hit up InfiniteDiscs.com here and grab one.
2. Repetition practice: repetition practice is simply practicing a certain skill over and over and over again…and over again. You can do this on your personal basket or on the course. But just keep putting.
3. Drills and games: use the various putting drills and games in our putting drills post to improve. Check out that post here.
4. Perfect Putt 360: for some weird reason, I just found out about this game this week. It’s been out for awhile. It’s pretty simple in that you mark out your distances every 5 feet from 10 feet to 30 feet. You throw 10 shots from every distance and get 1 point for each shot and various bonus points throughout the round (for a total of 360 points to be perfect). It’s a pretty cool little game that puts some pressure on you to improve because you want a better score. I’ve included a screenshot below of one of my first (and definitely worst) rounds so you can see how it works. You can either write it down or get the app on your smartphone for $2.99 on Android or IPhone. I’ve also included a video below that you can check out ⬇️.
If you do all of that and continue practicing, your putting will be fantastic.
Step 8 – master your technique
On top of implementing the first 7 steps above, you definitely need to add in step 8. Step 8 is focusing on improving your throwing technique. If you have poor technique, everything else really doesn’t matter. But developing good technique is hard. Below, I’ve outlined the 7 steps to the best disc golf technique:
- Grip: loose grip or grip lock can absolutely kill your shots. Find a balance between too loose and too tight when throwing. Too loose and you’ll release too early. Too tight and you’ll end up like Richard in the video below ⬇️.
- X-Step: an extremely important part of the throwing process. The “X-Step” is a series of 3 steps that you take before you throw your disc. For a RHBH thrower – start out by stepping with your lead foot (same side as the arm you throw with – right-handed throw = first step with right foot). Your next step will be the opposite foot crossing behind your lead leg for the second step. Then the 3rd step will be the big final 3rd step out as you throw. Check out Danny Lindahl’s X-Step video below ⬇️ to help you out with this.
- Good hip rotation and reach back: good hip rotation is essential to get the proper reach back. The more you rotate, the more momentum you can get from the reach back.
- Look away from line of sight: it may seem counterintuitive to look away from your target…but do it anyway. Look away toward the direction of your reach back. That head turn will guarantee the maximum momentum from the reach back to throw.
- Lead with the elbow: As you come out of you reach back, you will start your throwing motion. From here, what you do is crucial to how your throw will come out. When coming around for the throw, you will want to lead the throw with your elbow out. The next motion needs to be more of a straight line through the throw and less of a circular motion. You want the leading elbow to push through the throw. You also want to keep the disc close to your chest. This allows for maximum control and velocity of the disc. You will be able to get a “whipping” motion on the disc.
- Big, strong final step: this is step 6 of a good technique but is actually the final part of the X-Step.
- The follow-through: after you throw you want to let your body continue through the motion and allow yourself to follow naturally through the throw.
For more, check out my post, “7 Steps to the Best Disc Golf Technique and a Perfect Throw.”
Step 9 – Learn all of the different throws
Step 9 can help you improve by letting you understand that you need to learn all of the different throws in disc golf. There are a bunch of them. Backhand and forehand are just the tip of the iceberg. You’ve also got the thumber, tomahawk, roller, and various specialty shots used to curve the disc in unique ways. I won’t go too into detail in this post but learning these shots can help you in almost every situation on the course. You can learn all of these shots by checking out my post below ⬇️.
Step 10 – Step up physically
Your ability to get in shape and/or stay in shape can quite literally shape how you play on the course. What I’m talking about when I say that you need to step up physically is that you need to start becoming a highly competitive and physically elite athlete. Step 10 is focusing on how you workout your body so that you can be at the peak of your physical health.
I want you to not just do a couple of rounds of disc golf, but to actually stretch, workout, and recover off the course. All of those are extremely important to your disc golf game. Check out the posts below to learn how to do all of those things ⬇️.
For an awesome post on stretching for disc golf, check out, “The 17 Best Disc Golf Stretches to Improve Your Game.”
For a great post on how to recover quickly for your next round, check out, “The 11 Step Plan to Recover After a Disc Golf Workout.”
Step 11 – Learn the technical side of disc golf
The technical side of disc golf, in its entirety, is a lot to digest and pretty much is comprised of the PDGA Rulebook. I mean, all of the rules and regulations for disc golf are in the PDGA Rulebook. But this is one step that you really don’t have to use that often if you’re not going to be competitive in the sport. If it’s just you playing a few rounds against friends, there’s no need to memorize the PDGA Rulebook. However, if you want to eventually enter tournaments, you’ll have to learn exactly how to play by throughly understanding the Official Rules of Disc Golf here on the PDGA website.
The last part of this section concerns disc golf etiquette. This is not a requirement of the game of disc golf. But you really should follow the informal disc golf etiquette rules while on the course. You can read my post on disc golf etiquette here.You can read my post on disc golf etiquette here.
Step 12 – Find a mentor
I’m a huge advocate for finding mentors in every aspect of life. So obviously I think that finding a mentor in disc golf is important. Either that or just finding someone better to play with can significantly help you improve your game past all of that learning and practicing that you’ve been doing in the steps up to this point. There’s only so much can learn, though, from the internet. You really need that experienced mentor or better player beside you to show you how to play the game right.
Check out my post, “7 Reasons You Need a Mentor in Disc Golf,””7 Reasons You Need a Mentor in Disc Golf,” here on the site.
Step 13 – Master your bag/disc setup
This last step is a very simple one. If you’re anything like me, you probably love disc golf and have about 30 discs in your bag. There’s nothing wrong with owning a bunch of discs, but you shouldn’t carry all of them with you to the course. And you definitely shouldn’t throw that many discs in a single round.
For this last step, I want you to simply start by consolidating and minimizing your bag. Take all of those discs and find the ones that you need the most and that you like to throw the most. That means cutting down to no more than 10-12 discs. I know, I know, you like to throw a lot of discs. But stick with me for a minute. Here’s my theory ⬇️.
Cutting down to 10-12 discs (yes, 13 is fine) will help you play and practice more with those discs. With that being said, by playing more with those few discs, you should be able to master those select few discs and improve your game even more! So try it out.
Consistency and continued learning
Once you’ve gone step by step through this post, now the real challenge starts. It’s easy to learn a few things about disc golf. But it’s tough to put them into play to make you a better disc golfer. You have to actually get out on the course to use what you’ve learned, stay consistent, and continue learning new ways to improve yourself. If you can do that, you won’t just be a better disc golfer, you’ll be an absolute beast on the course.
Before you go, don’t forget to check out the best beginner disc golf book on the planet, “The Disc Golf Player’s Manual.” This ebook is packed with over 200+ pages of the best tips, tricks, and advice for new players