Competition Corner - Preparing for a Tournament
“Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can’t.” – Jerry Rice
For all of us, disc golf is something that we love, and we play because it brings us joy. For a sizable portion of us, our love of the game calls us to competition. Whether it’s a local C-tier event, a league night, or a challenge from your buddy who thinks he can throw starter pack discs better than you, we compete when we play disc golf. The big question becomes, how do you prepare?
Tournament preparation is a topic that I feel uniquely qualified to talk about as an amateur because I’ve lived on both sides of the spectrum. I’ve spent a week practicing a course five times and watching videos on the course all while keeping notes in a notebook. I’ve also woken up with no extra time, threw on some clothes, and headed to the course with 10 minutes to spare before the player meeting. Let me tell you, both of those have their own unique pros and cons. How do you find the sweet spot? Let’s talk about it.
In this post, we’ll look at some of the following important factors in preparation:
- Game Plan
There is no doubt that good tournament prep starts before you ever hit the day of the actual event. If we are really being honest, it starts the entire week before the event. That’s because two of the biggest things you can do to be prepared for tournament day are to get your hydration and sleep in order. Now, before you think that you should be as hydrated and well-rested as possible, I would challenge you to consider your body’s equilibrium. We are all unique and different creatures with bodies that require more or less sleep and water than those around us.
Being well-rested in this case means getting your optimum amount of sleep in the days leading up to the event. Being able to wake up with energy is very important. Additionally, it’s not just about how hydrated we are. Managing your sodium levels is also crucial to success especially in the summer months when it can get much warmer and perspiration increases. When we intake sodium (at appropriate levels), we help to increase our rate of fluid intake into our bloodstream. The best way to do this is to add some electrolyte supplements to your hydration preparation.
Now that you’re fully hydrated and well-rested, let’s talk about equipment. I know what you’re thinking, my disc golf bag/cart is in the car, what more do I have to prepare? That answer depends on several things. Let’s start with the extras. What does the weather look like on the day of the event? Will it be cold enough for you to need gloves or a jacket? Will it be sunny enough to justify the need for sunscreen, sunglasses, or even a hat? Are you going to be playing a course that is particularly buggy? Trust me, there is nothing worse than the feeling of being eaten alive while you’re trying to concentrate. Speaking of eating, what about your lunch and drinks? Are you packing something to eat or picking something up between rounds?
Now that we have covered the non-disc golf equipment, let’s address your bag. Are your discs clean and free of dirt or mud? Does your bag have empty bottles and snack bags? Make sure you always pack at least three minis in your bag (one to share and one backup). Do you have towels? I know that it can seem like I’m nitpicking details, but there is something about taking the time to think about this stuff that puts you in the right frame of mind for your competition. It makes you realize the need for caring about the little things and helps you appreciate the details.
Now, you have your bag set, discs shiny, lunch prepared, and outfit picked out. What’s next? Your schedule! What time is check-in and when is the player’s meeting? How long does it take to get to the course, and what time do you want to be there to adequately warm up? Most importantly, what time do you need to wake up to make all these things possible? It might very commonly be overlooked, but understanding your tournament day schedule is crucial. You can have the best plans to get there early, warm up, and check out a few problem holes, but waking up late can destroy all of that.
We have finally made it to the most crucial part of the preparation, the game plan. I have found, very recently in fact, that this is the practice that takes you from finishing tied for 6th to competing for the top of the pack. When you go to a course with no plan for your play, you end up leaving yourself a lot of room to make bad choices and throw poor shots. How many times have you gotten to a teepad in a tournament knowing what disc you should throw but deciding to do something different for no good reason at all?
Coming into a tournament knowing what you want to throw off each tee pad and knowing what holes you typically struggle with is a game changer. You can get there early and practice your problem holes and shot types that you struggle with. You can choose the holes that you know you can be aggressive on, and most importantly, you can put yourself in the mindset to win.
Next time in this series, we are going to go into a lot more depth on the game plan part of the preparation we briefly discussed today. We’ll talk about how to effectively use a practice round to your advantage and even get some insights on how professionals prepare differently compared to amateurs. If you have any thoughts on preparation and your key strategies, leave them in the comments below!
- Gary Daddario III