Mental Toughness and Killer Instinct
With Ken Climo

We all know a player must develop a certain amount of physical skill to have an edge in competition. In Disc Golf there are the basics on must master to be competitive: grip, smooth swing, a coordinated step-up, etc. Once a solid level of physical skills has been achieved, I would estimate the mental game comprises at least 75% of the total package of what a player brings to the course. The point I'd like to make here is the difference between the mental game and golf mentality.

The mental game is thinking, wondering and sometimes wishing things would go your way. It also plays a part after bad throws or unfortunate bounces add to your score. The most important aspect to remember about the mental game is once something has happened, it cannot be changed. Get it out of your head and begin focusing on your next shot.
On the other hand, possessing a good golf mentality can predetermine the course of events. For example, when your game is going bad, trying harder is not the answer. Trying smarter is. If you have watched professional golfers on television you will notice that when they miss putts they usually end up very close to the cup. We play the same game, it just happens to be with flying discs. The basic object is to get closer to the target with every shot and eventually into the target. You're going to have bad rounds, but how you deal with those rounds can make a bad round simply bad or a true nightmare.

You probably won't see ball golfers putting from 20 feet, missing, and running 20 feet pass the cup. Not so in Disc Golf. How many times have you seen a disc golfer three putt because his or her second putt was actually more difficult than their first? This is where golf mentality comes in. Developing touch, which includes distance, accuracy and speed, will enable a player to play aggressive and smart.

Okay, you've made your disc selection and it's your turn to throw. You're standing on the tee pad. What's going through your head? If you're thinking about making a deuce or putting the disc in a specific place, think again. The pre-shot routine is not the place to be thinking about outcome. After you release the disc, then think about outcome. Try to put thoughts of outcome out of your mind, while intently focusing on the process of a successful release.

When I am at my best and all the mental stages are clicking, I develop a killer instinct. Knowing where and how to throw becomes second nature through the help of a well developed pre-shot routine. Keep it simple, factoring in the basics such as trees, wind, O.B. and turf. You can control the process, and ultimately, the process controls the outcome.

Have the will to be disciplined. Do the same things consistently before every attempt. Most of all, stick with it. Don't change the minute things start to go sour. This change requires a commitment. It is the true definition of golf mentality.
Finally, the killer instinct is knowing when to hold them or when to fold them - i.e. when to go for it or when to lay up. You must develop this through past experiences. Draw on your knowledge of percentages, upon making or attempting to make a desired throw. This theory will aid tremendously in building your killer instinct to the point of a sixth sense.


Handling Pressure

There is no need to get worried until the final hole. It's all about scoring. I don't know what the miraculous secret is to scoring low every round. I might have a couple mediocre rounds in the beginning. Those are my bad rounds and then I can expect to play more solid golf. It's putting it all together hole after hole after hole. It's doing it under pressure, after someone's thrown a great shot under the basket.

I'm very competitive and don't like to lose. I can accept losing if I played well but have a hard time accepting not playing well.

I can get down on myself to bring the fire back(albeit short lived). You have to get serious and say, "Come on now, the next one has got to be right." You cannot lose you focus and have it negatively effect your play.