Why we’re out there

I was talking with my friend Dan, and in between him hassling me into moving up to play in the open division disc golfing he was telling me about his approach to the game.  He is just going out and putting in on himself to go out and try to beat the course, and that got me thinking about why I’m playing, what I’m there to attempt.  I’ve had similar conversations with other people about their perspective on climbing and on disc golf.  Some people are in it for time with friends, some are chasing ratings and grades, others are out for the competitions.  So with all of these conversations its really got me thinking about what motivates me to be out there.

There are a lot of people who are strongly extrinsically motivated in their play.  There are a lot of people who are trying to get their PDGA rating higher or climb the next higher grade, and at times I have been one of those people.  I personally have found this mindset can leave you frustrated and limiting.  You put a lot of pressure on yourself to perform at a very specific level, and while pushing your self is good, when you have an objective goal that you can see how you missed and can be a little bit demoralizing.  When you see how far you need to go it can be a disheartening, and can rob some of the joy of your time out with friends because you’re so focused on your performance.

Chasing ratings and climbing grades has limited my ability to perform to my potential, and that is why I like Dan’s perspective about trying to beat the course. It is a good place to start to look for my personal motivations.   For him its not about other people, it is about an interaction between him and the environment around him.  Going out trying to perform to the best of his ability. The area I start to break off in my view is I’m not sure you can actually beat the course.

Its a common saying in climbing that the rock always wins.  You never really beat the mountain, it’s still standing, its more the mountain has allowed you to get up it.  Climbing routes and disc golf courses give you the opportunity to test your skills.  At then end of the day the rock and course are inviting you to come test your self and to play within what they give you. I have started to bring this perspective and approach into both my climbing and disc golf lately.

If you take the mind set of you are playing with the course or the rock, it makes it much less of an adversarial relationship.  Too me this perspective has taken a lot of pressure off me trying to beat something but more see the fun in the sport and adapt to openings.  It also changes your mind to look for what openings the course is giving, not what obstacles its putting in the way, much as in climbing you focus on what holds you are given not the areas there are not holds.

So for me personally the perspective of you get to play with what the course or rock gives you, helps to make it more fun, and also helps to focus on positives and has helped me perform a lot better in recent months.

let me know some of your outlooks and perspectives on the sports.

Sports: The Ultimate Form of Self Control

Lately I have been thinking a lot about self control and how that plays into our lives, and into our life pursuits. Normally when we think of self control we think about diet, exercise and delayed gratification, but I’ve been thinking about it in also the ability to control your body and movements.  Ultimately isn’t that what most of our activities come down to is the ability to control our own body, and minds.

A good example of this thought in disc golf would be a simple 28ft putt.  This distance is within the range of most players where they have a reasonable chance to make the putt, most have done it before.  However while they can make it, what it ultimately comes down to is the in the moment ability to control yourself to get the body to perform the way you want it to.  Its harder than it sounds thought to get all of those moving parts to be coordinated and timed perfectly, but when you have that control it all works well.

So how do we work on building control with so many moving parts of the body.  One of the best avenues that has worked for me is slowing down.  When moving slower it is a lot easier to focus on form, control and timing.  When you are climbing and have small delicate holds that require precise placement its always much easier to exercise the needed control when moving slowly, maintaining balance.

This does not mean to slow down forever.  Simply Slow down to dial in for form, timing, balance and overall feel.  Then as you dial in your control you can increase your tempo, power, and maintain the feel and control you built up while slowing down.

Another good tip is just to work on your own personal body awareness.  Having a sense of your own balance, body positioning, and footing can help you execute greater control. I was recently listening to an episode of Trainingbeta where Mercedes Pollmeier talked about how she improved her climbing by taking a summer off from climbing, and training and simply did a series of exercises around body awareness.  Improve your awareness leads to a better understanding of your body and thus a better ability to control yourself.

These tips helped me build more control accuracy and consistency over the past few months.  I hope this helps you get a greater feel of control over your movement.

When Did Win?

Did you win when you finally got your project? Was it when you hit the big putt on the last hole that won it?  Or did you actually win long before either of these ever happened?  We all love to win, to succeed to, to do well at the sports we love.  But lately I’ve been thinking the key to winning tournaments, the key to sending your projects is all of the work you put in before you ever get out there.

The old concept of reaping a sowing comes into play big time in this.  Tournaments, and climbing days are the times we a reaping the rewards of all of the work we’ve put in prior to that day.

You won when you committed to fieldwork instead of a casual round

you won when you made that 200th 15ft practice putt

you won when you kept training in the gym even when you felt weak

you won when you practiced instead of going out.

you won when you committed to working to get better

When you put in the work before hand, you feel confident, perform better and get to reap the rewards so much more.  Commit today, put in the work so you can enjoy it later.

Win today.

The Work Behind the Play

Yesterday I pulled into the full parking lot of my local disc golf course, which it was really nice seeing it full as the course had recently been re-opened after going through a major redesign that drastically changed the course.  I was glad that people were coming out to see the new course and its new layout and to experience it.  Among some of the people there I had heard some groans and mumblings about how it had changed and that the course was harder, that it was kind of unfinished.  As I heard these I wondered how many of them knew the real amount of work and labor that had been poured in by a small handful of local folks.

It is kinda like when you go climbing, it is very easy to take a lot of stuff for granted.  On a simple day sport climbing how much do you ponder the work put into making trails cutting the hated switchbacks, putting up access ladders, cleaning lichen, and moss off of the walls, putting in bolts, and maintaining the hardware on the routes.  There has been a ton of work put into a lot of our favorite places that we can easily take for granted.

We should take time to reflect on all of the behind the scenes work that make our play grounds great.  We should approach these areas with gratitude, thankful that they exist, and thankful for the people who care for and maintain these areas.  A lot of them do it anonymously, no for praise, fame, or money.  They take on these endeavours  out of love, love for the land, love for the community and love for the sport.  If you see or know any of these people give them a thanks, or better yet a helping hand in getting the work done.

I encourage everyone to take part in some activity to give back to your favorite spots.  Pouring yourself into a course or a crag give you a sense of agency, and ownership in the area, and helps to foster a much deeper appreciation for it.  Most areas have local organizations that coordinate clean up or trail days, to help maintain and even improve the land.  Not everyone maybe able to attend these or commit fully to such an activities so here are a few small suggestions of how you can help with the work behind the play.

-Clean Up Sticks: On wooded disc golf courses it is very common for sticks and branches to fall into the fairways every storm.  If you take an opportunity during rounds to move them to side or off the holes it will help clean up the holes

-Pick-up Trash: Cleaning up trash is easy and everyone can do it.  Normally we are out with pack full of discs or gear but we still have room for some trash.

-Clean up Graffiti: Some people like writing on stuff, but if you can clean it up it helps make the course just a bit bigger.

I want to end by giving a huge thanks to Chris Mahaffey and the SCDGA on all of the work they did coordinating the work on the Robert E. Miller disc golf course, and thanks to all those who put in time helping out.  Also a thanks to Dave Wolfrey for complimenting one of my previous blogs in person, good to know people read it.

Making and Keeping Memories

“Make sure to take pictures you will want them later.”

This past week, I was sitting in a meeting and I had a notebook with me.  Perusing through what random ideas I had written in this book I came across a few pages sparked my interest.  I had stumbled upon some writing I did while on a flight back from California, during the flight I wrote down everything I could remember from the trip I was just finishing up.  Good bad or seemingly insignificant I wanted to make sure I retained as much of the trip I could.   People talk about making memories, but what about keeping those memories.

Last month while I was in Bowling Green at tournament I got a message from my friend Don, “Make sure to take pictures you will want them later.”  I used to make make fun of people who always had their cameras out, or people who journaled about what they were doing, but in the past few months I’ve been switching my thoughts.  While I still think a lot of the staged photos are cheesy and really touristy, I do think photos can help us capture a moment, and when we see them we can remember the feeling and the experience around that single image.  A journal though helps capture thoughts, lessons, emotions with a lot more detail for you to glean insight going forward.

While the doing of the thing is fun in and of itself, the memories are what adds true value into our lives.  Memories give us last joy reminiscing telling stories, and connecting with other people’s memories is a source of long lasting joy beyond the initial event.  keeping track of memories also is a helpful learning tool going forward.  K.J. Nybo is known for having a notebook where he logs all of his shots on different course so he knows his tendencies, where he wants to play from, and where to positions himself.  Having a connection to the past helps us relive the joys and learn going forward.

How are you keeping our memories?

Location Location Locations

There is something to be said for wanting to spread your wings to travel to learn and I think there is a time where we all should be out learning, but I also think there is equal value of setting roots and digging deep into an area and becoming part of it.

My friend Dan in a recent conversation told me he has played 1450 different disc golf courses, it’s kind of his thing.  Similarly my friend Tess loves to travel and climb in new places in the last two years she has been in WV, Patagonia, The Pacific Northwest, Chamonix, Italy, China, Bishop, and is currently on her way to Alaska  .  Some people want to experience a wide breadth of experience see the full world for all it has worth.

Other people I know want to fully experience one small area of the world.  Last summer I went out to the New River Gorge with my friend Landon and his friend Lou, they have been climbing in the New for years and have hit most of the main areas and classic lines, the mission they were on was looking for the buried gems, that may need some (a lot) of cleaning up.  Similarly in getting deeper into the love and appreciation of our local courses my friend Tyler has lately been investing a ton of time and effort into improving one of our local courses potential, adding alternate pin location  cleaning up the trash, edging the tee pads, and clearing some of the low hanging limbs around some of the baskets.

Some people are looking for a wide expansive experience in their hobbies and others are looking for a deeper experience in an area.  I do not think either is particularly the right way and I think there are seasons of life for each aspect.

The wide path exposes you to a much larger variety for experiences.  Climbing steep limestone in Wyoming, is drastically different than climbing the granite domes of North Carolina.  The skills required are different for both, and some people prefer one over the other.  Have the wide breadth of travel set you up to have open perspectives about how things can be done and gives you a larger set of tools to choose from in climbing and in disc golf, playing elevation changes in colorado requires different discs and shot selections than cutting through the wind in Kansas.  You will learn and see so much on this path.

The deep path lets you get an intimate knowledge of an area, which allows you to learn its subtleties, and develop an appreciation for a place on a different level.  The New River Gorge may seem like one continuous rock band that stretches for miles, however the rock varies wildly in its consistency, friction, color, and style, throughout its expanse.  Sections of rock 8 feet away.  In diving deep into an area you get to learn the subtle differences and can appreciate the character they add, and even use them to your advantage at times.  An example of this is on our local course the basket sits just over a ridge and you cannot see the landing area slopes right to left, and this causes a lot of back hand shots to skip long and away from the basket, but a forehand will check up on slope and stop rather than skip away.

Not only is your interaction with the area different but so is your interactions with people.  People who choose a wide breadth of experience will also find they also chose a wide breadth of friends.  Going to new places will by the very nature of it cause you to meet new people, develop new connections, find new compadres to climb, and disc with. I’ve personally made a number for friends passing through traveling in areas, and it is great to have a network of connections all over the help organize trips to areas get beta for routes, give rides to courses.

Equally however I’ve been on the other side being deeply invested in an area.  You do not meet as many people this way, but the connection with these people is much deeper over a mutual love, and appreciation for the area you are in.  A local community develops in these places and being part of the scene and in the know is always a fun part. Belonging to both an a place and a tribe, adds stability and comfort to some people, that the vagabond travel life does not provide.

There is something to be said for wanting to spread your wings to travel to learn and I think there is a time where we all should be out learning, but I also think there is equal value of setting roots and digging deep into an area and becoming part of it.

When to go for it.

The gear was small, the holds were small, and the rock was pretty slick.  I did not feel particularly secure.  I thought back into my head and thought process.  I knew my gear was good, I knew I was strong enough to hold on, I’d trained all winter in the gym,  I had it within me.  So with confidence in my ability I was able to move and continue up the route and got the moves and completed the route.

Similarly this weekend I was looking down a 30 foot downhill death putt, missing it had consequences.  I thought about laying it up, or giving it a half a run, but I looked back, I had warmed up practicing that shot, and had made very similar shots in the past few weeks.  I leaned back on my past, my training, and my experience and was able to execute.

While neither one of these are really all that impressive feats, to me they express an important lesson I’ve been thinking about.  There are times when we just need to go for it even when their are consequences if it does not work, and there are times to make the conservative call, to lay up, or to back off.  For me I am more likely to take the conservative play either from lack of confidence, fear or a combination of the two.

It is in those times of fear, and self doubt you need to have a bit of introspection.  Look into yourself and the situation, and ask have I trained for this, what is the risk I’m taking is it real or is it perceived, have I done something similar.  If you know you have trained for this moment, that you have done the work ahead of time, tell yourself you can do it you’ve done the work, you have the capability to go for it.

Understanding the risk is important but knowing you have the capability and have put in the work to execute is important.  If you know you did the work to prepare, (you know how to place good protection, you know you are strong from training) you have earned the chance to go for it.