The disc golfer does not need a college course in the function and working of the mind in order to use it effectively. But a player should understand some of the mind’s fundamental operations, and certainly s/he should know how to apply that knowledge to disc golf.
The first problem most people face in understanding the mind is that they don’t believe that it is “real.” Most people can believe only in things that have physical dimensions. You can’t weigh a mind or stick it with a pin, and therefore, to many people, it cannot exist. They believe that the mind and the brain are synonymous, which is like saying that the electricity in a wire leading to the light bulb is the same as the light that shines from the bulb.
Light and electricity are different forms of energy. They are closely related in the situation just described, but each operates according to separate laws. The same is true of the mind and the brain. Since the mind is not physical, it cannot be defined in terms of what it is, but rather in terms of what it does. But the disc golfer must recognize the mind as something that is real and as influential in their game as his/her arms and legs.
The player should know that the mind does essentially two things: it thinks and it feels. Many educators like to compare the function of the mind to that of a computer. The analogy is applicable generally but weak in one particular area, because, the computer thinks, and has a memory bank, and can solve problems by deductive logic, it cannot feel. If a person’s mind were simply a computer, there would be many more golfers breaking 60 at USDGC, but not 54. Later I’ll tell you why.
A major problem with the mind is that, although it can be programmed like a computer (i.e. think), its feelings can take over and totally destroy that logical programming (or thought) process. Many disc golfers have very clear-cut ideas about what they would like to do with a disc, and very specific notions about how to carry it out. But if doubt or fear creeps into the system-in other words, the wrong sort of feelings, all the best-laid plans can be totally shattered.BEING HONEST WITH YOURSELF
On the whole, the disc golfer has much more trouble with the feeling function of the mind than the thinking function. As I have stated, the intellectual problems in disc golf are not particularly great. But there is one such problem all golfers have to face, and that is the assessment of their own capabilities in terms of their shot-makings judgments.
Most golfers find it difficult to be truthful about him/herself. People who play other games can generally own up to their ineptitude – they usually don’t mind admitting they can’t play football, hockey, or basketball like a professional. But, for some strange reason, everybody thinks they should be able to throw disc like Barry Schultz.
On some snowy winter day, ask a 930 rated player at weekly league what s/he shoots. If this person has broken 975 twice in the past year, s/he will tell you without batting an eye that they usually shoot better than their rating shows. They know that statement isn’t true, but they think that by time the spring comes around they’ll be shooting a 975 game quite often, which means that his/her average score will then match the rating they stated on that winter day. In his/her own mind the player is not really telling a lie; they’re simply transposing the problem into the future. If you follow their progress closely, you may find that they don’t shoot better than 930 until the middle of July. But, even at that point, he/she will probably still think of themselves as a 975 shooter. It is this subtle self-deception that prevents so many golfers from reaching an effective level of proficiency in disc.
A golfer should strive to be honest about his/her capabilities, no matter how humbling that experience may be. Without a firm footing of honesty, s/he will forever wallow in a quicksand of fantasy that will totally inhibit real and lasting improvement.