Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Quick Tip: Tournament Day

This week’s Quick Tip from Robert McCall: Tournament Morning Warm-Up

I’m going to describe a situation to you. I’m hopeful that it’s not a situation you’ve encountered, but it’s likely that you’ve felt this way before:

On a tournament morning, you’ve planned to be prepared, so you set your alarm fairly early. However, when the alarm blare catches you mid-dream, you snooze it a few times, because you’re still tired. No big deal, right? You get up, get dressed, and drive toward breakfast from McDonald’s. The McDonald’s line is a little longer than usual, so you waste 10 minutes or so waiting on your food. When you arrive at the course, around 30 minutes before the players’ meeting, you realize you don’t have all of your discs in your bag, so you dig around your car for a few minutes to find your discs and ensure your arsenal is ready for battle. You head toward check-in, but see a buddy of yours, so you guys chat it up for a few minutes before you arrive at Tournament Central. You sift through the available plastic for a few minutes, and before you know it, it’s time for the players’ meeting. After the meeting, you head toward your assigned hole, the two minute horn blows (TWOOOOOOO MINUUUUUUUTES), and you’ve thrown zero discs.

If you’ve been there before, you know how unsettling your first few holes can be as you’re trying to catch your stride. I’ve experienced this situation a couple of times, and it’s my absolute nightmare. In order to combat that awful feeling on the first tee, I’m going to share my pre-tournament routine in hopes that it might help you form a routine (or at least help in some small way).
The night before the tournament, I do everything I can to be ready for the next morning: I lay out my clothes, pack my bag with my usual discs, towels, mini, Whale Sac, water bottle, and anything else I might need for the day. I set my alarm to plan to arrive at the course an hour and 15 minutes ahead of the players’ meeting. I do my best not to stay up too late. I drink quite a bit of water in the days leading up to the tournament. If I’m leaving the place that I’m staying for good that day, I completely pack my bag that night.

The morning of the tournament, I NEVER snooze my alarm if at all possible. I’m a notorious snoozer during other times, but not during tournament days. My goal for the morning of the tournament at the place I’m staying is to get ready, get dressed, and be out the door in 15 minutes or so.

I eat breakfast quickly and as early as possible, because there’s nothing worse for me than standing on the first tee box and feeling as if I’ve eaten too much. If the line is too long at the breakfast restaurant I’ve chosen, I’ll head to the next one. Wasting time waiting for breakfast is one of my least favorite tournament morning activities.

If possible, and this may be oversharing, but I stop to use the restroom and get any last minute snacks or drinks before I get to the course. I don’t want to ever have to rely on a restroom at the course.

Once I arrive at the course, I try to follow the same routine if I can. Walk to check-in first, greet the people I haven’t seen in awhile, and chat briefly with friends there. Once I’m at an hour before the players’ meeting, I begin my warmup.

I’ll do a few jumping jacks, arm circles, or a brief jog to get my blood flowing a bit.

Stretching is next. I stretch both arms, shoulders, hips, legs, and back as thoroughly as I can. Even though I haven’t thrown any shots yet, stretching makes me feel ready to compete.

I’ll find a field or more open hole and throw some of my discs. I usually throw all of four my throwing putters, a midrange or two, a couple of fairway drivers, and a few distance drivers, if space allows. As I move up disc speeds, I increase my arm speed.

Once I’ve retrieved my discs, I like to play at least 5 holes of the course. Usually, these are the holes nearest tournament central, but I’ll sometimes choose a stretch of holes on which I generally struggle if I really want to hone in my tee shot or landing zone. I putt out both of my putters on each hole.

After the warmup holes, I putt for 5 minutes or so, beginning close to the basket and moving back slowly. My focus is remembering my putting stroke properly and feeling a good follow-through. I’ll throw a few putts outside the circle to stretch out my arm and feel that extra bit of commitment, then make a couple of short ones, and then I’m off to the players’ meeting.

I try to make it to every players’ meeting I can, because I don’t want to be in the dark about any course-specific rules, and I like to respect the tournament director’s time - they pour a lot of effort into making their events happen, so I like to express gratitude for that.

Once we have hole assignments, I head to my hole as quickly as possible, throwing a couple of tee shots as time permits along the way. As time winds down before two minutes, I putt inside the circle to increase my confidence from that range.

While I don’t get to warm up in this exact manner at each tournament I’m lucky enough to attend, I like to stick to this plan pretty closely if possible. After the warmup, it’s the most fun part - competing. I love it.

What is your pre-tournament routine? Is there anything that I do that you’ve never tried? Have you had success with other methods? I’d really like to hear from you. If you want to reach out with some ideas or feedback, you can contact me through the Disc Golf Answer Man podcast or Facebook page, or you can find my social media links below. See you next week!

Robert McCall
Dynamic Discs
Team Manager
1 comment: