Midrange play can be finicky. There are no signs indicating your distance when in the open fairway. Flight numbers only give disc information. So how can you tell what disc to use at a random 173′ mark? Situational disc selection for a midrange throw can be as important as evaluating a green. Select the wrong disc, and depending on the situation, you’ve already lost the hole. Knowing what discs to throw, and when, comes down to two things: 1. practice/field work since it’s the only way know what all your discs do, 2. knowing how well YOU can throw those discs. Knowing that you won’t be able to flex out a shot like Ricky Wysocki is key when deciding a disc to use. How good are you at knowing your game, and selecting the right disc for you?
For starters, I think it’s important to note that the concept of ‘field work’ practice is something that is helpful in all aspects of disc golf. In my opinion it can be a far better tool when working on midrange shots. From a mental standpoint, practicing in an open field simulates the midrange game more accurately than driving. That, and flat slabs of concrete aren’t usually found out in open, grassy areas.
Disc golf does not have club faces to rely on when it comes to flight. The body is what all disc golfers must rely on. Flight numbers are merely assessments of how the molds SHOULD fly under a vacuum of perfect conditions, and circumstances. If you are truly wanting to become a better disc golfer, and step your game up a level over the offseason, field work should be on your agenda.
If I were you, I wouldn’t take MY word for it. I’m merely a writer, and amateur disc golfer at best. 2010 World Champion Eric McCabe discussed the notion of field work with me recently, and his adamant attitude toward the idea was very evident: “Field work is a must for not only developing a better, and more consistent release, but actually learning how each one of your discs flies. When I was working on my game, I would go to a field with a stack of plastic, and throw each one a few times on different angles to get a feel for the flight. This process also helps if you’re struggling on certain shots during recent tournaments”.
Know Your Game: Self Awareness
One of my favorite things to do is take an interested individual out disc golfing for the first time. Especially if we’re already friends. A majority of the people I hang out with play disc golf, and it acts as friendly competition for us. What I see happening more often than not, are these new players throwing discs because ‘they are supposed to’. Driving with a driver, following up with a midrange, and finishing with a putter. Too often new players don’t even need a midrange. Using a driver until they are within putting distance is typically more than adequate due to overall skill level.
As an amateur disc golfer, who usually only plays for fun, I use a single midrange for specific shot types. I know what I can do with putters from those ranges, and prefer the distance cap those discs put on my arm. Too often I would try discs because they were they favorite of touring pros, but ended up shelving most of them. Talking to Eric about field work also revealed his observations on younger players wanting to play like their favorite professional player: “I have a big enough arm that I can throw about any disc, I just have favorites. The shot selection is what I see new players trying to mimic in top players’ game, this always results in failure. It is very important to stay in your own comfort level when you’re improving day to day”.
Ultimately what discs you choose to use for specific shots, are up to you. Your comfort level when choosing a disc for an approach shot can only be helped by practice, and knowing what your limitations & strengths are. I forehand meat hooks around the course, and use straight flyers for my backhand. The only way I know what disc(s) to throw is because most all others have proven unsuitable to my play style. Spend the offseason figuring out your play style is just another step to becoming better. Modeling your game after any world champion might not be the answer.