The Value of Stretching for Your Disc Golf Game

To start the discussion of the State of Disc Golf survey, we first decided to look at an aspect not often
discussed on the golf course. That would be the subject of stretching before a round of disc golf.
Stretching is often overlooked but something that most major sports suggest you do. In essence,
stretching is supposed to elongate the muscle in order to increase muscle flexibility and joint range. In
disc golf, that increased flexibility may result in more distance and longevity. So, let’s see what the State
of Disc
Golf survey can tell us about how often we stretch as disc golfers. As mentioned previously, over
6,000 golfers participated in the State of Disc Golf survey. Looking below you can see what percentage
of golfers stretch and how often they stretch.

As you can see, 10% percent of golfers stated they never stretch. Of the other 90%, only 38%
mentioned they always stretch before they play. Out of curiosity, we decided to compare each groups
of disc golfers and how often they stretch. Golfers were asked to rate their skill level from the options
of Professional, Advanced, Intermediate and Beginner/Rec. Below you can compare the responses of
each skill level and how often they stretch.

Disc Golf Stretching by Skilll Level


Of note for those who marked professional disc golfer, 51% stated they always stretch before a round.
This is the highest percentage of the four groups. In addition, they have the lowest percentage of
people who said they never stretched. Beginners appear to stretch the least with 13% saying they never
stretch. If you compare each skill level, you’ll see a pattern in the pie charts. The more advanced of a
player you are, the more likely you are to always stretch before playing disc golf.

So, does this mean if you stretch before a round you’ll shave off a couple strokes? It’s no guarantee, but
I don’t see any harm in taking a few minutes to stretch before a round if there’s a chance to improve.

As you think about disc golf and the many motions involved, some simple stretches to start your round
could include; torso twists, arm circles or simply rolling your head around to loosen neck muscles. If
you’re looking for other resources several pros refer to the Disc Golf Strong blog. They have a Youtube
channel where you can see exactly how to do specific disc golf stretches.

State of Disc Golf 2017–Wanna Throw Far?

So, do you wanna throw far? Or at least farther than you can right now? As disc golfers, I think we all would say we’d like the ability to get our discs a little further down the fairway. Those of us who have had the opportunity to play long championship level courses know that the guy in the group with the longest drive has a nice advantage. Of course, you can argue, “drive for show, putt for dough” right? But I don’t think too many folks would disagree that a good drive won’t hurt your chances of pulling in that dough either.

How Far Do Disc Golfers Throw?

So, how do we throw far? I don’t think anyone will argue with or be surprised with the answer I found from the results of the State of Disc Golf Survey…but what looks like the key ingredient to throwing far is: Practice. Practice, practice, practice—specifically, field work. Let’s take a quick look at the numbers.

Here we see how all participants in the survey answered our question about average driving distance. In my last article, I analyzed how practice affected our skill levels, and I identified weekly field work as a good indicator and separator for how well we play disc golf. Well, as I broke down how far we throw compared to whether or not we did weekly field work, I found a pretty consistent pattern.

Field Work

This chart shows the percentage of people within each throwing distance that do field work at least once per week. Of everyone who took the survey, 31.5% said they do field work at least every week. As we can see, there is a pretty consistent trend—The farther you throw, the more likely it is that you are doing field work at least once per week. Again, I don’t expect any of this to be surprising, but there was one other pattern I found to be pretty interesting–disc ownership.

Disc Ownership

How many discs do we own? And is there any correlation to how far we throw? To analyze this, I broke down the answers for the number of discs we own into three based on the responses we get. Each account for about 33% of the total: 0-30 discs (33.3%), 31-80 discs (35.4%), and 81+ discs (31.4%). Then I plugged these three in with how far we throw in the same way I did with weekly field work, and here is what I found.

First, a look at those who own 30 or less discs. We see the highest response percentages with those who throw the shorter distances.

The 31-80 discs range has the most representation in the middle distances.

Then, naturally, the 81+ discs answer was most popular with the farthest throwing groups.

So, does this mean all you need to do to throw far is by more discs? Not exactly, but I think what this is a good indicator of is how involved we are in disc golf. The more discs you own, I’d think the less casual your disc golf experience is.

So the secret formula to throwing far isn’t all that secret—just get out there and practice! Field work works, and stay involved in disc golf (aka, let that disc collection grow a little bit :)). Of course, proper technique is key. There are so many great tutorials out there to help you, like this one from Will Schusterick:

So get out and throw, and throw far!

State of Disc Golf 2017 Results–Does Practice Really Work?

In the immortal words of NBA Hall of Fame-er Allen Iverson…”We talkin’ about practice!”

Every disc golfer has at least pondered the question as they’ve pulled late nights in their garage or backyard with a stack of putters and a practice basket. Or they ask it as they throw their arm out at the local soccer or football fields. “Is any of this really helping me?” “Am I getting any better?” I think most folks with any experience in developing a skill or a good habit would agree with the old adage that practice makes perfect, or at least practice makes you better than you were before.

Of course, our analysis of this question today is imperfect, but it is still very interesting to look at how the surveyors rated their own skill levels in conjunction with how often they practice. While there may be some discrepancy between how one disc golfer would rate his/her skills compared to another, I think it is a somewhat safe assumption that those who took this survey that participate in PDGA tournaments (about 3/4 of the survey played in at least one PDGA event last year) rated themselves simultaneously with what division they play in.

So first of all, let’s just look at how good we think we are. Just shy of half the folks who took the survey consider themselves intermediate, while the advanced disc golfers just barely outnumber the recreational and beginner players. So, just shy of 75% of the disc golfers surveyed rate themselves as being below advanced in their skill level. I think that this is a decent reflection of the true state of disc golf, and really most sports. There tend to be more casual participants than serious competitors (probably) because of the work, time, and practice required to compete at a top level.

Now for a look at our practice trends. We asked about practice putting and field work. It looks like putting is the most popular form of practice, which makes sense considering it is the most convenient of the two, requiring the least amount of space. About 60% said they practice putting at least once per week, while only about half of that, approximately 30%, said they do field work practice at the same frequency.

So in playing around with the data I decided to use the one week mark to divide the practice time frames up. In my opinion, practicing your disc golf game off the course at least once a week is a pretty good indicator of taking your disc golf game seriously and of seeking improvement in your game.

So, here is a breakdown of what percentage of players within each skill category answered that they practice putt and practice field work at least one per week. The percentages look to trend somewhat how I would have predicted them, at least in relation to each other. The higher the division, the more that golfers within that division practice at least once per week.

Putting Practice

First, lets break down the practice putting. Again, I think it is important to remember that this is the most convenient form of practicing. 78.8% of disc golfers who consider themselves to play at the professional level practice their putting at least once per week. while each division drops at a pretty consistent 10% from there on out. With the Rec/Beginner division at 51.1%, we know that the majority of players within each division are practicing at least once per week. Of course, we do not know the intensity of each player’s practice routine, but at least they are going out and getting the practice done.

Field Work

Now, the field work is where things get a little interesting. Just under half of professional level disc golfers say they do field work at least once per week. Then between the pro and advanced divisions there is a slightly larger difference (11.6%) than the difference we saw in practice putting (8.6%). Then only about 27% of both Intermediate and Recreational/Beginner disc golfers practice field work at least once per week.

So across the board we see that consistent field work is less common than consistent putting practice, but perhaps the field work is the difference maker for those who feel stuck in the advanced or intermediate skill range? More research would be needed to make a definitive claim. But I definitely find it interesting to see the slightly larger gap between skill levels when it comes to field work.

But at the end of the day, this data just reinforces what we already know–if you practice, you are going to get better. Practice makes perfect. There is no substitute for hard work. Nothing worth having comes easy. Or, one of my personal favorites that I first heard from Paul McBeast McBeth, “Everybody wants to be a beast, until it’s time to do what beasts do.” So go out, work hard, and maybe give the field work a little more time than you have before. Here’s to a 2017 disc golf season where we all find improvements in our game through our practice!