Diarrhea of the Arm: When extra shots hurt rather than help

Have you heard the term ‘diarrhea of the mouth’? It’s when someone can’t seem to prevent words from pouring out of their mouth (basically he/she can’t stop talking, whether from nervousness or a genetic flaw passed down through generations), usually leading to a detrimental result. I believe the currently accepted term for this is TMI (too much information).

Competitive disc golfers can suffer from a similar malady, and the term ‘Diarrhea of the Arm’ seems to fit. (OK, I’ve typed that disgusting word three times already, including the subject line, and that’s enough. I think you get the point). In the case of disc golf, it refers to a player’s tendency to throw extra shots after a throw or putt that doesn’t go the way he/she intended or hoped. In my experience these extra shots during a competitive round almost always have a few things in common:

  • They seem to be a kind of knee-jerk reaction, unplanned until it’s clear that the original shot is obviously not getting the hoped-for results
  • They are usually hastily executed- rushed, if you will
  • They usually also display an exaggerated correction of whatever the player perceives to have gone wrong with the original shot.

The most common – and in my opinion, most harmful – example of this, er, affliction, is the second putter that is thrown at the basket in disgust after a missed putt. More often than not it also misses the basket, or slams the chains with the anger and distain intended. It also occurs on drives and upshots, but the follow-up mad-putt is the classic example. Every time I see a friend do this I want to tell him that all he’s doing is reinforcing bad habits.

My point is this: If you’re playing a practice round, or practice holes, with the pre-planned intention of throwing repetitive shots, that’s great. More people (including me) should practice that way more often. But, first of all, if you’re playing a round of golf you should play by the rules (even if you’re alone), which in stroke play clearly state that all strokes count. And even if you and your pals have established that such ‘practice’ shots don’t count in your rounds, don’t let such reactionary shots leave your hand unless you’re able to replicate your entire pre-shot routine with the goal of learning and getting better rather than angrily proving you coulda/shoulda made it. Treat every round, and every throw, as practice, and a learning opportunity to build on for future days.

If you have an interest in getting better, that is.

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