Top Pros Returns – Avery Jenkins Interview


Top Pros Returns – Avery Jenkins Interview by Gordon R. Dill

I’ll be honest, we chased this one for a while. Now, we’re thrilled to have an interview with one of the top players in the world.

Forget “Top Pros”, Avery Jenkins is at least IN THE DISCUSSION for “Top Pro”. Avery won nearly $30,000 on tour this year and more than that the year before. In 31 tournaments this year he won 5, including the PDGA World Championships. He’s got the full list of honors and awards listed on his website.

Upstate Frolfer reached him by e-mail and he was kind enough to give the answers below.

Upstate Frolfer : We still think the PDGA is poised to really breakout but it still doesn’t have the exposure of other sports. Is the sports market already too crowded for a major frolf tour that even non-players would follow?

Avery Jenkins : I think that Disc Golf has a great chance to make into the main stream of Major Sports in this country but it won’t happen overnight. There are many things that have to change for that to happen, player attitude and course conduct is just the start. Its all about sports entertainment and we definitely have that going for us, now we just need to make in a Professional Sport by treating it like all other Professional Sports. It is only as professional as we make it, and people have to realize that we have to take it as seriously as we want to make it or it will never get big.

By the way, I really dislike the term Frolf. Like I said, this sport is as professional as we make it. The word “Frolf” takes us back to a time when we actually used Frisbees to play golf, we have greatly evolved since then in technology and competitive play.

Disc Golf has a good chance to make TV, Frolf does not.

UF (too late to change names, we bought the domain) : Is there a trick to just how many sanctioned events there are? On the one hand we all want to play in real tournaments, but with so many every week it’s hard sometimes to know where we can find the best of the best.

AJ : There is no trick at all, tournaments are sanctioned at different Tiers for a reason. So there is usually better competition and better payouts and the higher tier tournaments. The National Tour is set up in a way to draw better players in from around the country, limiting the number of these tournaments means that fundraising and sponsorship can be better concentrated to these events.

After touring the country as a Professional for over 10 years, I know which tournaments to avoid and which events are not to miss. The caliber of the courses is a great determinate as well as the money added to the event are very important factor to which tournaments I play.

UF : You’re one of the most successful disc golfers in the world and you’ve shown it can be done, but is “pro disc golfer” something that other people could really aim for?

AJ : A player can definitely become a Top Professional Player, but its not easy. It takes lots of hard work, determination and sheer will to succeed. It has taken me many years to reach the top level where I am now, many hours of practice and throwing shots in the backyard. It takes lots of dedication and confidence if a player wants to be an Elite Player. Its obtainable, but very competitive if a player decides to challenge the best in the World.

UF : You’re in tournaments all the time. With travel around the country and, hopefully, a life outside the sport, how often do you play? Is it possible to play too much or is it better to try and throw some discs every day?

AJ : I actually play and practice far less then people think I do. I play lots of rounds during the summer and throw lots of shots, but still feel as I should be practicing more then I do. Life on the tour is busy and there are always lots of other things to occupy my time, with traveling to other events taking up a majority of that week in between events.

I definitely think that it is possible to play too much. I feel those effects toward the end of the season after I have played 30+ events. Throwing everyday takes its toll on the body as well as the mind. When you play this game as long as I have, it can feel like a job sometimes, even though in my position it actually is. Its better to take sometime off from throwing during the week and concentrate on the quality of the practice and not the quanity.

UF : Tell us about that moment when you realized that this sport really had a hold of you?

AJ : I actually realized at a young age that I passion for the sport and a love for the competitive play on the course. I have been playing Disc Golf since I was 7 years old but realized that I had all the ability and skill to be great when I was around 12 years old playing in Junior Tournaments.

The experience that I had gained through the ranks of playing amateur proved very valuable when making the transition to playing pro. I have been playing this sport now for over 24 years and it will be a part of my life forever.

UF : I noticed on your “Team Innova” profile that you consider the Roc the best midrange in the game. We hear that all the time. What makes it so perfect for you?

AJ : The Roc is the best midrange in the game for the fact that it is very controllable and accurate in almost all conditions. It has all the glide of an Aviar with more speed when used for pin-point shots. It’s a great all-around disc that I think everyone should have in their bag.

UF : Is there one kind of shot that always seems to bail you out? I end up relying on a tomahawk whenever I’m in trouble.

AJ : I really rely on my amazing approaching ability to get up and down from anywhere on the fairway. I take pride in being able to save shots by throwing from difficult stances and having to hit a variety of different flight angles on the approach in order to get a chance to save par.

One shot that I can really count on is any type of spike hyzer that I can dial in and keep close to the basket. I can judge the distances on spike hyzers as opposed to other angled shots, it gives me a better sense of depth and trajectory when throwing to the pin.

UF : We have to ask you about distance. You’ve thrown a disc well over 600 feet. It’s incredible. What disc gets you the longest distance and is there a single tip you could give someone that would help them add distance to their throw?

AJ : Throwing Distance Shots is definitely my favorite thing about Disc Golf, nothing more aesthetic than watching a Disc fly through the Air. Its what draws most people to picking up a Frisbee and playing catch, nothing compares to a Disc in Flight.

I prefer throwing Destroyers and Bosses for Distance contests because of their great combination of Speed and Glide. I have actually thrown a Destroyer over the current World Record but it was only during a practice day so it was not deemed as offical.

Throwing for Distance has everything to do with Technique, Timing and Arm Speed. Throwing Discs for Distance is very different from throwing drives on a Disc Golf course. They vary greatly in power, accuracy and release angles.

One complete throwing tip that I would give someone to increase their distance would be to concentrate on their speed of the arm, reach back in a straight line pulling across your chest and always following through your shot.

UF : We watched video of the putt that made you world champion this year. What is your comfortable putting distance? And do you have a pre-putt routine? One pro friend of mine said he has a mantra he chants before putting to clear his mind…anything like that for you?

AJ : First off that putt was by far the best putt I have ever made, I just took myself out of the present and into my backyard where I grew up making that very same putt thousands of times over. A putt that I will never forget, the feeling has never felt quite like that before.

My comfort range when it comes to putting is 15 feet, where I count on every putt within this range as automatic and a goal to be 100% from this range in every tournament. But I am very confident and comfortable with all putts within 30 feet.

I, of course, have a pre-putt routine where I square up and positioning my body in a direct line to the basket while extending my arm to get a mental visual of my release point. I then clear my mind and focus on the chains, I go through the motion of shifting my weight forward and forcefully thrusting the disc out of my hand onto the direct line to reach for the sweet spot of the basket.

UF : Finally, “the leap”. We’re pretty mediocre players who have been working it out on the course for a while now but just can’t seem to make that leap to compete with the best in the game. When did you realize that you were good enough to win and was there something that helped you go from intermediate to expert?

AJ : Like I said, I have been playing this game for a long time and grew up throwing Frisbees/Discs for years when I was around 7. I think that I was always a good golfer with great distance and a solid putt to separate me from the rest of the competitive field. The real difference from the Top Elite players besides having the shot selection and experience is the mental game.

The mental side of Disc Golf is a major attribute that really separates the players from top to bottom. The sport of Disc Golf has been said to be 20% Physical and 80% mental, even though I really don’t think that it relates to such ratios I would argue to say that it is a 40/60 split of physical to mental.

Although you have to have all the shots to be a top Pro, you also have to have a great mental capacity to handle less then ideal situations on the course and ways to correct on mis-cues in technique. One main difference between Pro and Ams is that Ams are unable to correct flaws in their technique but Pros are able to correct any faults on the very next throw instead of letting it affect them the rest of the round.

A strong mental game is developed after many years of experience and confidence in one’s abilities to throw all the necessary shots. Playing lots of competitive and tournament rounds will build confidence for the player. Proper tournament preparation and concentrated focus on the course will also assist in strengthening a player’s mental game.

There is no easy move from intermediate to expert, it takes many years of practice and preparation to get to the top.

Complete Interview: Avery Jenkins Interview

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