HOW TO PLAY YOUR BEST WHEN IT COUNTS THE MOST– Strategies for playing great at tournaments or shows.

Even a slight change in mindset can help you to play your best even if you're a beginner or ranked top 10 in the world in freestyle. This is especially important in big tournaments, important demos or shows, doing a TV spot or even jamming. It might sound simplistic but it's helped me quite a bit.

Play to catch instead of playing not to drop. When you arrive a tournament and you've done all the prep work and practice, the final touch is having the proper mindset. Here's one very simple approach that seems to work. Instead of playing "not to drop", in other words, instead of playing not to mess up, "play to catch". For example, let's say you're team kicked ass and had an amazing semi-finals round and now you're in the finals. In the semi's, my guess is that you played like you had nothing to lose and you were relaxed. You were not afraid of messing up or dropping the disc and you just focused on catching, doing your routine or doing what you wanted to do at that moment. Anyway, now you're in the finals. You want to play well. You know that you can't have too many drops. You want to play great but you feel the pressure. You're probably nervous. (Even experienced competitors are generally nervous before they perform.) With the added pressure, the right attitude will make a huge difference. The tendency here would be to play by focusing on "not dropping the disc", playing "to not mess up". This is different than playing within your comfort zone. With the "don't mess up" mentality, even easy "safe" moves become difficult. So they key is to "play to catch". Play by "going for it" versus playing passively. Don't worry about messing up. No round is perfect ever. So don't "play not to drop". Play to catch!.

Go for it, but don't force it. I used to think going for it was doing the biggest moves that you can do. I'd think to myself, "in the finals I'm going to go for the "triple brain peeler" that I've done once in 20 attempts and it's going to be great." Famous last words. However, "going for it" really means, go for the move or catch you have in mind that you feel you can pull off at that moment.

Sometimes you're body is not ready to do a particular move (you're feeling a little tight), or the wind conditions won't allow it. The key is to go with what is there at that very moment. Go for what will work in those wind conditions with how you are feeling at the moment. Randy Silvey always says, "If you feel it, peel it. If you don't, seal it." This is another way of saying don't force it. Let it come to you. If you respect the playing conditions and you are in tune with your body, when you feel particularly good and the conditions allow it, it will occur to you that now is the right time for that big move or catch. And you'll do it. And you'll nail it.

Dave Lewis