SCHUSTERICK SETS HIS SIGHTS ON THE NEW YEAR AHEAD
Article by Idris Garcia
Ninety-nine disc golfers flocked to the famed Winthrop Gold Course in Rock Hill, S.C., to compete in the prestigious United States Disc Golf Championship last October. For the first time since 2007, Will Schusterick wasn’t one of them.
“It sucks,” the 3-time United States Champion said. “It really, really sucks. I started playing it when I was 15, and to be missing it for the first time when I’m 25 is a really big bummer. Sitting back and watching people play has been pretty tough.”
Back up a few months to May or June, and you would find Schusterick at a physical therapist’s office where he found out tendonitis in his rotator cuff had led to shoulder impingement, or “swimmer’s shoulder.” The injury caused other parts of his body to compensate, which affected his play.
The rigorous pursuit of excellence finally caught up.
“I was a top-3 player two years ago, and I wanted to get back to being the No. 1 player in the world, so I would play 4 rounds a day, putt 1,000 times, go to the field—I mean it was honestly 10 to 12 hours of throwing,” he said. “I wanted to just get better no matter what. Once you reach the top level, you’re always looking for more and more and more, and your body can only stand so much of that.”
The decision finally came to step away and build his body back up. He stopped throwing and has hit the gym five times a week for the past 10 weeks. The 6:30 a.m. sessions focus on lower body strength, upper body pulling strength, upper body pushing strength, or a combination of them with higher reps and intensity, which Schusterick called “death days.”
Time off the course also allowed him time to launch Disc Golf Instruction, the sport’s first subscription-based, comprehensive video series offering step-by-step tutorials for players from the beginner to professional levels.
“I have a side of me that always wants to do something for the greater good of disc golf,” Schusterick said. “At what point do we open the circle to where the whole world knows what disc golf is? With Prodigy, the naming system—the easiest naming system to understand—the combination of that with DGI, I think it’s going to take disc golf to the next level because they open up doors to the outside world to understand and learn the sport.”
“The goal is to get more people to play. If we’re going to get more people to play, they’re going to have to understand the equipment and the fundamentals of how to play the right way.”
The site is set to be a centralized hub for instructional material that teaches disc golf technique in a streamlined and consistent manner. While the Advanced Series and Professional Series are in the pipeline, the site debuted with the first installment of the Beginner Series, a 23-minute video that breaks down the basics of grip, stance, body position, reach back, follow through and more.
And although it’s labeled as the Beginner Series, new players aren’t the only ones who can benefit.
“Even if you’re an advanced player, you can learn from it because it breaks down all the fundamentals you can go back to if your game is feeling off,” Schusterick said. “It centers you back to how you should practice and prepare. It’s perfect to say ‘Ok, I need to work on that.’ It teaches you from the foundation up.”
Schusterick himself has gone back to the basics, as he begins to throw again in preparation for the upcoming season. His routine is strategically built around the strength he’s gained in the gym and making sure any bad habits from playing with an injury are gone.
His methodical approach means missing the Las Vegas Challenge and Memorial Championships to start the season, but it is with another run at being among disc golf’s best in mind.
“Mentally, I’m 100 percent there,” Schusterick said. “I know what it takes to win tournaments. I know once I get my drive dialed down, I can be accurate and deadly. I just have to get on that train and feeling the right way. Then, it’s going to be straight take off from there.”