Sports Performance Consultant JJ Weber explains why a pre-shot routine could help to improve your game
Do you want to know what all LPGA and PGA golfers have in common?
Yes, they all play golf, but let’s dig deeper than the obvious.
All professional golfers have a pre-shot routine. Now, don’t start thinking, “If I adopt a pre-shot routine, I can play on the LPGA Tour.” Let’s slow down a bit. Many factors contribute to Tour play. I’m not looking to shoot down dreams. Heck, for all I know, you may have the ability and skills to play on the Tour.
Pre-shot routines are for all golfers who want to lower their handicap, feel calmer while playing, enjoy golf, and possibly save some money by not having to replace smashed clubs.
Can you relate to this experience? You are playing in a group of four, all of similar ability. After the first six holes, you are leading your group by two-strokes. You are having fun, feeling good, and enjoying the day. Then, on the seventh hole, disaster strikes. Well, it feels like a disaster. You mishit the ball on your tee shot and the ball rolls about ten feet. You feel embarrassed. You take a mulligan and drive the second shot straight and far, but you can’t get your first embarrassing attempt out of your mind. It haunts you for the rest of the round. You are so nervous for a repeat performance that you stand over the ball longer trying to avoid a second “disaster.” Your play spirals downward and your day feels ruined.
As we can all attest, a bad shot can throw off our whole game. All we want to do is pack up our bags, run to the clubhouse, hurry to the car, and zoom home. Socialising with other golfers is not an option after your bad day of golfing!
Good news! You can hit the reset button and that button is your pre-shot routine.
5 Benefits of a Pre-Shot Routine
- Pre-shot routines transition you from the previous shot to the current shot. Consider the pre-shot routine as the “snap out of it” command. The start of your routine signals, “The last shot is over, get ready for this current shot.”
- Pre-shot routines help you focus. Distractions are all around: weather, disruptive talking, your heart beating, sweaty palms, dinner plans, getting little Johnny to football practice, your last shot, past performances, the giant crocodile behind you ready to devour you, etc. Your routine narrows your focus on one singular point, the shot.
- Pre-shot routines calm your mind and relax your body. A few deep breaths and a couple of shoulder shrugs can help you clear your mind and reduce the tension in your body.
- Pre-shot routines help immerse you in the moment. Being present in the present helps you prevent self-judging, over-analyzing, and overthinking.
- Pre-shot routines help you take back control over your mind. When your mind is tempted to wander into negativity, focusing on your pre-shot routine flips the switch from conscious thought to mere action.
Now that you know the practical implications of a pre-shot routine, let’s explore the framework of an effective routine.
Keys to an effective pre-shot routine
- Make it simple – Keep your routine short, approximately 10-15 seconds. If your routine is too short, you will feel rushed. If your routine is too long, your mind will wander and give way to anxious thoughts. The goal of your routine should be to settle into your shot and narrow your focus to the task at hand.
- Be consistent – Habituating your routine is important. You want to perform your routine with as little thought as possible.
- Get personal – Your routine is your routine. You can include elements that you find from other golfers, but make sure your routine feels comfortable, meaningful, and easy to perform.
- Rehearse your routine – Perform your pre-shot routine during practice rounds. If you want to apply your routine to more serious play, you should spend time automating that behavior in less stressful situations.
Now you are ready to form your own routine. Don’t look for the “perfect” routine. It may take a few adjustments to feel right and comfortable.
Possible elements of a sound pre-shot routine
The following is an example of a pre-shot routine. Have fun with the process and make it your own.
- Practice swing/ half swing
- Visualise target
- Step into your stance
- Set your feet
- A couple of waggles
- Adjust grip
- Deep breath
- Look at target… SWING!
Take some time to develop and practice your pre-shot routine. It is an easy way to keep your head in the game and improve your golf score.
Remember, golf is a game… a challenging little bugger but nonetheless, a game. Have fun and enjoy yourself.
About JJ Weber
JJ Weber, M.Ed is a Sport Performance Consultant, freelance writer and stay-at-home dad. JJ has a Sport Psychology degree from Temple University. He has served as a mental training technician for professional teams and elite athletes in a wide range of sports.
With over 15 years as a freelance writer, he specializes in parenting, psychology, exercise, fitness, human performance, and mental training. He is a member of the American Association of Sport Psychology and the International Society of Sport Psychology.