The pre shot routine is undoubtedly your most important tool on the golf course. From this moment on, I’d like you to think of your pre shot routine as the true measure of success for any shot you hit. You can’t 100% control the outcome, but you can 100% control what you focus on during your pre-shot routine. The better the pre shot routine, the better your chances of hitting a good shot.
What’s important to remember is that your skills are what they are on the course. You’re not technically going to be become a better player by coaching yourself through better mechanics. You have to let go and focus on the things that are going to help you most to produce fluid motion. The pre shot routine is exactly what will help you do this and gain access to the best skills you have.
What is the purpose of the pre-shot routine?
1. To get you focused
In between shots is for “switching off” and staying present. “Walking meditation”, if you will. Relaxing your brain will help you focus during your pre shot routine. Your pre shot routine, is to remind you to get focused and ready for a great shot.
2. Make sure you pick the right target
This one sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at the number of playing lessons I give where the student forgets to pick a very specific target. The questions to ask before each shot is: “what is my strategy?” and “what is my target?”. The smaller the target the better.
3. Make sure you commit
Commitment is a really important factor in a great shot shot. When you are committed you are free from doubt (doubt does not produce good golf swings). Use mental and physical rehearsal to commit even further by playing the shot in your mind before you play it for real.
4. Make sure you stay present
The time in your pre shot routine from when you start your walk into the ball to when you start your backswing is a really overlooked part of the pre shot routine. You could have done everything well up to this point, but you could easily undo it by getting distracted by things such as where you don’t want to hit it, or trying to remember what to think about during your swing. What’s most important here is that you are able to stay present, target focused with a quiet mind.
5. Make sure you switch off and accept
The end of the pre shot routine is the post shot routine. How well you are able to anchor good shots and stay neutral to bad shots, can affect your mood and anxiety/tension levels.
Practice your pre shot routine
During your practice sessions, we need to work out what is most important for us to focus on during our pre shot routine (for each player it’s different). This is something I help players with during my mental game coaching sessions. Many golfers never actually practice their pre shot routine, it’s just something they do (inconsistently) on the golf course. Making this part of your practice (during some competitive practice drills) is going to help play better on the course.
You also need accountability. If you download the mental game scorecard by signing up below, you can measure the quality of your routines during every round. Having been working with students on the mental game for over 10 years, my experience tells me that the better the mental score, the better the actual score.
Thanks for reading, please let me know if you have any questions!