The common causes of a bad pre round warm up
1. Hitting too many balls and trying to work on your swing
I was talking to one of my Tour player students about his pre-round warm-up and he said that he only allows himself 20 balls (more than enough to get “warmed up”). He starts with 3-4 looseners with a SW and then the rest are all creative shots (low/high/hook/slice), instead of trying to hit every shot arrow straight. By hitting a variety of shots you: focus less on how good your technique is and your swing will end up being closer to neutral by the time you get to the first tee.
I find that too many weekend golfers who have a bad pre round warm up are working on their technique before a round, when they should be getting ready to play!
2. Not paying attention to your “Geometry”
If your last round was a good one, then there’s a good chance your fundamentals were good also. So what can change from round to round? There’s a reason why Tour players use training aids such as alignment sticks and putting mirrors while they’re warming up, even though they play everyday and you would think that their fundamentals would be fairly automatic. However, even slight changes in alignment, ball position (including how far you are standing from the ball) can change from round to round and affect your shots. Make sure you spend a little time on this before every round.
3. Not stretching properly
Studies have shown the benefits of good stretching exercises before a round of golf. Stretching out your muscles (in the right way) is an integral part of a good warm-up routine. Here’s a good article on the science behind a great golf warm-up (which includes exercises). It’s possible that during a bad pre round warm up your muscles haven’t been properly stretched or warmed up which has led to changes in your golf swing.
4. Not paying attention to your Tempo and tension
Swing mechanics don’t really change by themselves from round to round – it’s usually caused by changes in tempo and tension. When your golf swing is at its best, your rhythm and timing is good and tension is low. If you’re nervous before a round, there’ll be more tension in your muscles and your tempo will usually speed up. If you start to hit the ball poorly in your warm up, stop hitting balls and breathe! Calming yourself down will lower your heart rate and tension in your muscles. Finding your optimal tempo and lowering tension should be a part of every pre round warm up and then you need to be aware of it throughout a round.
Let’s take a look at what happens if you’re not aware of it in this video of Tiger Woods:
5. Remember That A bad warm-up does not equal a bad score
When Hideki Matsuyama shot 61 at Firestone last year he told us afterwards that he had lost control of the golf ball during his warm-up and his swing felt totally out of sync. I’ve heard this countless times while working with competitive golfers over the past 10 years. Remember that even if you don’t feel good about your warm-up or if you don’t have a particularly good first hole, it doesn’t have to mean you won’t finish with a good round. Resist the temptation to try and fix things, stay process focused and pay attention to your tension, rhythm and tempo.
6. Noticing differences in your warm-ups
One of the reasons my players journal after a round is to notice things that might have helped and hindered their performance. Are there things you are doing in your preparation (mentally and physically) before your good rounds that you aren’t doing in your not so good rounds?
Plan your warm-up for your round this weekend. Hit less balls, stretch out, be more creative and aware of tempo and tension and rehearse your process! If you’d like a 30 minute Pre round mental warm up, to increase confidence and remind yourself of the most important things to focus on during your rounds, check out the 30 min Pre Round Confidence Booster.