What you do and think about in the hour or two before a round has big influence on your performance. In this lesson, I’ve put together a list of 7 pre-round exercises that my students have found help them feel mentally and physically prepared for a great round.
1. Have no expectations
Do not “expect” to play well. Good golf is about embracing the possibilities and not expecting anything with regards to the final outcome. Expectations create pressure and that’s certainly something you could do without.
Chasing a score means you are focusing on uncertainty, which will set you up for a rocky ride. You need to put your focus on those things you have 100% control over – your process.
Tour player’s talk about the importance of focus on “the process”, instead of getting caught up in all the things that are outside of their control (their score, other players’ scores, what just happened or what might happen etc).
2. Don’t get technical on the range
On the driving range, before going out to play, it’s much more important to find a good tempo and rhythm, than it is working on your technique. By tempo, I mean making sure your swing is at a good speed. When we feel nervous, the swing typically speeds up and the sequence is off. If you’ve practiced your optimal tempo, it shouldn’t be hard to find it. The goal for the day is to maintain it! Also, when we’re nervous, you’re muscles are going to be a little more tense, which is also going to affect your swing. Work on noticing tension and relaxing your muscles during your warm-up.
3. Practice your shot routine and play the course
Between every 2-3 shots during your warm-up, throw in a full shot routine that you’ll go through before and after every shot, just like you’re going to do on the course. Practice putting your focus in the right place. This will help get you into the playing mindset instead of mindlessly hitting balls on the range. It’s also a good idea to play a few holes/practice some of the shots you know you’ll be faced with on the course.
4. Don’t judge your warm up
Another key thing to remember is that the way you hit the ball during your warm-up has no indication of how you’re going to play on the course! Get in to the habit of being non-judgmental towards all shots, which is what you’ll be doing on the course. Definitely don’t start giving yourself a lesson. Trust is one of the key thoughts of the day. As soon as you hit one quality shot with one club, put it back in the bag and move onto the next one. This means your last shot with each club is a good one!
5. Eat and drink right
Start your pre-round preparation by fueling your body for a good performance. Be sure to drink plenty of water – it’s proven that being dehydrated lowers performance and if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Eat just enough to be neither hungry or full and keep it healthy (avoid starchy and sugary foods which will raise insulin and make you crash). Pack healthy snacks like fruit and nuts to maintain your energy levels (and stay focused) throughout your round. If you’re walking, you’ll need to put about 800 calories in your body throughout 18 holes.
6. Get the speed of the greens
If I could only do one thing before going to play it would be putting. The goal here is to get familiar with the speed of the greens. I’ve got a great putting warm-up in my Pre-round Confidence Booster”>pre-round confidence audio system.
7. Have an attitude of gratitude and appreciation
Let’s put the game of golf in perspective. Yes, of course you want to play well, but it’s still a sport that you are very fortunate enough to play. There are millions of people who would swap places with you. Think of what you love about the game, no matter what the result will be at the end of the round.
Photo by Claus Rebler