As a mental coach for golf, one of the questions I get asked regularly is “what can I do if I have a bad warm up routine for golf before heading to the first tee?”
I’m sure you’ve experienced this before…
Your last round was a good one, so now you’re expecting to play well…you get to the driving range to warm up and and after a few loose shots, disaster strikes – you’ve completely lost control of the golf ball! Panic sets in… “What the #$%! is going on here?!” Your heart rate starts to rise…those butterflies in your stomach get worse…and before you can “fix it”, you’re being called to the 1st tee by the other members of your group. Now all your confidence from the previous round has been zapped out of you in a matter of minutes and you start to fear the worst. On the first tee, you’re more focused on the fixing the problems in your swing than sticking to your process, engaging with the target and visualizing the shot. The inevitable happens and you hit a bad shot, which increases the doubts and lowers your chances of a good round.
So what do should you do after a bad pre round warm up routine for golf and how do you prevent it happening in the first place?
The common causes of a bad pre round warm up routine for golf
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 routine for golf 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!
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.
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 for golf. 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.
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 and your tempo will usually speed up. 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:
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.
Noticing differences in your warm up routine for golf
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!
Click here for a mental game warm up routine for golf.