The procedure you perform prior to hitting a golf shot is integral to your success. You must learn to perform an identical series of steps before every shot. This relaxes your muscles and clears the mind.
For good players, their routine is automatic. This routine will take the same amount of time and always have the same amount of steps. If distracted, they will stop and go back to the very beginning of their routine.
Below are some components of a “physical” pre-shot routine:
- Assess the lie, yardage, wind, hazards, and distance of the shot.
- Pick an intermediate target
- Pick a club to produce the trajectory and distance needed
- Rehearsal swing
- Get into your stance and posture
- Execute the shot and hold the finish
One of the most important parts of the physical pre-shot routine is choosing an intermediate target. It is a spot that is about a foot in front of the ball in your peripheral vision. You must pick this spot from behind the ball using binocular vision.
How you step into the shot should always be the same. There are various ways to do this. You can start with your feet together and then step into position, or you can put your right foot closer into the ball and then step in with your left foot.
Whatever you decide, do it the same way every time you swing.
There is also a “mental” pre-shot routine. This will enable you to not have negative, mechanical swing-killing thoughts.
Below are some components of the mental or psychological pre-shot routine:
- Clear your mind.
- Have a trigger of some kind that locks you into concentration.
- Loosening up by waggling the club head back and forth can relax your mind and muscles.
- Keeping some part of your body moving helps prevent negative thoughts and freezing over the ball.
- Take a cleansing breath with a slow exhalation.
Annika Sorenstam said that her routine was 24 seconds every time. She used a popular method called “think box, decision line and play box.”
Finally be aware of your post shot routine. Bob Rotella, golf psychologist, said, “It’s not what happens to golfers, but how they choose to respond to what happens, that distinguishes champions.”
Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional and teaches at local courses. firstname.lastname@example.org; www.golfdoctorjean.com