Using pre-shot routines are extremely useful to help you stay focused on important performance cues during shot making. Most golfers utilize a physical routine (i.e., practice swing and set up), but far too many golfers neglect the use of a mental routine.
Although they complement each other, your mental routine is the most important part because it includes the decision making and confidence building skills that are critical to a successful shot and consistent performance.
The important mental game elements of a pre-shot routine include (1) planning and commitment, (2) confidence, (3) focus, and (4) trust in your skills. These are universal, no matter what the sport or the task. The following summarizes the important elements you want to integrate into preshot routines in your sport.
By committing to your pre-shot routine your performance will become more consistent enhancing your confidence. Also, your routine will help you focus on the present task and help you trust your ability to execute one shot at a time.
Professional Golfer, Greg Norman, understands the elements of a pre-shot routine. “I have been using the same routine for many years. It helps me set up the same way every time,” said Norman, “I set my clubface down on my target line and set-up my stance around where the clubface is aimed.”
You’ll need to combine the physical actions of the routine (such as a practice swing) with specific thoughts, images, or feelings (visualizing the shot, focusing on the target, and mental cues to trigger the start of the swing) that instill confidence and trust in your execution. Your routine will help you be more confident, focused, and in a trusting mindset when you perform. Here are some tips to keep in mind for your preshot routine:
- The goal is to help you execute a confident shot, not have a perfect routine. If you worry about completing a perfect routine you are more concerned with executing your routine than the shot.
- Be mindful of the phenomenon of “going through the motions” without mental intensity. As a routine becomes more habitual, it requires more discipline on your part to stick to or apply the mental aspect.
- Anytime you change your physical or mental routine, be sure to practice before putting it into action in tournaments.
- Run through your pre-shot routines in the warm up. Use the last four or five shots and putts to establish the rhythm of your routine before heading to the first tee.
- You’ll want to tap into your dominate learning style in your routine. Most people are a combination of visual and kinesthetic performers. However, you’ll discover one mode of learning that may help program you better.
- Be careful not to judge your pre-shot routine or make any associations to the outcome of the shot. Completing your routine does not guarantee a perfect shot and failure to complete your routine is not always the cause of a bad shot.
Remember, the purpose of a pre-shot routine is to help you prepare your mind and body for successful execution, not for the sole purpose of completing a perfect routine. Use a routine that works best for your learning style and apply it first in practice.
Establish a routine well before competition starts instead of searching for one on the course. You first must become comfortable with the thoughts and images of your routine so you can then focus your energy on performing your best.