Posted on: 18 December
PLAYING THE LONG GAME by Michael Long
Pre shot routine – The forgotten club in the bag
The ultimate aim of every golfer is to make the best possible swing for every shot. A pre shot routine that focuses on setting up to the ball the same way every time will help reduce anxiety levels, create a rhythm and tempo that matches you and will allow you to focus 100% on the shot before you. It is a very important aspect of playing golf but one that is often overlooked.
A pre shot routine is something that all professionals do and most amateurs skip. Now this may surprise you but everyone, including professionals, get nervous before hitting some shots. This is a good thing. It’s only natural because it shows that we care about what we are doing. But we don’t want nerves and anxiety to reach such levels that it affects our shot.
A pre shot routine helps you gain confidence on every shot by having consistency of alignment and set up as well as consistency and rhythm in your pace of play. So when you are under pressure, such as your tee shot on the first hole in front of a crowd or hitting a shot over water on the last hole, your focus will be on the specifics of the shot and you will have a calmness to your thought processes and your swing.
A pre shot routine should be the same every time. Everyone’s pre shot routine is slightly different and you should use your routine every time whether you are on the course or hitting practice balls on the range.
To provide you with an example here is my pre shot routine:
1. I stand about 2 metres behind the ball, pick out my target and visualise my shot.
2. Then I pick out a spot in front of the ball that makes an invisible line to my target. This allows me to place my clubface in the direction I want the ball to start.
3. I slowly step towards the ball: right foot first and then adjust my feet to where they are comfortable, allowing me to make a confident swing.
4. A couple of waggles on the intended takeaway line (and also to release any last-minute tension in my arms)
5. A quick look at the hole and then I swing.
My routine is simple, and it allows me to reduce variables and to focus my energy on the shot. I don’t have mechanical thoughts which lets me to focus on positive thoughts like keeping my tempo and making a smooth swing.
My biggest tip is don’t develop a routine that involves a lot of waggles or standing over the ball for too long. This can result in negative emotions such as worry and doubt. Step in, commit to the swing and hit it.
The last thing, and perhaps most importantly, is that you need to practice the routine. It may not feel like it is automatic to begin with but a good, simple pre shot routine will give you confidence on the course and allow you to relax and enjoy the walk. So, the next time you’re on the range, do not hit a ball without first doing your pre shot routine.
For help on developing your pre shot routine book a lesson at michaellonggolf.com.