Golf Pre Shot Preparation 1

The preparation before the golf shot is vital. It is the way a player can get into the same state of mind for every golf shot.

Creating and sticking to a pre-shot routine can be critical when it comes to playing good golf shots under pressure.

A good pre-shot routine will help the player build confidence, practice, visualize, feel and execute the shot without hesitation.

Lets break it down into boxes:

Think box - The think box should be next to your bag and about 10 feet behind the ball. This section is be used to make all the decisions about the golf shot, including information about the distance, wind, club selection, target, safety play and aim.

Feel box - Once you have made all your decisions in the think box, step forward with your game plan well and truly ready into the feel box. In this box, it is all about the swing. Have a few practice swings to get used to the shot you are about to play. Whilst also in this box, start to visualize the shot you are about to play, by picturing the golf shot in great detail including the flight, the height, the shape, how it will react on the green and where the golf ball will finish. Picture the golf ball going in the hole as this will help build confidence for the golf shot ahead.

Play box - Once you have made your decisions, visualized the shot, practiced the shot and you are 100% confident, step into the final box, the play box. In this box nothing happens apart from the action. Set up to the golf ball and take one last look at the hole, picturing the perfect golf shot. Execute with 100% confidence and believe you have made the correct preparation before the shot.

Top tip: You need to make a pre-shot routine that works for you and is tailored to your needs. You need to practice it on the range before taking it to the golf course. Become comfortable with it before executing it on the golf course. Once you trust it, use it every single time. It will especially help when you are under pressure.

Golf Pre-Shot Preparation

Golf Pre-Shot Preparation

As a golfer, you likely spend most of your practice time working on your actual swing technique. The mechanics of the swing are incredibly important, after all, as they are going to determine where the ball goes when all is said and done. However, if you focus on your swing alone, you are going to be missing a big piece of the puzzle – the pre-shot preparation that takes place before every shot. Despite the fact that countless amateur golfers ignore the importance of the pre-shot routine, this is one of the most important elements in your game. Master a reliable, repeatable routine and your play on the course should quickly improve.

If you have any doubts that pre-shot preparation is actually important, you need to look no further than the PGA Tour. If you watch one of the PGA Tour events on TV, you will quickly see that every player uses some kind of routine before making a swing or hitting a putt. That routine is generally repeated over and over again throughout each round, with incredible consistency. The routines themselves vary wildly from player to player, based on whatever it is that the player deems important in his game (or her game, on the LPGA tour). While you don't get to see the work that goes on behind the scenes, you can be sure that the players have invested plenty of time and effort in establishing these routines to a point where they are comfortable and confidence-building.

In this article, we are going to talk about how you can develop your own pre-shot preparation process. It would be a mistake to copy the routine used by a professional golfer you see on TV, since that player has his or her own swing to prepare for. Your game is your own, so your pre-shot routine should be unique, as well. It's fine to take your cues from established players, but think carefully about your own game while rounding your routine into shape. In the end, you want to be left with something that makes you feel good about each shot before you even put the club into motion.

Since the demands of the full swing are quite different from what is needed in the short game, you'll probably want to build a couple of different routines. You can use one routine for full shots and one routine for shots played on and around the greens. That sounds like a lot of work, but these routines can actually come together pretty quickly once you get started. Of course, you'll need to make your pre-shot preparation a regular part of your practice sessions if you hope to integrate it nicely into your game on the course.

All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

Potential Benefits

Potential Benefits

Before you spend valuable golf practice time working on a certain part of your game, you need to have reason to believe that this time will be well spent. After all, you only have so much time available in your schedule to spend working on golf, so you want to make each minute count. While it might seem more important to work on your actual swing rather than a pre-shot routine, we are confident you will be happy with the return you get on this investment over the long run.

Let's take a look at some of the potential benefits you can enjoy when you establish a reliable pre-shot routine.

  • Improved consistency from swing to swing. The main goal of using a pre-shot routine is to iron out the inconsistencies in your game. If you are like most amateur golfers, you probably feel that your swing varies wildly from one shot to the next. On one swing, you have a beautiful tempo and the ball comes off the club with authority. On the next swing, that tempo is gone and the results are ugly. By using a pre-shot routine, you may be able to even things out as you move through a round. Your routine will help you to feel comfortable and confident before you take your stance, and hopefully your performance will benefit as a result.
  • Better performance under pressure. Another valuable benefit of building a consistent pre-shot routine is the potential to perform at a higher level under pressure. There are a variety of pressure situations which are likely to arise during any round of golf, even if you are playing all by yourself on a quiet Tuesday afternoon. For instance, playing a shot over water will commonly cause you to get nervous, even with nothing on the line. A good pre-shot routine should help you to push the nerves to the side as you focus on the task at hand. You aren't going to be able to eliminate nervous feelings with this method, of course, but you should be able to improve your play when the butterflies set in.
  • Pay attention to every shot. Amateur golfers will frequently 'take a shot off', meaning they won't quite lock-in mentally before making a swing. This can happen for any number of reasons, from fatigue late in the day to conversation with playing partners that is distracting them from the job. Whatever the case, you can use a pre-shot routine as a mental break between everything else happening on the course and the task of hitting a shot. It's hard to focus completely on golf for 4+ hours, so there is nothing wrong with letting your mind wander from time to time. By using a pre-shot routine, you can bring your mind back to where it needs to be prior to playing each stroke.

Once you get comfortable with your own pre-shot routine, you will likely find that you enjoy benefits which aren't present in the list above. The only way to know how a pre-shot routine will benefit you is to give this a try for yourself. Once you begin testing different routines – both on the range and the course – you should begin to see how your game can benefit in very meaningful ways. This should be an exciting time, as you don't often get the chance to lower your scores without actually making technical changes to your swing mechanics.

It is easy for an amateur golfer to get sucked into the habit of just hitting a bunch of drives during each visit to the range. After all, that is what everyone else is doing (for the most part), so why not join in on the fun? Of course, you can – and should – hit some driver shots as part of your practice session, but that should not be your only focus. Golf is about much more than hitting tee shots, and building a pre-shot routine is something that you can do during practice which will pay off nicely on the course.

A Few Ideas

A Few Ideas

As has already been mentioned, we can't tell you exactly what should be included in your pre-shot routine. You know your game better than anyone else, so you will need to think this through and come up with a list of points that you want to touch on before taking your stance.

With that said, we can help move you in the right direction by offering up a few ideas. The points listed below are commonly included in pre-shot routines, in one form or another.

  • A deep breath. This is a common inclusion in pre-shot preparation, as it is a nice way to calm down and bring your mind into focus before actually hitting the shot. Often, golfers will use a deep breath either at the start or end of their routine. For instance, you might go through a couple of practice moves, take a deep breath, and then walk into your stance. Or, you may lead with the deep breath, hoping to relax your body before the rest of the routine takes you into the shot. Either option can work nicely, so feel free to experiment with doing it both ways.
  • Address one specific swing issue. Most golfers have one or two spots during the swing which tend to give them trouble. For instance, some players rush through the takeaway, while others have a tendency to let their backswing carry on too long. It is a good idea to address your biggest weakness during the pre-shot routine. For the golfer who rushes his or her takeaway, rehearsing an extra-slow takeaway is the perfect way to remember the importance of starting slow. Come up with a practice move that will help you avoid your biggest swing issue once you are standing over the ball. It is tempting to just ignore you swing faults and hope they don't pop up on the course, but that isn't a good idea. Meet these issues head on, deal with them during your routine, and expect to avoid them shot after shot.
  • Take a single practice swing. Some golfers like to take a full practice swing before walking up to hit their shots, and others do not. There is no right or wrong here, so you'll need to decide for yourself if you want to include a full practice swing within your routine. If you decide that a practice swing will be to your benefit, try to limit yourself to just one. Taking more than one practice swing is a great way to slow down your pace of play, and it probably isn't going to offer you any meaningful benefit.
  • A visualization element. The pre-shot routine is a great time to visualize the shot you are about to hit. While standing behind the ball, you can stare off at the target in the distance, picturing the way your ball is going to travel as it flies through the air. Some golfers scoff at the value of a visualization routine, while others swear by it. Yet again, you'll need to decide for yourself. In order to give visualization a fair chance, however, you need to keep an open mind. After all, if you've already decided that it doesn't work before you even put it to the test, you won't be giving it a chance to show you what it can do.

You don't need to limit your routine to just a selection from the four points above. It is certainly possible that you'll think of your own ideas to add to a pre-shot routine, or maybe you will pick up an idea from another player. The only guidelines you need to follow are that the routine should be relatively brief, and it should help you get into the right frame of mind to hit a great shot.