Q: What is a pre-shot routine? Why do I need one? How do I develop one?
A: It is a procedure you use prior to hitting your shot that is designed to help you focus on a positive outcome and reduce negative thoughts. By consistently training your thought process as you prepare to hit your shot, you will reduce your anxiety and resulting tension, and the quality of your game will improve. Virtually every professional and top amateur uses a pre-shot routine. Your routine should be limited to a few seconds and should contain a trigger action that stops all mechanical swing thoughts and focuses on where you want to hit the ball.
Example: While standing directly behind your ball, hold your club in front of you and directly over the ball and pointing to the specific spot you want your shot to go. Take one practice swing while you remind yourself to finish your swing and be in balance. Now for the trigger, and this can be any thought or physical action that will quiet all further swing thoughts and focus your mind on your target. One such trigger would be to touch the bill of your cap as you walk into your address position. With practice, this will train your mind and body to act positively every time. The key is to do the same thing every time and take the same amount of time each time.
Tip of the day: When you go to the range to practice, try to use your pre-shot routine on every other shot. After some practice, your routine will become an unconscious habit, resulting in better results.
As always, have fun when playing and practicing the game of golf. Email me at email@example.com with ideas and suggestions for future columns. Sapelo Hammock is now open seven days a week.