Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 4.44.24 PM

Preshot golf routine – here’s some answers.

As mentioned in previous articles, the reason people tend to spend so long over the ball is because they fear hitting a bad shot. This is because they don’t have the skills to pull a good shot off.

Remedy – learn the moves!

Also their brain doesn’t tend to know what is going on. i.e no routine. Especially in pressure situations.

Here’s the sequence of movements going back:

1. Hands
2. Arms
3. Shoulders (upper torso)
4. Hips (lower torso)

Here’s the sequence of movements coming down:

1. Hips (lower torso)
2. Shoulders (upper torso)
3. Arms
4. Hands

If you can break your swing down into these parts it makes it a hell of a lot simpler. And simple thoughts are what it’s all about when we get onto the course.

We don’t want paralysis by analysis.

Meaning you’re thinking about so many things that it’s impossible to commit to making a free flowing swing. Spend a short while on the range making sure your body follows the sequence listed above. Then start to work on your routine. Which is what you will follow on every shot out on the course.

Here’s a few things I like to see people do in a good pre shot golf routine.

1. Pick out an intermediate target 12 inches in front of ball.

This should be on your imaginary target line that you have drawn in your mind. Simply draw a line back from your target in the distance to a spot on the ground just in front of the ball. This is what you’re going to aim the club face up with when you walk up to the ball. Make sure the club face is aimed at this spot on the ground before you start to take your stance.

2. Walk up to the ball starting to form your hands on the club.

The last thing you want to occupy your mind with when you get over the ball is the placement of your hands on the club. They should already be on the club by the time you are lining up the club face with your intermediate target (the spot on the ground just in front of the ball).

3. Take a deep breath before you start walking up to the ball.

If you’ve ever tried swinging the club (especially under pressure) without controlling your breathing, you’ll know how inconsistent breathing patterns can effect your flow.

Do you know if you are inhaling during the back swing? exhaling? or holding your breath? All this is just as important as visualizing the shot in your minds eye and it will definitely effect performance if you don’t practice it.

The idea is to take slow breaths from your belly. Not short bursts which raise your chest and shoulders. You know the kind of breathing patterns you take when you get stressed!

You’re going to feel stress out on the course every now and again and most of it is self induced. So we have to learn to cope with it. Diaphragmatic breathing is all about breathing with the diaphragm and it can help you control your state more easily.

Here’s how I use it in my “preshot golf routine”:

Standing behind the ball, looking down the target line ready to walk into my shot – I’m focusing on 4 seconds inhaling and 4 seconds exhaling (all from the belly).

I’m feeling my belly inflate and deflate with every breath. After I’ve seen the line – which is the imaginary line I want the ball to travel on – more on that in a bit. I take one last long breath in (4 seconds) and at the same time I start exhaling I start my walk into the ball.

The 4 second interval breakdown:

I use the 4 seconds it takes me to exhale to line the club face up with the ball and take my stance.

My next inhale (4 seconds) I’m getting comfortable (patting my feet and waggling the club) and I take a look at the target to make sure I’m aligned correctly.

The next exhale (4 seconds) is spent over the ball getting ready to swing the club at the ball. As soon as you start to feel the natural cycle of starting to inhale again that’s your green light – go, go, go!

Make the swing and commit to it (remember it starts with your hands). Essentially I’m holding my breath for the duration of the swing – It is only 1.5 seconds long.

Think of it as a power move. If you were going to lift some weights you wouldn’t try and lift weights whilst exhaling!

You breath in to exert the maximum amount of force you can with the body. It’s the same with the swing. That’s why you see tour pros and tennis players for example grunt after they’ve hit the ball.

4. Visualize what you want to do.

So many people play golf thinking about what they don’t want to do. The brain doesn’t recognize the word ‘don’t’.

So right now ‘don’t’ think of a pink elephant. See what I mean!

You can practice playing different movies in your mind all the time. Start practicing ‘seeing’ the ball go where you want it to go before you walk into your shot. It may help if you imagine the sound of a well struck shot as well.

On putts imagine the sound of the ball dropping in the hole. This definitely works for me. Of course this kind of imagination won’t guarantee a good outcome. Good mental skills never make up for a lack of technical ability. But you will be giving yourself the best chance of pulling a good shot off.

Of course all of the above are just the way I see and analyze things. If you have your own and it’s working – great! But if you don’t, and you know it’s a part of your game that you need help with. Feel free to use the points above as a guide.

From the time you start walking in to your shot if you’re taking longer than 12-20 seconds before you pull the trigger – You need to speed things up a little.

All of the above can be practiced on the range anytime you wish. If you can go around the golf course sticking to a routine which includes all the above and you’re still playing poorly. You need some serious help with your swing.

So stop thinking about it – and go and get some help.

For now keep this in mind – Repetition leads to recognition. The more you practice, the better you’ll become.

Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 4.44.24 PM