The Importance of a Pre-Shot Routine

When you’ve been playing golf as long as I have been, you start to have a routine that you do before every shot. It’s like it’s a superstitious ritual. But, the pre-shot routine is much more than a superstition. It sets things in motion so that your body knows its about ready to swing the club or make that putt. It also calms you down and centers your thoughts and actions. It also provides focus to your next actions. Everyone should have a pre-shot routine.

My pre-shot routine begins when I step up onto the tee. As I walk up to the tee, I am looking down the fairway at the green. I walk from the back of the tee. I stop briefly and visualize the path I want the ball to take after I hit it. Then I walk up to the tee and decide where to put the tee into the ground depending upon which side of the fairway has the most danger. I step back from the ball and line myself up to make a practice swing. I still imagine the ball flying the path I want as I make the swing. I make one practice swing. If I feel tight, I make another. I then step up to the ball and place my feel together at the spot that feels like the right distance from the ball. I then move my right foot into the position I want in relation to the ball. Then I move my left foot into position. I check my shoulders to make sure they are pointing to my target. I address the ball by placing the club behind it. I “waggle” my club by pulling it back slightly twice, turn my head to the target and visualize the path of the ball. Bring my head back to focus on the part of the ball depending upon the type of shot. And SWING! Once my club is at the end of the swing path I should be turned towards the path the ball has taken and I follow the flight of the ball down the fairway towards the green.

This routine from starting at the back of the tee to actually swinging the club takes no more than about a minute. Yet it provides so much advantage. It truly focuses my actions and tells my body that we are going to swing the club shortly. It allows me to visualize the shot and let my unconscious take over. It keeps me from thinking those self defeating thoughts because I am so focused on the task at hand.

Here are some tips about completing your own pre-shot routine.

  • Put steps in your routine to visualize your shot. This gives your unconscious mind a target.
  • Make your routine very tight and focused.
  • Repeat the routine the same way every time. This will cause your body to be in sync with your goal.
  • Determine the useful components and remove anything else.
  • Spend a lot of time practicing it so that it becomes completely automatic.

Creating a consistent, focused pre-shot routine will focus your game, allow your unconscious mind to take over, and prepare your body to make the swing. Let’s practice this together. Let me know how I can help you. If you like what I’m saying, go ahead and sign up to receive my blogs via email. the sign up box is at the top right of the page. That way you will be the first in your foursome to have the mental tricks I’m teaching! Thanks for following along!

2 thoughts on “The Importance of a Pre-Shot Routine”

  1. Scott, this is very informative. You mention your unconscious “taking over” during a shot. If your unconscious is the untapped portion of yourself, does that mean you are out of touch with the person actually swinging? You focus intently in order to zone out? I ask this because I have two sons teenage who are avid golfers. The older is very sweet by nature, the younger quite negative. I am always surprised to find that the younger one plays a much better game. Could this be because he uses his “auto pilot” more?

  2. Sarah,
    When I talk about the unconscious I mean the ego has let go of the idea of what it is doing and letting the automatic, learned swing take over. Once we visualize a shot, we shouldn’t be consciously thinking about the swing we are making. Instead, we should be allowing our muscle memory and unconscious mind take over the swing just like when we breathe. We don’t consciously decide we need to take a breathe to survive, it just happens. The same should be true of the golf swing once we have gone through the pre-shot routine. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

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