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The importance of a Working Pre-Shot Routine

In the previous post I spoke about the remarkable capacity that the mind has for imagining and replaying events, skills and experiences. Your imagination can and should be harnessed to enable you to mentally practice skills and experiences that you commonly come across when playing golf. Continuing with this theme somewhat I want to move on to speak about the pre-shot routine. Now take a minute and see if you can honestly answer the following questions:


  1. Why do I have a pre shot routine?
  2. What function or functions does it serve?


Ok, so if you cannot answer these questions then perhaps you don’t know the exciting benefits a working routine can do for you. Like with other sports, place kicking in rugby for example or a tennisserve, your pre-shot routine should get you to a state of readiness. Readiness should be both mental and physical. Physically ready means that your pre-shot routine should enable you to feel warmed up, supple and ready to explosively hit a golf shot. Mentally ready means that you should be clear in your goals (shot selection, clubbing, weather conditions), be decisive (the whole point of a routine afterall is to enable you to be clear and ready), be attentive to the task at hand (shot execution and not dwelling on previous shots etc.), have a good attitude (optimistic and enjoying the challenge) and be emotionally ready to accept that not all your shots are going to lead to excellent results (we cannot control the ball after hitting it, only our swing, attitude and preparation).


So when you next play or hit the range try and record yourself hitting shots and see if you have a routine that can help you be more ready and decisive. A simple goal for training then can be to see if you can alter a routine to make you more decisive. Reflect after a round or after a shot and see if you held up your side of the bargain. Small differences matter, remember, so when looking for that edge perhaps more attention to the details like a pre-shot routine might enable you to make less errors and perform better as a result. Please see below for more benefits and suggested stages of routine development. In light of the previous blog on mental imagery notice that a part of the routine could and should be devoted to seeing or feeling the upcoming shot before you have hit it (part 2 imaging below). Good luck with it.


5 main benefits that a good pre shot routine should provide:


  1. Improving concentration
  2. Helping the golfer overcome a tendency to dwell on negatives
  3. Allowing the golfer to select the appropriate motor actions
  4. Preventing ‘warm-up’ decrements
  5. Preventing the golfer from devoting excessive attention to the mechanics of automatic skills




Dr Mark Campbell PhD Reg Psychol Ps.S.I.

Sport Exercise & Performance Psychology Lecturer

Department of Physical Education & Sport Science

Room P1-041

University of Limerick


[p] +353 (0)61234944

[e] mark.campbell@ul.ie

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