l DO YOU HAVE RELIABLE PRE-SHOT AND POST-SHOT GOLF ROUTINES?* - Archived Newsletters - Positive Mental Golf Archived Newsletters
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Newsletter October 2016

The way to prepare your mind is with a consistent pre-shot routine on every shot whether it is a tee shot or a putt. 

Most golfers consider the pre-shot routine boring, unnecessary, and too much work to develop. Using the same routine every time requires discipline until it becomes a habit. Without a good routine your results are going to be inconsistent and erratic. It can wreck your score. 

Using the same pre-shot routine every time will help you stay focused. Preparing for a shot is like creating a map or a blueprint for what you desire to create. The pre-shot routine is composed of a series of movements and sensory feelings that give you a way to automatically execute your shots. These routines are the maps that give direction to your brain about what you want to do.

When you lose your swing on the golf course, you need to go back to the routine because you have deviated from your map and are going in a different direction and getting a different result. Some of these deviations are fear thoughts of avoiding hazards, fear of embarrassment, fear of failure, frustration at slow play, annoyances from other players, weather conditions and anxiety feelings about your performance or score. Your focus in then on the distractions and is not on preparing your mind and body for the shot.

I like to think of the pre-shot routine as a series of actions that move you from behind the ball to the place over the ball where you are eager to swing. When you are concentrating well, you are not thinking. You are totally absorbed in the routine process of getting the ball to the target. When you use the same routine each time, you then have control of your thinking and send good messages to your body.

A mind that is busy, restless or indecisive will find it difficult to concentrate on an activity. The first step toward improved concentration would be to quiet your mind. When it is your turn to hit, turn on your focus by going into your established pre-shot routine to keep your mind from wandering.

  • Begin by taking deep abdominal breaths to relax and slow down your thinking mind.
  • Be decisive about the club you are going to use.
  • Take practice swings to feel your tempo.
  • Mentally rehearse the shot by imagining yourself doing it.
  • Trust that you will hit the shot that you have imagined in your mind.  

Golfers always ask why they can’t take their golf swings from the practice range to the golf course after they hit the ball so well when warming up, and then swing badly on the golf course. One of the reasons is that they don’t practice their pre-shot routine on the range. For your swing to be consistent, your routine prior to swinging must be the same. Preparation is the only part of the golf swing over which you have 100% control. 

Why have a pre-shot routine?  (www.pmi4.com, Archived Newsletters, February 2005)

  • The pre-shot routine prepares your mind to hit a shot.
  • A consistent pre-shot routine will produce consistent results.
  • The pre-shot routine moves you from the thinking phase to the automatic doing phase.
  • It keeps you engrossed in the moment and your thoughts away from the pressure of the results.
  • It is a signal to the unconscious mind to get ready to perform.
  • It is a series of actions to get you totally absorbed in the routine process of getting the ball to the target. 

Why have a post-shot routine?

The post-shot routine helps you build positive mental consistency. After the shot is hit, the routine prepares your mind to anchor a good shot or to let go of a missed one. Our minds are very active and the memories we remember the most are the ones connected to good feelings or negative feelings. Repetition of the post-shot routine will result in more self confidence. A post-shot routine will help you to maintain your arousal level and prepare you mentally, emotionally and physically for your next shot.

It is my belief that all errors in golf are mental errors due to incorrect preparation. Before you berate yourself for a poor shot and begin analyzing your shot, take a deep breath to relax your mind and body. The practice range is the place to analyze your swing flaws, not the golf course. I have watched many golfers try to fix their swings on the golf course with the result that they played even poorer.

One thing you can control in your swing is your rhythm. After a missed shot, step to one side while others are hitting and swing your club until you find the tempo that you wanted. Take practice swings until you feel the swing that you had intended. What you don’t want to do is go to your next shot with the memory of your missed shot in the forefront of your brain because it will be repeated. By finding your rhythm you will forget about the poor shot and focus on the upcoming one.

Anchor your good shots. Anyone who has had a hole-in-one can describe in great detail where, when and how it happened. Why? Because of the excitement generated which anchored it into the memory bank. If a shot comes off as you planned, anchor it by replaying it in your mind with a good feeling, good visualization and a trigger such as a smile or fist pump.

Let go of your missed shots. To release the emotions of a mishit and become positive:

  • Release the frustration and anger with a swear word. It has been proven that this works.
  • Take a deep breath to calm your mind and body from the tension.
  • Do not try and analyze what went wrong with your swing.
  • Step aside and swing the club you used until you feel the swing you wanted.
  • Focus on accessing your timing and tempo.
  • Visualize the ball going to the target.
  • Anchor the good feelings and visualization.
  • Don’t move on down the fairway until you have completed your post-shot routine. 

*Excerpts are from Chapter 17, Consistency, The Heart of Golf, Access Your Supreme Intelligence for Peak Performances.”

Play “in the zone” with Joan

Entrain Your Heart & Mind for Peak Performances


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