by Frank Peter
The following Golf Lesson is reprinted with permission from the "Golf Beginner Guide", a full 272 page resource for Golf Beginners. For only $29.50 you get an incredible amount of invaluable tips, lessons and advice - great value for money. Click the above link to find out more!
Most good golfers have a pre-shot routine - rituals that include everything from the way they approach the ball to how they waggle.
These routines serve a good purpose. When you approach your shots the same way each time, you train your subconscious to be less affected by outside influences (pressure, wind, spectators, jibes from your foursome, etc.). Fewer variables in the moments leading up to your swing will mean fewer variables during your swing.
How should you develop your personal pre-shot routine? Here are some guidelines.
1. Do what works for you
Things such as how you arrive at your grip and stance, looking at the target, waggling the club, and taking practice swings are personal preferences. The exact details are less important than doing the same thing each time. Many pros even time themselves from start to finish to get within seconds on each swing - and you might want to do the same. A good routine shouldn't take a lot of time. Quickly but methodically go through the checklist, think positive, and hit the ball. Your ritual should give you a positive feeling about the shot. Once you've completed the routine you must trust it, be target oriented, and let it go. You don't want to get stuck in the middle of your backswing, wondering if your grip is right or how deep the water is!
2. Get lined up
Try this in practice: Put a golf club on the ground next to the ball and aim it toward the target. Next, take a look at the club from behind and make sure it's positioned just right. Put another club parallel to it near where your feet would be. For your shot to go straight, this "foot line" should face slightly left of the target. Also, ensure that your knees, hips, and shoulders are in the same line. Practice this a few times, then do it without the clubs on the ground. Alignment is one of the simplest mistakes to correct - and poor alignment can be one of the most destructive, because you must compensate for it in your swing.
3. See it happen
Good players talk about "feeling" a good shot before it occurs. You can develop this feeling by creating a positive image of the ball's flight before you hit it. This "visualization" helps keep negative thoughts at bay. Stand behind the ball, and imagine the ball going straight toward the target and landing on the green softly. Or picture a great shot from the past that mimics the one you are about to make. For beginners, a realistic goal might be just to "see" the ball getting up in the air. As studies have shown, you'll tend to achieve the result you envision. The mind has enormous control over the body, so use your mind to see what you want - not what you don't want! Be target-oriented rather than trouble-oriented.
4. Reflect on your successes
When you hit a good shot, soak it in! Watch the ball's flight and how it lands and rolls. Hold your finish and try to mentally reinforce what the swing felt like. Giving yourself this positive feedback will make it much easier to recall these images and feelings during your pre-shot routine. When poor shots occur (as they do for all of us), don't spend too much time thinking about them. Devote your mental energy to producing good shots!