If you want to improve your golf game –the mental pre shot routine is vital.
Sometimes in sport you need separate thought processes for performing different things. It is particularly true in golf which is why sports psychology has devoted so much time to the mental side of golf.
In these two articles I will be examining what is meant by the ‘mental pre shot routine’ and teaching you how to adopt the best one to improve your game.
Why is the mental pre-shot routine so important?
It is vital because you have to separate the conscious decision making part with the instinctive playing side to play your best. Pre - shot routines are used by the best players in the world and they follow them religiously.
The mental not just the physical
Many people think they have an adequate pre-shot routine – but when questioned, their routine focuses on the physical aspects and not on the mental . If this is the case, then you are only getting half the benefits. If you don’t have any sort of pre-shot routine then take note !
What is a pre-shot routine
It is a routine designed to get you into the best physical and mental state to prepare for taking your shot.
Your physical routine will get your body properly aligned and in the best position. That is for your golf coach to help you with. But it is the less understood mental side which will be key to hitting that perfect shot. This is where I can help you.
Ask my clients, I love routines. They are great because the more we practise them, the more comfortable we feel. Routines offer security and allows the mind to go into the comfort zone and trust our muscle memory and instinct. Routines help us to become more relaxed and that is the state we want to be in to perform our best. What is more, they offer us a strategy which we can rely on when faced with new challenges.
Why is it so RELEVANT IN golf
Golf is unique for many reasons. How many other sports do you spend so much time between playing. You are walking between holes, waiting : there is a lot of time to think and if your thoughts aren'tordered properly you become overwhelmed, the worst state to be in for competing.
Also, in golf there are so many technical decisions to make. What club to use, how the wind and rain are going to affect, the terrain, the best route to take, how to deal with hazards, how much spin to put on the ball etc etc.
The most important part
The most important aspect of the pre shot mental routine is the need to separate the decision making from the performing. For the purpose of these articles I am going to call these two states The Decision State and The Mental State.
Why do we need separate states
Because when we actually play the shot we need to rely on autopilot and our subconscious muscle memory. We have to trust our instincts and not think about what or how. Questions and thoughts interfere and stop us from getting into the zone – the unthinking, focussed and natural state. When you are over the ball about to take the swing you do not want to be thinking “maybe I should have used a 5 iron”!
What happens when we don’t have a good pre shot mental routine
This is what one of my client’s said
“when I go to hit the ball, my mind is full– like is this the right club, what should I remember, is that the best route. It makes me nervous.”
The reason why he wasn’t playing to his full potential was because he was mixing up the Decision State and The Playing State.
We need a different thought process in the Decision State to the Playing State. When these states are mixed up, you can’t play instinctively, and your body tenses up. When you are about to play the shot, the time when you should be in the zone, totally absorbed and trusting your muscle memory, your mind is buzzing with unwanted information. Disastrous .
The knowledge that there are two separate mental states that you can use throughout the game was a light bulb moment for my client. When we are given too much information in a disorderly fashion then we suffer from over load. When information is broken down and organised then the information can help rather than put the brain in a spin. The same process applies in sport.
When my client sorted out his mental pre shot routine and knew exactly what to think and how to organize his thought, the results were amazing.
In Article Two I will teach you how to adopt a different mental attitude in The Decision State to The Playing State. This includes teaching you what thoughts to think and how to ensure that the two states don’t mix.
If I am not ran over by a bus then I will be writing this tomorrow !