In Part One of the Pre Shot Mental Routine (PSMR) article I explained why we need different thought processes (or states) for different parts of the game. Questions or analytical thoughts interfere and stop us from getting into the zone (the best state for playing) the unthinking, focussed and instinctive state. We need to leave them behind.
In this article I will be teaching you how to do this.
The different States
For the purpose of the articles I have differentiated between the two states by calling them The Decision State and The Playing State. These are labels and you can use your own. One of my client’s called The Decision State 'The Investigating State'. Use which ever makes it clearest for you.
First of all you need to
Mark out the boundary
Choose a definite area to separate the two states. Why? Because when you need to transfer from The Decision Box to The Playing Box it signals change to the mind by physically moving. This technique is also used in performing arts and public speaking and it is about anchoring a different mental energy to a location.
You can either imagine a line in front of you between yourself and the ball or as I prefer you can imagine a box or circle. I prefer the box as it seems more precise as it encloses you better. The object is to make sure that you leave the decision thoughts behind when you step up to perform in the Playing Box .
What happens in the Decision Box
The Decision Box is for assessing course conditions and thinking about how you are going to play your game. This is where you decide which club to use, assess the lie of the ball, weather conditions, terrain, game plan, target ; all aspects of how you are going to play the shot
When you have made all your decisions you can visualise the shot finishing at your target. Pick the precise point where you want it to land and play that shot and route in your mind. Visualise it going where you want it to go which will be a specific point, not just “I want it to go in the middle of the fairway”. You can make a swing or two to get the feeling of this successful shot. As Bubba Watson said in his interview with Golf World (1) “A great drive starts inyour head. You’ve got to be able to visualise a shot in your mind first before you can pull it off”
Only when you have completed your decisions and the visualisation can you move into the playing box. By stepping away from The Decision Box you will be able to make the switch easier and leave these assessment thoughts behind.
What happens in The Playing Box
In the Playing Box you leave all thoughts of technique behind and rely purely on the previous visualisation and muscle memory. You don’t want analytical thoughts swimming around your head when you go to hit the ball like “have I got the right grip, right club, right target” etc etc. These thoughts make the body tense up and you can’t get into the instinctive natural state of flow. As famous golf sports psychologist Dr Bob Rotella says, you have to trust and commit to the shot. There is nothing to do but execute the shot with confidence and a clear head.
Some players will visualise the shot again the split moment before they hit the ball. To use Watson as an example again, “For me the moment before making the swing is always about visualising the outcome of the shot …. Because I am a visual person”
The more practice I do the luckier I get
We have all heard the Gary Player quote (or was it Lee Trevino….) but it is true. What is also true is that to get more out of practice you should aim to replicate the competition as much as possible. You need to practice your PSMR as much as you practice your golf swing. When you are on the range, imagine a fairway and go through the routine, physically and mentally. Remember, practice by itself is not enough, you need ‘good and worthwhile’ practice. So instead of hitting 100 balls in 30 minutes aimlessly, take out a bucket of 50 balls and take time to practice your MPSR on every ball
Don’t spend too much time agonising during your pre-shot routine. It may look a long and complicated process when written down but where somegolfers fall short is that they spend a lot more time deliberating when they are in competition than when they are playing friendlies or practice games.
Annika Sorenstram’s pre shot routine takes exactly 24 seconds from the time she begins her routine until her follow through. For her 14year professional career this routine has remained constantly within 1 second of the 24!. She uses the system I have outlined here.
Don’t over think.
Or I should say, don’t over think your PSMR in the competition. You need to employ the exactly the same PSMR that you do in practice. When golfers complain that they play better in practice then one question to ask is “what do you do differently”. Often it is the case that they think more, take more time, are more cautious and this can lead to the body tightening up.
Remember, trust your instinct !!
I have mentioned visualisation in this article and I will be doing an article on visualisation in the future.
If you have any queries on your PSMR or any other aspect contact me or leave a comment below
(1) Interview with Bubba Watson in March 2016 edition of Golf World p31