The importance of the pre-shot routine for uncovering your potential
(Part 2 of 3 – on learning to deal with the thoughts in our head when we play golf)
By Carter Bennett
With everything going on in your mind in a round of golf, the question of how you can get your body and mind into a peak performance state can be mystifying. When we watch athletes who excel at their craft, we can be left wondering how it is that they are able to perform at such a high level despite the pressures and “voices” that must be occupying their minds as they stand over the ball.
The answer lies in the use of an effective pre-shot routine.
An effective pre-shot routine is something that all great golfers do and, not surprisingly, is what most golfers who are looking to improve are missing. If , as discussed in our last post, the equation for performance is your “Potential minus Interference”, then one’s pre-shot routine becomes the key to removing the interference and uncovering one’s potential.
The goal of the pre-shot routine is to go through a process which primes our body and mind for the execution of a golf shot. With a solid pre-shot routine you are allowing your brain to switch from the critical thinking Self-1 to the “doing” Self-2. A dominant Self-2 will help you flow towards your peak performance state, whereas a dominant Self-1 will interfere with your task at hand.
It is essential that you develop a personal strategy for your pre-shot routine. Everyone is going to be different and there is no one-way to do it. It can be long, slow, quick or silly. A classic example of the degree of difference of the pre-shot routine on the PGA tour is seen in Brant Snedeker (quick and simple) vs. Jason Day (elaborate). Everyone is different, and your own formula will be determined through trial and error. But no matter how you do it, the pre-shot routine is executed to bring you into the now through your senses, which in turn shuts-off the Self-1 experiences of a busy mind.
The best, or most utilized, technique to help become present is through awareness of the breath. Routine-specific breath is a simple action achieved by taking a deep breath through the nose, and then exhaling slowly through the mouth. Beyond purposeful breath, other techniques used to achieve an ideal state for performance include visualization, tension scans, and self-talk. As you search out your own pre-shot routine, we encourage you to explore any of the four options listed above, or a combination of them.
One of the great tragedies we see in training plans is when athletes overlook the importance of practicing their routines. We often wonder why a player can spend hours and hours working on their swings, but will then neglect the prelude to their shots (routine) which will ensure that one can make strokes that are un-encumbered by interference from the self-1 persona. What good is having a great swing if one is unable to access their ideal performance state? What good is a swing if when the pressure is applied the swing is covered by interference?
Join us in our next post as we explore the “parts” of an effective routine and examine the concepts of “think box” and “play box” – introduced by the team at Vision 54.