My Golf Instructor

Pre-Shot Routine
Approaching the Shot With Success

Most amateur golfers have heard of a pre-shot routine, but the irony is the majority don't have one. It would be rare to find a professional lacking in this area. Tour players are as knit picky about pre-shot routines as they are about pre-swing fundamentals and swing mechanics. For they know the importance of not only having a good routine, but having a consistent one. One little variation in the routine or slip can cause a shot to go easily awry. While routines are largely mental and designed for clearing a player's mind and getting them focused on the shot at hand, they also help the player get their body in the proper position to perform.

Should You Have a Consistent Pre-Shot Routine?

Develop a consistent pre-shot routineBuild a Consistent Pre-Shot Routine

Is there one standard routine that you should use? Does not having a routine harm you? Does having a bad routine hurt your scores? While there are many common routines seen among players in different sports including golf, all sports have competitors that have their own unique way of prepping for performance. Consider MLB Player Kevin Youkilis. His stance with the split grip and bat pointing over his head at the pitcher is almost comical, but it has brought him much success. How about NBA Player Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic? Penalized for the length of his free throw routine, he has struggled through his career with free throws as major weakness. No golfer can forget watching Sergio Garcia's previous routine re-gripping the club twenty something times making you feel like you wanted to jump out of your seat with your heart pounding with anxiety. He eventually changed it at the recommendation of many.

Pre-Shot Routines are Unique but Critical to Consistency

So to answer the questions, there is no one standard routine that you have to use. Your routine should be what feels comfortable and fits your style. Does not having a routine harm you? I did some research to find out. Below are paragraph I found in the Sport Journal which is published by the United States Sports Academy. They conducted a study on pre service routines in tennis.

Previous research has shown that pre-performance routines can help athletes focus attention, enhance confidence, eliminate distractions, and reduce anxiety (Weinberg & Gould, 1995). Eliminating distractions and focusing attention creates an ideal state of concentration prior to performance; consistently replicating this state of concentration can create consistent performances (Schmidt & Peper, 1998). Focus and concentration allow for other psychological skills (i.e., visualization and relaxation) to be implemented during the pre-performance routine, which helps block any external stressors and unwanted environmental stimuli (Schmidt & Peper, 1998). The ability to eliminate distractions before a performance may be the difference between a good athlete and a great one (Orlick, 1997)

A final explanation for the discrepancy between participants' behavior reflected in this study and in earlier research findings on pre-performance routines is that in tennis, serving may not be positively affected by a pre-performance routine. While earlier researchers have found a positive correlation between free-throw success and pre-shooting routines, it is entirely possible that environmental, physiological, and psychological aspects of closed skills from basketball and closed skills from tennis differ enough to drastically affect the results of a pre-performance routine. But this is unlikely. In our study Player 1, whom we observed to employ a consistent pre-service routine, is consistently ranked (by the United States Tennis Association) among the best tennis players and servers in the world. Individual differences must also be taken into account. Pre-service routines are as unique as the players who use them, meaning each routine's benefits are likely to be unique as well.

To summarize, I believe that it does harm you to not have a routine and a good one at that. As an instructor, watching a player's routine gives me a lot of information about the player and the result he is about to get. In short your routine should be unique to you and it will help you to both eliminate distractions and gain consistency. Pre-performance routines may be more important in some sports than in others, but I believe they are critical in golf.

Maria Palozola

Maria Palozola is a member of the LPGA and has participated in multiple LPGA Tour events. She has provided instruction to thousands of students in the past 20+ years and has won multiple teaching awards from the LPGA, Golf Digest, and Golf Magazine including being ranked as one of the top 50 female instructors in the world.

Who is Maria Palozola?
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