Developing A Pre-Shot Routine

by Steve | Last Updated: 10 January 2021

Even if you have great mechanics to hit a great drive it doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to make a great shot. 

Which is why it makes sense to develop a Pre-Shot Routine

Primarily the bulk of the pre-shot routine should stay the same each time to allow you to eventually move into an autopilot mode when preparing to address the golf ball and make the shot.  This will certainly make life much easier when under pressure. 

For example dealing with external factors that are out of your control, such as various people watching you hit that first tee shot of the day. 

This type of issue can get you out of your comfort zone

Negative thoughts might creep in especially what might happen to the ball like what if I top it. 

Negative thoughts can then create negative feelings that lead to negative body language.

Negative body language changes your whole persona and swing mechanics, reducing the percentage of hitting a good shot!

But you have to find the right balance between switching off your mind and allowing your body to take over and make a good golf swing?

Which is why you need to develop your own pre-shot routine

PGA Professional Richard Lawless stood on the top deck of the Driving Range

Why should you have a pre-shot routine?

Simple, it helps you to deal with pressure on a golf shot and also helps get your mind in to a good situation where you allow your body to follow. Developing a routine that suits you can also help when you are trying to implement any current swing changes or movements in your swing.

So if you’re just playing a friendly game or a competition every shot should always be treated with the same level of concentration, commitment and time frame.

One thing you should understand is that there is no right or wrong way to make your routine but it will be necessary to experiment to find the right one for you that will work best.

Give Up Control Of The Outcome

Commitment to your drive and giving up control of the outcome is a sure way to gain extra distance.

Here’s Rich discussing giving up control when you hit a golf shot

When Do You STart a pre-shot routine?

Your routine starts as soon as you arrive at your tee shot. 

The first thing you need to do is ask your brain a specific question and your brain will respond with a specific answer!

Where do I want my ball to finish?

It is important to make use of a stroke saver.  If you regularly play on the same course you can personalise the stroke saver by adding your own information on it. 

With so much going on in the normal pace of play it is very easy to forget an element of this. 

Make an effort to briefly look at your stroke saver on every tee box.

A very effective way is to use coloured highlighter pens to mark on the planner areas you want to avoid off the tee and zones you would like the ball to finish in to leave you with an easier next shot.

Tip: Try making your own stroke saver. 

Draw out each hole in as much detail as possible. 

You will soon realise where you really need your drive to finish.

From this hole planning you can now effectively choose where you tee the ball up within the tee box. 

This is a neat trick to change the angle of play to drive your ball on the safest line, edging away from potential hazards or dead zones.

choose where you tee the ball up within the tee box

Don’t forget you also have an oven of up to 2 club lengths behind the tee markers to tee your ball up. 

Make sure the ground which you will be stood on to address the ball is level and secure. 

It’s easy to tee the ball up in a nice spot only to address the ball and find one of your feet in an old divot or in a very sandy area with little grip to help get that ground force and power your drives. 

Choose an area to hit your shot from that incorporates all these elements. 

It does matter to be aware of all this. 

These are all things that are in your control. 

Forget any one of these elements and potentially your going to add extra shots to your score.

So now we’re almost ready to play our shot and we’re going to move into four quick steps:

  • Tee it
  • See It
  • Feel It
  • Do It

Tee It

Placing a golf ball on a tee

Even the manor in which you tee the ball up needs to become part of the routine.  Use the same process of bending over to tee the ball. 

See It

Once you have teed it up step 2½ paces behind your ball in line with your intended line of play, see the shot and visualise the ball flying perfectly down the fairway. 

Literally take a snapshot of your intended target in your mind.

PGA Pro Richard Lawless visualisng a golf shot

Feel It

Every time you make a practice swing it must have a meaning and a purpose.

Oil your swing ready for action…….. 

Here is your opportunity to do a full and proper rehearsal swing. 

Try to make this a controlled and fairly slow and smooth motion.  Momentarily pausing at any or all of the Key Stages. 

Do this too fast and your body and mind won’t have time to feel and soak up the positions. 

Not too slow either, this will make it to stunted with no flow to it. 

Remember you are only oiling the correct motion, picturing and capturing the correct swing feelings whilst conserving energy. 

Try to limit your practice swings to a maximum of 2.

Making a practice swing, with a meaning and a purpose.

At this moment don’t think of anything, you should not have any conscious thoughts!! 

Try to keep a clear mind. 

You are relying purely on feelings at this point. 

You are now ready to address the ball and……….

Do It

Settle into the ball and take one look back to the target to re-affirm your awareness of it. 

Look back to the ball and go ahead and make the swing. 

Still try to keep a clear mind……… No thoughts! 

Just let your body reproduce those pictures and feelings you created just moments earlier. 

The time frame between doing the rehearsal swing and actually hitting the ball needs to be kept to a minimum. 

Any longer than a few seconds and you will run the risk of loosing all those great feelings you created and revved up in the rehearsal swing.

PGA Pro Richard Lawless hitting a golf ball

A picture is worth a thousand words.

How many words can you think about in the time it takes you to make a swing?

Pictures are powerful tools, give them a try.

Language

Be the golfer you wish to become

The Secret to Great Golf – Talk the Talk to Walk the Walk – you must be the golfer you wish to become.

Be careful how you talk to yourself. 

Beating yourself up over a bad shot will undoubtedly compound the problem changing your emotions to negative and affecting your physiology (body language) this will affect the whole posture and positiveness of your Pre Shot Routine. 

Each bad word you call yourself just re-affirms to your brain that this is true.  

You say it enough and you will start to believe it even when it’s not true.

Ninja Tip

It is better to be emotionally neutral if you hit a bad shot and disassociate yourself from it

On the flip side, if you hit an awesome one positively emotionalise it! 

Even use a certain movement or word in recognition of it. 

Send only good signals to your brain.

Don’t turn a great shot into a non-event with no response!

Over time, your outlook will become much more positive on the course as you consistently send positive and not negative signals to your brain. 

If you dwell on a certain mistake your brain can re-think that action over 500 times in one day so no wonder your confidence can become very poor very quickly. 

This is often why people also have particular holes on specific courses that they always hit a bad drive.

The memory of their mistake will be re-affirmed hundreds of times by dwelling on it.

PGA Pro Richard Lawless drinking water from a bottle

Why not also take a swig of water every time you look at your stroke saver on the tee box. 

This can help fight against becoming dehydrated. 

Dehydration can lead to poor decisions and forgetfulness on the course. 

Remember if you feel thirsty on the course its already too late, you are already dehydrated. 

This is just as important in cold conditions as it is in hot conditions!

Fail to plan, prepare to fail

How fast you develop your new swing motion depends a lot on the amount of quality time you put into it. 

You get out of Golf what you put into it!? 

Practice makes permanent is so true. 

You can appreciate how just by randomly hitting balls at the range has no real value or purpose. 

It is only engraving existing pathways to the brain. 

You need to go to the practice range with a specific goal or goals set out. 

Decide which key stage or combination of key stages you will be working on for any given practice session. 

Formulating a structured practice schedule will help plan your route to success. 

How can you expect to reach your desired destination without a map of how you are going to get their? 

Like a lot of golfers many don’t have much time to practice. 

Warming up before you play has been scientifically proven to improve performance so try to give yourself a little extra time to do this. 

Remember if you want a PAR down the 1st you must have PAR

  • Pre
  • Activity
  • Readiness

Check Out Our Coaching Programs

If you want to take your game to a new level make sure to check out the free coaching we have put together and you will soon start to lower your handicap.

Happy Golfing

Rich and Steve Signature Image
Steve King, the founder of Fore King Golf, started playing golf at the tender age of 29, after years spent playing many other sports and getting dodgy knees. Although late to the game, Steve soon fell in love with the sport and found himself, like many others, addicted to the pursuit of improvement and playing better. He is currently a member of The Kendleshire Golf Club & Hercules Golf Society, as well as running several competitions for Fore King Golf