Playing good golf requires you to be good in three areas, ball control, course management and self control. One of the key components to self control is developing a good, consistent pre-shot routine. A good pre-shot routine can help you to eliminate mental distractions, reduce tension and eliminate negative thoughts.
Determining yardage, wind direction and club selection aren’t part of your pre-shot routine, those things happen before the routine begins. Once you have determined the club and the shot that you will play, it is time for your routine to begin.
Everyone’s pre-shot routine is different. Whatever you choose to do, do it and don’t vary. I like routines that begin behind the ball giving you a good picture of your target. Draw a line from the target through the golf ball and stand on that line facing and looking at the target. I like to visualize the shot that I want to hit while looking at the target. Next, I will make a practice swing or two toward the target and following the last practice swing, I look in the air as if I had just hit the perfect shot again visualizing a good result. I then turn and face the target again, walk up to the ball, place the club behind the ball aligning the clubface first and then my feet. I take a few looks at the target and then go.
Watch tour players on tv doing their pre-shot routine. Once they are over the golf ball, they are rarely static, they are moving their feet feeling the ground and waggling the club. While moving and waggling, they look at the target a lot. I see average players often look at the ball a lot and sometimes never even look at the target. I believe that it is important to look at the target a lot and occasionally look at the ball.
A good routine will take about the same amount of time every time. Click on the link below to watch a Youtube video of Tiger Woods. You will see Tiger hit two shots side-by-side. One shot is a 3-wood and one shot is a mid-iron. You will see that the two shots take the exact amount of time. You can also observe him walking to the ball from behind the ball and aligning the club first.
Write down what you would like to do in your routine. I think the must-dos include standing on the target line behind the ball and walking to the ball from there, a method to aligning the face first and then your feet and having some movement while looking at the target more than the ball. Other things that you can do: practice swings and visualizing. If you make a practice swing, I like to see the practice swing behind the ball rather than to the side of it. I like to picture the shot prior to hitting it seeing the result in my mind that I want. After you have written down your routine, go to the range and practice it as you would any other part of your game. Practice it until is is “routine”.