The speed of a golfer’s pre-shot routine can reveal much about his or her mental state, decision making and self trust.
Strangely, very few golfers actually seek help to develop their mental skills and many play golf for years without ever learning to fully trust themselves and quieten their minds.
It does not help that most golf instruction is presented in a ‘’how to’’ format which tends to encourage excessive technical thinking. This mind set can be fine for the practice ground but will stifle fluency in competition.
Too much time to think
It is so easy in golf to allow the conscious mind to interfere with the swing instead of trusting and allowing the body to do it. Golfers are prone to this more than other sports people because in our game the ball is stationary and gives us so much time to think.
Unfortunately, the longer a player stands over the ball, the more likely they are to consciously direct the swing, doubt their decision or become distracted by outside influences like noises or spectators.
It is simply impossible to ‘’make sure’’ the shot is a good one by thinking excessively about technique. Playing too slowly just magnifies the problem. We need a different approach.
A brilliant golfer with a brilliant solution
So the European golfer with the most major championship wins is…….Annika Sorenstam from Sweden. Annika won ten majors throughout her career and used a unique solution to make sure her pre-shot routine did not become too slow.
Think Box Play Box
This elegantly simple idea came from the coaches Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott and is called Think Box – Play Box.
The Thinking Box is where you plan the shot and decide what to do.
The Playing Box is where you actually strike the ball.
The Decision Line separates the two.
The idea is to plan the shot, make a decision and commit to it BEFORE getting anywhere near the ball. (It is also a good idea to do all this whilst your playing partners are playing their shots so you are also ready when it is your turn.)
Only once this is done is the golfer allowed to step over the Decision Line from the Thinking Box into the Playing Box and hit the shot.
That sounds simple enough but it is very easy to doubt the decision once you arrive in the Playing Box. A tiny seed of doubt is enough to ruin the shot. Your game will break down badly if you regularly do too much thinking in the Playing Box so it is crucial to cross the Decision Line with complete commitment to the selected shot.
Speed Up! My five second routine quietens the mind
In my experience, at this point it is best to actually speed up the routine.
Once I have entered the Playing Box, I give myself just five seconds to hit the ball. From stepping in to the ball to impact is just five seconds – and I have actually seen Colin Montgomerie do it in four.
During my golf shows I now explain and demonstrate the five second routine – and with the Happy Gilmore Run Up Shot I can go even quicker!
Just like the majority of the audience, you may not think five seconds is long enough but it can actually be done without rushing at all. There is no time to think technically or to doubt the club selection or worry about the spectators and this is exactly why it is such a good technique. It quietens the conscious mind.
Your best routine may be quicker than you ever imagined and you will need to experiment to find exactly what works best.
You will perform better if you make a proper decision BEFORE entering the Playing Box so you can hit your shot quickly with a quiet mind.
In part two of this blog, I will cover another much neglected segment of the pre-shot routine.
Until then, remember that a quick game is a good game. I am sure your friends will appreciate it too.
Kind regards, Jeremy.
Jeremy Dale is a PGA Coach (Heythrop Park) & Professional Trick Shot Artist – he also has a degree in Psychology from the University of Sussex.
For more instruction from Jeremy click here….
References – Every Shot Must Have a Purpose by Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott