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Written by: Dr Matt Bridge

Dr Matt Bridge

Senior Lecturer in Coaching & Sports Science at the University of Birmingham UK

Address for success: How can golfers improve their game?

  • December 2017
  • 3 minutes

Consistency and the pre-shot routine

Just about every golfer at some point in their playing career has said that they want more consistency in their ball flight, shot outcomes, scoring, putting you name it, it has been said, but I wonder how many have asked for consistency in their pre-shot routine?  Consistency in an outcome is routinely asked for but it is the process proceeding this outcome where we need to start to build consistency.

A key finding of the RSM Player Performance Study is that when players are more consistent in their pre-shot routine they are 50 per cent more likely to make the cut at a tournament. European Tour players work hard on the processes that lead to good shot outcomes, this includes a consistent pre-shot routine that they practice on the range.

Practice how you play, you see a lot of golfers on the practice range, putting green or chipping green and they’re not going through their pre-shot routines. How can your routine be consistent on the course if you don’t practice it? Andy Sullivan

What is a pre-shot routine?

A pre-shot routine is a sequence of shot-relevant thoughts and actions used by a player prior to a shot.  A number of scientific studies have suggested that the use of a pre-shot routine can lead to increased performance and the RSM Performance Study has shown the links between routine and performance in European Tour players.

What does this mean for amateur golfers?

If you don’t already have one you should develop a pre-shot routine.  The routine will differ for a putt and tee shot but there are key elements that remain the same.

From the analysis of the study data we now know that a common tour pre-shot routine is shown below. You might want to give this a go, remember you can adapt it to what feels comfortable for you and a PGA Professional can help you with this.  Just remember the key RSM Study finding – don’t spend too long over the ball.

Commit Have a clear goal for your shot
See that shot in your mind
Commit to that shot
 Prepare Take 1-2 practice swings
Stand behind your ball to identify your start line
Address the ball
Take 1 or 2 looks to target once over the ball
Execute Play your shot
One of the most important parts for me is not only the same movements time and time again but the same thoughts, the same attitude towards the golf shot. It’s no good having the same routine that looks good from the external standpoint if your mind is not in the same place every time. Paul Waring

Don’t forget to practice your routine use it on the range, putting green and short game area. Learn more about the RSM Player Performance Study findings on practice and round preparation.

Dr Matt Bridge is a Senior Lecturer in Coaching & Sports Science at The University of Birmingham, lecturing in coaching and applied sport science on the School’s BSc Applied Golf Management Studies and BSc Sport, Physical Education and Coaching Science undergraduate degrees. He is also the progamme leader of the popular MSc in Sport Coaching designed for active coaches, enabling them to combine their coaching practice with postgraduate research focused study. Matt is also Director of Golf for University Birmingham Sport working with students in running the university's very successful golf teams. Follow Matt on Twitter for frequent updates and insights.

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