Effective Pre-Shot Routine: Improve Sport Performance

November 13, 2013

Do you have a pre-shot routine?  Most of you probably do, but maybe some of you do not.  If you use one, do you feel comfortable with it and understand the many benefits you gain from a pre-shot routine?  In this article, I would like to share some insight with you on an effective pre-shot routine and how using one positively affects sport performance.   

Have you found that your mind gets distracted during your pre-shot routine?  Do you sometimes doubt your ability to pull off your shot?  Do any similar thoughts like that come to mind as you work through your pre-shot routine?  I have worked with many athletes, and pre-shot routines are common among several sports such as golf.  My clay shooter clients use a pre-shot routine as well.  Most people have learned about pre-shot routines either on their own, from experiences in practicing/competing with others, or more typically, from an instructor who suggests or suggests a pre-shot routine.

From a mental training perspective, I see that there are many really great benefits to having a pre-shot routine as it pertains to your sport performance.  Maybe you are aware of some of the advantages, but you probably don’t realize just how many there really are.  Let’s look at the mechanical side of it first.  A pre-shot routine will definitely set you up for good mechanics as you gather the information around you.  You make some decisions about how you will play out a particular shot, and then you begin to set yourself up physically.  You set your hands, legs, feet—you basically go through the sequence of getting your physical body situated, which is really great.  As you know, if your physical body is not situated properly, you can throw yourself off by not being perfectly aligned, and that will present some difficulties that would not be there if your body had been set correctly.  

The pre-shot routine is a great way to get your body set, and it takes a huge factor of possibly mucking up your shot out of the equation, but it isn’t the only element to consider here.  Most people believe that the physical set up is all the pre-shot routine addresses, but an effective one also addresses the mental aspect.  I would say that the pre-shot routine has the ability to get your mind set just as well as your body, and both are necessary if you want to improve your sport performance.

How do you ‘set’ your mind in a pre-shot routine?  It starts with repetition.  In my experience, I have seen when movements and thoughts start to get programmed into the subconscious mind through repetition and time.  This frees up the conscious mind to daydream or wander off.  In golf, for example, it allows the conscious mind to overthink a shot, maybe dwell on the last shot or bogey, or bring in doubts, fears, and concerns about the shot about to be taken.  It’s the same for other sports.

I even observe this wandering take place in daily life all the time.  If you listen to someone lecturing, your conscious mind can wander off.  When you drive down the same highway you take every day, your mind can wander off.  If you ride a bike and have for years, your conscious mind can be free to wander off as well.  As you began learning any of those experiences, maybe for the first several times you participated in driving down the highway or riding a bike (for example), your conscious mind was drawn in and fully focused because it was a new event or skill for you.  When something is new and creates a bit of a challenge, your conscious mind pulls in and is fully present, but with repetition and time, your conscious mind frees itself to wander off.  This is the element you need to include in your pre-shot routine in order to perform well on your shot.

Recognize that if your pre-shot routine is something you have repeated over time, the elements you address in it are no longer new, and your conscious mind is free to wander around and think about other things.  If you have had little or no mental training, you wouldn’t realize that you are offering a huge opportunity for your cuckoo conscious mind to take you in a zillion different directions.  For example, your conscious mind may think, “I’m not very good at this.  I can’t pull this shot off.” or “My putting stinks and has been awful the last several months.” or “I can’t seem to play a very good short game.” or “I’ve had a string of birdies so I’ll probably bomb this shot.” or maybe “I am so mad that I just had a few bogey’s and can’t seem to shake it off!”  You can see here that by only addressing your physical mechanics, you allow the opportunity for all these cuckoo thoughts to come in and distract you.  Then as you believe them, they have an effect on your body, your game, and your ability to perform well.

So what can be done?  I highly suggest that you use your pre-shot routine as an opportunity to become fully present with your mind to prevent your conscious mind from negatively impacting your sport performance.  From now on, when you get into your pre-shot routine, don’t just robotically go through the motions, movements, and sequences.  That will be your tendency—to robotically do it – especially if you’ve done it many times, like riding a bike.  Make the effort to be mindful and present in your pre-shot routine.  When you set your feet, be there in the feet.  When you set your legs, body and hands, be there in every element of your pre-shot routine as you set each one.  By doing this, you are reeling in your conscious mind.  As you practice this over time, you will see how that crazy cuckoo mind will try to wander off and dredge up some disturbing shot that could muck up your current one.  You just have to train it not to, and you can do it.  As you do, you will notice a positive difference in your sport performance.

Of course if you need any help, that is what I’m here for.  I’m happy to help you, encourage you, and teach you specific skills to learn how to become mentally present in your sport.  Definitely start using your pre-shot routine as an opportunity for mechanics and the mental side of your game.  When someone asks if you get distracted during your pre-shot routine, or if you doubt your ability to make a shot, you can confidently answer “No, I don’t!”

To help you accomplish this, I will give you an affirmation that you can repeat to yourself over and over that will help you keep that conscious mind in check.  The affirmation, or self-suggestion, is something I would give to you as a hypnotherapist that would go directly into your subconscious mind.  But through my years of doing this, I have seen and know how we all have about 60,000 thoughts a day.  For those of you without mental training, you believe and react to most of those thoughts.  For those of you who have had some of my mental training, you have learned skills to stop believing them and can detach from them so you don’t have an immediate reaction in your body.  The use of positive affirmations has helped you build those skills, and they can help anyone who is willing to give them a try.

So from the lesson I just taught you on repetition and the 60000 thoughts you have each day, you can use this affirmation (as one of those thoughts, repeated several times a day) as a way of ingraining it into your subconscious mind:  My pre-shot routine is very comfortable to me.  I gather all the information I need and put myself in a perfect, positive, confident frame of mind.”  Think about that.  What if you repeated that several times a day?  Just like riding a bike with repetition, it goes into the subconscious level of your mind.  It becomes a skill you have, an understanding or knowing that runs on autopilot.  Repeat it enough and you won’t have to think about it anymore.  Just through repetition, as with practicing your drive over and over, it will become more and more truthful and more and more a natural part of who you are.

Use that affirmation or self-suggestion several times a day, and see what a positive difference it makes!  If you need any extra help, I am here for you.  Please call or email me.  You can also download my products from my web store.  Starting today and every day after, address your mechanics and conscious mind in your pre-shot routine, and your sport performance will improve.  Thanks for reading.  InJoy your day!

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