It has long been accepted that in games like golf (closed skill environment) that using a routine is going to enhance performance. Even in other game types there a situations where a routine is used – perhaps a good example of this is the goal kicking in rugby where all modern goal kickers can clearly be seen using a routine.
Having a routine around our shots in golf can have a number of benefits
- Help achieve the psychological/mental state required for executing that skill.
- To make informed decisions about our situations e.g. club choice, reading lines.
- To help control our emotions before during and after the shot.
- Help consistency
The company RSM international led by Dr Matt Bridge conducted a player study and looked at the pre shot routines of a good number of tour players over 300+ rounds. It concentrated on the time the player spent over the ball and the behaviour of the routine which included number of practice swings and whether the player stood behind the ball and the number of looks to the target after address. The findings were very interesting
- Quicker shots improve performance and earnings – this was especially in the area of putting.
- Consistency leads to making more cuts.
They also found that if they adjusted some of the players results when taking more than a second longer than normal and replacing it with an average shot by a professional it could make a difference of over 1 shot per tournament. This might seem small but over a year this can amount to nearly an extra €190k. The results can be seen here
I have no doubt that the club golfer would benefit by having a consistent routine. Also for those who have some kind of routine being a bit quicker will help to stop over thinking but it is here that we get into a dilemma. Humans work best generally in golf when we let habits function at a rhythmical unconsciousness which we can refer to as the ‘autopilot’ (although there are going to be a number of times when we need to disengage the auto pilot to correct or override the habit that we don’t want). So being conscious of building a routine or altering an existing one can only add to the thought process that we wanted to lessen as a result of the routine in the first place. I think therefore we have to accept it takes time to practice and build a useful routine in the same way as it takes time and practice to change a swing, but undoubtedly it is worth the effort in the long term.
Another thing to keep in mind with the study is that these tour players are well trained and have very developed skills. In other words that just by quickening up your routine doesn’t necessarily lead to better shots. I’m sure all formula 1 winners drive normal cars but just because you have a normal car doesn’t mean you can win a formula 1 race – I have the opinion that some of this area is going to be very personal to the individuals personality. That been said a routine is still going to be a useful tool to get the best out of your game.
Try to develop a personal pre-shot routine where you are not standing over the ball to long and use it consistently in practice and competition. Be committed to the shot you decide to play.