Developing your Post Shot Routine:
While pre shot routines are featured in almost all mental training programs (websites, books, golf channel, etc.), post shot routines are seldom mentioned. There is no doubt that preparing for each shot with a consistent routine is a precursor to high-level play. All the great players have well-defined routines, and probably you do, too.
A post-shot routine allows you to quickly discover the cause of an errant shot and immediately replace the image and feel with the image and feel that you want.
This prevents you from falling into patterns of mis-hit shots and greatly reduces the number of wayward shots you’re likely to hit in a round. It also gives you more control of yourself and your game.
Let’s say you just hit a high fade into the deep rough. In the past, you’ve probably allowed feelings of disgust and anger to take over, and you may even have slammed your club into the turf.
What the post-shot routine allows you to do is to systematically allow those negative feelings to pass, and instantly replace them with a positive emotion, feel and image.
The average golfer tends to get discouraged by a missed shot – as if we were entitled to only shots on-line.
One of the most non productive comments you can make to yourself, or to anyone within hearing distance, is to judge how poorly your shot was hit. That just doesn’t make any sense. A good coach would never criticize the shot you just hit. Most likely they would offer some advice in preparation for the next swing, like “make sure you stay connected to the target, or feel tension free on the next one.” Or, on your best swings some reinforcement like: wow, did you ever release that one.
You can be your own best coach by starting now with: they’re no good or bad shots. It’s just the shot you hit. Nice bounce there. That’s in the bunker, but I’ve got that one. No judgment! Just total acceptance. Players with whom I’ve worked always a huge leap in performance when they learn to totally accept every shot they hit. If it’s off line, they review it, replace it, refocus and move on.
Often, immediately after missing a shot, a player begins to analyze what went wrong. Let’s see! There it goes again over the top. I topped another one. Or I can’t hit from tight lies. My swing got stuck and I couldn’t release. When the miss happens it always some kind of breakdown in your swing. But trying to fix your swing during play just doesn’t work as advertised. Take a look at how you execute your swing instead.
Errant shots are nearly always caused by a breakdown in strategy, aim, or trust. If you think about it for a moment, it is astounding how often golfers fail to commit to their own strategies. Think back to the times you’ve heard a fellow player moan that he or she should have used a different club after missing a shot. Or selected a more conservative strategy? How many times have we done it ourselves?
The second reason for errant shots is incorrect aim. PGA-TOUR players say this is one of the most common mistakes they make – misaligning feet, hips, or shoulders to the target line. Aiming your body, mind, and club face to the target correctly is essential to good ball flight. Aim is a constant challenge – even the best players in the world set up incorrectly from time to time. Being aware of your target focus imagery might be more important, if you expect to execute a trusting swing.
The third major reason for mis-hit shots is a lack of trust. When you lack trust, tension builds up in your swing, disrupting your rhythm, tempo, and synchronization, and often results in a mis-hit shot. This holds true for all shots, from drives to putts. Trusting your swing means to be totally engaged in the process: centeredness, committed to your strategy, and trusting your aim.
Now, follow this Review, Replace, and Refocus process and you’ll always be ready for the next shot.
Review: The first step is to objectively evaluate the shot you just hit. It is critical for you to be nonjudgmental in this evaluation. Instead of saying, “What a jerk I am! I sliced it again!” you say something like, “Well, that shot went to the right.”
Replace: After you’ve described the shot you just hit, take a moment to clear your mind, and then take a swing, either literally or in your imaginative mind, with the feel, rhythm, and tempo that you want on your next swing. By doing this, you are replacing the feel of the errant swing with that of a proper one. Take notice! This is not a fix-your-swing process. It’s fix the execution like: get on the target next time. Come on. Let it go! Feel tension free! Feel that release!
Refocus: This process prepares you both mentally and physically to make a strong, positive swing and begins to refocus you for the next shot. In the best case scenario, the review, replace, refocus process can done in seconds. Although we can’t control the onset of negative emotions, we can control their intensity, duration and direction. It could take a little more time to allow a negative emotions to pass. One of the college teams I work with has a five step rule. You’d best be refocused as the fifth step comes down.
Love the best ones: The post shot routine also calls for you to take a moment, after you’ve struck the ball correctly, to watch the beauty of the ball in flight and sense the joy of seeing it bouncing down the fairway or coming to rest near the pin. These moments are critically important because they allow you to indelibly stamp the image and feel of a good shot on your internal-feedback system, creating long-term memory and easy access to your recall process for the next shot.
Would this attitude be different from the way you usually play? Does it sound more enjoyable? It’s a learned process, and you can do it. It might just change the way you feel about your game – and allow you to score better as well.
Each of you, of course, should put your own customized spin on this process, but nearly all of the players I’ve introduced to the post-shot routine including professionals on several tours – love this tool and through it have experienced breakthrough improvements in their games. As will you.