The Consistent Routines = Consistent Shots Myth
One of the most common coaching instructions in golf is your pre shot routine has to be consistent. Consistent routines produce consistent shots is the promise.
This may be true for free throws in basketball but sadly creates problems in golf. The biggest problem is the human doing the routine.
The problems start with the ball not moving. So the human playing this shot has time to try to do their pre shot routine perfectly. They have time to judge how well they are doing it. They have time to judge whether their alignment is perfect and adjust to get perfect.
Check your grip. Check your alignment. Check your posture. Make sure your set up is good. Then make sure to do your Swing Keys. Swing Keys are part of your routine.
Swing Keys help you make good swings. They fix your swing flaws. Swing keys should produce good shots if you were set up correctly. Logical, obvious.
Focusing on swing keys in your practice swing and real swing make you focus on the swing instead of the shot. They lead you to judging how you are doing and then trying to adjust while swinging.
Then if your shot or swing is not good you try to identify the swing flaw or forgotten swing key and emphasize it in the next shot.
If your coach is watching, they will advise that some part of your routine was not the same. Something changed and that led to your inconsistent golf. Or some swing flaw happened. Did you remember your swing key? This reinforces that these things are really important.
This is all part of your pre shot routine. Every step repeated perfectly should produce consistent good shots. That is logical, but it doesn’t really work the way you are doing it. We hear it all the time from our new clients. Lack of consistency is one of the biggest reasons they come to us.
The consistent pre shot routine is not working for them. They are frustrated and cannot find the answer. They have tried many tactics, but they’re still playing inconsistent golf. Every now and then a poor shot happens, and of course these poor shots hurt their score and make reaching their goals more difficult.
The worst part is they cannot figure out why this happens and so are left with lower confidence in their abilities. This is a big problem. Lower confidence hurts commitment and performance, and can lead to a downward spiral that is hard to stop.
Why Consistent Pre Shot Routines Can Lead to Inconsistent Golf
While a perfectly consistent golf pre shot routine and swing keys seem like the ideal, they can actually hurt performance. There are a number of reasons for this:
- Creates an opportunity for the Left Brain to control the process. Using a check list and monitoring and judging each step is a very Left Brain type of thing. The Left Brain loves to control us and our actions, and is all about making sure, being careful, and deliberate. Unfortunately you are now putting lots of energy into steps before the swing which contribute nothing to the swing.
- Reduces your athletic abilities. Your Left Brain is good at math and calculations, course management and predicting, and also worrying. It is not athletic. When you are activating your Left Brain before and during the shot, you are hurting your athletic abilities. You are not reacting but controlling.
- Your Nervous System is too slow. Trying to focus on Swing Keys during the swing requires sensing and monitoring those parts of the swing. The swing is too fast to actually control the swing while it is happening. The time it takes a signal to travel from your body part to your brain and back with adjustment is a quarter of a second. The whole swing only takes around a second from takeaway to impact.
- Trying to control your swing only creates confusion in your swing programming. Swing keys seem to work on the range because you are hitting the same shot over and over. On the course you have to do it well the first time. You have trained the sequence of signals that is your golf swing through all that repetitive practice. You must let the program run without interruption to make effective and consistent swings.
- When you are focused on your swing keys, you are not thinking about striking the ball and where the ball is going, the shot. This focus on swing keys disconnects you from the shot you are trying to hit.
- Failure causes you to look at your process and try to fix it. Naturally you will look at your steps and swing keys for the answers. This re-emphasizes all the steps and the need to control them perfectly, making you more Left Brained and less athletic on the next shot in an attempt to avoid inconsistent golf.
- Many in golf are invested in this Consistent Routine/Swing Keys paradigm. They don’t understand how it is hurting consistency. This can lead to lots of practice without improvement and lots of frustration.
The Solution to Consistency in Golf = An Athletic Shot Process
The left brain does have a place in golf, just not during your swing. Use your good Left Brain abilities for calculations such as evaluating all the variables, picking your club and targets, and choosing a type of shot. Then commit to your choices.
Visualize your Shot. Imagine what the shot will look like. Imagine watching it traveling towards your targets. This imagining is Right Brained and athletic, putting you in position for a great shot.
Feel your Shot. Imagine how impact will feel with your practice swing. Imagine the club head through the ball. Imagine how the ball will compress. Imagine the spin you put on the ball. Then imagine how the ball will fly and how the wind and gravity will affect it. This imagining is also very Right Brained and athletic.
Then play the shot athletically, swinging fully and freely through the ball without anxiety or trying to control where it goes, without thinking about your swing. No doubts or second guessing over the ball is allowed. If it happens you were not fully committed.
This is a simple description of a good Athletic Shot Process, and more information about good pre shot rountines are available here. When we work with you individually or in a small group school, we will customize this routine with you so that it works well for you. It will probably have more than two Right Brain steps.
When done well, this Athletic Shot Process will help you achieve consistency. It will reserve your Left Brain for what it is good at, and use your Right Brain and athletic abilities to play the shot. It will simplify your mental process and save mental energy. It is the only way to increase consistency quickly and lead to ongoing improvement.
Want to get rid of your inconsistent golf swing? We have a number of options available to help you, including our popular mental game weekend schools. We can teach you the same mental routine as the Tour champions. We invite you to reach out to us here, or leave a comment below with any questions.