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pre-shot routine 1

Do you have a Pre-Shot routine?  If so, do you PRACTICE it?  There are so many people that say they have a pre-shot routine but then can’t tell you what it is or often deviate from their routine during the round.  A solid and consistent pre-shot routine is used by the best players in the world.  They do not deviate…not ever.


Perhaps the best example and model of a consistent pre-shot routine is Annika Sorenstam.  Annika’s routine takes exactly 24 seconds from the time she begins her routine until the conclusion of her follow through.  Her pre-shot routine has been studied by watching hours upon hours of video throughout her career and it has been concluded that her routine has remained within 1 second of the 24 seconds it takes to execute throughout her entire 14 years of professional golf. Pretty amazing!


Here is a very similar routine to Annika’s to try within your own game:

1.)    In your mind, imagine a 6ft square box.  Diagram below.


2.)    In your preparation area you will begin thinking about your shot considerations: lie of the ball, distance to target, wind direction and force, choice of shot, and club selection.  Finally, you will visualize the shot starting on the intended line and finishing at your target.  Make a swing or two focusing on the feeling that will lead to the desired shot.



3.)    After you have visualized and felt the swing to produce your desired shot, it is time to move into the playing box.  You are in the playing box and there is nothing to do but execute the shot.  Play the shot with confidence and a clear mind!  Remember, once you are in the playing box, you are fully committed to that shot.


This is an example of a very simple pre-shot routine to implement into your game, now it’s time to begin practicing! Instead of hitting a large bucket of 100 golf balls in 30 minutes, try hitting a small bucket of 45 balls for 1 hour, taking time to practice your new pre-shot routine on every shot.  I expect that using this new routine in your game will lead to lower scores and more consistent golf!

Written By: John Kolls, PGA Head Professional | Duke University Golf Club

5 Responses

  1. Thanks for the advice!
    I’m having trouble because I’m learning a new swing and when I step up to the ball all I’m thinking is the new swing any help please ??!!!

  2. Luke,
    Great questions as this is something many golfers struggle with, including professionals. It sounds like your practice routine may be different than your “in round” routine. Have you ever had someone time you during practice and then during a round? If not, try it! Have someone time you from the very beginning of your pre-shot routine all the way through impact and into the finish position. Then have them time/film the very same thing while your playing a round. My guess is that you may find that your “during round” routine will be longer suggesting that you are combining the “preparation box” with the “playing box” noted in the above article. If this is the case, my suggestion would be to re-evaluate the priority of your swing changes and think of them as a “ladder” taking each change one at a time. In most cases, the golf swing takes less than 2 seconds to execute. It has been scientifically proven that the vast majority of people can’t execute more than one swing thought in that amount of time. So work on one swing change at a time until you OWN IT. Once you own it, move on to the next step. I hope this helps and if you would like to discuss it further, please let me know! -John

  3. Dr. Joe Davis is t he Mental game teaching professional sport psychology lead faculty at the Academy, San Diego, CA 92117

  4. How can I go to the range and hit the ball incredible every shot, go to the course and struggle massively?

  5. Hello John ! Excellent blog with nice information you have shared. This is very helpful to me to understand the pre shot routine while in Golf. Thanks and great sharing.