Pick any professional sport and situation where the athlete has plenty of time to think, analyse, visualize, worry etc. Now think of someone from that sport that is very successful. For example: basketball and Michael Jordan preparing for a free throw. Picture your athlete performing under pressure and ask yourself whether you think they have developed a routine that they practice outside of competition time. The answer will be yes 99% of the time.
The idea of athletes using routines is not new. Baseball players use routines in the batter’s box. Bowlers use routines before they bowl. Goal kickers in all codes of football use routines to prepare before they kick.
Golf as you know all too well is a self-paced game, which allows us time to prepare for shots so you can feel ready. When you are playing a sport where someone throws a ball at you, you don’t have much time to think so you simply react. In golf, we actually have too much time; we are on the course for four and a half hours and it only takes a total of five minutes to hit all your shots. Consistency is the number one priority for most golfers. And that’s the goal of a good routine. Nowhere in golf are routines more important than in putting. A successful putting routine helps you to (1) feel confident and eliminate doubt and indecision (2) stay entrenched in the execution; and (3) trust your natural stroke (hint – which you have practised outside of competition times for many hours.)
I personally call the time spent reading the putt, assessing the speed of the green, slopes, etc., as the “preparation” phase NOT actually part of your routine. The routine in my opinion is more the steps that you take at the ball before you pull the trigger and hit the putt.
Below are a few tips that should help you build your own putting routine:
- Know exactly where your routine starts
- Write down what order you do things and for how long
- Notice what you look at, i.e., intermediate target, ball, hole then putt etc
- Get someone to time it for you
- Practice it over and over and over, so when your are under pressure it will come naturally
Golf swing ER
I never seem to be able to control the distance on my putts. I read your articles and wondered if you could give me a few tips – Peter (Bunbury, WA)
This is quite common, so you are not alone by a long shot. The first thing I test when golfers are having similar problems is whether they are hitting the same spot on the putter face each time i.e., the toe, heel or centre of the face. To check this you can simply put a small piece of Blu-Tack on both the toe and the heel of the putter and hit a variety of putts–short, long, straight, breakers, etc–and see if there is a pattern there. If your contact is inconsistent, I would encourage you to continue practicing with the Blu-Tack on. Start with short putts with a slow stroke and then slowly increase the length and speed. This will improve your consistency with striking the centre of your putter face and more than likely your ability to control your speed on the greens under pressure.
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