Your Pre-Shot Routine (PSR)
PSR's are an individual construct but here are some solid guidelines to bear in mind:
Do all your shot planning behind the ball and be totally congruent about your choice of club/line etc before your walk into the ball.
Take your practise swings behind the ball and in the direction of your target.
Your practise swings are about planning the movement so it shouldn't be a generic mindless movement. You should have a base awareness on the movement you are trying to make and any task perturbations (wind, lie etc). You need not even make a full swing and it needs to be at well below full speed to allow for maximum movement awareness.
Pick your target from behind the ball before you begin your walk in. This is normally a landmark in the distance. Then visualise your intended ball flight in full.
Walk in and get set up with as little fuss as possible.
Time and Automaticity
How mush time you spend at the ball and how much conscious thought that is optimal will vary from week to week ( see Automaticity). If you find that you are getting anxious standing over the ball or engaging on too much swing thought then reduce the time over the ball to the bare minimum. Use the flow drill in practise to calibrate how your best performance is conducted. LINK TO FLOW DRILL VIDEO
A new study on player behaviour CITE undertaken by The University of Birmingham and The European Tour indicates that players that are under par, take significantly less time in their PSR than those that are over par. Be care full what you take from this though. The players over par may need to take longer due to less automaticity of movement. Playing faster won't necessarily make you play under
The PSR needs to be the same length of time on every shot: This is a load of rubbish. Research in rugby kicking has shown a significant time disparity of successful kicks. This has carried through to golf research where the vast variability of task demands mean that cognitive demands differ substantially and so too does the PSR duration.
If I am aiming to the right I am bound to hit it there: If the game was played by robots that this would be the case but since we are complex systems then the outcome is far less predictable. Often, the player aims their predicted ball flight and therefore doesn't align in the classic orthodox manner; i.e. Historically I aim the shot to the right to allow for a pull. This also encourages a pull so this is something I need to calibrate on a regular basis. If when you use the alignment guide in front of the ball (or use alignment aids in practise) and it feels completely wrong then you know that you have been out of whack for some considerable time.
There is so much psychology during these pivotal moments before and during shot execution that this is the area that Sports Psychologists normally use their interventions; normally speeding players up and helping with confidence and commitment. If you want an in-depth account of some of the key topics that go to the Psychology section of the site but let me leave with 2 questions:
Do you ask for what you want? i.e. when you stand behind the ball do you visualise exactly what you want to happen or worry about negative outcomes. I won't go so far as to say that you get what you focus on but certainly, all the negativity will could your focus and congruency.
Do you execute the shot with an attitude of 'watch this'! Or is there more trepidation? Most golfers are in a state of anxiety during this phase. More on state management in the Psychology section.