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February 11 2013

1:36 PM

The Mental Game: Pre-shot routine

By Dr. Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM

For the hottest player on the PGA TOUR, lucky No. 13 provides great fortune to Brandt Snedeker, the 2013 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am champion. Recently, the Golf Channel illustrated that Snedeker’s pre-shot routine takes a consistent 13 seconds. Amazingly, this pre-shot time was exactly the same for his driver swing, his mid-iron swing, and for his putting.  Nothing changed, regardless of situation.

Of course, it is not the ominous “13” that is helping to produce such great results.  Rather, being consistent is giving Snedeker greater emotional control.

Think about your life. Do you take the same route to work every morning? Do you go to the same restaurants? Consistency is vital to our lives. We need consistency. Being consistent gives us peace of mind.

In Snedeker’s case, the consistency of his routine tells his body (subconsciously) that the current pressure situation on the PGA TOUR is not different from playing back home with his buddies.  His lucky “13” helps him to stay relaxed and keeps his swing in beautiful rhythm, whether it is the first round of the year or the final back nine of a major.
   
However, a change in his routine would provide a subtle signal that something is different (for example, the situation is more important) and an increase in anxiety will result. An increase in anxiety usually produces a quicker swing than normal and this would produce a poorer shot on the course.

The point of Snedeker’s routine extends beyond just having a consistent time element, however. You should also have the same actions and thoughts in every routine. If you have seen Snedeker play, you will notice he has incorporated a hip swivel into his routine, and he does this every time prior to his swing.

While you may not want to do any subtle dance moves prior to your golf swing, I would recommend placing these “3” critical actions into your routine:

-- Take a deep cleansing breath at the start of every routine, from your full swing to your putting. Breathing pushes out anxiety.

-- Visualize where you want the ball to go. This will increase your confidence as well as reduce any nerves.

-- Make a positive self-statement for closure. We believe what we say.

Be consistent in your routine and it will not be luck contributing to your great play.

Bio: Dr. Gregg Steinberg is regular guest every Tuesday on “Talk of the Tour” heard on the Sirius/XM PGA TOUR radio. He is a tenured professor of sports psychology and has worked with many PGA TOUR players. You can see more about him at www.drgreggsteinberg.com and you can e-mail him at mentalrules24@msn.com

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