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Before You Swing

Prior to swinging the club at a ball to achieve an intended goal; like getting it in the hole, we learned to control the CONTROLLABLES.

“Controllables” are everything you can do to make sure you have the best percentage of success to reach your goal. These elements are also known as pre-shot routine. You need to develop this pre-shot routine so it becomes automatic. Grip, stance and posture, aiming and alignment, intermediate target, number of practice swings, how many times looking at the target, visualizing the shot, and finally clearing your mind and embracing your one key swing thought. Examples of swing thoughts: smoooooth, firm wrist at impact, high follow through, hold the follow through.

Mo’s pre-shot routine: gather distance data and select club (3-10 secs) – visualize shot from behind the ball (5 secs) – choose intermediate target (3 secs) – approach the ball and set club behind ball in line with intermediate target (5 secs) – set grip properly and match body aim to match club aim. I usually shift my eyes from an imaginary line from club through ball to the target and then from my back foot to my front foot on another imaginary line parallel to my club aiming line, just like railroad tracks. (3-5 secs) – I always take at least one look at the intended target via my intermediate aiming point. If everything feels right, I make a quick recall of my ONE swing thought and I swing. Sometimes, if things just don’t feel right, it usually means that I’ve misaligned or have some uncertainty about the shot. I counter that by doing some club waggles and some very slight feet tapping (kind of like what a cat does in their instinctual habit of tamping down a bed for the night when in the wild or on a blanket) usually this takes about 5 secs. If the waggling goes too much longer, I’ll step away and start again. You can see that from start to finish this can take around 30 seconds from start to finish and it seems like a long time. It’s always a good idea to be ready to play when it’s your turn. That means taking care of as much pre-shot routine as possible while other players are playing their shots as long as you’re in a safe position to do so.

This routine will help you to establish a standard starting point and take care of the things you can control. You control your swing too but cannot and should not make mid-swing changes like: “Ooops, I’ve overswung on my backswing” is NOT a good thought to have in the middle of the swing –or- “I don’t feel like I’m aiming right” is also not the type of thought we need before or during a swing. Freedom from negative thoughts is partly minimized by a consistent pre-shot routine. This will serve to reduce or eliminate tension and uncertainty.

Control your emotions! For some, this might not be a controllable thing. This is an exacting sport. Achieving perfection should take on a good dose of reality equal to your skills. I like to think I’m a little better than I really am. For me, that gives me a goal for accomplishment and a reason to be proud of myself when I execute to my expectations. BUT, I temper that with a healthy dose of reality, I’m NOT on TV. I’m NOT making millions of dollars on the PGA tour. So when I don’t execute to my expectations, sure I’m disappointed but I NEVER act in a manner that discredits myself or the game of golf. This is why I respect this game over all others.

MoZen thought: You can tell yourself who you think you are but this game will prove you out, one way or the other.

If you are a perfectionist, you will be faced with readjusting your expectations to a realistic level or getting upset very often. Likewise, if you are not hard enough on expectations for improvement for your game, it will take a lot longer to improve skills and play.

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Some quick definitions of terms used on this site: Pre-shot Routine: A set of habits that is repeated each time a golf shot is made. Grip: The way your hands are placed on the handle of the club. Stance and posture: The proper athletic position that prepares you for making a successful golf swing. Alignment: The placement of the …

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