Routines and rituals are an important aspect of every sport and in fact, we all have routines and rituals we perform in our daily lives as well. The way we wake up in the morning, drive to work or pack for vacations are examples of typical routines that we perform the same time after time without giving them much thought.
In sports, routines are an incredibly important trigger that creates how well we use our mind, body and emotions. Basketball players use a specific routine at the foul line in order to relax and focus. Tennis players follow specific routines before serving by bouncing the ball a certain number of times and before receiving serve by bouncing up and down or focusing on a very specific target. Goaltenders in hockey, baseball players standing at the plate and football players all have certain routines they follow whose sole purpose is to get them into optimal performance mode.
So why are our routines so important to us?
Routines do three things to help us be our best. They are designed to increase:
Do you believe your pre-shot routine produce these characteristics each and every time? If not, your routine is not setting you up to perform your best. When I ask golfers what a good routine means to them the answers I hear most often are: to get me ready for the shot Im going to hit or to calm me down and give me something to focus on. While these are certainly outcomes of a solid routine; the routine has far more reaching benefits. Lets take a look at them:
The clearer you are the clearer your actions. How many times have you stood over a shot with doubt and confusion? What is the result? The result: a swing that is tentative and uncommitted. Think back on those moments when you were very clear. What was your experience then?
A clear routine also create a high level of commitment when done properly. Just before stepping into address position ask yourself Am I fully committed to this shot? Be committed before you address the ball and it will affect how you step into address position as well as your attitude at address. Are you committed over all of your shots? Are you committed to your club and shot selection? If not, your routine has not set you up for success.
When you have a solid process from start to address confidence is an automatic by-product. A proper routine is designed to create your ideal mental, emotional and physical state. Is your mental state clear, optimistic and positive? Is your emotional state calm but with just the right amount of emotional charge to be excited? Is your physical state relaxed and open? If not, the routine is not serving you at the highest level. Confidence is built from consistency. Do you perform your routine at ALL times? Do you cut your routine short, speed it up when you are anxious or frustrated? Do you change it depending on the situation you are in? When you have a solid routine it should be followed at all times and in every situation.
Take a good look at your routine. Does it trigger clarity, commitment and confidence over every shot? Does it create the optimum mental, emotional and physical states for you to be successfulevery time? Your routine can lift your game!