5 tips for having a good pre-shot routine, according to a Top 100 Teacher

Sayaka Takahashi

Visualize the shot before you hit it.

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One of the best golf follows on social media is GOLF Top 100 Teacher Jeff Smith, who goes by RadarGolfPro on Instagram. Jeff’s one of the best teachers around: He coaches Viktor Hovland, Aaron Wise and Patrick Rodgers, among others, and runs the Course Kings website.

A few weeks ago Jeff did an Instagram Q&A that was packed with good information, but one thing that caught my eye especially was his advice on developing a pre-shot routine.

Jeff gets a firsthand look at how Tour players do it, and the way he sees it, there are five keys the rest of us should take on board:

1. Pick a shot

The first is perhaps the most obvious, but something too many amateurs don’t properly consider: Figuring out which shot best fits the situation. That means deciding on a fade or draw, but for those who prefer to keep the shot moving in one direction, it’s about deciding where you should aim so it turns out well.

2. Budget for a miss

Along those lines, Smith says the next step is building-in “margin for error.” If there’s trouble short, take an extra club or two; if there’s water left, aim more right! Planning for your misses is something pros do really well that the rest of us don’t.

3. Proper practice swings

Once that stuff is sorted, don’t gloss-over your practice swings. They need to practice your “intention” for the shot at-hand. If you mail-in your practice swings, you’ll pay for it later on

4. See what you want to happen

Before you hit your shot, take a moment to see the shot in your mind. “Visualize” how you want it to turn out, Smith says, focusing on the positive.

5. Breath!

Most importantly, breath! Shorter breaths mean your heart rate increases, which isn’t what you want standing over a shot. You want to be calm, so give your brain the oxygen it wants to perform optimally.

Luke Kerr-Dineen

Golf.com Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Game Improvement Editor at GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com. In his role he oversees all the brand’s service journalism spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University and in 2017 was named News Media Alliance’s “Rising Star.” His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.