6. Pre-Shot routine

The pre shot routine is essential if you want to play golf from your comfort zone. The good thing about the pre shot routine is that it allows you to step into your comfort zone. Just like that. All you need to do is follow your pre shot routine. First thing is to decide which pre shot routine you want. Here is a bit of inspiration.

6.1. The components, Breathe, Image, Good state. Also called B.I.G.

I recommend that you implement and train a pre shot routine whit the same process every time you stand over the ball. The pre shot routine consist of three points. I call them B for breath, I for image, and G for good state. The name of the pre shot routine is therefore BIG. You need to know the components of the pre shot routine before you can put them together and get a good pre shot routine that works for you and your game.  Here are the components:

6.1.1. Breathe.

Breathing is essential. We do it all the time and we do it unconsciously. Which also means that we don’t know how we are breathing and what it does to us.

I once conducted an event at my job. We were probably 40 people in total. A lady was about to speak for us. We were standing outside the room in the hallway having a chat about her coming speech, and I could see she was super nervous. Suddenly she had to go to the rest rooms.

She came back and told me that she just threw up due to the coming speech and her nervousness. I asked her to do the below breathing technique. “Exercise 7.1.1., breathing technique for calmness.” She straightened up, felt much better and did a great speech.

She thanked me after the speech and told me that she had never before felt so good while doing a speech.

There are many breathing techniques. We will however only use a single breathing technique for golfing. Keep in mind you probably breath with very short breath in the upper part of your breast just under your chin when you are anxious, frustrated, or angry. Try it.

See – what happens.

It is fascinating what a change of breathing technique can do to your body and mind.

You can help the situation simply by using the following breathing technique.

Exercise 2: breathing technique for calmness

Start breathing like in exercise 1: Breathe out and make sure you breathe out as much as possible without over doing it. Then fill your lungs just under your navel. Meaning, about two fingers under your navel. Then fill your lungs from below the navel and up, just like a waive going from below the navel and up to your breast, but no further. And once again do your breathing in a slow and relaxed way. Feel a weight on your shoulders like a friend’s hand pushing gently down on your shoulders when breathing out. Feel your weight getting heavier against the surface below. Meaning, the chair, the bed, the ground, or any other surface that might be under you.

You will notice that your breathing makes your body straighten up. A straight back enhances your lung capacity and you get more oxygen to muscles and brain. Moreover, you will observe that you become more focused, not to mention the calmness that you will get when doing this exercise. The latter is probably the most important for you when playing golf.

Many books will teach you breathing techniques. I am very inspired by Stig Åvall Severinsen and his book “breath”. The book is in Danish and has the title “træk vejret”. You will find many books in English on the same subject.

6.1.2 Image – Visualise.

Tiger Woods does it. Nearly all professional golf players do it. You can see Tiger Woods on this video clip from You Tube:

Look at Tiger Woods’ eyes when he does the chip in this clip. It is amazing how his body does the correct moves when just doing the test swing. But the most impressing thing is when his eyes follow the ball that has not been shot yet. He imagines the put or the chip as if he actually played the ball and he follows the ball every single step of the way. It is fascinating to watch. In this way he shows us how it should be done when you really imagine the stroke before you do it.

There is more to imaging than just visualising. You should also hear the ball when it is on it’s way and especially when it approaches and hits the target. Furthermore, when imaging the ball approaching and hitting the target make sure you also image the visuals, feelings and the emotions. You might event top it with a fist pump and a “yes”, if that works for you. Finally, use this to enter you good state, the GDS. See exercise 1 for more details.

6.1.3. Good state – be in good state of mind before you strike the ball

Make sure your mind is in a good state when playing golf. You need to feel well to play well. You can test this buy observing yourself when in bad state and see how that works. Meaning, bad state, is when you are very anxious, frustrated, disappointed etc. Most people will not hit the ball well when in bad state. Therefore, get into the good state, General Desired State, GDS whenever you have the chance on the golf course.

The good state of mind is especially important when you are approaching the ball but the further you get away from the good state the more difficult it becomes to get back into the good state of mind again.

Exercise 1 shows you how to get into the good state.

6.1.4. How to build up the good state

First of all, you need to train the technique. You do that anywhere and anytime. You do it when you are down, and you do it when you are up. As Nike says: “Just do it”.

The good state is a state of mind that you want to be as strong as possible because you want to use the benefits of it time and again.

Training is everything if you want to learn something and especially if you want to be good at it.

This is true for many things, and it is also true when it comes to mental states. The good thing about the good mental state GDS, General Desired State is that you can train it in many different situations. Here are just a few.

  • When working.
  • When doing a presentation.
  • When driving.
  • When running.
  • When listening to music.
  • When too relaxed.
  • When too tens.
  • When distracted.
  • When a bit tired.
  • When nervous.
  • When you have to step up.

All in all, there are tons of good situations where GDS is good for you, and there are even more situations where you have time to train the GDS.

It is however not for sleeping. It is for individual performance situations and for increasing energy. That does not work for sleeping. Use the slow body scan if you need help for sleeping.

6.1.5. How to use the good state

Enter the good state when you want to enter it and remember your Good State doesn’t have to go to 100% each and every time. You can go 50%, 75% or 20%. This also implies that you can enter the Good State in a split second, or you can choose to use longer time for it. It depends on what you need in the specific situation. Are you just training the technique or are you doing your pre shot routine? Are you already positive or are you deep down? Golfing makes you anxious and tens at times and you might want to relax a bit. This is a situation where you want to enter a 20% Good State. It makes you positive, focused and relaxed at the same time. Just remember you cannot go from a very bad state of mind to a good state of mind in a split second and by applying a 20% Good State. You need to build it up and be in Good State as much of the time as possible. If you are already in Good State, then you just need to do a quick invisible fist pump and an internal yes to maintain it at the tee box. That is if those two are your personal anchors.

6.2. Pre shot routine using the components B.I.G.

Now you know the three components of the pre shot routine: Breath, Image and Good State also called BIG. Remember the word BIG, this will help you remember your pre shot routine when you need it.

It is time to implement a good pre shot routine that works for you. First, train the three techniques and make sure you know them well and use them frequently. Make sure your five anchors are working for you. Make sure you get in the Good State when you recall and fire your five anchors. They can be used many places outside the golf course. Imagine yourself in a situation where you are a bit nervous. This could be a good time to get into the good state.  If you are nervous or feel anxiety, maybe you should start out doing the breathing technique and, in that way, calm down. Same thing with the good state. When is it not a good thing to be in the Good State?


Design you own pre shot routine where you make sure your Breath is where it should be, you Imagine the ball on the way to the hole and you get in the Good State. This should take you around 20 seconds all in all. This is the reason why the pre shot routine cannot be too complicated or too long. The pre shot routine must feel good after a bit of training. Make sure it does.

On the golf course and approaching the ball I start out with the breathing technique and make sure that I am calm and collected when I get closer to the ball. Stepping into the zone behind the ball I imagine the stroke and ball on the way to the target. I make it as detailed as possible. I want my brain to be 100% focused and lock out all distractions. I can do that by concentrating intensely on imagining the stroke of the ball and the ball’s way to the target. Just like Tiger Woods did in the video in chapter 7.1.2.

Adapt the three techniques in BIG to golf and especially to you pre shot routine. There is a difference in using the three techniques breathing, imaging, and Good State outside golf course and on the golf course. When doing a golf shot you only have short time to strike the ball and one thing is the time professional golf players have to do the shot, another thing is how much time you have to do your shot when playing with friends or competitors. Here are a couple of things you need to be aware of regarding your own pre shot routine. How much time do you want to use? How much time do your fellow golf players accept? How much time is good for your mental state and the quality of your golf shot? Not the least, how much time do you have to allow for, if a distraction suddenly turns up before you strike the ball. For all these reasons I think a pre shot routine at about 20 seconds is reasonable, but it is a personal thing that you adjust as you go along.  Just remember that the three techniques can be done slowly with super high quality and quicker with less detail. You can in fact enter the Good State of mind in a split second. I simply do a fist pump and say YES at the same time. That takes me into the Good State because of my training. The breathing doesn’t take me time as I have to do it anyway. What takes my time is finding the target, the target line, and the line point in front of my ball. Moreover, the imaging takes time because I want to do it as detailed and vivid as possible. I do that by seeing the ball every step of the way, by hearing the sounds such as impact, the ball penetrating the air, the ball hitting the ground in the exact right spot. Moreover, I also make sure to feel the sensations of the Good State when I image the ball land and role exactly as planned. This is a very natural point in time to apply the Good State anchors and the GDS.

6.3. The fist pump and the yes

Tiger Wood’s fist pumps are famous, and I just love to see them. Look at the following link and see three of the most famous Tiger Wood fist pumps. The best one is from National Augusta at the Masters Tournament when Tiger won his fourth Green Jacket in 2005. Take a look here:


But of course, you can just search google with “Tiger Woods fist pumps” like this:


Many people use the fist pump. You might have another anchor for the Good State that you want to use. Likewise with the yes which many people use. You may have a personal word which is your anchor. In this book I use the fist pump and the yes as an example. I do that because those are my strongest personal anchors and I use them on the golf course all the time. You can use anyone of you anchors as you like. Just make sure it works.

Please note that I use them in a subtle way when I don’t want people to see it. Among other places, this means in every pre shot routine I do. When hitting a birdie or the like do a strong and very visible fist pump just like Tiger. It builds up your Good State and you want it to be as strong as possible. You might need it later in the game. In fact, imagine a game where you do not need to enter the Good State. Well, that would be a great game where you are in Good State at all 18 holes because every single shot is perfect. This dream round will put you in Good State automatically.

6.4. Fist bump and high five

Some teams are fist bumping all the time and other teams do high fives all the time. Some teams don’t do anything to hype each other. Which team would you rather be part of?

When golfing two against two. You team up with a partner and it is important that you and your partner are both in Good State of mind for golfing. How do you make sure that happens? Using fist bumps and/or high fives is a good and easy way to ensure Good State of mind.