The Three Kinds of Post-Shot Routine
An ideal post-shot routine will help you build confidence from success and learn from mistakes.
Here are three post-shot routines to use for different kinds of results:
1) Very Good Results: Build confidence with statements that reinforce your process. Start each statement by saying you can hit it that well every time and finish the statement with something about your preparation or action that you want to reinforce.
Examples: “That’s how I always hit it—when I have clarity about my target,” or “That’s how I always hit it—when I swing with commitment and freedom,” or “That’s how I always hit it—when I do my breathing to feel calm and grounded.” You can even make it a general statement, “That’s how I always hit it—when I do my pre-shot routine well.” Also, it’s good to watch the shot and imprint the whole shot in your memory for use as a good positive image of a shot to the target in future situations.
2) Partially Successful Results: First say, “That was close—to the target I wanted to hit, or to the swing I wanted to make.” Focus on all the positive aspects that you can: the distance, the trajectory, or the direction, whichever was good. If the swing felt good, check your set-up fundamentals, especially alignment. You may have hit a very excellent shot, but were aimed in the wrong direction!
If the swing felt a little bit wrong, make practice swings at full speed until you make one you like better. Feel the difference between that swing and the swing you played, and incorporate the better feel into your next pre-shot routine.
3) Poor Results: the post-shot routine for these shots is what I call “Erase and Replace.” Erase the negative emotional energy of frustration or anger about the shot by taking a deep breath and letting yourself calm down. Refrain from saying negative things to yourself or calling yourself bad names. Then replace the poor swing with a good one by making practice swings at full speed (as described in #2 above) until you make one you like better.
A shot that is very far off target is more likely caused by mental interference than by lack of ability in the swing. You don’t lose your ability to swing from one shot to the next, but mental mistakes can make you feel that way.
Reflect on aspects of preparation and action: How was your clarity—did you have a positive picture of the target, or were you trying to avoid a hazard? How was your commitment—did you have confidence in your target, club selection and swing, or did you go into the shot with doubt and fear? How was your composure—did you breathe and feel grounded and calm, or did you swing with hurry and tension? How was your freedom of action—did you trust your swing or were you worried about the outcome and made a careful, mechanical, steering swing?
Learn as much as possible, notice your patterns, and use the feedback to adjust your preparation for future shots.