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For most golfers, it is very exciting to go to the course before your round. You've worked all week, and now it's time to do what you've been thinking about since Monday.
No matter how long you have before you start, there are several things you can do to give yourself a better chance of performing well and preventing injury. In this article I discuss some key concepts that I believe are crucial for a successful warm-up session. I also want to help you avoid a common trap that can affect us all.
The number one goal
The most important thing you want to achieve for a certain round is to prepare your body for golf.
If you don't have time to hit balls, you should consider a routine that involves some sort of dynamic stretching. You must indicate to your body that it is about to do something physical, which will help prevent injuries and release your body to swing well. There are many sources on this subject. Two that I would recommend are Fit For Golf and 18Strong. Even if you only have 5-10 minutes, you can do something useful.
As I get older, I learned this the hard way. Last year I hurried to the range to hit a few balls quickly in the morning cold. I pulled a neck muscle against my driver, causing a nagging injury that lasted about eight weeks. If I had taken the time to warm up my body properly, I would probably have avoided the injury. I am sure many of you have similar stories.
If you can hit balls
If you are going to hit round balls, I still think you should warm up in advance, but there are a few important points that I would like to convey.
First of all, this is no time to practice or work on your swing . It is doubtful that you are going to come up with something that will have a meaningful impact on your game, so don't put that pressure on yourself.
Second, you should have a routine that you can repeat. When I make balls, my main goal is to establish my feelings. I start making wedge shots between 30 and 70 meters. I consider this the most crucial part of my process, because if I can get those distances locked, it usually translates well into my full swing. Depending on how much time I have, I will make my way through the bag with different irons and eventually reach the driver. I also want to spend some time with the putting green to help catch the speed of the greens. If there is a short game facility, I will also hit some chips and pitches.
You don't have to do exactly the same, but if you have somewhere between 15 and 45 minutes before you start, I think it helps to go through a repeatable process. Admittedly, you don't have to have the same intensity as a PGA Tour player because you are not confronted with such pressure. Your goal is to put yourself at ease and ready to play.
The Big Trap
The main reason I wanted to write this article is to help you avoid a common fall that I fell into, and I know most of you have it.
If you hit golf balls, do not use as a measure of how well you will perform . Over the years I have found little predictive value of how well or badly I hit the ball for a round.
There have been many times in which I have had terrible warming-up sessions and ultimately played very well. Most notable was my series session before my first qualification competition for the US Open, where I started shaking almost every blow – but in the end I got one of my best ironing performances of the year. I already have enough golfers (including myself) who have declared their rounds before they even start due to a poor reach session beforehand. The last thing you want to do is approach the first tee with a negative attitude.
On the other hand, if you hit the practice shirt and hit it very well, it can also cause a problem. We all know what happened to Icarus when he flew too close to the sun. I can imagine many days where my series session was great, just to lose my swing confidence in the first few holes. There is nothing wrong with entering your round with a positive mindset. However, do not go overboard!
Before you play golf, you must be your very first goal to prepare your body. I know it might not be fun, but I would put more emphasis on a warm-up / stretching routine than golf balls. There are so many golfers who suffer injuries that can last for months because their bodies were not ready to swing a club.
If you can hit balls, I think it makes sense to see it as part of the process of getting your body ready. Develop a routine that you can go through every time. Remember, it's not a practice session or a time to start working on your swing.
The most important thing is that you don't show your day, or a success, based on the quality of your striking ball. Try not to worry about what happened in the range when you are on the first tee.