Re-thinking your warm-up routine
By Erika Larkin on 8/29/12
What is your pre-round warm up? I don't think there is a right answer... you have to do what works best for YOU. However, many of my students are not consistent with their routine and don’t have a clear purpose for their warm up.

Does this sound like you? Arrive at the course, check in, go straight to the range, start with a mid-iron right into full swings until you feel "loose" and then hit a few drives, see which way it's going, make a few tweaks, and then maybe if you have time hit 10 putts on the green and go to the first tee and finally take a breath. Some people "work" on their swings too much before playing and they get overloaded with swing thoughts that they won’t be able to transfer to the course, others don’t warm up at all and their first few holes reflect it.

Make a concerted effort before your next round to get to the course about forty-five minutes to a half-hour early. These should be your goals:
  • Establish rhythm, tempo, and grip pressure for the day. Start at the chipping green with a wedge and hit some soft pitches, then work up into some longer wedge shots at the range.

  • WARM UP your body with gentle swinging / moving at a cardio pace, THEN stretch key areas. (What are your key areas? Don't forget your hamstrings, back, shoulders.)

  • Calibrate your speed control on the putting green. Hit long putts at 20, 30, 40 feet on uphill and downhill slopes to see the pace of the greens for the day.

  • Build confidence by making short (3-4 foot) putts; seeing the ball going in the hole is always great!

  • Start visualizing shots you will hit on the course that day, select the appropriate club, and go through your pre-shot routine like you would on the course. Calibrate your alignment to selected targets on the range. (Rehearsing shots before you play the course will help you get in a good frame of mind.)

  • Remind yourself of two or three swing thoughts for the day and stick with them. The range, pre-round, is not a place to start searching for new swing keys or making changes.

  • Ignore bad shots... it's hard, but remember that you are warming up and you will have misses - it's normal. Try to mentally "delete" them - just stay relaxed and stick with your normal swing thoughts. Trust yourself!

I can think back to many a time where I've had great warm-ups and played badly, and have had bad warm-ups and played great. So, remember what your expectations should be before a round, come up with a plan for which you make time, and it will pay off!

Erika Larkin is the Director of Instruction at Larkin Golf Learning Community at Stonewall Golf Club in Gainesville, Virigina. She was named the 2012 Middle Atlantic PGA "Teacher of the Year" and the 2011 "Top Golf Pro" by Washingtonian Magazine... and she's oobgolf's newest columnist. She will be writing on a variety of topics including instruction, so if you have a question for her or an idea for a column, email her at Enjoy!

Image via Torleif Sorenson

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