Is it Really a Practice Swing?

A practice swing is part of my pre-shot routine. I learned long ago that without it, my game suffers. In addition to the physical benefits, it also helps set up my mental preparation for my shot. Interestingly, I have two pre-shot routines that involve my “practice swing”. It is because of this I wonder what am actually practicing during my pre-shot routine. There seems to be a quandary that needs discussing!

Would a practice swing help with this shot?

I actually change the sequence, during my pre-shot routine, of my practice swing. When using anything above a wedge, it happens first. When using a wedge or putter, my “practice swing” happens last. This may seem weird, but the different timings ensure my “practice swing” performs different functions. 

The “practice swing” happens first when using any club above a wedge. After determining my yardage and selecting a club, I walk up and place my club square with my ball, but six inches below. At this time, I visualize my shot and take two swings at about 25% normal speed. During these “practice swings” I go over all my swing thoughts and prepare for the real swing. I step back about 3 paces behind my ball, select my line, walk back up to the ball and swing away.

It is at this point, my “practice swing” is used as a mental tool to prepare for my real swing. I use it to trigger my body to prepare for hitting the ball with the club in hand. This “practice swing” is not a practice swing at all; it is a critical part of my mental routine that allows all my thinking to occur so when it is time to hit the ball, my mind is clear. 

Shifting gears, when using my wedges and putter my “practice swing” is actually a “practice swing”. After deciding which wedge to use and which shot I want to make; I start my preshot routine. I stand three paces behind my ball, visualize my shot, and move forward. The next step where I perform an actual “practice swing”.

As I set up by the my ball, I simulate my line and body position with the club head 6 inches below the ball. Then I make some “practice swings” trying to simulate the exact strength and contact point required to execute the perfect shot. Generally, three swings are enough to settle on the exact motion and contact I want. Then I step forward, set my club and perform my real swing. It is during this process that my “practice swing” is an actual “practice swing”. 

So my conclusion is that I have a real “practice swing” some of the time. The rest is of the time, I use the same modified motion to mentally prepare for my swing, but it is called a “practice swing”. I find that having distinguishing between the two helps me understand that my “practice swing” is an important part of my pre-shot routine with different purposes. 

Do you have a real or modified “practice swing”? If so, when do you use it?

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

12 thoughts on “Is it Really a Practice Swing?

  1. Hi Jim,

    Thanks for writing this Article, a practice swing is very important before we take the actual swing and unfortunately many University level Golfers ignore this important aspect of a Good Golf Swing !



  2. Jim, enjoyed reading this. Usually for me I like to do three practice swings on each shot at about 25% of my normal speed, it’s more so to visualize the shot. In the bunker, I tend to take a lot more, usually three outside the bunker and then another three when I’m over the ball. For putting, as many as it takes until I can visualize the roll and comfortable with the feel.



  3. I try and remember to take a couple of practice swings before any shot to get the feel of what I want to accomplish. When in the bunker, I do it from the grass before stepping in most often, and everywhere else, I do it from beside the ball far enough back that no one mistakes it for a real swing but close enough that I can judge where the club head would meet the ground. I want to be sure that my whole set up is geared towards making good contact and that helps me remember to get my weight transfer right to meet the ball on the way to the ground rather than earlier. That really helps me hit ball first more consistently.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You perfectly described my pre-shot routine! The longer clubs I’m swinging really just to loosen up and get the feel for the length of the club. When pitching and chipping it’s a for real strike and roll-out visualization.

    Liked by 1 person

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