How to: Plan your shot better

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Make sure your strategy matches how you're swinging, and use this guide to plan your shots better 

Improving your technique is one thing – but it counts for nothing if you don't have an effective plan for the shot. Focus on these five areas to ensure your strategy matches your swing

Take Your Time

When you're faced with a tough shot, the huge temptation is to get it over with. But rushing the shot brings disaster. Instead, take your time. Stand directly behind your ball target line and absorb the entire scene, hazards and all. Realise the fairway is wide; you could probably t 1,000 balls across it, and you only need one of those. Above all, prove to yourself that while the shot is tough, a good outcome is a possibility.

Lock On To Your Target

Dangerous hazards like water have an ugly habit of grasping your attention. You can't ignore it, but you can release yourself from its hold by picking your target and committing to it throughout the planning stage. The clearer you define your line, the easier this comes, so pick an intermediate target to help you. Drum this line into your mind's eye and you'll be better able to resist that last-second doubt that breeds a 'safety' adjustment... and usually disaster.

Keep Aware

Some tees have mower stripes that may – or may not – point you down the fairway. It's important you become aware of these lines and how they relate to your chosen shot path because it's easy to be subliminally in uenced by them. Similarly with the tee markers; they will not necessarily line up square to your shot. The bottom line is to use these elements to help you aim... and ensure they don't use you.

Mind Your Body Language

Be aware of how you stand, move and breathe. Simply standing tall with good posture can help give you a feeling of confidence. Take this feeling into your practice swing. Hold a balanced finish, looking down the fairway; try to look as composed as possible to any onlooker. Moving like this helps you feel confident and committed, and helps you ward off feelings of twitchiness. A deep breath also helps slow your heart rate and keep you calm.

Go With What You Know

Your best chance of pulling the shot off lies with hitting the shot you are most comfortable with. It's important you don't let the hazards or the hole force you into using a club – or a shape of shot – that makes you anxious. That can mean playing for a left-to-right shot even if the hole bends the other way, or changing clubs if you think it will help you commit with a confident swing.

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