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Importance of pre-performance routines

Pre-Performance Routines

“A sequence of task relevant thoughts and actions which an athlete engages in systematically prior to his or her performance of a sporting skill” – Moran (1996)

Every sporting individual has a pre-performance routine, whether they are consciously aware of this routine is another question. This can anything from eating the same meal before an event to Owen Farrell’s kicking routine. One’s pre-performance routine doesn’t have to take place within the constraints of the sporting environment, it can begin at home waking up at a set time.



The benefits of a consistent pre-performance routine are clear for all to see, not just at elite level but also at amateur level.

  • It helps individuals focus their attention to task specific issues rather than irrelevant cues which could be detrimental to performance therefore enhancing concentration.
  • It also helps alleviate negative thinking through a focused state of mind. Any negative thoughts relating to the specific issue are abolished, leaving a clear mind for your cognitive thought processes to take effect.
  • Improves one’s ability to not focus too much on the mechanical side of the skill (e.g. Basketball free-throw, making sure the elbow is high) thus aiding effort towards the task in hand (making the shot).


Key points to having a successful per-performance routine:

An important aspect of the pre-performance routine is that it is unique. It works for the professionals doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for you. Your pre-performance routine needs to be specific and unique to your personality and temperament.

Your pre-performance routine is both your mental trigger for concentration & confidence.  If your confidence in your game drops the last thing you want to be thinking about is your routine. Therefore, another key point about your pre-shot routine is consistency. It’s important to stick to it and not miss out steps even the minor points within your routine.

Focus on the elements within the routine that you can control, your behavior and thoughts. Keep your thoughts clear and concise to direct your behavior towards the task specific cues, for example; Justin Rose uses the phrase ‘Trust my swing’ before every shot.


Take home points:

  • Make your Routine Unique
  • Keep it consistent, don’t miss out steps
  • Keep it simple and positive
  • Focus on the things you can control


‘Control your routine and focus your mind’


Lyle Kirkham

20th January 2018

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