I’ll go ahead and state the obvious: Golf is hard. The margin for error is slim, and even the slightest misstep can result in disaster. Synchronizing all the moving parts needed to accurately strike the ball — all within a roughly two-second window — is no easy task. And that’s just during the swing.
In addition to needing precision during the swing, you also need to nail your pre-shot routine as well. There are several factors that can influence a poor shot before you even swing, and you’ve got to be cognizant of those as well.
The good news is, those pre-shot factors are much easier to control than those that come up during the swing. And if you can get them down, you’ll put yourself in a better position to hit a solid shot.
GOLF Top 100 Teacher Michael Hunt compiled a list of 10 ways to know you’re going to hit a bad shot before you even swing. Check them out below, and be wary of them next time you’re on the course. If you can correct these mistakes before you pull the trigger, your scorecard will thank you.
1. Too many thoughts
Thinking too much when you’re over the ball can result in paralysis by analysis. Try to get one solid swing thought and stick to it. Don’t overcomplicate an already complex game.
2. Not factoring elements
How many times have you rushed to hit a shot only to realize after the fact that you were facing a strong headwind that causes the ball to come up well short? Instead of rushing to hit the shot, take a second to analyze the wind, lie, slope and elevation that will affect your ball flight.
It might seem elementary, but make sure you are aimed where you think you are. Put an alignment stick or extra club down your target line at the range and make sure your aim matches with where you think you’re aiming.
4. Too far or close to the ball
Make sure your setup is tuned up before you head to the course. If you have a poor setup, it’ll make hitting a solid shot that much more difficult.
5. Too much time over the ball
This goes along with the first point above. Don’t stand over the ball too long or you may psyche yourself out. If you find yourself standing over the ball too long, step off the shot, regroup and get back into it.
Stay loose over the ball! Don’t try to squeeze the life out of the club. Relax.
Don’t focus on what could go wrong. Instead, focus on the shot you want to execute. If your mind is on the water hazard right of your target, chances are you’ll hit it in there. Keep your mind on what you want to do, not what you don’t want to do.
There should be no half measures on the course. If you are going to hit a shot, make sure you’re fully committed to it.
This goes along with the point above. Make a decision and commit to it.
10. Bad angles at setup
Be sure your body is in sync in the setup. If your feet are aimed one way, and your shoulders another, the shot has no chance to be struck on line. Make sure everything is working together.
This article originally appeared on Golf.com.