Golf Waggles + 5 Other Pre-Shot Tricks To Improve Your Swing

Ever noticed that some golfers, especially the pros, seem to waggle their club before they take a shot?

What might look like an unconscious move or a canceled swing is actually the golf waggle: an important pre-swing technique used by many golfers to prepare for a shot. 

The golf waggle is a pre-shot routine, used to prepare for your shot by taking a half swing – essentially rehearsing the first few feet of your backswing.

It’s not quite a practice shot as you don’t follow all the way through the swing, and your waggle swing should only rise to about half the height of a full backswing.

It might feel a bit silly, but trust me – a golf waggle performed correctly can dramatically improve your swing.

But waggles aren’t the only thing to work into your pre-shot routine. Here, we’ll be giving you 5 more pre-swing techniques to complement your waggle and get you on your way to more consistent and accurate shots.

Let’s get into the swing of it!

The golf waggle featured image of a man in a driving range at the top of his downswing.

The Benefits of A Golf Waggle

Primarily, the golf waggle is a way of refocusing your mind and body on your shot – it’s a reminder of what you’re about to do, and how you want to do it.

Mentally, you’re preparing by focusing on your swing technique before you take the real shot. Physically, you’re warming up the muscles used to swing your club, helping to prevent the dreaded yips. 

The golf waggle is also a great way to eliminate tension in your swing.

Holding too much tension in your swing can stop you from playing your best game. A relaxed golf waggle is a great way to take that tension out of your swing before you take it. 

A good golf waggle will also take some tension out of your hands and wrists.

A common mistake in golf is gripping the club too tightly. A good golf waggle will help to combat this tension. It promotes a looser grip, which helps you to generate power and channel a better clubhead speed. 

A green bucket of golf balls and a dish of tees on the earth.

Using the golf waggle pre-shot routine is also a great way to get into the rhythm of taking a shot. The golf waggle keeps your body in motion before you actually take your shot and can be a great way to keep your tempo before the real shot. 

However, a waggle has to be used correctly to reap the benefits.

In 2002, Sergio Garcia re-gripped and waggled his club over 25 times before taking a shot. Such overthinking defeats the very point of a golf waggle, which is all about relaxing and finding focus.

5 Pre-Shot Techniques To Improve Your Swing

The golf waggle isn’t the only way to make your swings more consistent. Time to look at some other important techniques to accompany the golf waggle in your pre-shot routine.

It’s quite common for these to feel unnatural at first, so we recommend practicing each of our suggestions a few times, and then deciding which is best for you.

Like any new technique, it might take a little time to get used to, but once you’ve settled into the movement, you’ll start to notice the results. 

A female golfer looks into the distance after she's taken her shot.

#1: The step away.

You’ve likely seen this technique on the course before.

For this, all you do is take a step away from the ball after you’ve teed up and take another look down the fairway.

This move allows you to see the course from a different position, hopefully giving you a better awareness of the course. 

There’s also something about encouraging confidence in this move.

A good pre-shot routine is as much about mental focus as it is a physical rehearsal. Unlike the golf waggle, this move takes the pace out of the game briefly, providing a great way to refocus and relax before you swing. 

Tiger Woods uses the step away as part of his pre-shot routine, focusing on the ball before his swing.

A male and female golfer practice their swings on a driving range.

Some golfers like to use their club to line up their shot once they’ve stepped away from the ball. This is a way of finding the path you want the ball to take and locking on to your target. 

#2: Swing thoughts.

Swing thoughts are like a mantra you repeat to yourself before every shot, and are a great addition to your pre-shot routine.

As has been said before, golf is as much a mind game as it is a physical one, and swing thoughts are one way to overcome those mental barriers. 

Swing thoughts are phrases that you repeat to help you focus on the elements you need to improve on in your swing, or maybe just a positive phrase that gets you in the right headspace. 

The best way to start using swing thoughts to improve your game is to really interrogate your swing and pick up on what needs to be improved. A swing thought should be the last thing you think before taking your shot, so make sure it’s a good one!

Related article: Use Golf Swing Thoughts To Shoot Lower Scores Quick

A female golfer smiles just after completing her shot.

#3: Visualize the shot. 

This pre-shot routine might seem simple but it’s more difficult than you think.

When you visualize your shot, do so in as much detail as possible. This will help you really focus on achieving what you imagined.

To best visualize your shot, ask yourself a set of questions as part of your pre-shot routine.

Are you going to hit a fade, a draw, or a straight? Where are you aiming? Are you gripping your golf club correctly? Imagine not just where the ball will land, but also actually swinging your club and hitting the ball. 

If you can properly visualize yourself taking a great shot, you’ll start to unconsciously follow the steps you imagined yourself taking to get there.

Golf is all about the mind-body connection. Visualizing your shot as your pre-shot routine is a great way to really strengthen that bond. 

birdseye view of a putter that has just made impact with the golf ball.

#4: Practice Swings. 

Every shot without a practice swing is a wasted shot.

This is perhaps the most simple pre-shot routine and if you pair it with another, like the golf waggle, one of the most effective.

A practice swing should be a rehearsal, a reminder of what you are about to do, reinforcing the steps and power needed for a great swing. 

Taking the time to make one or two practice swings before a shot will draw your focus to the task at hand.

It also tells you a lot about the shot you’re about to take – maybe the ground was more uneven than you’d first thought and you have to reposition your legs. Or maybe you took a practice swing and realized you needed to take some of the power out of it. 

Just like the golf waggle, taking a practice shot helps your swing tempo by keeping your body in motion.

Golf isn’t a race – it’s okay to take some time before your shot to run through the steps of a good swing. The better the practice, the better the results. 

Female golfer at the top of her swing.

#5: Find your target. 

Many beginners will step up to the tee and just hope that they hit the ball in the direction of the hole. While that’s generally what you’re looking for, focusing on a realistic and precise point of aim before you swing will improve the accuracy of your shots.

Find your target once you’re in position or during your step away. For the majority of shots, it’s most useful to pick a target a few feet in front of the hole.

Once you’ve found your target, be confident about it. Believe in yourself! If you know where you’re aiming, all that’s left to do is to get the ball there.

But of course, don’t just sacrifice technique and form for wild confidence. Few golfers are really trying to get a hole in one with every shot. A defined target near the hole makes your goals more realistic and achievable, making it easier to feel confident about your shot.

And there we have it. 5 pre-shot techniques to complement your waggle.

The most important thing to remember is to find the one that works for you.

Some golfers start their routine when they choose their club, while others begin once they’re standing over the ball. The ultimate goal of having a pre-shot routine is consistency and accuracy – you want to make sure you’re going into every shot in the same frame of mind. 

Male golfer smiles and looks into the distance.

Try some of these out, and let us know how you got on in the coments section! Hopefully one of these techniques can improve your swing – just don’t get carried away with your waggle!

Next up, Reading the greens . . .

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Adam is a writer and lifelong golfer who probably spends more time talking about golf than he does playing it nowadays!

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