To do well on the day is the objective of every sportsman and woman…., few have found a way to do this. I have seen athletes produce winning performance on the weekend either side of the Olympic Games against the same competitors as in the games , and come last in the Olympic Competition. Man that must be frustrating. So, how do you produce your best on the day YOU want.
Start by deciding what it you want to achieve…set your goal. Then look at the steps on the way to that goal. Example, to get into the club team, there are likely to be others to beat within the club , and it is only in the club team that you can get to the shoot that you need to be at to win the County Title in your form of archery. Or, to go to the World championships, you must qualify for the national team…then you can become world Champion. Then you must set out the route to achieve these steps , and to avoid things which may distract you from your purpose.
Starting out for an objective…… How much time do you have? If the shoot is next week then there is less you can do than if it is a year or more distant. Now in the deep mid winter there is a good deal of time before the outdoor season , but it is not actually very long. Next look at the things that you need to improve in order to achieve your goal….assess you starting point, how good are you and what are your weaknesses. Now , you can divide up the period before any goal or intermediate step into periods broadly working on the areas you have to improve….in time to leave yourself time to put all this together in good time for the important event. Examples of this will help to show what I mean..
In 1985 Jay Barrs was a 1270 FITA shooter…he decided he wanted to get into the USA Olympic Team and to win the 1988 Olympic Gold Medal. Now 1270 is a good score for many archers but it is off the pace for winning at the top in international archery.He had to be able to shoot 1320-1330, the then top world scores. Jay’s decision ,a typically forthright approach for someone who has the self belief, was not arrogant but had the cockiness it takes to set off in that direction. Someone has to be Olympic Champion, why not me! He left his University a few days ‘before’he should have finished his degree. He got a part time job, cheap living accomodation,a place to shoot in good weather conditions, an old inexpensive car, and set about training. On being asked at a seminar recently if the sacrifice was worth it he pointed out that it was hardly a sacrifice as it was what he wanted to do, and his choice. Now he practised every day and averaged 300 to 600 arrows a day every day for the next three years. He shot against anyone who came to shoot on the practise ground, and imagined it was the last three arrows of the Olympic Games , or the National Championships….and in his minds eye the other archer was…. Daryl Pace or Rick McKinney,or one of the other top archers and champions whom he had to be better than. Now this is the next thing which you may take notice of….He always enviseaged beating these other archers. It is a subtle thing to notice that the mind thinks in pictures and doesnt ‘hear’ the words associated with those pictures. Example, think of a seaside and beach….what do you see in your minds eye?,…..next example… dont think of a blizzard…………so what image is in your mind now?… your mind didnt hear the dont in time to stop you seeing snow and wind…! This is important. You shoot six arrows ,five hit the ten ring and one was a bad loose…it hit the 6. What do you do , you cant get the bad shot out of you mind. You talk to your coach about the 6 , to your friends about the 6 , to your competitors about the 6. You have now shot that bad arrow 4 times in your mind…and rehearsed shooting badly four times. What you should have done is to say to yourself and your coach and your associates ‘I shot 5 tens’. Then you shift the images in your mind to the good shots and rehease the good form and the successful outcome. The chances of you shooting a ten next shot are much higher. The mind doesnt tell if you actually did shoot the shot or not . The mind can be trained very effectively without actually shooting…by rehearsing the shot and the gold in your mind whilst you are doing anything …like when driving to work or at any time you want to bring archery into your mind. So every time you think of archery practise shooting the last three arrows against your toughest opponent in the shoot out for the title you are heading for. Let it become a habit. Additionally, if you can , associate with others who are being positive about their shooting , dont group with people who are dwelling on their problems. Be positive and look at all the good things. Even if you do get beaten, look at the improvement in your shooting and performance…it is the basis to reach further and to succeeed in the end.