Q&A What to Do About Students Who Don’t Practice?


It might be easy to just dismiss this question with “Well, I am not their parent.” but let’s look at this a little closer.

Realize we have a definitional approach to practice: we say that archers who won’t do anything unless it is fun are “recreational archers.” This is just not a disparaging term, this is simply who they are. If you have a recreational archer and they are paying for private lessons, you have to ask why. Private lessons like this are not worth my time as they exist just so this person can shoot, interact with a coach, claim they are getting private coaching, etc. Whatever their reason, it is not because they want to get better at archery which is where I choose to spend my time.

Practicing is how one gets better at archery.

We distinguish recreational archers from what we call “competitive archers” in that competitive archers are willing to do things that aren’t fun, in order to get better, that is become more competitive.

If you have a professed and confirmed competitive archer who does not want to practice, it is time for a talk. For competitive archers, practice is fun … no matter how boring. They just can’t get enough. So if one of them doesn’t want to practice, there is definitely something wrong.

“We distinguish recreational archers from what we call “competitive archers”
in that competitive archers are willing to do things that aren’t fun,
in order to get better, that is become more competitive.

I am not trained as a counselor or psychologist, but I am a concerned human being who can give some feedback, so sit down with your guy/gal and ask “What’s going on?” Be prepared to listen and realize that, if you are male, you will have an urge to help your student “fix” their problem. All kinds of suggestions will bubble up for you. Be a good coach and shut up. What your student needs first is to be heard. One way of making sure that you do is called “echoing.” When they run out of conversational steam, try to summarize what you heard. “Are you telling me…? or “Is this what you are saying…?” work as starters; just acknowledge what you heard and wait for them to say what they have to say … in full. Sometimes that’s all that is needed.

If your student is young and the problem is not with their parents, be sure to ask them “Have you talked to your mom or dad about this?” (His/her parents will expect this as a minimum.) And you probably do not want to get in the midst of a family matter so I do not recommend you try to mediate, but if there is something seriously wrong, or you suspect a crime has been committed, you have an obligation to report to the parents and possibly the authorities.

Hopefully they are just going through a phase or just needed someone to listen to them.

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Filed under For AER Coaches, Q & A

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