Q&A How Do I Keep Them Motivated?

Kim Hannah
of Chicago emailed: “When kids really enjoy shooting (and shooting for their harder JOAD pins), how do you keep them motivated when they are frustrated about not getting better and not getting their next pin?”

Since I am somewhat long of tooth, it took me a while to adjust to the environment today’s youths find themselves in. It started when we put on a clinic for the Air Force and kids asked whether after the clinic they would get to keep the bows. Now, that would never have happened when I was growing up. Today kids get trophies, big ones, for coming in last in their hockey or baseball league, so I realize times have changed.

But I don’t think kids have changed all that much.

My suggestion is to involve them in the process of getting better. The expression of wanting to get better, or get better faster, even in the form of frustration is a teaching moment. But, if they are unwilling to do anything that is not fun, then they are still a recreational archer and you can’t ask them to do boring drills. If they have a real fire in their belly about getting better, and they are willing to do some things that aren’t fun, a whole additional bunch of activities/drills come into play. You need to assess this to know which situation you are in. In either case, you can introduce them to a shot sequence, for example.

Here is one idea: if you have enough coaches to take this archer to the side for a few minutes try having them shoot with their eyes closed. Put a target up close (a big target). Have them draw and settle and then close their eyes. You then count to three and they can shoot anytime after they hear “three.” After several arrows to get the hang of it, if they are shooting off to the right, have them reposition their stance a bit to the left. If they are shooting off to the left, have them reposition their stance a bit to the right. (Fighting your stance is a major source of inconsistency.) Whatever they are doing, what you have just done is remove “aiming” (whatever that means to your student) from their shot. Many students shoot amazingly well with their eyes closed! In any case, you have things to talk about with your young (or not so young) archer, especially the role aiming plays in shooting well (a smallish part, to be sure).

How about it all of you coaches out there—do you have anything to contribute on this topic? Comment on this blog post and I will post your comments.

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