My 2 Cents Worth on “Shuffling My Feet”

two-centsThanks to all who commented on this matter. Here are my thoughts on this.

* * *

The purpose of shuffling one’s feet while engaged in a tournament was to lessen the tension that was building up when the author was trying to score well during a tournament. This is unfortunately typical of the routes that archery “conventional wisdom” gets passed along. A suggestion from a stranger is first rejected, then later attempted with some positive results and a new practice is adopted, then that story is passed along in an “it worked for me, maybe it will work for you” fashion.

To figure out whether this practice is “good advice” one needs to consider what the alternatives are. What else can be done to lessen the pressure we put upon ourselves to score well when that pressure becomes debilitating?

First, I think that some of that pressure is desirable. It leads to increased focus and intensity. What we do not want is for the pressure to score well to build up until it inhibits good execution. So, what are some alternatives to shuffling one’s feet?
• One could wiggle one’s legs (without moving one’s feet)
• One could develop a mental program that channeled the pressure better
• One could use breathing exercises
• One could shake the tension out through one’s hands
• One could adopt a key like rattling the arrows in one’s quiver to trigger a relaxation
• One could use a tension reducing sequence like curling one’s toes and relaxing them followed by tensing various other muscles and then relaxing them.
There seem to be a great many alternatives. (I could think of more, but …)

What, then, are the pluses and minuses to moving one’s feet. For one, it does break the routine that was allowing the pressure to increase to unacceptable levels. That’s a plus. For a minus, if one’s feet are perfectly placed, moving them means that they are less likely to be perfectly placed for the next shot. (The author himself emphasized the importance of a proper stance). This introduces another measure of variation into the shot and makes one less consistent. Maybe the cost of this tension reducer is higher than some of the alternatives. (I think so.)

Once the pressure problem has been identified, the best way to deal with it is to not just settle for the first thing that works better than doing nothing. Rather than comparing the results against doing nothing, one needs to identify a number of things one could do and pick a couple to experiment with. Pick one of those that seems to fit one’s personality and start there.

The evaluation needs to include both the positive and negative aspects of each option. I think moving one’s feet is a big negative and would not recommend that unless nothing else worked.

















Filed under For All Coaches

4 responses to “My 2 Cents Worth on “Shuffling My Feet”

  1. Interesting and though Field archery is different to target in the number of shots taken form the same location it is something I recommend to my students to consider.
    Normally in NFAS Field courses you shoot your first arrow from your starting peg (red for adults) if you hit, great, otherwise you move to the next peg (white for an adult) and shoot your second arrow. If you miss with your second, you move to the third peg (blue for adults). If you miss with your third arrow, from this peg that’s it you blank the target and move on. Effectively you only get 3 chances to hit.
    Each peg is normally closer to the target than the preceding one and your potential score reduces from 24 / 14/ 8 for inner or 16/10/4 for outer the more arrows you shoot and closer you get.
    The act of moving, can break the tension but not always caused by the bad shoot, but not always. However on shorter distance targets it’s not uncommon for 1,2 or all pegs to be next to one another. This means archers don’t move and can result in repetition of a mistake, as they don’t always reset themselves so to speak. Following an initial miss they rush to take their second only to repeat the mistake. My advice is to step back from the peg, then up to it again and start your shoot order or routine again, learning from your mistake. If they don’t want to step away then do something like what you suggest such as shaking hands, deep breath etc
    Thanks for post and sorry this turned into such a lengthy reply.


    • Field archery has it’s own sets of problems, having adequate footing in the first place being a primary one. I knew of a woman who carried a substantial rock in her quiver to stand one foot upon so she could “level” her stance, for example.

      Dealing with tension build-up is something worthy of more attention than just taking the first suggestion proffered and settling for it. Since people do get things wrong, I urge all archers (and coaches) to think through everything first and that includes considering what one might do differently, that is what other things might be done.

      On Wed, Jan 7, 2015 at 7:56 AM, A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:



  2. Michael Bannester

    I definitely have no interest in moving my feet once I’ve got them set. Fewer variables the better. If the pressure is getting to me I’ll let down and reset myself by shaking it out a little. But my feet are staying in place.


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