Committing to the Shot

I was watching the last few holes on the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf championship and I saw Tiger Woods do something uncharacteristic … well, several things actually. One of those has to do with archery. In his post round interview Tiger was asked about the poor shot he made on the 16th hole that ended his chances of winning the tournament. The old Tiger would have said something like “I made a mistake and there was no recovering from that.” He never went into detail, as if he were protecting proprietary secrets. This time he expanded on what happened. He said “I failed to commit to the shot.” He said he had at least three ways to play the hole and he described them. He chose one of these but failed to “commit to the shot” which resulted in the ball, instead of curving right as desired, curving left and going out of bounds, in effect a two shot penalty.

So, what does this have to do with archery? Good question!

As archers we face the same dilemma any time there is more than one way to take on a shot, for example we could aim off because of the wind or cant our top limb into the wind. Which should we do? Which ever we choose, we must commit to doing that and only that. If we do not, then we end up like Tiger. He wanted one shot, but he left his subconscious mind juggling three possibilities, with no one of them the clear set of instructions as to what needed to be done. As a consequence, he got a blend of multiple approaches instead of the one he wanted.

Even when we are shooting normally, we need to make a commitment to the shot we want to shoot. This normally takes the form of a pre-shot rehearsal/visualization of the shot we are to shoot (just before we raise the bow). This activity constitutes our subconscious mind’s marching orders.

This “commitment to the shot” is so important that Master Coach Bernie Pellerite recommends that compound archers put that step into their shot sequences, a practice he got from Hall of Fame Coach Len Cardinale.


Filed under For All Coaches

4 responses to “Committing to the Shot

  1. I was just trying to get the concept of ” committing to the shot ” across to two of my young archers. I wasn’t prepared for the conversation that followed, needless to say it turned in to a great discussion around this topic. I started of with a plastic training bow so it was easy for them to get in the right positions, give them time to test what I was saying one watching one doing the motions.
    The conversation went :
    Somewhere between setting your hands and starting to move from SET to SET-UP you should fully commit to the shot process… Look at your hand… Look at your fingers… set your head up .. turn …. Whilst doing this you should visualize the rest of your shot … the instant before you start to raise mentally you should be fully committed to the shot ….
    LK what ? .. that’s new ..
    RH huh… I thought you said if anything feels funny stop and reset …
    Coach .. Would it only go wrong if you hadn’t committed to the shot? If you visualize and commit to the shot then …..
    RH… Ok so I’m supposed to remember my shot sequence, visualize my shot and then remember to commit to it ? (LK nodding )

    I think next session is going to start in a quiet room and a talk about a mental pathway alongside the shot routine, then more… thought a shot shoot one shot thought a shot …
    No doubt both will score three golds.


    • I suggest that the commitment needs to go after the visualization. The visualization is a plan for the shot transmitted to the subconscious mind. The commitment is the command to the subconscious mind to “stick to the plan” and don’t consider other options (do not improvise).

      I think I will blog a bit more on this.

      On Tue, Mar 27, 2018 at 2:21 PM, A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:



  2. Hi Steve
    Maybe the way I put it might have been lost in the communication of it but yes you are right SET – visualize your shot -commit to the shot fully. Since the writing of this both archers have increased their scores and are gaining in confidence.


    • The hard part is getting them to listen and then to honestly attempt the process, which is what you have done. It is the old saying “You can lead a horse to water …” Good work!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.