A Structure for the Mental Game of Archery

As I have mentioned (ad nauseum?), I am working on a major book on the mental game of archery. This is a long term project as I have too many other things on my plate to devote all of my time to this one project. Still, I find myself thinking about the topic often, whether I want to or not. One of my struggles has been to come up with a framework for the mental game of archery that coaches and archers can understand, relate to, and use productively. Below I have outlined such a structure as best I can for now. This is not a plan to learn how to use the mental game, but is a map to all of the places the mental game shows up. A “plan to learn how to use the mental game” is actually on the map (When Not Shooting: Planning to Learn: Education) and that will be covered extensively.

Basically I want this to help organize this very broad topic into bites that can be swallowed without being overwhelming. (I am often overwhelmed by the topic and I think it is fascinating. I have students who look at the topic, shudder, and go back to looking at how to buy a better score.)

If you have any feedback at this stage, I will be most grateful if you share your thoughts. Are there aspects of the mental game I have missed? Are there things included that shouldn’t be?

While Shooting

Pre-Round Routine
Preparing for success. Setting up equipment in a routine to avoid errors. I have a routine I recommend all of my students use to begin shooting that later becomes a mechanism to get back into normal shooting rhythm as part of a Recovery Routine. Also, the pre-round routine needs to be tailored to your archer’s personality. For example, I dislike being rushed so my routine is to show up early, help set up the range if needed (I feel a need to “help.”), get comfortable at the venue.

Shooting Process (Woven Into Shot Sequence)
Controlling one’s attention, confining it to “the now”
Focusing on the external, not internal, aspects of the shot
Pre-shot visualization/rehearsal

Between Shots Planning
Comparison of perception of shot with outcome of shot, followed by adjustments to shot routine. (Example: Good shot but arrow hit left of center due to wind—adjustment: aim off to allow for wind drift.)

Recovery Routines
A shot outcome is very much poorer than expected: is there an equipment problem, or a shift in environmentals (wind, etc.), or a failure to execute properly? Analysis, adjustment, recovery of shot routine and rhythm.

Post-Competition Review
Assessment of performance against goals and expectations. Plan elements are identified for the future.

When Not Shooting

Planning to Learn
Performance Assessments (Group Sizes, Practice Round Scores, Competition Round Scores, etc.)
Practice Planning
Education (coaching, seminars, books, articles, interactions with other archers)

Planning to Compete
Goals (Ladders to Success)
Education (competition rules and practices, nutrition, equipment, etc.)

All of these things fall under the adage “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”


Filed under For All Coaches

8 responses to “A Structure for the Mental Game of Archery

  1. morehice

    Looking forward to this book!

    Thanks for what you do for the rest of us-




    • It may be a long wait. I am writing some chapters now and they will appear in Archery Focus as articles as I work through some of them (not all).

      Are you writing?

      On Tue, May 29, 2018 at 5:55 AM, A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:



  2. Us coaches need a book on this for archery. I have ” borrowed ” a lot of stuff from a British Table Tennis player, Mathew Sayed. I find his way speaking is great to get across some of his ideas.
    Cheers Steve
    ps Not too long on book please !!!


    • I have read “Bounce” … do you recommend any of his other books (as applying to archery, of course)?

      On Tue, May 29, 2018 at 5:50 PM, A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:



  3. Hi Steve
    I would recommend his book “The Greatest ” Though I’ve only just started reading it.
    Regarding the pre-round routine I always start my new archers off with that keep your kit tidy, set up in the same way, claim your area, assemble your bow stand, unpack riser and limbs … I now have a step by step guide laminated and each archer gets a copy before they get their bows from the rack. I give them a minute or so to read through it .. Normally the first few sentences…. After the second or third session they are just getting on with the process. I think this is the second part they need to know but learn first.
    The first part is planning to get to the venue on time with everything they need!!!


  4. The way I set my bow up and pack it away is almost a religious ceremony ..Or as one archer asked “Nick do you have OCD ? “


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