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?
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
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.)
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.
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.)
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.”