Many archers on the compound side view the mental game of archery to be ridiculous hoodoo. They are wrong, but you gotta love them anyway.
Part of this distrust is due to misunderstanding a few things. Take, for example, positive self-talk. Self-talk is “what you say to yourself about yourself,” and positive is, well, positive. Many people think this involves mumbling to yourself phrases such as “I am a great archer.”
This is not positive self-talk. This is bullstuff. And we all have built-in a bullstuff detectors, that are especially effective when we are bullstuffing ourselves. This is because if we consciously say (to our self) something like “I am a great archer!” our subconscious mind will rapidly compile all of the evidence to the contrary and present it to us. Oops. (You can’t bullstuff a bullstuffer is the adage, I believe.)
A much better example of positive self-talk is “I am becoming better all of the time.” This phrase supports your efforts to get better. This phrase focuses on whatever markers you are using to gauge your progress (practice scores, group sizes, competition scores, etc.). Of course, if you are not getting better, this is bullstuff. Getting better and better and better is, of course, the path to getting good or even great.
You just can’t make false claims about yourself to yourself. (Believing such makes you a member of the category we refer to as “deluded.”) This is why “I can win.” is a believable statement . . . if you have proved to yourself and others that you can . . . by winning something. If you haven’t it is bullstuff. This is why as a competitive archer, we need to win to learn how to win. This is why we start our charges at small tournaments and don’t go to the national championships as a first tournament. They have to convince themselves that they can win, by winning, then the positive self-talk of “I can win this!” is just stating the obvious.