What Do You Think?

On a golf teacher blog I found the following regarding practice:

The cycle that I recommend that you go through while practicing is called Learn, Trust and Test. During the Learn phase, we are learning how to improve our technical skills. During the Trust phase of practice, we are developing trust in those skills, and then in the Test phase, we are going to Test the skills with pressurized or “performance” practice. You’re far better off testing your game in practice, than you are on the course!

As a golf teacher, the author was talking about developing a new or different shot and this pattern is to create a larger set of available shots while playing. Archery is different in that we “play” almost the exact same shot each time and don’t need a vast array of versions of our shot.

I have advocated for some time now that the overarching approach of archery development has a similar structure. Here that is:

Stage One—Create a Shot
In this phase one works diligently to create a consistent technique and a consistent shot. The goal is being able to shoot small groups consistently. High volume shooting is to be avoided. High intensity learning is the focus, aka deliberate practice. (This is not the process of learning an off-the-shelf shot, it is the creation of a personal shot, unique to you.)

Stage Two—Learn Your Shot to the Bone
Here is where high volume shooting comes. This is a process of memorization and, unfortunately, too many of us end up memorizing a poor shot, which makes for a great deal of work later on (fix the shot’s weakness, memorize that shot, then fix that shot’s weaknesses, and . . .). This results in more than one shot being in long term memory (which explains why “old habits” pop up in moments of high stress, they are still available to be turned to when what we are doing now isn’t working).

Stage Three—Develop Archery Skills
Through practice rounds and competitions we determine benchmarks of our development. These benchmarks are to prove to ourselves that we can “score well” in practice (and then in competition) so we can believe that we can do that in competition. Here we also develop skills that improve our scoring abilities (compensating for wind and weather, developing a tune, dealing with disappointments, finding our personal scoring weakness (lacks of strength, stamina, concentration, focus, etc.) and rectifying those.

Stage Four—Getting to Higher Levels
This is for advanced archers only and involves analysis of form, execution, scoring patterns, mental habits/patterns, and more, plus exploring competitions with higher levels of personal value.

Throughout each of these becoming “one with one’s equipment” is an ongoing skill development process. Even if one doesn’t repair/modify/optimize one’s own equipment, one needs to be able to adjust and work through malfunctions during scoring rounds.

What do you think?

PS Where do you think the help of a coach is most valuable? (I think it is in stages 1 & 4.)

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