We all have them. Little voices in our head that seem to be voiced by someone else, often sounding quite critical of something we just did. We even have a meme, exemplified by an image of two “devils/demons/angels” sitting on our shoulders, one mouthing good things, the other bad things.
This “voice” for archers is a problem. As I have said often enough—never say bad things about yourself, that is what friends and family are for. But, whenever we shoot a poorly scoring shot, we have thoughts along the lines of “Argh, what an idiot!” and “Here we go again!” Why do we listen to these voices, which clearly aren’t being helpful?
I am going to argue that often enough it is because we can’t get good feedback about important things from anyone near us. How many people know you well enough that you could say “He/she seems to know me better than I know myself?” If you are lucky enough to have one of those people in your life right now, how much credit do you place on their opinions of you? Do you take them seriously? I would.
When it comes to your archery, is there a coach or mentor whose opinion you have such great trust in? If not (and “not” is the norm, I believe) what other options do you have but to coach yourself and that includes listening to the little voices in your head.
Back when I was teaching I often said “you can’t buy good feedback.” I meant by that is you can’t pay someone to give you that. In order to get good personal feedback, you must have a fairly deep relationship with that person. You have to know them, know them well and they have to know you, know you well. Trusting a coach, say, because they have a great reputation or an archer because of a championship pedigree really just gets their foot in the door. It takes time together, time on task, for such a relationship to form. This is why many great archers forgo their coaches and shoot with a training/shooting partner for a while. Each member of this duo provides feedback to the other (when asked, only when asked!). And, those “partners” didn’t just meet each other, they have a relationship already.
So, if you still have those little voices chiming in, you will have to have the discipline to analyze them and discard those which are unhelpful. Is that “Here we go again!” just a statement of fear or frustration regarding a poor shot. (Often this is how we protect our egos, by softening the blow of a poor overall performance by predicting it!)
Are the voices in your head stand-ins for critical parents/“friends” who aren’t there to berate you in person? Take some time to understand where those little voices come from. Over time, they will diminish in frequency and energy, or you may just train them to be actually helpful.
The lesson for coaches? Always, always, always treat your students as if they will become very serious students (don’t treat them like they already are, however). If they do become serious students and they do want consistent, frequent coaching they may just choose you for that because you know them so well. And, all of the time you sent together previously will have helped to create the relationship that will be crucial to the success of the team.
An Aside If you do not get chosen (and this is hard for me), be happy that they found someone better than you to coach them.