Tag Archives: Adapting Standard Form

Anchor Positions (Finger Shooters)

John William's "center anchor."

John William’s “center anchor.”

I was struck by a photo of an archer from the recent past who used a center anchor to some effect, namely John Williams of the USA, the 1972 men’s Olympic gold medalist (see photo at right). Currently, there has been an almost universal adoption of the “side anchor” specifically the variant in which the string touches the corner of the chin, but not farther back (see photo below). This post is about why these changes have been made.

Most beginners think that these things are about string positioning but really they are about head positioning. By having the string touch certain parts of the head, at multiple points if possible, this guarantees that the positions of the head and the all-important aiming eye relative to the bow are made more repeatable. The archer must still try to endeavor to hold his/her bow in the correct orientation and hold their head in the correct orientation besides, but consistency is much improved by monitoring these other “touches” tactilely.

Brady Ellison's "side anchor."

Brady Ellison’s “side anchor.”

Very few people use a center of the chin anchor position any more because it often requires a substantial tilt of the head to line everything up. This we consider to be suboptimal because when we tilt our heads, there are physiological repercussions. When our eyes aren’t level, we lose some of the benefits of binocular vision, for example our depth perception and ability to estimate distance are degraded. For another thing, we actually lose physical strength when we tilt our heads because this is a submissive posture. Recall your posture when your Mom caught you with your hand in the cookie jar (or whatever). Dogs will actually drop their heads to the side exposing their jugular veins to convey helplessness to another dog. This is why people of power want you to bow your head; it puts you into a weak, almost powerless posture and your body and mind accept those positions.

Now look at the two photos; which of the archers has eyes that are level/horizontal?

The idea of the string touching your nose is also a head positioning element. If the nose and string do not touch, what should you do (or ask your student to do)? Certainly you do not want to tilt your head to make this happen for the reasons mentioned above. You also don’t want to move your anchor position back along your jaw. Since your fingers are curled around the string toward you, when the string it loosed, the act of the string pushing your fingers out of its way causes the fingers to push the string back (Newton’s third law). This means that as the string moves forward it also moves toward the archer. High speed video has shown that when the string is held against the face behind the corner of the chin, the string drags along the archer’s face as it leaves, causing ripples in the skin! This drag lowers arrow speed and is a source of variation we do not need.

Positioning the string at anchor at the corner of the archer’s jaw allows the string to leave its position without drag on the archer’s skin and allows the archer’s eyes to remain level.

If there is no nose touch or too much touch and some is desirable, it is possible to create what you want by changing the length of a recurve bow, for example. The Korean women, who have short noses, tend to use longer bows, which provide less acute string angles at anchor. Compound archers who use a nose touch have learned this the hard way as bows being manufactured now are much shorter axle-to-axle than they were in the past, making vastly more acute string angles at anchor, making a nose touch harder to achieve. Be aware, though, that nose touches are less useful to compound archers because they have peep sights, acting as an additional alignment point to the face touches. So, going to great lengths to get a nose touch on a short ATA compound bow is probably not worth doing.

Throughout archery’s history we have learned through trial and error and by emulating the more successful, a process I describe often as: monkey see, monkey do. We are now teasing out why the things that work actually work, which means we are reaching a level of understanding at which we will have more control than ever over what we do to maximize our own and our student’s effectiveness.

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Adapting Standard Form Recommendations

One of the difficulties coaches have to deal with is students who cannot “do it the right way,” that is the way arrows “should be” shot according to the instruction manuals. I recently received a request for help from a coach who has a student who is very large bodied. The student’s physical size and body composition affects everything about his shooting, apparently. There are a number of important points that arose in our email conversation that I want to share.

Recommendations Are Just That
Recommendations regarding how to shoot are just that: recommendations. They are not requirements. Many great archers, in the past and today, did and do not shoot like the standard recommendations suggest. Here is some of what I had to say regarding a stance difficulty.

“Regarding the stance and balance first. The form recommendations that are made are just that … recommendations. Unfortunately there is little in the way of coach instruction as to how to adapt those positions for those with either physical infirmities or just different bodies (morphologies).

“The key thing is for the archer to be balanced. If that requires a wider stance, fine, if that requires a closed or oblique stance, fine. The goal is to be balanced … and the reason for the balance requirement is for us to be able to be still when shooting. Your archer needs to know that so he can monitor his stillness at full draw. If he is swaying back and forth or slowly shifting from one position to another, something needs to change. What that is will have to be determined by experimentation.

“Regarding ‘Due to the large amount of flesh on his frame, he cannot rotate to the straight line position required.’ Body rotation is not ‘required’ but is recommended. The basis of the recommendation is to make a more stable shooting platform; stability leads to better balance and greater stillness at full draw. The objective is a good full draw position from the sternum upwards, so work backward from that. Don’t make him rotate to that position. Have him get to that position (I have archers use a very light drawing bow, e.g. 10#) and then move his lower body until he is most comfortable—without losing the good full-draw-position (aka ‘Archer’s Triangle’ aka ‘The Wedge’). That is the best starting point. After he learns to shoot from a good full-draw-position, he can then explore changes in his stance, with the only changes allowed being those that do not disrupt that full draw position (which means some stances will be possible, others not so). Please note that, in my opinion, the recommendation for an open stance requires a considerable rotation of the body in that the shoulders have to be 10-12 degrees closed at full draw. An open stance is fighting this position by positioning the feet rotated in the opposite direction (thus requiring a torso rotation for the shoulders to get there). Beginning archers do not need us making shooting more difficult. I suggest we consider doing it the easiest way and then adding “refinements (like an open stance) when the archers interest and body of work suggest it might be worthwhile.

“Regarding ‘He has been unable to find a set anchor point due to the fleshy area under his jaw line.’ You might want to consider using a kisser button. It may be that in the future he ‘finds’ a consistent anchor position but there are a great many archers who have a similar problem (often because their jaw lines are closer to vertical than horizontal). A kisser button can allow this archer to develop his form, enjoy the sport, and make considerable progress. If I am not mistaken, one of the current men’s Olympic team champions uses a kisser button. It is not a crutch, just an aid like so many other things.

It Is Best to Work Back from First Principles
When trying to fit what seems to be a square peg into a round hole (an idiom indicating an unwise effort to fit things that do not) it is better to work from first principles. Unfortunately coaching education doesn’t supply this framework and I am not sure that coaches have taken this to heart as professionals.

The “stance issue” is a clear example. Instructions are often stated as “you must do this” or “you must do that” regarding your stance. I have done this myself in my writings. It is done to impress the importance the writer places upon such things … but it conveys the wrong impression.

Let’s look at this working backward from what we want. We want high scores on archery targets. High scores are created by tight arrow groups in the highest scoring location. Arrow groups can be relocated (moved around) by aiming/sighting techniques, so our fundamental job as archers is to shoot tight groups. Tight groups come from being able to repeat one’s shot process accurately, many times. To be able to repeat one’s shot sequence accurately, one needs to be able to relax and focus and be still under the tension of the draw and then be able to execute a clean release. So, what has a stance to do with this?

Picture an archer on a rotating stand. He/she is in perfect full draw position. Off the arrow goes but misses the target three meters to the right? So what do you do? You rotate the archer so they are pointing more to the left. The next arrow just misses the butt to the left and…. You can see that the stance that holds up an archer so they can operate their bow with their upper body also plays a role in directing the arrows. (This is why I ridicule those who admonish archers to “not aim yet,” to only aim at full draw. Aiming begins with taking one’s stance and one would not set up to shoot arrows back into the spectators (those arrows wouldn’t score well) so we set our stance to make our arrows go into the target’s center. We aim our bows with almost every move we make.)

So, a stance has to provide stillness for the upper body and that stems from the archer being balanced. The stance also helps direct the archer’s bow toward the target. Current stance recommendations include stances that do not direct the archer’s arrows toward the target and require the archer to twist themselves to do so. This is clearly not necessary, especially so if the archer you are coaching cannot do the twisting.

If we start from those first principles (stillness, balance, focus, relaxation) and enroll the archer’s help, adjustments to standard form will be easier, I think.

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Exploring Balance

Many students, especially younger ones, do not appreciate how important balance is in making quality archery shots. I see this most often in young archers muscling around compound bows that are too heavy. Combine that with a bit too much draw weight and getting to full draw becomes a dance routine.

To help students with their balance, the first task is to expand their awareness. Archers focussed intently upon their targets aren’t getting the messages sent in by their balance system. Here are a couple of things for them to try:

  • Start by having them shoot with their feet together. If they do anything that makes them lose their balance, it will need to be adjusted. (For some skeptical students you may have to demonstrate you can do it.)
  • Have them take their normal stance and then pick up their “away” foot (also known as the back foot) and touch it down on its tip. Basically you are asking your student to shoot off of one foot (with but slight assistance from the other). Again, if they do anything that makes them lose their balance, it will need to be adjusted.
  • Or have them take their “toward” foot (also known as their front foot) and swing it around to the other side of their away foot and set it down. Then shoot again.

Each of these is a variation of the others (so you will probably need only one of these drills;; the others are for the case that one approach doesn’t work: the archer can’t do it, the result is not achieved, etc.). The idea is to make obvious the things the archer is doing that cause loss of balance. The goal is the make the archer aware of the balance issue.

The issue is important because the draw is a large scale movement of the body and the bow. Following those movements it takes some few seconds to resume a still state. (Shots taken while not still have been classified as “drive by shootings.”) The time required to become still is affected by how well balanced the archer is. Obviously, spending a greater amount of time under the stress of the bow because of a jerky or wobbly draw will lead to fatigue more quickly and scores will suffer.

The obvious solution to many young archers is to draw very slowly. This is not a good solution because a very slow draw lengthens the time the archer is under the stress of the draw, just what we are trying to avoid. The best solution is a smooth, strong draw, one that involves a minimum amount of movement getting to full-draw-position and which results in a sense of stillness in very short order. Being balanced throughout the shot gives your archer the best platform from which to perform this action.

But … if they still doubt that balance is important, have them shoot from tiptoes. That will convince them balance is important. (Be sure they are shooting close up because the arrows often go very far afield which is why this drill is not #1.)

 

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Archery Form … Is Overrated

I just watched a YouTube video of Oh Jin Hyek describing his form (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bee3Q9sPjzQ), which includes poor shoulder alignment and a number of other flaws. Yes, this is the same Oh Jin Hyek who won gold at the 2012 Olympic Games (London). Also winning a gold at that Games was Michele Frangilli, whose form can best be described as idiosyncratic (and devastatingly effective as he has won everything in sight). And it was not that long ago that Viktor Ruban of Ukraine won an individual Olympic gold medal (2008, Beijing) grabbing the bow (no sling) and with his thumb behind his neck at full draw. The compound world is just as idiosyncratic.

So, why are archers and coaches so obsessed with describing and teaching and trying to adopt perfect archery form and execution? Clearly excellent, or even good, form is not needed to win.

I am not going to try to convince you I know the answer to this conundrum, but I do think we need to start discussing this because for all coaches, we need to know what to emphasize (as well as how to emphasize it and when).

How Could We Know?
I often wonder what climate change denying politicians are going to say when they are proven wrong. I imagine it will be something like “I am not a scientist, how could I have known?” (The cynical me would ask “You didn’t question why the energy companies were giving you so much money?) The same question occurs regarding archery form and execution: what should we be emphasizing? What are the roots of winning form and execution?

I suggest a novel approach: we could ask.

Lanny Bassham’s Mental Management System was created because he asked. He asked fellow Olympic medal winners what their mental state was when competing. He took what he learned and went out and won everything in sight, too, including the gold medal that eluded him his first time around.

We could survey Olympic and world championship medal winners and we could examine them. We could rate their form and their execution, describe their strengths and weaknesses (we have video of most of the competitions, no?). We could look at their performances before and after their winning such prestigious medals to see if the winning was part of a longer-term trend or a surprise.

We could ask. We could ask them and ask each other.

What role does confidence play? (Apparently a lot.)

What role does being comfortable on a big stage play? (Apparently a lot.)

What role does picture perfect form and execution play? (Apparently not so much.)

That these questions are not even current in coaching and archery discussions says a lot about where we are. (Hint: we have no idea.)

What Should We Know?
There are so many questions that need to be asked. What role does shooting distance play? This came to mind because the aforementioned Michele Frangilli still owns two world records for indoor rounds: for the 18m 600 round he shot a 597; for the 25m indoor round, he shot a 598. That’s right, move the targets back 40% and the WR goes up! (Was it the 50% increase in target size? Was it the difference between the magnitudes of two changes (distance and target size)? Were these just his very best performances or did he flirt with such scores regularly?)

I would like to know how best to teach archery 8-year olds, and teenagers, and adults and how to distinguish excellent archers from just the very good and … and….

I’d be interested in hearing from coaches out there about things you would like to know. If I get enough responses/questions sent in I will share them far and wide.

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Communication is Hard and Then We Die

QandA logoI got a follow-up from that last post and I got something wrong (amazing isn’t it!). Here is the follow-up question and my response:

“What I’m having trouble with is the rotator cuff of my string arm. In order to ensure full expansion, I pull back until I feel an intense stretch in my rotator cuff. I’m pretty sure this is overdoing it, but to what extent should I expand?”

So, I got the shoulder with the problem wrong. First off you should not feel “an intense stretch in my rotator cuff” … ever! If you do, stop!Stabilizer + V Bars

There is a “slot” through which your elbow can go comfortably while making a shot. If your elbow is too high or two low, there can be a feeling of something “catching” … which is bad. How high or low your slot is depends on you. I have seen archers with quite high and quite low arm positions/slots.

You need to find your slot. With your lighter limbs on your bow try drawing (you don’t have to shoot) with your elbow way too high … then way too low. Focus in on the feeling in your draw/string shoulder. Then try draws at various other spots. Being of a systematic mind, I would go half way between “too high” and “too low” and then look to slots in the top or bottom half of that range depending on which seemed the most promising. So, eyes closed, focus on your shoulder, draw. Try different arm slots to see if you can find the one that works for you. It should be comfortable with no strain and no pain.

This is something I learned “along the way,” I don’t have any biomechanics to back this up. Let me know if you do.

Also, take it easy. You are still nursing an injury which you do not need to aggravate.

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Why I Follow Golf Coaches (Part 2 of ?)

I was watching another video by one of my favorite golf instructors (Don Trajan) recently and he said something quite profound. He was addressing the relationship of foot position to the golf swing and brought up the example of Ben Hogan. If you are not aware of Mr. Hogan, he is a golf demi-god, in the Hall of Fame, etc. But in discussing Mr. Hogan’s golf swing with a biomechanics specialist it was felt that Mr. Hogan was also one of the most supple and flexible golfers ever to have played the game. The estimate was that there are only about a half dozen golfers in this country who have the same degree of flexibility as Mr. Hogan did. Now, Mr. Hogan’s instructional book (Five Lessons: The Fundamentals of the Modern Golf Swing) is an instruction classic with almost a million copies in print. This means that all of the golfers using his book are The Five Lessonsfollowing the advice of someone who has abilities they do not have.

Coach Trajan’s statement was “When you read things and want to do things, do you have the physical attributes to do them?” Brilliant. Obviously this applies to the developmental arc of all archer-athletes who are striving for elite status. They do not have all of the attributes needed to support elite archery technique, so they work on their cardio fitness, they build strength and flexibility, and they refine their form so that they will. But what about the rest of us?

The example I refer to so often is the open stance adopted by so many. Realize that whatever is happening with regard to where your feet are positioned, your upper body has to conform to certain requirements: you have to be a full draw without fighting to keep your bow “on target” for enough time to establish your aim and that you are not moving before you can finish your shot. Whatever you do with your feet, it cannot disrupt your upper body geometry.

SAWModern American Olympic Recurve archery form was developed in the 1970’s and 1980’s by Rick McKinney and Darryl Pace. They won everything in sight and by so doing attracted the most people emulating them. Part of their shots was a quite open stance. McKinney mentioned in his classic book, The Simple Art of Winning, that he felt the open stance helped him to “get into his back” muscles better. Later, people reading his book (including me) took that as “an open stance facilitates use of the appropriate back muscles.” This turns out to exactly demonstrate the statement of Coach Trajan above.

It is my belief that this is an exactly 180 degrees incorrect interpretation. The reason I believe this is that in Olympic Recurve archery, the shoulders have to be rotated to be roughly 10–12 degrees closed. Rotation one’s feet in the open direction opposes the needed shoulder rotation and so cannot help accomplish that. So why did McKinney and Pace do it? My understanding is that they were both very flexible and could get their draw/string elbows considerably past being in line with their arrows. This is a source of variability that is not desired. The open stances restricted their ability to get past good alignment and helped them to become more consistent thereby. So, what help is this for people struggling to get to “good line?” None whatsoever. This is why I so often close up my student’s stances until they can establish good line and then, from there, go on to experiment with other stances.

So, when you read things and want to try things, I recommend you follow Coach Trajan’s advice and consider whether “you have the physical attributes to do them.” If you do not, either you have to commit to creating those attributes or (more often) consider other options. It is probably inimical to good form and execution to assume that just because Coach XYZ recommends this or that, that doing it would be good for you. Everything has to be explored and adopted based upon whether it fits your body and your mind and your goals before such a commitment can be made. A great help in that determination is a good coach. This is one of the main reasons I am working hard to become a good coach.

 

 

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Making Changes: How Do I Know I am Good to Go?

QandA logoDear Coach Ruis,

I’ve mastered a new anchor point where I am now “in line.” However, I still have a slight tilt to my head (and you said tilting my head was a “no-no”). Is it necessary to eliminate this one problem? I’ve seen people with horrendous form at tournaments, but they still end up winning. Additionally, I turned the center of the target to pulp today, as well as outscoring the three compound shooters I was shooting with.
Thanks

***

It all depends on what you mean by a slight tilt. You do not have to do it “right,” meaning exactly as prescribed in the textbooks, but you do have to watch out for is something that you adopt that you can pull off based on you being a good athlete, because that will vary a lot day by day. We want to structure a good shot though body positions that support good shots and that require little athleticism for that reason. This makes our shots more repeatable.

So, is your particular adaption of head position “in” or “out?” To test it you need to shoot for several sessions (or many) to see if you are being consistent compared to how consistent you were before (hopefully you are more consistent). Do your group sizes/scores/whatever change dramatically between “good days” and “bad days?” If so, that is not acceptable. Are the variations day-to-day small and acceptable? If so, you are good to go.

“Are the variations day-to-day small and acceptable? If so, you are good to go.”

And you are right to conclude that “good form” does not equate to “success.” Many archers with poor form win and others with good form lose. Having good form has one major benefit: it takes less effort to learn. Anything you do suboptimally requires you to practice more to make it consistent. Most archers have quirks of form that are suboptimal, but they are generally small and only required a small amount of training to make them regular. At the same time, you will notice, as would an observer ignorant of archery, that all archers look alike. They stand, they nock, they draw, they loose, they follow through, etc. All archers are more or less close to the same form as what is taught/learned is believed to be optimal.

 

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Q&A The Compound Archer’s Trapezoid?

QandA logoI got this rather excellent question (questions, really) from a Level 3 Coach Candidate in Great Britain.

I am presently studying for my AGB County (Level 3) Coach. A preliminary exercise was to study the 2014 Men’s Compound World Cup Final. Both archers aligned their shoulder line parallel to the arrow line (top/rear view). My question is “why?”
Biomechanically the shoulder line and bow arm line is more efficient if they form one straight unit, bone on bone. Yet, in “Even More on Coaching Archery” in chapter 22 “The Lines of Archery,” after describing, with illustrations, the efficient shoulder/bow arm alignment you write “For compound archers, this line is generally parallel to the arrow (or a vertical plane including the arrow).” At the back of my mind I recollect that this is repeated somewhere in Archery Focus magazine with the comment that most high end compound archers adopt this stance and that it might be due to the number of arrows shot in practice with high poundage (compared to recurve) and the reduction of injury.

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So why? Why do “most” compound archers adopt a biomechanically inefficient stance, especially if they are “top end”—is there a benefit?
Is it to avoid injury, and if so what injury is being avoided?
How do we coach stance to new/intermediate archers? Are we advised to coach efficient alignment only to change when/if they progress to higher levels or start with an inefficient stance? Chapter 23 is “How Compound Bows Mislead Beginners!”
Is it just because it is so common that archers (and coaches) have not looked at the stance critically?
I am not critiquing anyone here, just curious about what appears to be an anomaly.

***

To which I responded:

Glad you noticed that compound archers don’t adopt the well-known “archer’s triangle.” This is so common I am now referring to the compound archer’s trapezoid (or parallelogram). Basically the answer to your question is “because they can.” The reason they can is because of let-off.

Almost everything with regard to how we shoot is a trade-off, that is there are pluses and minuses to everything. The archer’s triangle gives recurve archers the bracing needed to hold the bow at full draw for the second or two or three needed to make a good shot. This bracing is needed because the full draw weight of the bow is being held in that position. Compound archers, on the other hand, are holding only a small fraction of their bows “peak weight” in that position. (A Recurve archer with a 50# bow is holding 50# at full draw (or thereabouts); a compound archer with a 60# bow is holding 18# (approx.).) Consequently compound archers can adopt a more comfortable position as less “bracing” is needed.

The plus is that the comfort comes from not having to turn one’s head so far at full draw. With the shoulders being 10-13 degrees closed in the archer’s triangle, the recurve archer’s head must swivel on his neck to close to the edge of its range of motion. This creates a great deal of neck strain and contributes to instability in head position (also headaches according to some elite recurve archers I have spoken to, also mentioned in Kisik Lee’s second book, I believe).

On the minus side, since the bow arm necessarily must be coming into the bow at a steeper angle, pre-loaded handle torque is a problem. Compound archers compensate by using thin or no grip (shooting off of the riser) with nothing sticky where their hand touches the bow.

So, compound archers spend more time at full draw but because they are under less tension from the draw they can afford a more comfortable body position, even though there are trade offs. A key element to success in compound archery is the ability to be relaxed at full draw.

PS The above is the result of my own analysis, I did not read this in a book. I just saw what I saw and then looked widely at the best archers I could see and this is what they were doing. Why they were doing it was from my own personal experience and analysis (I am primarily a compound guy.).

Regarding the rest of your question:

Is it to avoid injury, and if so what injury is being avoided?

Nope, just comfort.

How do we coach stance to new/intermediate archers? Are we advised to coach efficient alignment only to change when/if they progress to higher levels or start with an inefficient stance? Chapter 23 is ‘How Compound Bows Mislead Beginners’!

This is my recommendation. Stance is a minor factor when compared to upper body alignment (as long as it is consistent). My goal with a new serious archer is to get them shooting with good upper body alignment and relaxed hands. Anything else is of lesser importance. These then must be maintained when other body alignments are explored. Commonly I am recommending a closed stance to recurve archers who are struggling to get that good alignment. They tend to adopt an open stance because they are told that is “correct” but the open stance shortens draw length making it harder to get in line. The popularity of the open stance in Olympic Recurve dates back to Pace and McKinney (whose stances were then copied by the Koreans and have since become dogma). Those two were so flexible that they could swing their elbows several inches past line, which was not conducive to consistency, so they opened their stances making it harder to reach line and thus made it easier to feel when they had. Beginners with open stances are almost never in line. I close their stances, they get in line, and later they can play with other stances (although there is nothing wrong with the closed stance).

There are no inefficient stances, maybe ineffective ones. The open stance is being recommended because it requires the archer to twist back against it to create torsion in the trunk making the archer’s “shooting platform” less susceptible to wind etc. This alone tells you that the open stance fights against good alignment.

Is it just because it is so common that archers (and Coaches) have not looked at the stance critically? I am not critiquing anyone here, just curious about what appears to be an anomaly,

It is common that coaches who are experts about Recurve give advice to Compound archers and vice-versa. Sometimes this is based upon, shall we say, less than complete information. But, you’ll have to answer this one yourself. My “two cents worth” is that there is little serious discussion about shooting between and among coaches. I am trying to change this by creating a professional literature for archery coaches. To that end I am soliciting top archery coaches to write books to share their knowledge so that questions like the ones you ask become more common, leading to those more serious discussions.

Feel free to shoot back any further questions you have.

Your friend in archery,
Steve

 

 

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Should I Emulate/Recommend Elite Technique?

Often what we read about how to shoot arrows from bows are descriptions of elite technique. Unfortunately these authors rarely include “this is what you need to do to build this technique.”

Some coaches, on one hand, recommend that you emulate what elite athletes do until you become one. This “fake it until you make it” approach might work but I doubt it. As an absurd example, consider a young high jumper who puts up a bar at seven feet and then tries repeatedly to jump over it. Such an approach is quite unlikely to help anyone. Consider young athletes in any other sport, say baseball or football. Would you recommend that they try to do things like the pros do? Probably not. The reasons are manifold. First, they probably do not understand the game well enough to even comprehend what you were asking them to do. Second, it is unlikely that they have developed the requisite muscle strength to do those things. And, third, it is unlikely that they will have developed enough skill and coordination to do those things. (There’s more.) So, what do youth coaches in those sports recommend? They emphasize “the fundamentals.” In other words, you teach the basics to build a foundation upon which those more refined skills might take root, later. At the same time they teach and encourage conditioning and strength development.

This, I believe, is true for youths and also for adult beginners, who might have more fully developed musculatures in general, but probably not their “archery muscles” so much.

It is my position that there are some things elite archers do that you and your athletes should not do. I urge my students to adopt good basic form to learn how to execute good shots with good alignment. I teach relaxation. I teach the shot cycle. I teach the mental game. I teach equipment maintenance and tuning. There is much to learn before the elements of elite technique come into play.

If you need another analogy consider a beginning archer: if you were to offer him or her a full professional-level bow and arrow setup, would it improve or hurt their development? Would their scores skyrocket or would they struggle to use “touchy” or heavy draw weight elite equipment?

If, and when, my students decide they want to become very, very good, then I will recommend some of the things the elites do, realizing that many of those are built upon a well-built basic form and upon excellent physical conditioning.

I call upon authors of works describing shooting techniques to (a) clearly identify to whom they address their comments and (b) build foundations to learn those techniques including all necessary preliminary stages and bridges between them. This has not been the case so far, but I think it would advance our sport a great deal, especially if a consensus can be achieved among coaches regarding these things.

 

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Even More on Coaching Archery is Out!

I just checked and my latest book, Even More on Coaching Archery, is now available on Amazon.com. If you enjoyed, or better benefited from, Coaching Archery or More on Coaching Archery, this is more of the same. Let me know what you think (steve@archeryfocus.com). If you like the book, or any of the others really, I would appreciate you posting a review on Amazon.com. Many people say the reviews really help them decide whether or not to buy a book.

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Table of Contents

On Form and Execution
Using a Release Aid (The Right Way)
Teaching Aiming and Sighting
The Whole and Its Parts
The Pre-Draw
The Pre-Draw Redux
BEST Step by Step #1 Overview
BEST Step by Step #2 The Stance
BEST Step by Step #3 Hooking and Gripping
BEST Step by Step #4 Mindset and Set-up
BEST Step by Step #5 Drawing and Anchoring
BEST Step by Step #6 Loading-Transfer to Holding
BEST Step by Step #7 Aiming and Expansion
BEST Step by Step #8 Release and Followthrough
BEST Step by Step #9 Relaxation and Feedback

The Mental Shot
Shooting in the Now
Mea Culpa
Coaching Four Personality Types

On Coaching
Adapting Standard Form
Shot Planning
A Weighty Matter Put in Balance
The Lines of Archery
Following Up on Following Through
Taking Advice
Finding Coaching Wisdom
The Elements of Winning Archery
Drilling for Archery
The Whole and its Parts
Watch Your Language
Practice Prescription, Pt 1
Practice Prescription, Pt 2
How Relaxed is “Relaxed”?
What’s Your Preshot Routine?
How Compound Bows Mislead Beginners
Do As We Do? Do As They Do?
Coaching Precepts
Serious Questions About Teaching Form
Inexpensive Video for Archery Coaches

On Equipment
Teaching Archery Crafts
The French Method of Tuning

General Commentary
 Do As We Do? Do As They Do?
Just How Important is Safety?
Competitive Age Categories in Archery
Golf Envy
Golf Envy, Part Deux
The New AER Archery Curriculum

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