Tag Archives: Mental Management Systems

If You Are Not Already, You Should Be

By the title I mean “signed up to receive the Mental Management newsletter. Just go to their blog (http://mentalmanagement.com) and there is a link to sign up for their newsletter at the bottom of the page. It’s free. This site is run by the Bassham family, to which I have referred to often as a source of the best information on the mental game.

Here’s a taste of what the newsletter has to offer.

“What is the Secret to Winning?”

One of the most popular questions I get is: “What is the Secret to Winning?” The answer is simple, “Don’t try to win!” Doesn’t that sound simple? It might sound simple but it isn’t easy to do. How do you not try? When you’re competitive and you want to prove how good you are, it’s hard not to give it all you have.

In the United States we have a society that believes that if you want something you have to make it happen. Again, that sounds logical but it doesn’t work. The harder you try the worse you do. When we perform well, it is easy and effortless. In practice this happens all the time. This is because in practice we don’t experience the same pressure we do in competition. So what is the secret to Letting it happen and not Making it happen? Is it to care less? Try less? Relax? I wish is were that easy.

The best way to improve your odds to win is to have the following: first, you must have a Self-Image that it’s like you to win. Simply put, if you don’t believe you can win, you can’t! The top 5% have the Self-Image that “it’s like me to win.” Confidence is a requirement if you want to win on a regular basis. Without confidence you leave doubt to creep in and take away your chances of winning.

Second, you have to have a strong mental system. You can’t expect to have technical consistency if your mentally inconsistent. The body follows the mind. Have a strong mental process and you improve the chances that the body will comply. This is one reason why our system is so successful.

Finally, you have to trust in your ability. Without trust you will never win on a regular basis. Lack of trust equals to lack of belief. The most common athlete we work with is one who has the skill but lacks the Self-Image or the consistent thought process that promotes good performance. The way to build trust is two fold, first have the skill set strong enough to win and secondly have a defined thought process that promotes consistency. If you lack either one, it will be hard for you to win. Remember this: “If you can define it, you can duplicate it, if you can duplicate it you can master it, if you master it you can trust it, and with trust comes consistency.

The best in the world are consistent!

by Brian Bassham



Filed under For All Coaches

Avoiding The Judgment Trap

Archery is full of judgment traps. We are asked to judge shots as good or bad. We are told we are doing some form element right or wrong. We ask “What is the right way to do xyz?” And judgments have things associated with them: emotions and self-knowledge. Once you start down the judgment road, it is hard to turn back and the negative consequences can get locked in.

For example, one of the tenants of Lanny Bassham’s Mental Management System is that “self-image determines performance.” (He’s not the only one who says this, but he’s the only one recommending this to archers.) If you judge yourself negatively and often, how does that affect how you see yourself? If you repeatedly call yourself an idiot, lazy, unworthy, etc. that is going to lower your self-image and actually affect your archery … negatively. Some people try to offset this by using “happy talk” about themselves, but like the negative comments, whether you believe these things at the moment determines their affect. If you try to BS yourself to better scores (You are a great archer. You can beat them all. Yada, yada, yada.) you will quickly find out that doing that doesn’t work. The reason is you have no evidence for those claims, so you know they are BS.

What and Why
Believe it or not, some progress can be made from the use of two words: what and why. When you shoot a bad shot, if you start an analysis with the word “Why …” as in ‘Why did I just dump that arrow into the six-ring?” or even “Why was that shot low?” you end up pointing at the only source of why answers, which is “you.” There are no teammates to blame, so a bad shot is due to something you did wrong, or an equipment problem you didn’t notice in time, or … you you. By asking question that start with “what” instead, there is less emotional loading and judgment tempting involved. “What happened on that shot?” or “What is wrong with my bow?” are both questions that are lower on the judgment inducing scale. “What” zeros in on the thing needed to be corrected, not the person responsible for the error.

Why turns the inquiry onto you and we all suffer from a number of biases, one of which is called the recency bias. Whatever our most recent form flaw is consider the primary source of all of our ills. So, we tend to head off in the same direction no matter the issue. A “what?” question can help us avoid such traps.

One researcher, Tasha Eurich, author of “Insight: Why We’re Not as Self-Aware as We Think and How Seeing Ourselves Clearly Helps Us Succeed at Work and in Life,” pointed this out: “In the course of my research on insight, my team and I compiled a group of 50 … who were rated high in self-awareness (both by themselves and by others) but who had started out with only low to moderate self-awareness. When we looked at their speech patterns, our participants reported asking what often and why rarely. In fact, when we analyzed the transcripts of our interviews, the word why appeared less than 150 times, but the word what appeared more than 1,000 times.”

Becoming More Self-Aware Through Self-Reflection
Some have suggested that archers would benefit from psychological self-reflection exercises, to know more about ourselves. Knowledge is power after all, no? I still think of psychology to be in its infancy and so I tend to view such recommendations with a healthy dose of skepticism. For example, a number of researchers have found that the act of thinking about ourselves isn’t necessarily correlated with knowing ourselves. And it is self-knowledge, often referred to as insight, which seems to be the thing that helps archers mentally. In a few cases, they’ve even found that the more time their study participants spent in introspection, the less self-knowledge they had. In other words, we can spend endless amounts of time in self-reflection but emerge with no more self-insight than when we started.

Meditation, on the other hand, results in a greater state of calmness, which does support quality shooting. I recommend it to any and all so disposed as an aid to their archery.

If one is inclined to judge oneself negatively, we immediately are drawn to our limitations (I always …), to negative emotions (I am such a screw-up!), and we get directed to our past instead of staying in the present while shooting (Uh, oh, here I go again!). Asking What? instead of Why? can be used to help us better understand and manage our emotions (an emotional even keel is necessary for consistent accuracy). Evidence shows the simple act of translating our emotions into language — versus simply experiencing them — can stop our brains from activating our fight-or-flight command center. This, in turn, seems to help us stay in control.



Leave a comment

Filed under For All Coaches

And It’s Free!

If you haven’t yet noticed, Mental Management Systems (the Basshams), have established a YouTube Channel:


I recommend it to you. Lanny Bassham just posted a short video on “trying too hard” that is very much worth viewing.



Filed under For All Coaches