MENTAL STUFF

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Keeping a shooting journal...

A shooting journal can be an important tool to tracking your physical achievements but also your mental training achievements.

Your shooting journal is a book that is totally personal to you.  It should be filled out after every time you shoot, practice, mentally train or workout specifically for archery.  As you become used to writing down your thoughts, feelings and progression you will find that the journal becomes a very useful tool.  But as with all tools they need to be used on a regular basis for you to get the value out of it.

Here are a few items that we recommend you put down in your book, but they are just suggestions if you have other ideas, or thoughts that do not fit within these suggestions tailor your journal to work for you.

Goals for the front of your journal

Long Term Dream Goal - what is your long-term dream goal? What is potentially possible in the long term if you stretch all your limits?  This can be something way in the future.

 

Dream  Goal (this year) - What is your dream goal for this year? What is potentially possible if all your limits are stretched this year?

 

Realistic Goal for this year - What do you feel is a realistic performance goal that you can achieve this year (based on your present level, your potential for improvement, and your current motivation)?

Mental Game Goal for this year - What do you think is an important mental control skill that could be improved upon that will help your performance?   Some examples would be 

  • Mental readiness for competitions

  • short term focus during shooting

  • distraction control

  • confidence

  • coping with hassles/ setbacks or bad shots

Daily Shooting Entries

Date:

Location:

Event:  Practice or Competition

Time Spent:

Journal entry (what did you do?)

Solution Analysis:  I learned that …

Success Analysis:  What I did well was ….

Goal Statement or refinement:

Pre & Post-Competition Shooting Entries

Date:

Location:

Event:  

Goal for event - this should be done before the event starts

Duration of event:

Results of event - this isn't just your placement in the shoot!  How did each card go? What were your scores? How did your best rounds go? How did your worst rounds go?  When assessing your best and worst rounds important questions to ask yourself (and write down for future review) are:

  • What were you saying to yourself or thinking about before the event,

  • What were you saying to yourself during your good and bad rounds

  • How was your focus during the event? What were your focused on?

  • If you had bad rounds - how did you get back "on track"

  • If you had good rounds - how did you keep "on track"

Solution Analysis:  I learned that …

Success Analysis:  What I did well was ….

What goal would you like to set for the next similar event?

Now that you have a shooting journal going and you have made some entries you can use your past reflections to help you with current events.  When you have a hard time with something in your shooting or practice, go back to your entries and find "tools" that you used before to help you get through your current challenge.

A shooting journal is allowed to be a fluid and changing thing.  Draw pictures, write happy thoughts, include photos and write down any thoughts that come to you.  What ever helps you keep you focused and the in the mindset you want to be during the harder days.

 
Inner voice picture.jpg

Your Inner       Voice

Keeping on your mental game during practice and competitions requires you to keep your inner voice positive and motivating.

When practicing and competing pay attention to what your inner voice says and how it affects you.  Then take the negative talk and results and work to make it positive.

Know when your thinking is going off track and what triggers it?

If your thoughts do go off track telling yourself to ignore them won't make them go away.  Instead, try to find positive thoughts to replace them with.   For example Instead of thinking "I can't buy a 10 for a million dollars" try thinking "I have shot 10's before and I can do it again" or "keep my release hand loose and I will get those 10's".

It is important to practice this type of positive replacement talk in practice so when things go off the rails during a competition you already know how to replace them during the tough times when the stakes feel higher.

Try Mindfulness and Meditation

The idea of mindfulness is a kind of energy that we generate when we bring our mind back to our body and pay attention to what is going on around us in that present moment.  Breathing is away to bring your attention back to the present moment.  When your mind is busy worrying about the last shot or the next shot or the end goal it can make your body do things you don't ask it to do.  Mindfulness will allow you to focus on your breathing and your shot and let your muscle memory take over.

Like any other skill it must be practiced.  I like Thich Nhat Hanh's (a buddist monk) interpretation of mindfulness and meditation.  If you are new to the ideas of mindfulness, breathing and meditation give the website Plum Villiage a look, or if you have a tablet or phone look for the app which makes a great companion to your daily life and is a great tool for helping you practice. When you practice during the easy times, using it during times of high stress (like a tournament) will be second nature and more helpful to you.  I have found it helps my archery and my daily life!

Here is a great video on the basics of mindful breathing taught by Thich Nhat Hanh. The other video is a guided meditation to look at your thinking.  I find this very helpful when my brain trys to take me hostage which I am shooting.

I like to use the deep relaxation guided meditations to help me fall asleep before a tournament.  I will also use them if I wake up in the middle of the night and need to settle back to sleep.