Mental Preparation- tournaments.
By Kristin Huber
When it comes to competition there are two types of athletes: those who are scared, who let the pressure overwhelm them, or give up entirely and those who use the competition and nerves to their advantage. The first are the competitors are the archers who do not preform at their best. The other group are those competitors who use the pressure to drive them to do what they’ve been trained–these are the ones who succeed. These are the archers who are the next generation of title-claiming athletes. Being mentally prepared for competition gives an archer a better chance of falling into the second group of archers, the prepared and confident archer.
I coach new archers in my local J.O.A.D. and I compete as a member o the Compound Junior Dream Team. When I see young archers starting out, more often than not they aspire to be the next Katniss Everdeen or next Michael Phelps of archery. They start the sport with the drive and dedication to earn a spot on the podium. Each one of them has this opportunity! However when presented with the threat of difficult practices, pressure put on by family members, new equipment, and the costs of equipment and travel, some archers start to deteriorate mentally. All the pushups in the world cannot makeup for poor mental preparation. As a coach, archer, and all around athlete myself, I understand the hardships presented by multiple sports, but I realize there are more prominent difficulties within the sport of archery than the pressure once you are mentally prepared.
FITA, NFAA, NSAP, and USA Archery all host some very intriguing yet terrifyingly large tournaments. The most important thing for any young archer – or any archer at any age – to remember and execute is staying strong mentally despite any type of shooting environment they are thrown into. If you go anywhere online, you can find books to help with this dilemma, but I find one theory to prove successful in every situation. This theory is based on what I have been taught from my coaches in gymnastics, swim, and archery over the years.
Here’s my take on what that cumulative theory is:
- Have trust in what you have been taught. The U.S. and many other nations are full of spectacularly trained and knowledgeable coaches, so if you have any questions or training tips you’d like, ask! The time to learn as much as you can is before the tournament so that when you get to the line all you have to focus on is calming your nerves and having a great time.
- Drinking water and proper eating are the best things you can do for yourself at a tournament. If you can have confidence that your body is physically in the top shape, you won’t be nearly as concerned about being nervous.
- Only focus on one aspect of your form at a time! When you’re at a tournament it is important to not fill your thoughts with too many worries. For example, if you know you need to work on your bow arm you should ONLY focus on your bow arm and let the rest of your form come naturally like you’ve practiced.
- Have confidence! Although it may seem impossible at times, knowing that you are knowledgeable and fully capable of shooting your best at a tournament can only benefit you.
- “Believe in the X.” You wouldn’t be at the tournament if you weren’t capable of putting an arrow on the X at this distance in this format.
Do it on this shot and the next.