By Mark V. Lonsdale
Visualization and mental rehearsal are important components of success in most athletic endeavors. In other words, visualization is a process of consciously programming your subconscious mind to perform the way you want. For archery, this includes visualizing yourself shooting the perfect shot process from nocking to release and follow-through. You are visualizing your arrow hitting the 10 ring.
An important part of this mental game is positive reinforcement. For example, you don’t want to be saying to yourself, “don’t pluck the string” – instead say “clean release.” Don’t say, “don’t throw another 6” – instead say, “shoot for the 10”
By dwelling on not throwing a 6 in the blue, your mind is focused on the blue when you need to be focused on the yellow 10. What your conscious mind thinks about your subconscious mind will make you do. This is why you will often see a competitor throw a bad arrow, and then throw another bad arrow. They were so fixated on the high left 4 that they throw another high left 4. On the flip side, it is the mark of a champion when you see an athlete throw a bad arrow and then come right back with all 10s.
This goes back to the conscious mind programming the subconscious mind, and in an ideal world, after tens of thousands of repetitions, it is our subconscious mind that kicks in during competitions. As you will hear coaches say, “Don’t think, just shoot.” Overthinking is not helpful when you have done the training, repetitions, and built the neuro-muscle memory programming.
To wrap this up, focus on what you want to do and not what you don’t want to do. And then visualize yourself doing the perfect shot process and scoring that dead center 10.