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that as human beings ev- erything is psychological to some degree, it’s normally more productive to separate the purely mental elements of performance e.g. ‘confi - dence’, with the parts that only have a psychological link to those elements i.e. everything else. Other areas of improve-


ment that benefi t from fo- cused attention, separate from mental toughness, are the physical pillars of mod- ern day science i.e. strength, fi tness, fl exibility, and the lifestyle choices such as sleep and nutrition. Inci- dentally, the tactical pillar of modern day sports science is not that relevant in sports where the moment by mo- ment goals never change. Historically, sport psychol-


ogists didn’t need to have an in-depth working knowledge of the sports they’ve consult- ed to, but over time, as the profession slowly evolved from being ‘counsellors’ and more towards being ‘mental coaches’, having an idea of the psychological demands specifi c to different sports is imperative to being able to ascertain which elements of mental toughness are more or less relevant for a particu- lar sport. Let’s be blunt here, it’s


quite plausible for a pistol shooter with poor or average communication skills to win an Olympic medal. By way of comparison, however, a rugby league half back or doubles tennis player with a similar communication defi - cit will fi nd it impossible to reach the pinnacle of his/ her sport. With this par- ticular example in mind, it’s then worth asking the ques- tion: which of the remaining elements of mental tough-


With individual diff erences aside I’d suggest three target areas that are, potentially, of the most value to pistol shooters and coaches alike:


1. Goal setting 2. Establishing routines and


3. Knowing what you can control and/or infl uence and knowing what you have no control and/or infl uence over.


ness (confi dence, emotions, concentration and motiva- tion) are more conducive to competitive target pistol shooting? What do you think? Rather, than read on right away to discover how I would answer this question, try and come up with your own ideas and then com- pare them with what follows. I would start with motiva-


tion. Motivation is the driv- ing force behind everything so without it the rest will basically result in just ‘going through the motions’. Next up, I’d have to say concen- tration. In a sport that is so predictable in terms of what the shooter is trying to achieve, the ability to switch on (to the right things) and switch off (in order to rest the mind between attempts) can be highly benefi cial in the pursuit of excellence. Obviously, confi dence and emotions are still very im- portant areas to work on, but it would be better to be a nervous shooter with ex- cellent concentration skills than one full of confi dence, but without a Pre-Shot Rou- tine (PSR) to establish con- centration, for example. With motivation and concentration arguably be-


ing most infl uential when it comes to the psychologi- cal aspects of target pistol shooting, we can turn our at- tention to the ways in which mental training can be de- veloped with the focus on these areas. With individual differences aside I’d sug- gest three target areas that are, potentially, of the most value to pistol shooters and coaches alike: 1. Goal setting 2. Establishing routines and


3. Knowing what you can control and/or infl uence and know- ing what you have no control and/or infl u- ence over.


Goal setting would have


to be one of the most spoken about mental techniques (a quick Google search results in 97,600,000 hits!), but there are a few keys that can increase the chance of goal setting converting to goal getting. First, start with the end in mind and work back- wards. Simply saying, ‘I’ll just keep practicing and see where that takes me’ might sound like a nice, relaxed approach to increase perfor- mance, but it will probably have a fairly negative impact


in areas such as commit- ment as well as on the qual- ity of your training sessions. One of the most useful analogies for starting with the end and working back- wards would have to be a car trip. Most people will de- cide on the ‘desired destina- tion’ fi rst then start to think and plan about what they have to do in order to arrive at the chosen destination and at the preferred time. When using this analogy to improve goal setting for your performance outcomes, the destination is the result e.g. winning, top position, quali- fying for various teams, etc. Once you’ve decided on which outcome or outcomes you’re striving for, the next phase is to allocate a rea- sonable amount of time to achieve it. Finally, set about plan-


ning how best to reach your goal. Exactly the same men- tal strategies that go into planning a successful car journey, apply to planning a successful performance goal and there are likely to be a number of challenges along the way, most of which are predictable. Those who go about their goal setting well will not only know what most of these challenges are likely to be, but will actu- ally have a ready-to-go solu- tion for managing them all. Continuing with the analogy mentioned earlier, a well- planned car journey might well factor in extra time for traffi c congestion, whereby the journey to achieving a performance goal would be benefi tted from the athlete knowing how training ses- sions would be structured in the event of a serious physi- cal injury. What is both great and


May 2014 | USA Shooting News 51


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