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challenging about mental skills training is how every- thing is linked.


Much of


what is written above re- garding goal setting also ap- plies to successful routines; the next technique towards achieving mental toughness that is particularly pertinent to the art of pistol shooting. In my role as sport psy- chologist I’ve witnessed many shooters use routines that demonstrate a common weakness – a tendency to be too rigid. Our aim, when we design routines, is for them to be robust, but slightly flex- ible. It reminds me of the development of golf equip- ment. When I purchased my first one wood (driver) back in the 80s it was made of metal. As strong as it was it was only a matter of time be- fore the stress of continually trying to knock the cover off the ball become too much and…snap! Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to find a golf club made of metal as those have given way to shafts made of graphite, which is a much stronger and lighter material.


Most


significantly this new equip- ment has a little bit of ‘give’


52


so each swing allows the shaft to bend so that stress is absorbed and a much more long lasting piece of equipment is the result. I, for one, am still using the same clubs that I purchased some 15 years ago. One very sensible way


to build some ‘give’ into your routines is by separat- ing what you need to do from what you’d like to do. In other words, separate the needs from the wants. Whether this is done as part of a longer routine i.e. the hours leading up to the start of a competition, or as part of the much shorter pre-shot routine, the fact is that most issues arise when a shooter confuses on what he/she wants to do (wipe his/her hands) with what he/she needs to do (reload the pis- tol).


One of the fastest grow-


ing mental techniques in sport psychology is the ‘art of mindfulness’, which es- sentially teaches the sub- ject to focus on the present moment and to judge emo- tions with less criticism.


In


other words, “oh crap, I’m nervous” becomes “that’s


USA Shooting News | May 2014


interesting, I’m getting ner- vous.” One of the reasons why the art of mindfulness is becoming so popular is because of its effect to actu- ally reduce the vicious cycle of a mere thought about an emotion actually leading to that emotion becoming much more severe. So, ‘Oh crap, I’m nervous’ morphs into ‘Oh crap I’m nervous, which is making me really nervous’. The secret to suc- cessful mindfulness is not to allow the non-judgmental component turn into excuse making!


Last, but not least, we


come to the mental method that we at Condor Perfor- mance refer to as ‘Control- ling It’. In many ways it is the foundation mindset for improving mental toughness and performance and many of our clients revolve all their mental training around this approach. The strategy re- quires you to consider elev- en categories:


• The past • Genetics • The weather • Other people / animals • Moveable objects


• Your surroundings • Your results • The future • You • Your effort • The present


These categories are common to all sports and performance areas and they can be divided into three groups according to the amount of ‘influence’ you have: 1. The Un-influence- ables - not surpris- ingly, those you have no influence on at all


2. The Influenceables - the areas that you feel you can influ- ence to a greater or less extent


3. The Controllables - the category contain- ing elements that you believe you can influence entirely. With this in mind, consid- er the eleven categories list- ed above in isolation of the others and try to work out if they are Un-influenceables, Influenceables or Control- lables.


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