Mental Aspects of Archery

Archery does not get difficult or hard to understand until the arrow misses the gold

Milan E. Elott

An archer have to have repeatable physical skills in order to be good, but an archery is only outstanding when they have also mastered the mental aspects of archery. At the top level of the sport, there are still flawed techniques but these are repeatable every time so that the archer becomes exceptional, but the difference between two exceptional archers is the better mental strength of one of the archers.

Nadia Comăneci, the first gymnast to be awarded a perfect score of 10 at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games, and went on to get six more perfect 10s and broke the scoreboard which was not designed to show a score higher than 9.9, but anyone looking at her performance, particularly on the balance beam, will have seen an athlete exuding metal strength and confidence. In fact, so strong was Comăneci’s mental strength that whilst the balance bar requires intense concentration, she could come off the bar having scored a perfect 10 and also tell her coaches what music was playing for the nearby athlete doing the floor exercise.

Most sports are won by only 6 inches ……the 6 inches between the athlete’s ears

Ken Way

How do psychological factors affect an archery performance?
Much of the work of psychological training is set out in academic journals steeped in obscure academic phraseology (gobbledegook), designed to facilitate the self-importance and elitism of academia but fortunately most of it is moving into the realm of sports psychology and losing the impenetrable language of academia.

Academic Paper:
Considering the evidence in favour of both autonomous goal motives and implementation
intentions, Koestner, Lekes, Power, and Chicoine (2002) suggested that these previously independent factors may interact producing a synergistic effect upon goal attainment. Based upon Kuhl and Fuhrmann’s (1998) dual component model of volition, which highlights the need for both self-maintenance (continuing awareness of the self) and goal-maintenance (continuing awareness of the goal) to ensure effective goal striving, Koestner et al. (2002) proposed that the furnishing of relatively autonomous goal striving with implementation intentions should result in the greatest goal attainment.

Translated to mean (unless you’re playing bullsh*t bingo)
Self-governing goals and determination to implement training, previously thought to be independent factors, are now understood to tie into an athlete achieving their goals. Will-power (combined with self-awareness) and goal-awareness was thought by Koestner to get greatest goal achievement when self-awareness of the goal with a desire to achieve it occurs.

Archery is however one of those sports, like golf and motor-racing where the difference between success and “also-competed” is about the mental game. In motor-sport, there is a fine dividing line between having the car on the edge of maximum performance and having a car out of control and in the barriers and the driver must retain a cool head in order to achieve maximum safe performance. Certain drivers, even in the top realm of Formula 1, are dominant and this is the combination of unique skills and mental strength. Similarly in golf, top-class players are either on top of their game mentally when they seem to be playing in a trance, or they are having a bad day that gets worse because they become focussed on their own inadequate performance. It is the truely exceptional golfer that makes a series of terrible shots and then can use their mental strength to put this to one side and play the remainder of the round on top form.

Most athletes do not make the time in their training schedules to work on the mental side of their abilities, and even when they are aware that they have a capability to improve their mental game, they have inadequate understanding of how to achieve this and how to apply it in relation to their performance.

It is interesting to note the vast differences in the teaching techniques between two of the top sports where a considerable amount of money is spent on “head training”, motorsport and golf, but at the end of the day, they are teaching the same thing. The difference is that in motorsport, the technique is clearer because it links to a piece of machinery (the car) rather than having, as in golf, to combine multiple muscle usage with the mental discipline. In the final analysis, however, both are about using the mental discipline to make the finest of muscle adjustments and having that awareness, whether it is a minor adjustment to the golf-swing or the finest of adjustment to the steering or pedal input.

Modern sports psychology however takes elements of psychology, psychotherapy, hypnosis, NLP, measurement of mental capacity (psychometrics), and other factors. In the end – there is but one aim – to improve the performance in sport using the mind to its maximum.

Good is the enemy of GREAT

being “good enough” is a barrier to being “the greatest”

Jim Collins

Having achieved success, most athletes mentally relax believing that this is their goal, and rail to achieve greatness because they fail to realise that a great athlete is mentally calm, but not mentally relaxed. The metal aspect of performance determines whether a race or event is won or lost and the slightest lapse in concentration can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Training your mind is every bit as important as training your body

95% of great golf occurs between the ears

Arnold Palmer

Great Archers are not made on the training ground. Good Archers are made on the training ground but great archers come from inside, they have a belief in themselves that they can be the greatest, they have a desire to be the greatest, they have a dream to be the greatest and they have a vision of greatness. The primary performance is the physical ability, but the mental aspect takes an elite archer to an outstanding archer,

Archery is easy – all you have to go is get the arrow in the gold X once, and then repeat exactly what you did for the rest of your time in the sport

Anon