Archery tournaments are way fun and exciting. It can be easy to get a little overwhelmed with excitement and nerves, and lose focus on what’s important. These five tips may not magically cure low tournament scores, but they’re excellent guidelines that can help improve performance under pressure.
Preparation is the number one trick to staying relaxed…and relaxation brings those scores up! Know the tournament’s rules, format, location, schedule and dress code. By knowing these in advance, you free up your mind to relax and focus on your shot.
Practice the exact round, including the target size, distance and – especially – the timing. Remember that tournaments can take awhile, so be prepared with snacks, reading material, and some music on your iPod. A 3-D or field archery tournament can have a slower pace, and require you to walk long distances over rough terrain with all your equipment, so consider using a backpack/chair combo. No matter what kind of tournament you’re shooting, wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
Know Your Shot Routine
Have a set shot routine you know and have practiced. A shot routine is something comfortable and familiar that you can easily repeat even if a tournament feels unfamiliar. No matter where you are, the steps of your shot should always be the same. You should be able to describe each step of your routine, and exactly how every part of your body moves during that step. When under pressure, a routine’s last step (often the follow-through), is usually the part that gets sacrificed, so be sure to really emphasize that step.
Check in Often on Your Emotions
At least once an end, preferably after or before each arrow, check in internally. See how you’re handling shooting with other people, and remind yourself to relax and have fun. Are you getting frustrated? Sad? Upset? Angry? If so, take a few deep, calming breaths, and refocus on form and a positive attitude. Visualize your shots going well. Focus on your internal dialogue, and watch for negative self-talk, replacing it with positive affirmations.
“Eyes on Your Own Paper”
You might remember a teacher warning your class to “Keep your eyes on your own paper.” That’s also great advice for archery tournaments. Focus on yourself during tournaments. It’s easy to get distracted by what others are doing, scoring, or how they are shooting, but these distractions can actually take away from your opportunity to have fun and do your best. Let others shoot their tournament, and focus on being the very best version of yourself.
Expect the Unexpected
Many things are outside of your control, including the weather, how tournaments are run, and even how you’re physically feeling on a given day. If something goes wrong, no worries: that’s a normal part of the process, and it’s okay. Maybe it will be windy, or you’ll become distracted, or you could even be delayed by a faulty timing system. Stay positive and determined, and keep your mental game on point. Focus on making the best shot possible, regardless of what’s going on around you.
Archery is an incredible sport, full of opportunities to learn more about yourself. Tournaments are a great chance to build self confidence, make friends and above all – have fun! If you remember to focus on yourself, and having a good time, you are likely to remain relaxed and shoot your very best game.