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Paralympic Spotlight: KJ Polish, Part 2

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KJ Polish is on his way to his third Paralympic Games with USA Archery! Polish and the other members of the USA Archery Paralympic Team are hoping to take home some gold from Paris. We recently spoke to Polish about the upcoming Games, which will be held from Aug. 29 through Sept. 5. In this installment of a three-part series, he discusses the ins and outs of his practice routine and how he changes it to gear up for the Games, and shares advice for beginning archers. The full interview will be released in three parts. Check out Part 2 below!

A360: What does your practice routine look like during a normal week?

KP: I’m pretty extensive in the Olympic years. So, I’ve been shooting every day. I shoot at least 200 to 300 arrows. I know there’s a lot of people that take a break, but I shoot six out of seven days, 200 to 300 arrows.If it’s a rest day, I shoot at least two full matches, at least 128 arrows. Whenever you travel and you go overseas, you go to other tournaments, just the food you’re eating, time change, whatever the case may be, I try to train and shoot in every different environment I can. So, if I don’t feel good, if I get a headache, if I’m hungry, if my stomach hurts or whatever, I try to shoot. If it’s raining, I shoot. Our last day of the Trials, we got rained out. We shot for like five or six hours in a downpour. But I practice in it. So, I knew where my equipment would hit. The harder the rain, the longer we shot in the rain, you kind of know what your equipment does then. So, that’s a lot of my practice regimen. A lot of people when it’s raining, they take a break. Whenever it’s too hot, they take a break. When it’s windy, they take a break. If you practice in these elements, then you don’t get caught up in the moment whenever you’re there.

A360: How does your practice routine change leading up to a tournament or leading up to the Games?

KP: Leading up the tournaments, I usually hit it really hard the week before and then like a day or a day and a half before the tournament, I’ll take my practice and I’ll just slow it down. Instead of shooting a couple 100 arrows before that, I’ll slow down, I’ll shoot like 150 arrows or less for the last day and a half just to let my body recover really well. Then I’ll try to eat some carbs and I’ll have like pasta or something like that the day before. Then, going forward, moving to the Games, I’ll look at the weather. I’ll look at what kind of weather they’re getting, what kind of wind they’re getting for like a 10-day stretch before the Games just to see what it’s going to be there and then maybe acclimate myself here, change my shooting schedule here for a different temperature or look for the windier parts of the day here just to see if I could, re-enact those kind of things. The best thing to do is to practice individual matches. So, that, for me, is match plays, qualifications.It’s neat whenever you shoot a high score, but the Games and tournaments get won by elimination matches.So, I try to put my mind in that environment every time. Every time I shoot that arrow, I try to play like I’m shooting for the gold medal.

A360: What would you say is the ideal practice regimen for a beginner archer?

KP: Start out basic. I tell people this at my sporting goods store whenever they start and they want to get into competitive archery: Don’t overdo it. Come down here, plan on shooting 30 good arrows. That means 30 shots exactly the same way. It’s all about repetition. Start out at 10 yards. Once you can put them all in the bullseye at 10, then let’s move to 15, then move to 20 if you keep shooting 30 arrows consistently the same way. It’s all about progression. It’s all about learning it the right way. That’s a big thing for me. It’s all about repetition. Don’t overdo it.

Stay Tuned

Stay tuned for Part 3 of this article series! Polish will discuss how he got to this elite level of archery, how he improves his form, and what he’s most looking forward to at the Games. Check out Part 1 here.

Watch KJ Polish and the rest of Team USA go for gold at the Paralympics starting Aug. 29.

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