Katherine Bond, the sports psychologist for the GB Paralympic archery team, encourages us to "establish a routine" to stay on target.
Katherine explains how being professional and prepared are key to success.
Sports psychologist for the GB archery team
- Principal Lecturer and Field Leader in Sport and Exercise Psychology, Chichester University
- Formally worked in professional football, professional golf and international rugby league
Even though archery is an individual sport, there is a team element to it. We went out to the Beijing Paralympics with 12 archers and seven staff. It was crucial that we all were able to live and work together effectively for over three weeks. Some of our archers were actually competing against each other.
It's ensuring that as a group we are supporting each other and that we have an effective relationship because we train, travel and compete around the world together.
A large part of my role is in a counselling capacity. I help athletes to deal with the demands of being at elite level.
This is crucial when you are competing for events such as the Olympics and Paralympics because there is a lot of pressure and interest on an athlete, not only in the public eye, but also from their friends and family. That pressure can be difficult to deal with and I work on these issues as a major competition approaches.
I also work closely with the coach to ensure that the pivotal relationship between the coach and the athlete is working as well as it could be.
Archery is similar to golf in that it's a closed skill sport. You have to be able to replicate exactly the same action over and over again.
There are different formats of competition. For example, the first stage might require an archer to shoot 72 arrows over a course of three to four hours! The task is to replicate that shot 72 times! The second stage might be a high tempo event requiring archers to shoot 12 arrows in 15 minutes. It's very high intensity, you can't make a mistake or have a bad arrow.
Sustaining concentration is key and archers have a strict routine of preparing mentally and physically for a shot. There is nothing else affecting you apart from weather conditions and you're not responding to an opponent which makes this sport unique.
Take a break
In archery you shoot six arrows and then collect the arrows. That might be a break of five or six minutes. So it's having routines for each shot and routines for each 'six arrow end' (collecting the arrows). You just have to switch off; it's not that productive to dwell on what you are doing for that break.
When archers get nervous they start shooting quicker. Establishing a routine ensures that the athlete is taking their time and focusing on the task in hand.
You need to make sure your thoughts and feelings are as positive as possible to achieve a consistent and comfortable pattern. So as I am preparing for a shot I am thinking about the feeling of a perfect shot and picturing the shot going into the middle of the target.
There are key lessons in being professional and being prepared. Athletes are not successful by chance. It's realising that you can be in control and manage your thoughts and feelings.
Psychologists and athletes talk about their IPS (Ideal Performance State). So it's finding out what that is for you and how you are going to ensure that you have every chance of achieving that.
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