Hemant Jadhav - Foresight Shooting
Mental Skills Part – II

Mental Skills Part – II

The Subconscious Mind.

The Subconscious Mind is like the RAM (Random Access Memory) in a computer. For example, when you are brushing your teeth, you are consciously planning out your day or the next activity.

You do not consciously focus your attention on physically brushing your teeth. You brush your teeth automatically while you are thinking of something else. This automatic brushing of your teeth is a program which is being run by your subconscious mind.

There are millions of programs which the subconscious mind is running automatically throughout the day. When you are changing your clothes or driving to your office, you continue thinking on the serious tasks of the day while you change your clothes or drive on your way to office.

Once a skill is learned (driving a car, brushing your teeth etc), this skill which is a set of movements is recorded in your subconscious mind and is played out or used automatically. This frees your conscious mind to mentally focus on important tasks or activities in your day to day life.

Thus there are millions of such programmes written in your subconscious mind.

The Subconscious Mind therefore has a memory bank where all the above programs are stored.

Fight or Flight Response:

Match pressure is a response of the body when the conscious mind recognises a ‘threat’ situation. For example, if you are opening the door of the car in a parking lot, and you see a mugger (s) approaching you with the intention of robbing you, the conscious mind relays this threat to the Subconscious which responds by preparing your body to handle the situation by either fighting or running away from the muggers.

This response by your body is called as the ‘fight or flight’ response which is a programme stored in the subconscious mind and the body reacts in the following manner;

On detecting a threat by the conscious mind, the adrenaline glands based on the top of your kidneys secrete adrenaline into the blood thereby causing the following;

1. The heart rate increases.

2. The increase in heart rate enables blood to be pumped faster.

3. This blood is pumped from the abdominal region towards the arms, shoulder and neck muscles. It is also diverted to the thighs and leg muscles.

4. Thus the specific muscles for fighting and or running are adequately supplied with oxygen through the blood.

5. The temperature of the body rises and to cool it down, the body sweats to lower the increased temperature.

These are some of the bodily reactions to the fight or flight response which is a program run by the subconscious mind. The purpose of this fight or flight response is to protect you by preparing your body to take survival actions – running or fighting.

Match Pressure in a 10 M air pistol event.

The fight or flight response kicks in when you face the first record shot in a match (some times it kicks in during the sighters itself).

Due to the physical reaction of your body stated above, the shooter experiences the following;

1. Sight alignment is unsteady.

2. Arc of movement becomes wider.

3. The focus is blurred.

4. The above three points lead to the trigger freezing.

When the shooter is experiencing the above, we say that he is under ‘match pressure’.

In the next blog article we will see how Match pressure is handled. Module No. 5 Mental Skills help the shooter to understand the working of the Subconscious Mind and how to reprogram match pressure.

Mental Skills Part – I

Mental Skills Part – I

What are Mental Skills?

Mental Skills are skills which are developed to handle situations in life, whether in sports (obtaining high performance) or in any other profession or personal life.

The moment we speak about a ‘situation’ there is always a desired outcome. For example, when a shooter takes part in a competition or match, the desired outcome is delivering the peak performance which has been obtained during practice sessions.

Mental Skills for 10 M Air Pistol

If a shooter shoots 560/600 in his practice matches, then obviously this is what is the desired outcome in a match situation. For those who have mastered Mental skills, scoring 560/600 in a match is quite easy.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of shooters are not skilled mentally to handle match pressure, as a result, a shooter who consistently shoots 560/600 ends up way below his practice match score.

And the vast majority of shooters do not understand that Mental Skills training requires as much time and dedication, as is required for mastering the technical skills for shooting, which is to shoot 10s consistently.

The first step towards mastering mental skills is to understand how the Mind works?

The Mind has three parts – The Conscious Mind, the Subconscious Mind and the Unconscious Mind.

The Conscious Mind

The Conscious Mind is our thinking mind, it begins working the moment we are awake. When we get up in the morning, we begin thinking of the different activities which need to be done.

Now the Conscious mind can think of only one thought at a time. It helps us to focus our mental energy on the single thought which is occupying our mind at any given point of time.

For example, on the day of the match, you begin thinking about your match and suddenly you see images of you shooting in the match. This mental imagery or visualisation is the ability of your Conscious Mind.

So, the Conscious mind is capable of the following;

1. It can think of any thought one at a time.

2. It helps you to mentally focus on that thought.

3. It is capable of visualisation.

4. The conscious mind does not have a memory, for this it relies on the subconscious and unconscious mind.

In Module No. 5 Mental Skills, the working of the conscious mind is explained with the help of videos and text lessons.

Are you Talented enough to shoot the 10 M Air Pistol Event? Part – IV

Are you Talented enough to shoot the 10 M Air Pistol Event? Part – IV

In this concluding final part, I will be dealing with the overarching philosophy of sports in general and your attitude or approach to shooting.

The Olympics signifies the Pursuit of Perfection of the human spirit.

The Olympic motto – Citius (faster), Altius (higher), Fortius (stronger) signifies this Pursuit of Perfection.

In the Pursuit of Perfection, the Spirit of Mankind strives to soar up to achieve goals, far out of the reach of normal physical abilities.

For example, the breaking of the 10 second barrier in the 100 m and similar such barriers which were subsequently broken in different events.

I had penned a poem many years ago which depicts this Soaring Spirit of Mankind…

AIM HIGH!

Over ambitious

Better be

Than have no ambition at all…

Like Tall trees,

Vying for the Sun,

Never to be Reached.

Yet! Taller still,

Than the Grass growing at their feet.

Almost every shooter sets his sights on the next competition and trains with his eye on improving his SCORES.

This type of training and attitude, to my mind is at best PEDESTRIAN.

You will only be able to compete at the Olympics, if you strive for achieving perfection for each and every shot, which is a 10.9!

You may not shoot a 10.9 every time, that is okay!

What is important is, that your mental focus, your attitude and your entire approach should be on raising your abilities -physical, technical and mental for each and every shot, so that you come as close to PERFECTION – 10.9. for each and every shot!

And therefore, you need to make a PARADIGM SHIFT in your entire approach to air pistol shooting.

What is this Paradigm Shift?

The Cambridge dictionary explains this as follows;

A situation in which, the usual and accepted way of doing or thinking about something changes completely.

The usual and accepted way of doing things, in air pistol shooting, is to check the score after each and every shot is fired.

Checking the SCORE gets you involved in the thought process which leads you to think, on how each shot will affect your final score at the end of your match.

This thought process leads to negative emotions or feelings which are caused by MATCH PRESSURE, which in turn cuts down on your shooting performance.

Instead of looking at the shot placement on the target as a score, you can change your thinking in such a way, that each shot placement tells you how far or how close you are to a 10.9.

And how much you must lift your shooting abilities – physical, technical and mental to bring your shot as close to perfection – 10.9.

Your attitude will then be, to STRIVE towards raising your abilities, to strive towards perfection and this is what I mean by the Pursuit of Perfection for each and every shot.

This attitude and approach, for striving for perfection is MONK like. And the pursuit of perfection for each and every shot is a form of MEDITATION or YOGA.

The Title of Robin Sharma’s book, says all that is to be said in the pursuit of perfection – The Monk who sold his Ferrari.

If you see the book cover;

You notice a Monk walking on a path…

The Ferrari denotes worldly pursuits, such as scores, medals etc…

The path that the monk treads is the road to self perfection. The Pursuit of Perfection.

And this is the Paradigm Shift that I am talking about.

Every Athlete who qualifies for the Olympics is on this path of self perfection…CITIUS, ALTIUS, FORTIUS.

And the good news is, that this can be developed quite easily.

There is a science and methodology for developing this attitude. The steps and exercises for developing this attitude are spelt out in Module No. 5 – Mental Skills.

The choice is yours to make, to be like tall trees or to be the grass growing at their feet…

Are you Talented enough to shoot the 10 M Air Pistol Event? Part – III

Are you Talented enough to shoot the 10 M Air Pistol Event? Part – III

In Part -I, I had defined talent as the ability to quickly adapt to the demands of the sport”.

The biggest challenge a shooter faces, is - HIM/HER SELF. And only one in a thousand shooters has the ability to change himself. To bring about the changes within himself. Let me give you a few examples;

Most shooters, go on the range to shoot 60 shots to 70 shots and THINK that they have done enough for the day and if they continue in this fashion, they will soon be able to raise their shooting levels to international standards.

When they realise that to become an international level shooter, they must practice at least 120 – 150 shots per session for two sessions a day. FIVE times a week. A total of 4 to 5 hours each day and a minimum of 25 hours per week - they are understandably shocked!

One of my students, a very sincere young man, was similarly shocked when he realised the amount of effort and time one has to put in.

Most of the aspiring young shooters today get deflated at this stage itself, unable to adapt to the demands related to the extra time and effort.

The second stage of adaption is the realisation that merely shooting LIVE on the range even for 4 to 5 hours is simply not good enough. Shooters have to follow a STRUCTURED training program which is a combination of ‘dry’ shooting and ‘live’ shooting.

In a well structured program this ratio of dry shooting to dry firing is almost 1 : 100 !

Which means that a shooter has to practice dry firing for at least 100 shots before he shoots one live shot!

Most shooters find dry firing terribly boring, understandably so because there is no instant gratification or joy when you shoot on an actual target and check the result.

But dry firing is extremely important for mastering Sight Alignment, Reducing the arc of movement and obtaining a sharp focus on the foresight. All three elements combine to form the ‘aiming process’.

Until unless the aiming process is mastered, it is not possible to master the trigger operation. And only a correctly designed dry firing program can lead you to mastery over the aiming process in the initial stages of a shooter’s development.

Any half baked shooter can perform the role of a coach and can print out dozens of so called training programs. Most beginners get taken in by the dubious quality of such training programs, which are not even worth the paper they are printed on. As result a shooter ends up wasting his valuable time and effort.

A truly good training program, should be able to achieve the following;

1. The effort put in by the shooter should be measurable. Therefore, a training program is useless without a measuring system or tool to measure the inputs of the shooter per session.

2. The training load, (no. of shots fired per session) should be designed based on the shooter’s age, physical fitness and mental capabilities.

3. The training program should be goal oriented and while following it, the shooter must enjoy each and every session.

4. Finally and most importantly, the training program should QUICKLY help the shooter to Master the skills.

After mastering the aiming process through a well designed training program, the next level of adaption deals with the trigger operation.

Mastering the trigger operation calls for a single minded focus (mental focus) on the trigger operation before, during and after the shot is fired. This is also called as trigger follow through.

Once again, a good training program can help a shooter to develop and master the art and science of 100 % mentally focussing on the trigger operation.

The final adaption deals with the mental skills for overcoming match pressure. I have seen so many talented shooters shooting brilliantly during practice yet failing time on again, to translate their practice scores in matches.

A good training program for developing the mental skills for overcoming match pressure is critical at this juncture.

Many talented and hard working shooters across the globe are availing of these training programs and modules on this website. Their daily session wise progress is monitored, doubts and difficulties are immediately sorted out. All of them are enjoying their training and are enthusiastic and sincerely believe that these modules will help them to improve their shooting performances.

Are you Talented enough to shoot the 10 M Air Pistol Event? Part – II

Are you Talented enough to shoot the 10 M Air Pistol Event? Part – II

In Part -I, I had defined talent as

the ability to quickly adapt to the demands of the sport”.

regardless of age, height, weight, gender, economic or social background, if you have the ability to focus your mind to execute 60 records shots to near perfection, then you have the talent to excel in shooting.”

 

In this part, I will be focussing on the two specific words in the above definition – ‘QUICKLY ADAPT’

In order to perfect ‘follow through’ you need to master the following skills,

When your sights come into the aiming area,

Sight Alignment.

Your sights must be steady and aligned before, during and after the shot.

Arc of Movement.

Your arc of movement should be at its minimum before, during and after the shot.

Focus.

Your focus on the foresight should be sharp and continuous before, during and after the shot.

Trigger Operation.

Your trigger pressure must be positive and continuous before, during and after the shot.

Mental Focus.

Your mental focus on the executing the above must be continuous before, during and after the shot.

The abovementioned skills follow a certain sequence or steps which when followed correctly will result in a perfect ‘follow through’ or ‘10’.

This arrangement of steps in a sequence is called as the Technique for Shooting a ‘10’.

To those who do not have a coach or access to a correct training programme, it may take years and years before you figure out the technique for shooting a ‘10’.

So the first step in QUICKLY ADAPTING is to get hold of someone who can demonstrate this technique for shooting a 10. And not only merely demonstrate it but he should be able to teach you the technique in a simple easy to understand and friendly manner.

The next step is a training plan where you can learn to master the above mentioned skills as QUICKLY as possible.

In the next part we will discuss the problems faced by shooters in adapting.