Mental Skill help you in two ways, the first is that it helps you to improve your technique for shooting a 10. It helps you to master your technique so that you shoot rows of ‘10’s.
The second aspect is that Mental Skills help you to overcome match pressure thereby enabling you to translate your best practice Match Score into a real match situation.
The steps in mastering Mental Skills are as follows;
1.Understandng what the Fight or Flight response is.
2. Learning how to overcome the Fight or Flight Response through Progressive Body Relaxation exercises.
3. Learning Shav Asan a Yogic Position which helps to deepen the Relaxed state of the body.
4. Basic Visualisation techniques
5. Intermediate Visualisation techniques
6. Advanced Visualisation techniques.
In the advanced visualisation techniques, a shooter learns to visualise a match situation from start to finish to obtain his best practice match scores.
And not only in the qualifying stage but also in the Finals.
If you do not learn to master Mental Skills, then you revert to the ‘Old School’ methods of training to overcome match pressure, which is to go on shooting matches for years together.
In this method you lose a lot of time and the smart thing to do is to learn the mental skills s that you translate your best practice scores in your matches in the shortest possible time because time is the only thing you have as a shooter.
So, if you wish to win a medal at the Olympics using the old of training, you will probably take 12 years in your third Olympics to win a medal.
For a One on One discussion on the subject you can join my Foresight Basic Member’s Group on +91 8459109501. Join the Group at the earliest so that you may receive an invitation for my FREE webinar on Mental Skills.
In the last video we had discussed what your mental focus should be like when you step into the shooting range.
In short, when you come onto the shooting range, you should be thinking, or you should be mentally focussed on what you are going to do when your sights come into the aiming area?
There is something even deeper than this and I would like you to engage with me and give me the answer to this question.
What is it that all the top notch shooters, I am talking about the shooters who take part in the World Cups and the Olympics and are ranked from World No. 1 to 20.
What is it that they are focussed on when their sights come into the aiming area? What is the ultimate thing that they are mentally focussed on?
So, give me your answers, please reply on the email id provided at the end of this video. Or you can reply on facebook or YouTube.
I will get back to you with this answer but I would like you to think about this because if you are planning to become a world class shooter then this is what you should KNOW.
Not only should you be thinking about what you should do when your sights come into the aiming area but what is the ultimate thing which all the top shooters are concerned about and find it a great challenge which requires the ultimate mental focus.
In the last few videos, we have been discussing; ‘Mental Focus’. Now, you will see that there are broadly two kind of shooters and the way they walk into the range, you can make out who is the top shooter.
Normal shooters and ordinary shooters, you can make out from their body language, they will always come in a group or with their friends and they are busy talking and looking around here and there while they are approaching the shooting range.
When they enter the shooting range, you can make out from their body language that there is no ‘mental focus’ in these people because they are more interested in coming to the shooting range for socialising.
The hi’s and the hellos, and what were you doing yesterday and I called you up… this is the movie I saw…
Now you compare that with a top class shooter, and I have seen many of them. When they come on the range they will not waste time chit chatting, looking here or there. They have a very clear goal in their mind. They know exactly what they want to do and they know how much time it will take them to achieve their training goal or whatever goal they have set for themselves for that day or for that session.
They will occupy their lanes and then they will walk off and start their warm up routine. And they are 100% focussed on their physical warming up, on their technical warming up and their mental warming up. If you watch them, they are somewhere on the side of the range, completely on their own.
They don’t like to make eye contact with any shooter. Or even if they talk to the jury or range officer or their coach, after their conversation, they switch back immediately to concentrate on their warming up.
Compare this with other shooters, they may be doing it in pairs or in a group. And their eyes are floating everywhere…
When you walk into the shooting range and not only the shooting range but from the time you leave your house or in times of competition, when you leave your hotel room. You are supposed to be totally focussed; you know exactly what you want to do. So, even before you step into the shooting range, you are mentally focussed.
When you step into the shooting range, you have a series of activities on which you need to focus on mentally 100 % till you occupy the firing point.
Once you have completed your entire warming up routine, technical, mental and physical warming up and you occupy the firing point, the only focus that you should have… the only thought which you should be thinking of in your mind is what you are going to do when the sights come into the aiming area. So, your focus is completely centred on what you are going to do when your sights come into the aiming area.
And this is the Mental Focus which is required….
When you go in a shooting range when there is no competition or even when there is a competition scheduled, you can make out a top level shooter straight away through the body language.
The one who is focused on just one thing, which is what she/he is going to do when the sights come into the aiming area. His or her body language is so different because he/she is completely switched off from the world around them.
This is the mental focus which is required when you come into the shooting range and these are the thoughts that you should be thinking, JUST on What you are going to do when your sights come into the aiming area…
And your entire activity, the moment you step into the range, till you reach the firing point, till you pick up the pistol to fire the first shot… your entire process of warming up (technical, physical & mental) is to achieve a ‘10’ in the very first shot that you shoot.
And not only the first shot but in the series you must shoot as many 10’s as possible. And that will show whether you are mentally focussed or not.
I request all these shooters who aspire to become international shooters to take up their diary and write down what their training goal is for the training session for that particular day. Get into the habit of setting up a training goal for each and every session.
After your session is over write down the points that you have learnt and the points which you need to improve in the next session. This will help you to improve your mental focus when you step in the shooting range.
In the last video we had discussed on the methods on how to focus your mind while shooting. In that video I had mentioned that you should avoid scoring, instead you should concentrate 100 % on each and every step of the ‘shot sequence’.
In this video, I will be discussing the second part of how to develop 100% Mental Focus while shooting. In the last video I had discussed that your mind should be focussed entirely on each and every step that you take right from the time you pick up the pistol and bring it onto the target and you execute follow through.
What is very important is the gap between one shot and the next shot. This gap is very critical in keeping your mind focussed because it is within this time between one shot and the next shot that your mind tends to either go into the future or go in the past.
When I say go in the past it means that you tend to think about the result of your last shot. And when I say that your mind goes in the future, it means that you are expecting a very good result in the next shot.
So, your mind keeps flipping either to the future or to the past, instead you should be keeping your mind ‘grounded’ in the present between one shot and the next shot.
I am suggesting a couple of methods on how you can keep your mind grounded in the present.
Pranayam between shots:
One method is to keep concentrating on your inhaling and exhaling. In India we have a very good technique called as ‘Pranayam ’and in pranayama you concentrate on your inhaling and exhaling.
When you concentrate on your inhaling and exhaling it helps you to focus and ground your mind in the present. So, concentrating on inhaling and exhaling is a very good method for keeping your mind focussed and grounded in the present between one shot and the next shot.
The second method is and you can use it along with your inhaling and exhaling is to visualise your next shot. In visualisation, as is shown in the next video, you should be able to visualise your sights going up and coming into the aiming area and you should be able to visualise the correct follow through with the shot going into the 10.
Now visualisation is a method which we will be discussing in great detail in the future but these two techniques: inhaling and exhaling and visualisation in the time between one shot and the second shot will help you to keep your mind focussed on the task on hand or to keep you grounded in the present and stops your mind from jumping into the future or from flipping your mind into the past result of the last shot.
So, these are the two techniques which you can use to keep yourself complete focussed 100% between one shot and the second shot.
Hello, friends, in this video and the following videos, I will be suggesting a few steps and a few techniques for improving your mental focus. I would like to start off with a short story.
When Swami Vivekananda was in America. One day, he went out for a walk and he saw a few boys standing on a bridge, taking aim and shooting at eggshells, which were floating in the water below.
The boys fired several times but they missed hitting the egg shells each time, so Swami Vivekananda asked the boys if he could try a few shots. The boys sportingly handed the gun over to him. Swamiji fired 12 shots and each of the shots fragmented and broke the egg shells each time.
The boys were surprised, when Swamiji gave the gun back to the boys, one of the boys asked him, how did you manage to do it? Have you done any shooting before? Swamiji replied that he had never, ever fired a gun in his life. The boys asked him. How did you manage to do this? Swamiji said “whatever you do, if you concentrate your mind, 100 percent and if you are mentally focused, 100 percent, you will never, ever miss the target.”
In our case, we have to concentrate 100 percent on mentally focusing on our sights.
To achieve mental focus 100 percent on each and every shot you fire, the first thing that you must do is to keep your emotions aside. Unfortunately, this does not happen with most shooters when they’re firing a shot. Their mind is on the result of the last shot. If the last shot is an ‘8’, then they are emotionally disturbed, they become emotionally unstable. Instead of maintaining a clear state of mind, the emotions related to the shot clouds their thinking, as a result, this has an effect on the next shot. Now they want to shoot a ‘10’. So, again, the emotions come into the picture.
If the last shot was a ‘10’. then they get excited and once again the emotions get ruffled and disturbs the mind. This prevents you from focusing 100 percent on your next shot. The first step that you must take in order to develop one hundred percent mental focus on your shot execution is to avoid ‘scoring’.
Now in the SIUS systems or electronic target systems. This becomes a little difficult because the score is on the monitor. And the series-by-series score is also provided, however not scoring on the SIUS systems is not impossible. You can train yourself not to score.
Ninety nine percent of the shooters, when they’re shooting a training match or an actual match. They are stuck in their scores, when they start off, they start counting the score of each shot and the effect it will have on the result of the first series or the second series, the third series and so on to the sixth series. Thus, you get stuck in ‘scoring’ and the result of what it is going to have on your ultimate score. Thus, you get emotionally disturbed.
You have to train yourself not to score.
When you fire a shot, you know what the result is, but it should not arouse any emotions in your mind and body. If you overcome this habit of scoring, you will find that every shot you shoot, you will be free of this emotion and you will be able to concentrate 100 percent.
Now, I know this will not happen from tomorrow, but you have to start training yourself, start with each series, try not to score a couple of series, gradually learn not to score the entire record series. After some time, what will happen is you will realize that your mental ability to focus 100 percent on your short execution improves hugely.
Now, I will tell you the biggest problem, the biggest hurdle that a shooter faces. Ninety nine percent of shooters are stuck in scoring, as a result, they get embroiled or get involved in this in this emotional cycle of up and down, the good feeling and bad feeling, which, as I told you, disturbs your mental clarity.
When the shooter decides that he would like to adopt the system of not scoring, suddenly he will feel completely flat, like a soda bottle whose cap has been opened and has been left out for a few hours. As a result, all the carbon dioxide gas escapes. And when you taste it, it is completely flat. This is what is going to happen to shooters who decide not to score. The whole essence of their shooting will disappear. And this is something that they do not like at all. So, they will go back to scoring.
But if you persist, if you continue, if you develop this habit, slowly and gradually, you will learn to replace this emotion with another emotion which is the joy of executing each shot as perfectly as possible. This should be our goal. Instead of getting emotionally entangled with the score of the last shot and spoiling the next shot with expectations of shooting better or a higher score, you will be able to have the mental clarity and the mental focus on each step of your shot execution.
Now, shot execution in pistol shooting comprises of several steps. The first step is taking your stance and position, the second is gripping. The third is lifting the pistol on to the target, coordinated with your breathing. The fourth step is getting your sight alignment, correct. The fifth step is to get a very good focus. The sixth step is to reduce the arc of movement when the sights come into the aiming area. The seventh step is your trigger operation. And the eighth step is the follow through of the first seven steps.
If you don’t change your grip and stance for each and every shot, then the first two steps can be avoided. After each shot, you can go straight to adjusting your grip slightly, very slightly, just to relax the tension in your grip. Then the second step would be lifting the pistol onto the target and so on alignment, focus, reducing the arc of movement, trigger operation and then follow through. This could happen for 10, 12 shots or depending upon the ability of each shooter.
These are the steps in your shot execution. Once you remove the emotions out of your system, you will be able to concentrate far better on each of these steps.
When you take a grip. Concentrate 100 percent on getting the feel of the grip.
When you lift a pistol up coordinated with your breathing, you should be 100 percent concentrating on lifting a pistol up and onto the target.
When you’re concentrating on sight alignment, it should be 100 percent making sure the sights are aligned. And so also with focus, arc of movement and then the final trigger operation. And finally, the continuation of all steps, which is follow through.
But if you’re emotionally clouded with the result of the last shot. You’re not going to be 100 percent focused, so even where you’re taking your grip. You are thinking of the next shot or you’re thinking of the last shot and that 100 percent concentration on getting the correct feel of that grip, will be slightly less than 100 hundred percent. When you’re lifting the pistol up and follow the next few steps if you’re still emotionally clouded, with a little bit of tension or negativity, it is going to affect all these steps, the hundred percent which is required for short execution of each of these steps, mentioned before will not be there. As a result, your shooting is not going to be phenomenal, its not going to be great.
When you keep your pistol down and check the result of your next shot, once again you get emotionally clouded and this vicious cycle goes on. But if you keep your emotions aside, don’t score at all, you will find a lot of improvement in your mental stability and clarity. You will be a little bit more relaxed; you will be more focussed and this what you need to develop.
Stop scoring, yes check the result, it is inevitable and unavoidable. You can be aware of the result but don’t think of the effect it will have on the score of the series and how the score of the series will affect the ultimate score of your match. This as I had said earlier that it is easier said than done. It takes a lot of discipline, a lot of mental discipline. This what most shooters find it extremely difficult to adopt because their entire shooting career, two years, three years, four years whatever is based completely on scoring. So, their entire psyche, their shooting system, their mental shooting system is based on their scoring which is like the carbon dioxide gas in the soda. It charges them up.
And if you remove this gas, the scoring out of their system, their entire drive towards their shooting will become flat, like the soda bottle which has been opened and kept aside for a few hours resulting in a very tepid taste. There is no taste to it.
And this inner discipline is the most difficult thing to achieve and I find that shooters will continue scoring. They may try it for a few sessions, they may try not scoring for a few sessions, for a few shots for a few series but then they feel like a fish out of water. They are in their comfort zone, which is really not a comfort zone. It is just a vicious cycle. You need to break out of it, you need to imbibe this discipline. To get out of this vicious cycle you need to change.
Try out this suggestion, sincerely and seriously. The results don’t happen immediately but you will see the results of not scoring, you will see a great improvement in your mental focus and your shooting will definitely improve, by and by. Don’t expect the results overnight. They will happen after one week, two weeks, three weeks maybe it will take you months. But if you are prepared to do this, you will see the results for yourself. So, till the next video, thank you and goodbye.