Here’s a technique I created to improve my concentration in archery…and it has worked with tennis players and golfers too.
There seems to be three to five specific mechanical movements I need to really emphasize during my shot sequence. My actual POP words have changed over the years but the same routine is used for each and every arrow. Whether in competition or training, being able to protect this routine is a very valuable skill.
OK so that’s cool – just structured self talk…nothing too special about that…but what about the INVADERS? What about all that other stuff swimming around in our lovely brains when we are supposed to be concentrating on that valuable POP sequence?
We all know them. INVADERS can be negative self talk, previous shot reflection, calculating scores…or any other mind wanderings like what’s for dinner. It happens when you should be concentrating on what you are doing. As you try to ignore them or tell them to shut up, they actually start to create conversations within yourself. The INVADERS start marching louder and seem to take over your brain. Those words can quickly destabilize your confidence, eat up your energy, increase frustration and turn that performance into a very unpleasant situation.
The DIALING technique works for quieting all INVADERS…and best of all it is simple.
Make a list of everything and anything that comes into your mind during trainings and competitions. Keep that list close and add to it over the next month. Stick a piece of paper in your pocket or beside your towel and write them down – get them out of your head! You will see that the same things continue to INVADE on a regular basis.
When you have your list (or only one little monster) you can begin this DIALING process. The point here is not to find a solution to the INVADER rather to simply calm your mind and allow the performance to happen.
==> imagine your own private DJ booth overlooking a brightly lit stage.
==> place yourself on the stage and start performing your golf shot, tennis serve, arrow draw…work through your POP words…keep repeating your specific mechanical movements
==> each time an INVADER interrupts your performance, go into the DJ booth and name a DIAL on the control panel
==> each DIAL turns from 1 to 10 so if the INVADER is too loud…turn down the DIAL – really imagine it – click click click – turn it down to level 1 or 2. (Use this same process to turn up your POP words – name a DIAL and turn it up to 9 or 10 – this works well too if you forget a part of your sequence)
==> go back out on the stage and repeat your shot. For each INVADER, name a DIAL and click…again and again and again
==> as the DJ panel starts to control all the INVADERS you become free to perform. Your sequence becomes very pure and fluid.
Explanation: if you try to avoid or deny anything you actually give it more power. As it continues to turn around in your mind it creates a howling hurricane. By saying – OK it’s there but you click down instantly – you can keep your performance moving – you give acknowledgement but you keep the volume controlled.
Don’t try to click down to zero – it is not necessary and wastes energy. Keep the INVADERS in the DJ booth…and keep your performance on the stage. Separate these two spaces. Train with this technique during practice because it gets even easier – faster – and more automatic every time it is used. You will get to the point when any INVADER clicks down and your POP words click up – instantly.
Come on – be your own DJ