To improve focus during performance, you must train your recharge efficiency.
As a suggestion to anyone dealing with concentration issues (be it archery, golf, tennis) here is my routine:
Take a recharge breath while loading. Feel my mantra before starting the next sequence.
‘Recharge and feel my mantra’ means that I am taking full control over my mental state before I attack the next arrow. I am not trying to maintain a constant single focus while I am on the line. Rather I am using the 5 seconds between the shots to reboot my mind. Every shot starts clean.
In order to train for this – count how many seconds you need for your sequence. Then at home when you can control your space, do a plank and hold it for the same amount of time as your sequence. Come down, breathe and relax in order to begin your recharge mode.
Start playing with your self talk while you train this new recharge mode. Create a unique mantra which makes you feel how you want to feel during your performance. A few words is all it takes. Your mantra is not about which physical actions are required during performance rather it should be about how you want to feel about yourself while doing that performance. Choose meaningful characteristics from your favourite superheroes, literary characters and stage icons. Those are the words you need to have as your mantra.
Time how long it takes to get your mind clear (to stop thinking about your sequence and to start feeling your mantra). Even a whole minute is ok to start with because this kind of training will improve that number very quickly. Then when your mind is clear go back up into a plank again. Repeat a dozen times each day.
If you want to take it up a notch, then add some adrenaline into the mix. Do the above method of visualising your shot while holding a plank, then get up on your feet. Then start jumping up and down, do burpees or even run on the spot. Just do something to spike your heart rate for 15-20 seconds then stop. Be still. Practice getting your mind clear again using your mantra and deep breathing. Repeat 10 times –> plank with sequence –> jumping to spike heart rate –> recharge with mantra and breathing.
Instead of focusing only on the shot performance, use this training to improve the efficiency of your mental recharge between shots. Even with adrenaline surges, your mind will be much more able to focus during competitions because you have trained it to reboot whenever you want. You have full control.
Remember – it is not about training harder rather you must train smarter.
This post was inspired by Lenka.