Sports Shooting Psychology - Concentration

Concentration – staying focused in stressful competition situations There are tons of books out there totally devoted to concentration, so I what I am about to write is only my opinion and take on the subject matter. There are so many aspects to the game of shooting, whether it be rifle, pistol, or shotgun. At the same time, one of the constants is concentration. Concentration is one of the things that allows you to be your best and keeps you in the “zone” when you are performing extremely well. It’s also a piece of the puzzle that has often disappeared when things go awry. So how do you concentrate when the pressure is on? The exact recipe will be slightly different for different people, of course. Two important things for anyone, however, are practice and a great imagination! If you never practice focusing intently on anything, or especially during training, you will never learn to do it when you really want to. You must practice every situation that could occur during an important competition and practice what you will do so that you can continue to be your best. That means imagining and practising what you will do in the biggest match of your life when things are going incredibly well. How will you react? How will you work with it so that you continue to perform beautifully? What will you do if you are in that same biggest match of your life and something goes wrong? How will you keep your poise, get back on track, and do what you’re capable of to achieve your goal? The answer depends on you. A great shooter needs to have a great imagination and needs to be able to look deep inside themselves to know how they might react in every different situation. If something doesn’t feel comfortable or there is nervousness, that means the athlete needs to work on preparing for it in training so that if the situation happens in a competition, there will be no lapse in concentration. There is a plan and it has be rehearsed so that it flows effortlessly. ELEY-shooter-Matt-Emmons-ELEY-tenex I certainly can’t recommend any “quick fixes” to help anyone concentrate better. That doesn't really exist. A couple things that always help in stressful situations, however, are these: - Breathe!! Stop and take a few slow, deep breaths to slow the heart down. You’ll be surprised how much this can help. - Keep your thoughts rational and focused on things you can control. Any worries about “what if’s” or things out of your control are completely useless and will only take your concentration off of what you’re trying to do. - Stay in the moment! Good or bad, the past is done! You cannot change it. If the past was great, enjoy it for a moment and move on to now. If it was bad, learn what you can from it and move forward. The future is what you create. Every future moment is this current moment. Enjoy and make the best of this current moment and the future moments will come by themselves. Make the current shot the best shot you can possibly make, enjoy it then repeat on the next one. - Picture what you want to see happen. Imagine a short video of the “your perfect shot” and play it over and over again in your head. Keep it short, keep it simple. - Lastly, no matter whether it’s your club championship or the Olympic Games, remember why you are shooting. Hopefully you are in that particular moment because you love the game. At the heart, that is why we play any game – because we enjoy it! Never forget that no matter how stressful any competition might be. Aligning the sights and making a great shot is a whole lot of fun to do wherever and whenever you do it.   Good luck and great shooting, Matt Emmons