Sports Shooting Psychology – Control

Control – how to keep cool and keep your emotions in check no matter what’s happening during a competition.

Written by Petra Zublasing


You would think that being in control is what you would want while shooting, especially while competing in a big competition.

I spent a long time trying to find 'perfect control'. I thought that if I could just control everything in tiny detail, then I could prevent making mistakes.

I spent some time discussing it with my sport psychologist Dr. Ed Etzel and he always told me that: “You are most in control when you are not trying to be in control”.

The best way to explain this is to imagine yourself on an escalator. You can control what step to stand on and which side you stand, but you have no control over the speed of the escalator and you certainly can’t get off. You just move along.

This is very similar to shooting.


I am in control over technical details like triggering and aiming but I cannot keep control over all technical details. In the same way I do not control the outcome of a shot but instead I control a few elements and the score is merely a consequence of how well I execute those elements. This principle helps me when I feel under pressure.

It is especially hard when people are clapping because it brings to attention the possible outcome of the shot and brings us away from what we are supposed to focus on while shooting. In those moments I choose one element to focus on - most often triggering, and try to do it as well as I can and let go of everything else.

For me this is the easiest way to get into the flow of being mindful and enjoy shooting. It doesn't always work as sometimes we are just too attached to our thoughts and can’t go back to technique, but like all things with lots of training it gets much easier.

Try sometimes to bring this mindfulness into parts of your life outside of shooting. Enjoying just what you are doing in the present moment, without letting your thoughts travel into the future or your mood getting changed by the past.

When you are out with your friends, dedicate your time to them entirely without being distracted. When you are staying with your family, give them your full attention, even if you are just watching a movie  - it is much more fun if you catch the hidden puns.

I hope through practising mindfulness you can learn how to stay in control even in the most difficult situations, in sport and in life.



Catch up on our previous sports shooting psychology posts.

Read: Confidence written by Nicco Campriani here.

Read: Concentration written by Matt Emmons here.