Tip of the week:  Take the SportExcel challenge for competition preparation


Take the SportExcel Challenge.pngI want to give you a challenge over the course of your next two competitions.  For those of you heading to college in science programs, the exercise will be good preparation.  For those of you in other disciplines or who have day jobs, it will be a good problem-solving exercise.   And although this article is written for shotgun competitors, other types of athletes can simply change the wording to suit their own discipline.

The challenge is to do your competition preparation in two different ways and compare them.  The first way is the way I’ve seen many athletes prepare.  The second, as you might be guessing, is the type of preparation I teach my athletes to do.  Good luck!

Your Competition, Exhibit A: 

In competition A, I want you to chat with your colleagues and coaches, right up to the moment you step onto the range.  Maybe you are doing this already, but it is a very simple strategy that will get you performing and shooting in a normal manner.

As you chat, yoCoach and junior shooteru can do your normal readiness program of putting together your gun and putting on your vest or other apparel and organizing your shells into the correct pouches.

You can discuss strategy with your colleagues and coaches and perhaps even change-up a few technical things so as to incorporate some last-minute ideas of your coach that involve excellence in performance.   Humor may be used at this point to lighten things up and talking to opponents can be tried as well, as they may be using different strategies and might let some ideas or secrets slip.

Coaches are permitted to give you all the advice you need, right up to the moment of competition, and can even help you adjust your posture or physiology if you like, as once you are on the range you are on your own.

Group shotWatching your opponents warm up or watching them competing ahead of your start time may also be attempted in order to see and copy what they are doing, as there is nothing in the rules that says that copying in competition is wrong.

FiEmotionsnally,  mom or dad can be close at hand to give you the “rah, rah” cheer from the bleachers.  If they appear a bit nervous to you, all the better, because “they say” that nervousness is a normal part of competition.  Keep this approach going right up to the start of your match and get ready to perform.  Then start your match and hope for the best. After this competition, take notes so you can compare this competition with the one you will be doing in the next phase.


Your Competition, Exhibit B:  

In competition B of this challenge, I want you to talk to your coach before you get to the range and tell him or her three things:pixabay_rest-413103_1280.jpg

1) Please don’t talk to me before the match,

2) Please don’t give me any new techniques or strategies before the match, and,

3) Please sit on your hands during the match, but stay in the Zone.

Then, at the match, I want you to get to the range an hour or more before the competition and get your gear together.  30 minutes before shooting, find an isolated place where you can get away from others, including your coach, teammates, opponents, parents, siblings, sponsors or officials.

Put ear buds in your ears to clearly indicate to others that you are being antisocial and that they should buzz off.  If someone comes up to you, do what you have to do to discourage them from talking and apologize afterward if necessary.

During the 30 minutes before your competition, ramp up your adrenaline and play your competition in your head in a wild and crazy manner where you feel pumped and imagine the targets breaking and imagine yourself on the podium.

During the 30 minutes, look into the distance way past any of your opponents so you don’t see them (although they might think you look a bit intimidating and be bold enough to tell you so).

Constantly moveHank_Garvey_shooting_clays from foot to foot, slightly shifting from side to side as if maintaining your balance on a sailboat.  Last, imagine yourself pulverizing (ink-balling) the targets as you move in this manner.  Now start your match in this crazy adrenalized feeling and know that you are going to win.

After this competition, take notes so you can compare this competition with the previous one.


After taking the SportExcel Challenge with this exercise, compare your notes and discuss the findings with your coaches and parents and teammates, if you wish.  I think the findings will be quite revealing.  I believe you’ll understand why my athletes take the second approach.  Some coaches will disagree with me as they may feel the need to get right into the competitive fray.  My experience says that in clay target sports, in particular, competition is for the athletes and coaches simply need to stay in the Zone for them.  However, this particular coaching thread is the fodder for another blog,

After you do the challenge (if you do it), I encourage you to email me your results to bpalmer@sportexcel.ca.  Have fun!



Sport high performance in the mountains of Spain


Our host, Julian Pena, welcomes Bob to Hotel El Ciervo in Xares, Spain

I just got back from Spain, where I had the opportunity to work with an international skeet-shooting client in the mountains of Galicia.  He had invited me to Spain to conduct a high performance clinic for Spanish shooters and coaches.  To get there, my wife and I wended our way straight up thousands of nail-biting feet to Xares.  For the faint of heart, Julian also has a helicopter pad! Continue reading

The Parent’s Choice: Being a sport spectator or a mentor

Coach and shooterLast night I worked with a particularly dynamic coach, staff and team. A previous clinic had awakened the sleeping giants in the players, as they had been shell-shocked from a negative prior coaching experience.

But last night, after applying my system for only a couple of months, and reinforced by their new coaches’ style of leadership, they were a completely different group of players. They were boisterous but respectful, loud but in the Zone, supportive and leadership-driven, yet humble enough to understand what they still didn’t know.

As were the parents in attendance. Yes, the parents. And they positively beamed.

Parents are a part of the team

I include parents in the clinics, at least the few interested ones, because they need to know what their children are learning and they can also benefit by learning the same tools, an effective process I use in my Skype clinics for parents and their teen athletes.
I know some of you must be saying that this must surely squelch the enjoyment of the kids. Continue reading

Taking time off from your shooting sport—use it or lose it

Bob and HaleyA year ago in mid-summer, my wife went on a cruise with her parents and daughter, while I drove 5,000 miles to several US clinics and saw lots of beautiful scenery.  Mistakenly I called the time between clinics a vacation.

My wife came back refreshed from her cruise and I dove back into work believing I was too. Wrong. In November, even though my business to-do list was a mile long, we booked a cruise and disappeared for two weeks. It was the best thing I’d ever done.

Now that the shooting season is over, most of you are hanging up your guns and taking a badly needed rest, too. There are others (mainly retirees) who head to Florida and other sunshine states for the endless shooting season, but most of you northern shooters are forced into a much-deserved rest by the winter weather. And you need and probably deserve it.

So, why would anyone want to take a rest from their passion as a hobby, competitive outlet or professional dream, especially when they live in Florida or might have had a very successful season?

Continue reading

What is confidence anyway?

Confidence is not a thing, it is a feel. Find that feel and you have everyone telling you that you look confident. 

Bungee Jumping

Terrie writes: Everyone tells me that I have to be more confident in my sport. How do I do that?

Bob – Great question Terrie.  The need to be confident is often the first thing you’ll read in books on the mental game. It seems like pretty sound advice as we do admire the confidence we see in others. But what is confidence anyway? How does one go about being confident? All-Americans and world champions apparently have it, but what is it and how do we get it as well?

First of all, I’m not sure why you’d even want to be confident, as it seems so unstable. Yes, even All-Americans and world champions can lose it after a couple of missed targets. So we may need to adjust our view of confidence. Just how does someone lose confidence? I know how I lose my car keys and my wallet and my spare change down through the car seat. But how is it that something which apparently takes years to build up can be lost in mere fractions of a second?   Confidence is truly a strange concept and a strange way to look at high performance where “now I have it, now I don’t.” I’m not sure I even would want something so fragile. Continue reading

How to get back on track after equipment malfunctions

Sacha asks Bob Palmer, High Performance Trainer for SportExcel the following question:

I find that it is very difficult to recover when the machines or the microphones malfunction.   What are your suggestions?

Bob: Great question Sacha.

Of all the distractions to one’s game, a malfunctioning trap machines is one of the hardest things to overcome as it is so unexpected, erratic and out of your control. You don’t know if it will happen in the next shot or ever again. Continue reading

MIND VS TARGET: New book for the clay target sports now out

Bob Palmer’s new book for target shooters is now available!

The highly acclaimed SportExcel system is a revolutionary way to win, and it is changing the way clay-target shooters approach their game in North America and around the globe. With Bob Palmer’s easy-to-read and easy-to-understand, step-by-step system, you learn to see the target as huge, to eliminate distractions and to stay totally focused.

Mind vs Target is NOT psychology. This book is your mental handbook on winning—it’s a tested and proven system and it is your prescription for taking your game to the next level. This book is filled with tools and tips as well as short cuts to learning—And it’s backed by winning clay-target shooters, professionals and Olympians. And it’s backed by science.

Mind vs Target builds a strong mental game by:

  • Giving you consistency, where you stop thinking and get rid of all distracting self-talk and affirmations
  • Putting you in control by stopping people from distracting you
  • Putting the brakes on embarrassing death spirals, so one dropped target means nothing
  • Making your eyes dynamic where you see targets slow and bright and as big as garbage pail lids, and by
  • Shooting with purpose and learning to forget all past mistakes

This book teaches you the Zone, how to stay in it and how to use it for fun, success and winning.

The book is available in both e-book and paperback.

Get your copy today!


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