Ask Bob: How to build Zone concentration in the shooting sports

I frequently get questions from readers of my book, blog and monthly articles in Trap & Field and other magazines. Shooters are stymied by some component of their game and turn to me, aka ASK BOB, the “Ann Landers” of the shooting sports.
This month I received a question from Frank:
I have a lot of concentration problems but I feel like I may have changed my mount in the last week or so and I can’t seem to get back to where I was.  What should I do?
In the video below, I’ve broken down the answer into two areas:
1) How to prevent concentration losses generally, and,
2) The need to get new techniques working subconsciously before you step up to compete.

I’ve also provided this training tip in written format below:

Stopping Zone drift 

The solution may be twofold. First concentration problems may or may not be related to your new mount.  Sometimes shooters have what I call Zone drift where they lose the Zone incrementally from post to post, station to station. A good way to cure this is to visualize yourself smoking the target before you step into the post or station, every time. It will take about two seconds. Make sure you supercharge the visualization with the good feel of adrenaline as adrenaline is an alertness booster.

Stop thinking and get subconscious

Second, the lack of concentration may be caused by your new gun mount, as any new technique requires thinking.  And thinking leads to a struggle with focus as concentrating on the new technique takes you away from concentrating on the target.  All of your technique needs to be routine and subconsciously driven.  The solution here is to practice your new gun mount repeatedly at home and on the range until it feels smooth and non-thinking. You can have a friend or coach watch and give you feedback just to be sure. Once it feels fantastic and totally routine, without any thinking, you can take it into a competition and test it out.

So, Frank, apply a quick visualization technique as one solution to building concentration and ensure all new techniques are well-practiced before you take them to a competition. Both should do the trick to turn your game around.

Do you have  a high performance training question for Bob to help you in your shooting sport?

Please fill out the contact form below to have an opportunity to have Bob answer your question.

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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

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

See the Target…Hit the Target: Using Peripheral Vision to pick up the Target

Trap and Field Magazine

SportExcel Inc.

How do I stop my bad habit of moving my gun before I see the bird come out of the house?

This is a great question from Alex.  The reason we develop this bad habit is because the bird usually comes out very close to the time we call for it, and we can get often get away with moving early.  It is only when there is a delay that we start noticing our bad habit.

The best way to avoid this is to have your gun movement triggered not by the “pull” but by the moving target.  And the means to do this is by using Quiet Eye, a technique introduced to me by Olympic shooting development Coach, Les Greevy.

When you set this up in a soft or quiet eye vision, it is extremely fast picking up the target.  According to Coach Steve Brown of East Texas, far and away the best expert on the eyes I’ve ever met for Clay target sports, one’s peripheral gaze picks up movement faster than a focused one.

So, here’s what you do to set this up.  Look out a window toward a distant item like a tree or flag pole and look through your fingers.  Then bring your fingers around to the sides so you can see both the distant object and your fingers.  This is quiet eye.  It triggers your mind to go into optimum readiness mode.

Hold your eyes in the manner and drop your fingers.  Practice it in your home and get used to how it feels, and then take it to the range.  When it becomes a natural feeling and your default way of looking for the target, take it to your competition.

Set QE up as part of your routine and rehearse it.  When you call for the target, your eyes will pick up the target quickly and it, not your pull call, will trigger your body to move the gun to the target.

If you want to learn more about the art of winning in clay target sports, give me a call at SportExcel.  Or check out my website and see when one of my clinics is going to be in your vicinity.

SportExcel trains trap shooters from all over North America in the art of winning so that they can own their game.  Call us to find out about our small group Skype training with 2-4 friends or to find out when SportExcel will be in your area delivering high performance clinics.  We also have a new ebook for high performance in the clay target sports due for release in the next number of weeks.   Call us at 877.967.5747 or email: bpalmer@sportexcel.ca.

Comments that Distract your Focus in Trap Shooting

Three tools to stop the mind games that people play

Q   Trap shooter Gloria asks Bob:  The other day I was going out to shoot and someone made a comment.   How do I get that out of my mind and get my mind back on shooting?

That is a great question from the point of view of both you and the person who distracted you.

The first thing you need to do is to realize that the person who made the comment knew what they were doing, either consciously or subconsciously.  In North America we are a very competitive lot and we do a lot of things to mess others up.  Now this person who did this would likely be appalled if you accused them of throwing you off your game.  It is so automatic that we can’t help it sometimes.  So, for starters, if the person who made the comment is hearing this, or you are someone who is prone to giving advice because you think it is helpful, don’t – because it isn’t.

For you, since you’ll never muzzle all the comments, you have to learn how to deal with them.  Here are three suggestions to try out:

1)  See if you can get away for 30 minutes before your round.   I call it the 30-minute rule and it works to avoid most of the chatter.  I teach various strategies you can do in this period of time but just getting away from comments can help.

2)  After every conversation, before you head off to do your 30 minutes of prep, take a mental shower.  I imagine reaching up to pull the chain and all this imaginary water pours down and cleanses me of whatever comments were made to me.  I’ve taught this to medical practitioners and other professionals who need to stay unaffected by some seriously sick people (and I’m not suggesting people who make comments to you are seriously sick).

3) Replay the comment in your head and then “play” it backward in a way where you imagine it all garbled up.  Play it forward, then backward again.  Do this several times faster and faster.  This is a bit like running a nail across an old vinyl LP and after a while you’ll make no sense of it.   You may even forget the original troublesome comment!

Have fun with these strategies and see which one works best for you.  And if you’d like to make people like this disappear, not like Tony Soprano does, but with the strategies as a part of my program, give me a call.

Bob Palmer, SportExcel

Click here to find out more about our one-one-one mental high performance training to get you ready for your trap season.
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Trap Shooters Ask: Why is Post One so Difficult?

In this video, Desira asks Bob why the first post in trap shooting is so difficult.     Bob’s answer in this video gives suggestions to make the first post easy and comfortable so that you don’t have to go in cold.

 

Bob Palmer, SportExcel

Click here to find out more about our one-one-one mental high performance training to get you ready for your trap season.
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Why do we do well in practice but panic in competition?

Bob Palmer answers a trap shooter’s question about why we can shoot so well in practice but then panic and shoot poorly in competition.

Bob Palmer, SportExcel

Click here to find out more about our online training seminar to kickstart your training:

Own the Zone Series: Seminar One – ‘It starts with the Zone’

Wed., January 25, 2012  from 9:00 – 10:00 p.m. EST

* only $ 45.00 CAD/per person + applicable tax