Practice vs Tournament – By Philippa Lowe

Over lockdown my group has worked hard resulting in some excellent scores. Looking to the future, when competitions hopefully return, we must learn to transfer skills from the relaxed environment of the practise field to the competition field.

Shooting pb scores in practise is motivating, rewarding, exciting …………… and scary.  but why scary?

Over to that little devil that sits on our shoulder whispering in our ear – expectation. We shot a pb, we shot several pb’s, we are positive, motivated, enthused. Obviously competition will be the same. We shot well for months over lockdown and so more often that not we expect to do the same when we return to the tournament field –  the little devil is convincing!

So how do we brush that devil off our shoulder?  

We must learn not to force the future, we should intend to do as well as possible.. intending to do as many good shots as possible without expecting a perfect result every time doesn’t allow frustration to take hold – it provides positivity that help us to perform at our best.

Practise smart

Practise sessions are SMART sessions. Simply rocking up and flinging a few arrows will not cut it. If you don’t stick to your routine in practise you will eventually be programming in a hundred different and slightly modified routines with no way of knowing which one will produce good results. Practise must be disciplined – get organised to get results!!

Ensure you are as ready for practise as you are for comps. Turning up tired because you were up late, had a takeaway, no warm ups, dodgy kit, is wasting everyone’s time – be professional. be prepared!!

We rarely practice for successful outcomes, we usually practice to correct errors or failures, so success when it happens can be quite a shock! Dealing with a successful outcome has to be learned also – you have to learn to live in that world. This is what helps us to realise that we “know” we can do well, rather than trying to force ourselves to “expect” to do well. It can be hard to maintain good form all day, especially if you’re doing well. Visualise good results to help you achieve good results – then try not to scare yourself too much when you start to actually achieve them!

Courtesy of Alamy Stock

If we learn to perform well in stressful situations we can actually begin to enjoy competitions without having any detrimental negative emotions. As with everything else we need to train to remove learned responses to these situations.

Recreate the circumstances that generate the most stress for you at your practice ground. Invite one high standard competitor to join you, compete online, add time constraints, record scores as you would in real competition situations.
After completion of the competition, repeat the parts that most closely “felt” like real stress parts of the event.

Own the stress and accept it, record what actually happened to your form in a log. 

Now keep visualising the stressful parts and replace the stress with desire! 

Aim to want those situations of stress so that you can start to enjoy them. Repeat this a few times over an extended period (several months) and train yourself to start to enjoy the anticipation of the event, rather than reacting negatively to it. Eventually, you will start to look forward to competitive nerves rather than crumble under the pressure of them. Obviously, make sure not to “expect” to win these test events, but do make sure you “intend” to shoot as many good shots as possible! The plan here is to build up experience of competitive situations with less stress than there would be in real events. Slowly, allowing the routine of “test events” to build up a comfort level that carries into genuine tournaments.

Those pb,s may just then be as much part of a tournament as they are practise – good luck!!!

Author Archives: Philippa Lowe

Philippa Lowe has an archery career spanning 35 years starting when she was talent spotted as a junior aged 15. She has represented Club, County, Region and Country extensively and is one of the few archers to be selected for the GB development squads with both recurve and compound bows. She acheived 5th place at the selection shoot for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Winner of many national titles over the years she has also achieved GMB with both compound and recurve bows.
Philippa now puts her extensive experience into encouraging and coaching archers from all over the country including the Jersey Island Squad. In 2017 the Jersey team travelled to Gotland for the highly competitive Island games.With Philippa as coach, the team successfully won several medals including the recurve team gold and mixed team compound alongside individual medals.

Her latest achievement is setting up her own Heart of England Coaching Group where as a County Coach Philippa works with archers of all ages to develop their shooting to a very high standard and has been instrumental in keeping them all motivated and progressive during the recent lockdown.