Mental Training for Shooting

I’ve been doing some reading on this subject, as well as taking some great coaching courses. With regards to mental training, there are many beliefs and programs which are available. Unfortunately, very few have any empirical proof to back them up. This doesn’t mean that they don’t work: you just have to listen to what other people are proposing and decide what’s best for you.

Below are some general concepts behind a mental training program for sports. Initially, we’ll look at general principles, then move towards shooter specific applications.

What’s Involved?

Types of Training and Specific Exercises

I’d like to introduce two types of mental training: Emotional Control and Attentional Control. Emotional Control involves Relaxation and Positive Self-Talk. Attentional Control involves Concentration and Imagery. Below are some exercises on how to develop these skills:

  • RelaxationControlled Breathing Techniques (5-to-1 Count, Three Part Breathing, Visual Controlled Breathing, Kinesthetic Breathing, Audio Controlled Breathing) and Progressive Muscle Relaxation.
  • Attentional ControlSeveral short exercises aimed at devloping your ability to concentrate – crucial skill for a shooter!

One aspect that I haven’t seen alot of good information on is one competitive training. Currently, I’m working on the issue of transitioning from a nice, relaxing training session to the stress of a match. I need to add a competitve element to my training, so I will lessen the performance impact when competing at a match.


Bonus Section:

Dr. Terry Orlick is a world renowned expert on the subject of mental training. Within his book, PSYCHED: Inner Views of Winning, he included a lengthy interview with Canada’s Linda Thom, the first winner of the Ladies’ 25m Pistol event. Dr. Orlick has given me permission to include the interview here and I strongly recommend that you download and read it. I also invite you to visit Dr. Orlick’s Zone of Excellence website

  • Linda Thom: Psyched!: Linda talks about how she prepared for the 1984 Olympics and the strategies she used to bring home the Gold medal!

I was lucky enough to attend a seminar by Lanny Bassham on mental management. (You might want to check out Lanny’s website. He has some books, tapes and videos available, plus mental coaching options as well.) I strongly recommend attending one of his informative and motivational seminars. While I’ve included my notes and impressions of the seminar that I participated in, its not the same as meeting Lanny in person.