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Building Confidence - Positive Coaching Techniques in Archery

One of the things I have determined during my years of teaching archery is that importance of confidence. If a student lacks confidence they will tense up more often and the next thing you know they are jerking their bow arm, plucking their releases, etc. It is largely an issue of anxiety. They feel anxious, they tense up, and then their shots go awry.

In contrast if I take the same student and get them to play a game - make it fun in some way - they relax more, their ability to focus and perform well goes up, and the quality of their shots are dramatically improved.

For this reason I often employ Positive Wording during my coaching technique. It is quite simple, all I do is use words like:

Good.
Well done.
Ooooo good shot!
Yep, that is what I like to see!

You get the idea. I also express this through body language too, sometimes clapping, slapping them on them shoulder after a good shot, pointing out good habits they are building on while simultaneously saying "Good!"

Stylistically I find this method of coaching encourages archers to have a more positive attitude about what they are doing and positively reinforces the good habits they are building on - and thus reduces the bad habits many beginner archers have. These positive habits lend themselves to more accuracy over time as their archery form becomes more consistent.

In contrast if an archery coach were to use Negative Wording like the following below the archer will begin to feel frustrated and upset, thinking they are doing poorly. This will give them more anxiety and cause them to shoot worse - consequently slowing down the learning process.

Bad.
Don't do that.
That was horrible.
Wow. That was terrible.

Now that doesn't mean I don't still use negative words sometimes, but I carefully choose which words I allow myself to make a habit of using when coaching. Words like the following:

Oops. Try doing ______ to fix that problem.
Whoops. That was a nasty blank.
Aww, that could have been better. I was expecting it to be much closer because you were doing so well.

Basically I tone down the negativity and use the opportunity to either teach them something to fix the problem, or I am using words that convey a more jovial meanings. "Whoops" for example sounds much better than "That was horrible." because it implies it was an honest mistake / accident.

I also like using words like "tiny" and "minor" when describing small errors the archer made, because they are in truth small errors and thus should be downplayed because it was such a small mistake that it is not worth ruining their confidence.

As mentioned above I have also determined that some archery students respond better to a game or to being challenged in some manner. If you give them a challenge many new archers will attempt to rise to the challenge because they want to see if they can do it. If you make the challenge a game too, well then you are just adding fun to the recipe for success - and a little bit of fun in my experience goes a long way towards a student relaxing more, tensing up less and improving the quality of their good habits.

All I am really doing is using Positive Reinforcement through the use of choice of words, body language and introducing games that help motivate the new archer. It isn't terribly complicated to do, I just have to be mindful of doing it in an effort to build their confidence and build positive habits.

It also means I have to recognize when some students have more anxiety issues and thus I have to take extra steps to make sure that one student is properly encouraged and motivated. A little encouragement goes a long way.

One Perfect Shot

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