Training to your Level and Desire

As many of you are aware I also have a Tumblr blog, this is to help publicize my WordPress blog and help reach more beginner archers.  When I asked for questions here on my WordPress blog one of my Tumblr followers, tuchesuavae, asked the following…

I was wondering, what exercises do you do? What is your regiment with band work? Weight, tension, supply details, repetition, how long do you hold, how often, etc.

I initially responded …

I have a 6 day-a-week training schedule including weight training, shooting, walking, aerobic and Pilates. My training schedule varies depending on the time of year. 

Sometimes I use a rowing machine or weights however I no longer add weight. Do not want to add mass; just lean strong muscles. I use bands for warm-up EVERY time I shoot. I shoot about 150-200 arrows a day. 

However I thought I would answer the question in more detail and discuss the importance of training at your level. A training plan for any athlete is developed in conjunction with the athlete, their short and long-term goals and their current physical abilities and limitations. Before developing a training plan, you need to ask yourself, “What do I want out of archery?”, since the answer will dictate how you proceed.

Personally, until 2010 I practiced with a training plan fit for an intermediate level archer. In 2010, prior to the 2011 Canada Games, I met with my coach and expressed my desire to go to the games and compete. She developed a plan that increased the number of arrows progressively, weight training without mass gain and developed a higher level of core muscles. Although at the time, it seemed like a lot, my coach explained that if that was my goal that is what it would take to get there, and she was right.

Every level of competitive sports has a new level of commitment. Sometimes you need to make sacrifices to achieve your goals. If you are planning on practicing only in classes and expecting to be a world champion, you are sorely mistaken.  For two straight years, I had a limited social life outside of the sport and the friends I had there.

My basic schedule included, taking into account time for studying, tournament schedules and travel.

  • Core muscle development one-day a week including weight training and Pilates.
  • 1-2 days of rowing machine
  • 1-2 days of cardiovascular including walking, jogging or biking. 20-30 minutes with a continuous high-heart rate.
  • Shooting 150-200 arrows 3-5 days a week.
  • One day a week I rested.

My six-day a week plan was tailored specifically for me and became more involved and more difficult as the shooting season progressed. It was made this way because I wanted it to be and therefore I stuck to the plan and attained my goals.  Remember my plan will probably not work for you, mainly because my strengths, limitations, and goals differ.

If you are ready to take it to the next level in archery or any sport, seek out a trained and qualified coach. Work together with your coach to understand where you want to go and together develop a plan on how to get you there.

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Archery – The Mental Game

There are two components in every competitive sport, the physical and the mental game. Often in sports we develop our physical ability long before we develop our mental game. Remember, my ascension to the world competition level was extremely fast, one year I was completely unknown in Canada, a dark horse. Then just 18 months later I had already won a Canada Games medal and was on my way to represent Canada at the World Indoor Championships; Real fast! Charles Lopez asked…

Perhaps you’ve covered this already and I’ve missed it but I wondered if you could expand on what you do on the mental side of things while you compete?

This is the toughest question I have been asked, since I still struggle with it and one of my training goals for this year is to work on my mental game. Archery is a lot like golf, you are not competing with anyone but yourself. So a good mental game is vital since it is slow paced and you have a lot of time to assess your shot, your environment and perhaps over analyse things. This means to perform your best, you need to have your thoughts under control.

Boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Boy: There is no spoon.
Neo: There is no spoon?
Boy: Then you’ll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.
– Spoon boy from The Matrix

Basically, whether or not there is a spoon is irrelevant, what matters is the belief. Any negative thoughts you tell yourself, can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. How well you play the mental game is going to have a significant effect on how well you score on a given day.

I remember the world indoor championships like it was yesterday. At the start, I was enjoying everything and shooting well. Then came the introductions, they were announcing former world champions, Olympians, and current champions. Then out of the blue, they introduced Jordan Sequillion as one of the representatives from Canada. At just 17, I was one of the youngest athletes there but the pride of my entire country filled me giving me the chills, goose-bumps and made me extremely nervous.

I remember trying to focus on shooting, I wanted to make every shot perfect, and I needed to shoot the best I ever had. My country was counting on me! I was so nervous that I was  shaking; not the best for archery.At the end of the competition, after being eliminated, I just broke down and started crying. I felt as if I let the entire country down. Coaches from other countries came over to comfort me, they had witnessed my shooting in the warm-ups. They simply said, you belong here you just need to work on keeping your emotions in check.  That helped comfort me a lot, it really helped me for the team rounds too.

Afterwards, my parents ask me the question, “Why do you shoot?” Seems like an easy question to answer. I shoot because I love it. So then they asked the question. “So what changes between shooting in warm-ups and in competition?” Hmmmm….makes you wonder. They insisted that only my perspective changed, not the target.

If archer shoots just for fun he has all his skill.
If he shoots for score his hands tremble and his breath is uneasy.
If he shoots for a golden price he becomes mad and blind.
His skill was not lessened, but the vision of the target changed him.
–          Old Chinese Proverb

So to answer… “What you do on the mental side of things while you compete?”

I am working on it, shooting because I want to shoot, not because I need a higher score than before. Not focusing on any past mistakes and not worrying about where I am; just remembering that I love the sport.  I shoot one arrow at a time and if I am the best that day I will win and if I do not win there will be many more opportunities in the years to come, because I love to shoot.

I do not know if this answered your question or not, however I did the best I could.

Bow Selection

I am often asked what kind of bow should I shoot. Selecting a bow should be based on your goals and usage. Are you just wanting to shoot arrows as a purest, perhaps a traditional bow would be best. If you are hunting, perhaps a compound bow or crossbow is for you. If you want to compete in the Olympics than you need a recurve bow. Most coaches recommend learning on a traditional type bow first before using a compound to help develop proper form however this is not a “written in stone” fact.

There are two primary classes of bow and then two sub-classes within each primary class. Mechanical (Crossbow & Compound) OR Traditional (Longbow or Recurve)

First ask yourself the following questions…

  • What kind of bow do I want to shoot? (Traditional or mechanical)
  • What am I going to do with my bow? (Hunt, compete, learn)

One of my readers asked….

… I have been in awe of archery my whole life, but I couldn’t do anything about it because there’s no archery club in my country. I’m seriously thinking about purchasing a bow but since I have no one to guide me, I was wondering if you could post something about how to choose the right bow. I also understand that some attachments aren’t necessary (like the clicker), I would want to know what a bow NEEDS to have. What should I be looking out for?

You bow is a personal preference; finding the perfect bow takes time, experimentation, trial and error. Check out this excellent blog by “Off the Arrow Shelf” who provides excellent insight into what you should look out for in your first bow.

Preparing to take on the World

The 2012 World Archery Indoor Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada are less than a month away, and I am equally excited and nervous. This will be my first experience at the World level and I am trilled about enjoying it with my junior recurve team mates, Virginie Chenier of Quebec and Caitlin Northey of Saskatchewan. I am sure that we will gel as a team however since we all live in various provinces we will develop our team round strategy at the hotel on practice days. Speaking of the Hotel, the South Point Hotel and Casino, where the event will be held, is located in the heart of the premiere southwest Las Vegas valley, just minutes away from the famous Las Vegas Strip. According to their website, some of their many amenities include a 16-screen Century Theatre movie complex, 64-lane bowling center and a handful of restaurants that cater to all appetites and tastes.  Their distinctive hotel features spacious rooms and suites with 42-inch plasma televisions, Point Plush mattresses and Wireless Fidelity throughout. A unique feature to this property is its Equestrian Center, which is the finest horse facility in the country. South Point also has a fabulous 400-seat showroom that features headliner entertainment and dancing to live bands on weekends. Although the hotel offers plenty to do, even for those under age of majority (21 in Nevada), I am not sure I will have a lot of time based on the posted schedule for the Championships. The practice venue will be open for both official arrival days, Friday and Saturday, and I plan to get there early on Saturday. The rest of the week looks like the following…

  • Day 1 Official Practice & Team Captain Meeting
  • Day 2 Qualification Rounds
  • Day 3 Individual Eliminations
  • Day 4 Team Eliminations
  • Day 5 Individual and Team Finals

Immediately following the championships from February 10th to 13th is the World Archery Festival, stage 2 of the Indoor Archery World Cup. However, due to the amount of school I would have to miss, I have decided not to participate, instead I will fly home on February 10th. I look forward to meeting so many new friends from all over the world, and participating in one of the archery world’s premier events. Until then, my focus will be on eliminating all distractions. First and foremost, finish this semester and exams the week before leaving. So rather than setting expectations to high; my goals are simple. First, focus on shooting and ignoring bells, whistles and the bright lights of Las Vegas. Then, give it my best effort each day, focusing on each shot and ignoring any mistakes. Lastly, learn and enjoy the complete experience. If all I bring back is the knowledge of what it takes to compete that the World level, I will succeed. I have been asked a couple of times now, however it is unknown at this time, if they will be streaming a live feed of the competition however results will be posted on the World Indoor website.