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DECISION MAKING: The Importance of a Positive Mind Set

By Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc. M.Sc.(Hons) B.Ed.

Importance of Decision Making in Shooting
Sport is a game of decisions - all throughout a match a person is making decisions which affect the outcome of the game. Some of these decisions are made consciously; for example :
Do I serve the ball to his backhand or forehand?;
Do I pass the ball or shoot for a goal myself?;
Do I go for a winner or play it safe?

However, many of the most important and significant decisions are not made consciously at all, and many sportspeople are totally unaware of the pre-programmed patterns of decision making that are limiting their performance.

In this article I take a look at some of the conscious and unconscious decisions that affect shooters, and make some suggestions for improving both conscious and unconscious decision making to improve YOUR performance.

Three Important Decisions
Firstly, it's crucial to understand that both as shooters, and as ordinary human beings, we all are making decisions about three things which affect us enormously : decisions about focus; decisions about what things mean; and decisions about what to do right now.

At every instant you're making a decision about what to focus your attention upon, then once your attention is focused on a particular event or set of circumstances the next decision you make is "What does this mean? Is it good, bad or unimportant either way?" This is then followed by the decision about "What do I do now?".

Let's consider an example. The first decision, "What do I focus on?", most people readily understand and appreciate it's importance on the surface.

At each moment, what you decide to pay attention to, and what you decide to focus your thinking on, affects how you feel, and what you do. A person who is focused on the target and their own successful shooting routine and rhythm is obviously going to perform more consistently than another performer thinking about someone watching them from the audience, or who's mind is on their hot date after the shoot!

The best players in any sport have learned how to manage this crucial triple decision making process to get the best out of themselves.

However let's probe a little deeper into this process. Consider an example from the game of golf. You tee up your ball on the first hole, (a par 5), and hit a glorious drive straight down the middle of the fairway - the best drive you've done for ages! Feeling good, you walk down to the ball and take out your 3 wood, again striking the ball sweetly and watch with pleasure as it comes to rest just an easy pitch from the green! You walk up confidently, take out your wedge, and with a smooth flowing swing, connect solidly with the ball, and watch in bliss as it sails in a perfect arc directly for the pin.

Suddenly, a freak gust of wind drifts your ball into the steep right hand side bunker!

Now ...... what you decide to focus your attention on at that moment determines how you feel and how you perform!

What do many people choose to focus on in such an instance? The misfortune of going into the bunker, perhaps thinking things like: "There goes my birdie chance now"; or "I hate that bunker; I never play it well. Last time I was in that bunker, it took me three shots to get out, and I ended up with a triple bogey"; or "I always manage to mess up a good drive"; or even "There goes my round today"!

Or perhaps their attention gets captured by thoughts of "I should have ........ I should have aimed further to the left", or "I should have used a different club" ..... etc. etc.

In order to do better at something, it's useful to ask the question, "What do the top people focus on at any point in time, and in particular circumstances?". In this instance, invariably champion golfers focus on their strongly desired goal, and committed standard of performance. They choose to focus their attention on the excellent drives they just did, and on previous good bunker shots, and imagine successfully getting up and down in two, to still make birdie, rather than dwelling on the misfortune of landing in the bunker.

Relate this to your own shooting - what decisions do you make in similar situations? How might you direct your decisions about focus that would lead to more consistent performance?

Your Consistent Focus is What is Important
I like to suggest that we human beings are a lot like guided missiles - we move toward whatever we regularly and consistently focus on and picture in our imagination and thoughts, with feeling.

It's not what you think about occasionally that's important, but what you're consistently and regularly focusing your attention upon that influences your life, and performance.

Think for a minute about when you were a younger person - didn't you imagine yourself there as you watched your heroes at the Olympics on TV, and think to yourself, "I want to perform like that!" Likewise, we first imagine ourselves into every new job, relationship, activity and performance, before we do it in reality.

So realise that your decisions about what you focus your attention upon are directing your life. Ask your self, right now, "What have I been thinking about most today, and this week? What has my focus been upon? What have I spent most of my time thinking about?"

It's interesting to note that for many people, their focus is often on what other people are doing : the latest office gossip; which celebrities have been sleeping with whom; the racing form; or details of the recent performances of their favourite sports stars.

Champions tend to be much more concerned with themselves and their life to focus for too long on other people.
Every thought has one of only two consequences - it either moves you closer to your dreams, or it takes you further away. There are no other choices, and no 'idle' thoughts! What you decide to focus upon and think about moves you in that direction.

However, many people allow their focus to be distracted and controlled by other people and events, rather than being directed by their own dreams and desires.

For many people, life is like a river, and they're just floating along with the current - current fashions and fads, current events and current problems. The trouble is that sometimes that current can smash you into the rocks or over the waterfall - so it's a good idea to have a direction in mind for where you want to go, and regularly and consistently focus your thinking on that.

Directing Your Focus
What this means in practice is to develop the discipline to consistently focus your attention and thinking on what you want.

For many people, thoughts are things that happen to them - I hear it all the time! "I can't help it; I always do it" they say, as if someone else was actually putting the thoughts in their head! That's garbage!

No-one is in charge of your thinking but you; no-one but you directs your thoughts, so quit whinging and bitching or making excuses - and learn to discipline your mind!

All mental training MUST begin with the discipline of training your focus, and realising that YOU control and direct your thoughts. Thinking positively doesn't always guarantee success, but when has thinking negatively ever done you any good?

In the next issue I will discuss the other two, less conscious, decision making processes that influence your confidence, self belief and performance consistency.

About Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc.(AES) M.Sc.(Hons)
Jeffrey Hodges is a performance consultant to elite athletes, sporting teams and corporate clients. He is the author of the widely acclaimed "Sportsmind - An Athlete's Guide to Superperformance Through Mental & Emotional Training" and "Champion Thoughts, Champion Feelings"; creator of the Sportsmind performance enhancement workshops and audio tapes; and Director of the Sportsmind Institute for Human Performance Research.

He is a NLP Master Practitioner and Associate Trainer, and his Sportsmind programs have been endorsed by the NSW Dept Sport & Recreation, and recommended by top sportsclubs and successful athletes. Jeffrey has competed in many sports, notably Volleyball, Squash, Soccer and Golf, and currently trains in Aikido, holding a black belt.

Some of his clients to date include :
Australian Rugby Union
St. Joseph's College
Woodlands Golf Club
Financial Institutions Remuneration Group (FIRG)
Societe Generale
Qld. Swimming
Network for Fitness Professionals
North Sydney and Penrith Rugby League Clubs
Qld. Athletics Assn
NSW Netball Assn
Northern Inland Academy of Sport
Victorian Soaring Assn
Orange Agricultural College Equestrian School
Qld and NSW Departments of Sport and Recreation
Qld Academy of Sport
and the RAAF.

For more information, contact :
SPORTSMIND , 77 FLAXTON MILL ROAD
FLAXTON Qld. Australia. 4560.
PHONE 61 7 5445 7994
email : jh@sportsmind.com.au
website : www.sportsmind.com.au

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Seven Mental Skills of Champion Shooters

By Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc. M.Sc.(Hons) B.Ed.

What do great shooters have in common?
Over the past year or so, I've had the privilege of working personally with a number of excellent shooters on some mental training techniques, and I thought it might be instructive to outline the principles, techniques and approach to mental training that shooters can use to enhance their performances.

But first, think for a moment about a shooter who you admire ..... What precisely do you admire about them? What is it that makes this person a champion in your eyes?

Obviously, they are skilled shooter, and they use excellent equipment - yet there is more to being a champion than technique and equipment. Champions have also learned how to get the best out of themselves by developing the skills of the sports mind.

Yet consider this : it's an observable fact that most shooters spend much of their time on the range, training and refining the technical and tactical aspects of their performances. However, as most players, professionals and watchers of any sport would agree, the major obstacles to improved performance are generally not physical at all, but rather mental or emotional obstacles : lapses in concentration; pre-performance anxiety; poor motivation; loss of confidence; negative mental attitude; 'choking' under pressure; and so on. It's the person with the mental and emotional toughness who succeeds most often in the long run.

You're more than just a body. Your mind and emotions also play an important part in your performances. If you're just training your body, you're only training less than half of yourself!

You don't build physical fitness with one or two gym workouts do you? You don't develop consistent shooting skills and techniques with an ad-hoc approach to training, do you? Yet, many shooters - even at the elite level - leave their mental and emotional preparation to chance! They just hope that they'll be confident and focused on the day.

This just isn't good enough any more! The best shooters leave nothing to chance, so don't leave your mental and emotional preparation to chance. Learn how to train your mind ... train your emotions ... by training the seven skills of the sports mind.

The important thing to realise is that attributes such as tough-mindedness, confidence, relaxed concentration, emotional control, and positive self belief and expectation can be learned and improved. Over the coming issues, I will share with you some simple mental training techniques of the best shooters and greatest sportspeople in the world. Techniques which are all simple and easy to learn and apply skills - secrets that you can learn to significantly improve your shooting, with very little effort.

Learn how to be self motivated, with high self esteem and a positive self image; know how to handle stress and pressure, and to be self directed with clearly defined goals supported by strong values and leadership qualities. Learn to develop the following seven mental skills for shooting success :

  • Positive Self Motivation
  • Powerful Goal Achievement Strategies
  • Emotional State Mastery
  • Positive Mental Attitude
  • Strong Concentration & Focusing Abilities
  • Positive Self Image & Unshakeable Self Confidence
  • Precision Visualisation Skills

I want to begin in this issue with a discussion on Visualisation for Successful Shooting. I believe Visualisation is the foundational and most important mental skill - one which all shooters want to master first. This is because all the other mental skills require competent visualisation techniques .... to achieve goals, you have to see yourself doing so; to improve a technical aspect of your shooting or change a limiting emotional reaction or behaviour, you have to picture yourself doing that, and imagine a new self image. - which will include some basic and advanced visualisation techniques to help you improve your driving distance and consistency, short game and putting accuracy.

POSITIVE VISUALISATION
Visualisation is a common skill we all use all the time; to achieve anything, to do anything, we first 'see' ourselves doing it. So visualisation is not something strange or difficult, but something we all constantly use in order to function in the world ..... we all can visualise. The trouble is, most people use visualisation negatively - they imagine all the bad things that could happen, and then hope they don't!

The important thing to realise is that we human beings are a lot like guided missiles - we move in the direction of our regular and consistent thoughts and imaginings; we move toward what we picture in our mind - particularly what we picture with vividness and strong feeling.

Whenever we associate a vivid picture with a strong feeling, it has a magnetic attraction - so be careful of what you picture with feeling, because you will be pulled in that direction.

Have you ever 'imagined' doing something you didn't want to do ... only to find yourself almost magnetically compelled to do just that - despite all your best 'willpower' efforts?

It's important to remember that imagination is more powerful than willpower - so the first mental skill to develop is to learn to control and direct your imagination ...... rather than letting your imagination direct you!

SELF ONE AND SELF TWO
There's a wonderful book by Tim Gallwey called the Inner Game of Tennis, and in it he talks about the concept of the two selves. Tim Gallwey was a tennis coach, and he noticed people talking to themselves on the court, and from this he suggested that we actually have two 'selves'.

Self 1 is the conscious, 'telling' self, and its the part of us that is always telling us to "Keep your wrist firm", "Watch the ball", "Follow through", or whatever. Self 2 is our non-conscious 'doing' self, and it is the part of us that Self 1 is giving the commands to. You could call Self 1 our conscious mind, and self 2 our body.

Now the interesting thing about self 2, our body, is that is understands vivid pictures and images better than it does words.

It's similar to a computer in that it understands a very particular and precise programming language - however the programming language of self 2 is not MS DOS or WINDOWS XP, but rather vivid visual images. Self 2 is a very competent servant and it accurately follows the instructions given to it in its language.

However most people try to program self 2 with words - they verbally command their body to do something without having a clearly visualised and precise picture of exactly what they want to happen. But it just doesn't work effectively - it's a bit like talking in a foreign language.

If I said the Japanese phrase : "Katate mochi Nikkajo Osai Ni", would you know what I wanted you to do?

It's just the same when you 'talk' to your body - it just doesn't understand the words you use. The way to command, or 'program' your body effectively is to use vivid images - particularly images associated with strong feeling, or what I call 'feel-mages'.

This concept is supported by comments from champion sportspeople. Jack Nicklaus has said "I never hit a shot, even in practice, without having a clear, in focus picture of it in my mind." Greg Liganus, after hitting his head on the diving board in one of his dives in the 1988 Olympics, was asked by one of the television crews if he wanted a copy of the dive to see where he went wrong. He refused, saying he didn't even want to consider the possibility that Greg Liganus could hit his head on a diving board!

You want to have a positive focus, and you want to communicate that positive focus to your body in a way that it understands - by giving it clear, vivid images. It could be said that your level of performance is directly related to the quality of the communication and the level of trust you can establish between your self 1 and self 2.

WHY VISUALISATION WORKS
There is overwhelming scientific and anecdotal evidence which demonstrates the undeniable fact that visualisation can improve your sports performances. In my own research, the feedback I've received from athletes is that they improved their performance from 10% to 50%!

Visualisation works - but do you know why? It works because visualisation has a measurable, physiological effect on our body. When you visualise doing a movement, play, stroke, shot, or performance, there is a measurable response by the specific muscles used in that activity in response to your imagined movements.

For instance, in order to make a perfect shot in reality, a specific 'program' of neuro-muscular circuits has to fire in order for that to happen. However, if I just vividly imagine doing that shot, it's been found that micro-muscular stimulation occurs in those same muscles used to do it in 'reality'.

In fact, neurologically, your body can't tell the difference between a 'real' experience, and a vividly imagined one. You consciously know one experience is real and the other is imagined, but at the cellular level, your body can't tell the difference.

Because there is this muscular response to visualised activity, it makes it possible to 'program in' desired shots, strokes, plays, movements, behaviours, and even emotional responses prior to doing them. In other words you can 'groove in' to your body at a cellular level, a 'muscle memory' of what you want your body to do.

Further, visualisation allows you to practice your techniques perfectly - without error, and so 'groove in' the optimum neural pathway for future successful performances.

About Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc.(AES) M.Sc.(Hons)
Jeffrey Hodges is a performance consultant to elite athletes, sporting teams and corporate clients. He is the author of the widely acclaimed "Sportsmind - An Athlete's Guide to Superperformance Through Mental & Emotional Training" and "Champion Thoughts, Champion Feelings"; creator of the Sportsmind performance enhancement workshops and audio tapes; and Director of the Sportsmind Institute for Human Performance Research.

He is a NLP Master Practitioner and Associate Trainer, and his Sportsmind programs have been endorsed by the NSW Dept Sport & Recreation, and recommended by top sportsclubs and successful athletes. Jeffrey has competed in many sports, notably Volleyball, Squash, Soccer and Golf, and currently trains in Aikido, holding a black belt.

Some of his clients to date include :
Australian Rugby Union
St. Joseph's College
Woodlands Golf Club
Financial Institutions Remuneration Group (FIRG)
Societe Generale
Qld. Swimming
Network for Fitness Professionals
North Sydney and Penrith Rugby League Clubs
Qld. Athletics Assn
NSW Netball Assn
Northern Inland Academy of Sport
Victorian Soaring Assn
Orange Agricultural College Equestrian School
Qld and NSW Departments of Sport and Recreation
Qld Academy of Sport
and the RAAF.

For more information, contact :
SPORTSMIND , 77 FLAXTON MILL ROAD
FLAXTON Qld. Australia. 4560.
PHONE 61 7 5445 7994
email : jh@sportsmind.com.au
website : www.sportsmind.com.au

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Seven Mental Skills of Champion Shooters: Motivation Part 1

By Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc. M.Sc.(Hons) B.Ed.

The secret to motivation is the way you communicate - with yourself, and others. Communicate in a particular way and all you'll get is resistance and apathy; change your communication style and you will get enthusiasm and positive action - from yourself and in those you coach!

This is the third article in a series of articles on mental training for improved shooting performance.

Previously I have mentioned that there are seven essential mental skills for shooting success :

  • Positive Self Motivation
  • Powerful Goal Achievement Strategies
  • Emotional State Mastery
  • Positive Mental Attitude
  • Strong Concentration & Focusing Abilities
  • Positive Self Image & Unshakeable Self Confidence
  • Precision Visualisation Skills

Importantly, I believe each of these mental skills are learnable and teachable.

In the past, qualities and attributes such as tough-mindedness, confidence, relaxed concentration, emotional control, and self belief were thought to be 'innate' ..... a shooter either 'had it' or they didn't, and as a consequence coaches have spent most of their attention training technical shooting skills and more recently physical fitness.

However all the skills of the sports MIND can be learned and improved with some simple mental training techniques.

I introduced the first of these mental training techniques in the previous two issues when I spoke about Visualisation.

I said that Visualisation is the most important mental skill for shooters, and that to direct your shooting performance effectively you want to use clear visual images with feeling, not words, and that visualisation works because it has a measurable, physiological effect on our body.

I also noted the importance of getting into the right mental state to visualise, outlined six specific applications for visualisation for shooters, and gave some simple tips for getting the best out of your visualisation sessions.

In this issue I want to talk about the important topic of motivation.

WHAT IS MOTIVATION?
What is motivation, and where does it come from? How do we 'get motivated', and how can we motivate others in an effective manner? How come some people always seem to have so much motivation and energy, while others struggle with apathy and lack of direction?

Put simply, motivation is an energy - an energy to do, to accomplish. In order to understand this energy a little better, take a few moments now to think of a specific time when you were really motivated - a time when you felt that energy to do, strongly. Take the time to remember where you were, what you were thinking, and how you motivated yourself.

How did you communicate with yourself in order to get motivated?

You will no doubt have found that you used one of two simple motivation strategies - either a positive motivation strategy, or a negative motivation strategy. Now in this context 'negative' doesn't necessarily mean 'bad', and positive doesn't necessarily mean 'good'.

I define negative motivation as a form of motivation that moves you away from a negative happening or experience - moving you away from something you don't want to happen. The essential motivating part of negative motivation is the thought of something 'bad' happening.

Negative motivation often comes from an external source with the threat of some kind of punishment if you don't do something. For example, your parents telling you you have to clean up your room, or mow the lawn, or you won't be allowed to go out on Saturday night. Or your teacher saying you must have the assignment handed in by Monday morning, otherwise you'll get detention. Or your coach shouting that you should concentrate harder or you'll never make the team. And so you motivate yourself to do whatever it is, because you don't want those negative consequences to happen

Of course, you can also motivate yourself in this negative way - for example, leaving early for work because you don't want to be late; doing your homework assignments because you don't want to fail; watching the foods you eat because you don't want to get fat; preparing carefully for a shoot because you don't want to lose; and so on.

POSITIVE MOTIVATION
In contrast, positive motivation is a form of motivation which moves you toward a positive happening or experience, moving you toward something you do want to happen, and the essential motivating part of positive motivation is the thought of this 'good' experience or result happening.

Some examples of positive motivation are someone working out at the gym four times a week because they like the way they look and feel when they work out regularly; or working to a study timetable because you want a good grade; or putting in 100% effort in training because you want to do ell in the shoot on the weekend.

It's useful to recognise that while both negative and positive motivation can have important roles in motivating us to avoid personal danger, get out of bed in the morning, earn a living, keep healthy and fit, achieve recognition in our sport, and so on, there is a significant difference in the consequences of using each type of motivation in your life.

Negative motivation can result in excessive anxiety and tension, while positive motivation tends to positively energise and arouse you. Negative motivation causes you to think about what you don't want, while positive motivation gets you focused on what you do want.

Having a positive focus, particularly as a shooter is just so important - because we move toward what we think about. I like to say that human beings are like guided missiles, and the guidance system of us is the thoughts we think. Think about not wanting to shoot an '8', and that's often where your shot ends up! Think about not wanting to get nervous and mess up the important speech, and that's often just what you do! Think about not being late for that important meeting, and often everything seems to conspire to make you late!

We move toward what we think about, so it's important to imagine and picture what we want rather than what we don't want. It's been identified that the top performers in any sport are invariably more positively motivated than negatively motivated - what motivates them are strong desires for their dreams and goals, and this is one reason why having goals is so important. [More on this in the next issue]

HOW DO YOU COMMUNICATE?
One way to identify your current motivation strategy is to simply pay attention to the words and images you use when you're motivating yourself, or others. What words do you use when you want to motivate yourself, or someone else, to do something? How do you communicate with yourself and others to achieve motivation?

If you're saying to yourself things like, "I have to go to training today"; or "I've got to improve my fitness"; or "I must concentrate harder"; or "I ought to practice more"; then you're using a negative motivation strategy, and you're not managing yourself as effectively as you could.

Remember, positive motivation grows out of desire and wanting - not from should's, have to's, ought's, and must's. I believe the more you can choose to live your life and do every task from a "I'm doing it because I choose to and want to" way of thinking and talking to yourself, the better your life works, and the more successful you are in the long run.

Working in this way with yourself, you manage yourself better and you don't get 'resistance' from yourself because you feel forced to do something against your will. Remember how you felt when your parents said you had to help with the dishes, or had to mow the lawn, or had to do some other chore, when you wanted to watch television or play with your friends? You felt pushed and of course you resisted, and as a result your heart wasn't in it when you did the chore, was it?

The same thing happens if you communicate to yourself in that way - if you use "have to's", "ought to's", "should's" and "must's", then you'll find yourself unconsciously resisting yourself, even if it's a task that's worthwhile, for a cherished goal you want to achieve.

The thing to realise and understand is that often in sport the only thing that keeps a competitor going is their heart - and if your heart isn't in something, you'll eventually give up. Communicating with yourself using negative motivation language is a sure way to lose heart, and you're too good for that.

So from now on, every time you hear yourself say "should", or "ought to", or "must" or "have to" about any task that you're undertaking ..... stop, and deliberately change your language to 'want to". You want to "want to"! Rather than should, ought to, have to and must, use words like want to, like to, desire to, love to. You want to do this to enhance your motivation!

Of course, if you're a coach, or teacher, wanting to build motivation in others, then this information is doubly important, isn't it? Listen to how you've been talking to your staff, players, students or clients lately. Have you been building "want to's" based on strongly desired goals and dreams, or have you been telling them they "should" train harder, or "have to" concentrate more, or "must" be more determined to win?

SIX TASKS
I encourage you to try it right this instant. Right now, think of six tasks that are on your agenda to do this week. They might be work tasks, an assignment due for some course you're doing, home chores, or training for your sport - it doesn't matter.

As you think of each task, rather than say to yourself, "I have to do such-and-such", think instead: "I want to get that report to my boss by Friday morning"; or " I want to go to the gym three times this week"; or "I want to practice my shooting for a couple of hours three afternoons this week"; or I want to get the washing and ironing done tomorrow". I now use this process for everything I choose to do - including wanting to put in my tax return on time!

Did you notice the difference in the way you felt about the tasks when you changed the language you used? You would have felt more relaxed and at ease about doing the tasks, and felt more 'motivated' to do them.

MOTIVATING OTHERS
I recently read that because so many people are so used to motivating themselves negatively, in order to be most effective in motivating others, first state what you DON'T want, and then state what you DO want - in the same sentence.

What is important is the sequence in which the negative and positive aspects of the directions are given. For instance, if I were giving instruction to a football or basketball team about improving on their defence, notice how the order of what I say influences your response. Which of these two statements is more appealing to you? :

"This time, let's start aggressively and maintain concentration throughout the entire match. No missed tackles, fumbles, or sloppy passing."

OR

"This time, no missed tackles, fumbles, or sloppy passing. Let's start aggressively and maintain concentration throughout the entire match."

Most people find the second statement more useful, because you are made aware of what to avoid, and then given a positive direction or goal at the end - which is what remains most clearly in your mind.

Of course, in my opinion, an even better alternative would be a pure positive motivation statement such as :

"This time, make every tackle, hold on to the ball, and pass accurately. Let's start aggressively and maintain concentration throughout the entire match."

Why accede to others' negativity at all? Let's teach them how to be positive!

In the next issue I will discuss how to establish a compelling, positive vision for your success using the power of commitment.

About Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc.(AES) M.Sc.(Hons)
Jeffrey Hodges is a performance consultant to elite athletes, sporting teams and corporate clients. He is the author of the widely acclaimed "Sportsmind - An Athlete's Guide to Superperformance Through Mental & Emotional Training" and "Champion Thoughts, Champion Feelings"; creator of the Sportsmind performance enhancement workshops and audio tapes; and Director of the Sportsmind Institute for Human Performance Research.

He is a NLP Master Practitioner and Associate Trainer, and his Sportsmind programs have been endorsed by the NSW Dept Sport & Recreation, and recommended by top sportsclubs and successful athletes. Jeffrey has competed in many sports, notably Volleyball, Squash, Soccer and Golf, and currently trains in Aikido, holding a black belt.

Some of his clients to date include :
Australian Rugby Union
St. Joseph's College
Woodlands Golf Club
Financial Institutions Remuneration Group (FIRG)
Societe Generale
Qld. Swimming
Network for Fitness Professionals
North Sydney and Penrith Rugby League Clubs
Qld. Athletics Assn
NSW Netball Assn
Northern Inland Academy of Sport
Victorian Soaring Assn
Orange Agricultural College Equestrian School
Qld and NSW Departments of Sport and Recreation
Qld Academy of Sport
and the RAAF.

For more information, contact :
SPORTSMIND , 77 FLAXTON MILL ROAD
FLAXTON Qld. Australia. 4560.
PHONE 61 7 5445 7994
email : jh@sportsmind.com.au
website : www.sportsmind.com.au

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Seven Mental Skills of Champion Shooters: Motivation Part 2

By Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc. M.Sc.(Hons) B.Ed.

This is the fifth article in a series of articles on mental training for improved shooting performance.

Previously I have mentioned that there are seven essential mental skills for shooting success, all of which are learnable and teachable :

  • Precision Visualisation Skills
  • Positive Self Motivation
  • Powerful Goal Achievement Strategies
  • Strong Concentration & Focusing Abilities
  • Emotional State Mastery
  • Positive Mental Attitude
  • Positive Self Image & Unshakeable Self Confidence

All these skills of the SPORTS MIND can be learned and improved with some simple mental training techniques.

I have already covered the first skill of Visualisation, noting that it is the most important mental skill for shooters, and that to direct your shooting performance effectively you want to use clear visual images with feeling, not words, and that visualisation works because it has a measurable, physiological effect on our body. I also noted the importance of getting into the right mental state to visualise, outlined six specific applications for visualisation for shooters, and gave some simple tips for getting the best out of your visualisation sessions.

In the last issue I introduced the important topic of motivation and said that motivation is an energy - an energy which is influenced by how you communicate with yourself. I noted that there are basically two simple motivation strategies : positive motivation and negative motivation.

Negative motivation moves you away something you don't want to happen, while positive motivation moves you towards something you do want to happen.

Negative motivation is characterised by the use of self talk with "should's", "have to's", "ought's", and "must's", while positive motivation uses "want to's", "like to's", "love to's" and "will's" as self talk. It is this self communication which results in either resistance and apathy, or enthusiasm and positive action - from yourself and in those you coach.

I want to continue by talking about the importance of turning motivation into positive momentum.

BUILDING CHAMPION MOMENTUM
The key to your achieving success in shooting, or any endeavour for that matter, will not be as a result of a different diet, or through a new cross training regimen, or with the latest technologically advanced pistol, or software package, or gee-whiz laptop computer - it will be a result of your ability to establish and maintain physical, emotional and mental momentum toward the realisation of your personal sporting vision.

Understanding, and employing, the principles of making things happen allows you to turn a vision from an attractive dream into a fulfilling reality - by chunking it down into achievable goals and action plans. In this article I will show you how to generate irresistible personal momentum to turn your dreams into a reality.

TURNING DREAMS INTO REALITY
Once you have identified a personal vision which you have committed yourself to - the next step is to go about achieving it! Having a dream is important - but lot's of people have dreams, yet they never achieve them. So how do you turn dreams into reality?

One of the keys is to understand how you got to be where you are now - because where you are, now, was at one time just a dream wasn't it? There was a time, for instance, when you hadn't even started playing or competing in your chosen sport, or working in your current career - and to reach the level or position you're currently at now was just a dream. Isn't it so?

So what was it that brought that dream into reality? What is it that precedes all your actions, all of your behaviours, and all of your performances in every area of your life?

It's your decisions, isn't it.

Your decisions precede all your actions and therefore determine who you become. Everything in you life, including your current sports performances and your current level of financial and career success, is determined by the decisions you have made, and are making right now. Your decisions determine what you think, how you feel, what you do, and who you become.

THE POWER OF DECISIONS
If you're wondering why someone is currently achieving a greater level of success than you - in any area - then the answer is simply that they have made different decisions than you.

Different decisions about how they spend their time; different decisions about how they respond to setbacks or 'defeats'; different decisions about who they hang around with; different decisions about their approach to training or work. But most importantly, different decisions about what they expect of themselves, and about what they want to achieve in their sport, career, and personal life.

Yet, unfortunately, most people don't make these kinds of decisions consciously - they just hope to do well, and then wish they had done better! However, hopes and wishes are not good enough for champions - nor are they good enough for you!

Recognise that if you don't consciously make these kinds of decisions - about what level of performance you expect of yourself, and what you want in your life - then you've really made a decision by default anyway. You've decided to let other people, or the whims of the environment, direct your destiny.

No one likes to think they're being controlled by other people, yet I hear time and again excuses why people haven't achieved more in their sport : "I don't have the right build"; "I'm too old"; "I haven't had the opportunity"; "I haven't got the experience"; "I don't have enough time"; and so on.

I'm sure you've heard similar excuses, and perhaps you've used some of them yourself - I know I used to, and I still occasionally fall into this trap. Yet I quickly realise, as I hope you do, that all these things are conditions - and it's not the conditions in your life that hold you back, but rather the decisions you make!

What you decide to do, given whatever conditions you currently have in your life, makes the difference in your performances, and in your life.

Of course you can argue that some people are born with certain advantages - a fantastic sports physique, financial resources, a supportive family, or an opportune environment. However, lots of those people, even given these advantages don't achieve their potential, do they? They're not as successful as they could be.

Then there are other people, coming from the poorest conditions and with physical, environmental and social limitations who shuck off the bonds of those conditions to achieve sporting, political, financial or career performances way beyond expectations.

How do they do it? Simply by making committed decisions. The power of a committed decision cannot be underestimated in its ability to positive affect your performance.

TRUE DECISIONS
However, for your decisions to make a real difference in your life, they have to be true decisions. Many people don't understand what a true decision is - they use the word loosely, and so decisions for them have become just preferences, things they'd like to have happen, rather than real decisions.

In contrast, a true decision evokes a firm commitment to make it happen, leaving no choice for any other option.

For instance, if you make such a committed decision to give up smoking, then that's it, you'll do it, and you no longer even consider the possibility of your smoking again. If you truly decide to improve your fitness, or lose weight, or increase your monthly income, then you'll find a way to make it happen.

However, most people state preferences rather than make committed decisions: "I'd like to give up smoking"; "I wish I could improve my shooting performances in competition"; "I hope I get the promotion"; "I'd like to earn more money this year"; or "I hope I'm selected for the team - all of which are just wish lists, and have no power to positively change your life or enhance your sporting performances.

MAKING YOUR GOALS DECISIONS
Here's a little exercise for you to do. Think right now about a true decision you've made recently - something you definitely decided on, and followed through with. A decision about buying a new car, or house, taking up a new job, or maybe even the decision to read this article! Notice how you thought about it, and identify the exact moment when you actually decided - when you said "Yes, I'll do it".

Now think about something you've been 'considering', but haven't made a definite decision about yet. Again notice how you think about that, and compare the differences in what you see, hear, and feel to the time you made a definite decision.

You'll notice that you think about the two experiences very differently.

Now consider: HOW have you been thinking about the dreams you've identified for yourself? Is it more similar to the first way, or to the second? Are you thinking about your sports goals and dreams like a true decision, or just something you're 'considering', that you'd like, or hope, to achieve 'one day' but haven't really committed yourself to yet?

You want to think about achieving your dreams in the same way that you think about getting a loaf of bread from the shop, or picking up that pen over there ...... simple, easy, no questions - I'll just do it.

COMMITMENT TO ACTION
Think about your dreams as true decisions, not just preferences ............ but how do I know if I've made a committed decision?

True decisions are always followed by actions.

For instance, if you truly decide to buy a new car, you'll go and see a car dealer, or place an add in the paper to sell your old one. If you truly decide to end a relationship, you'll confront your partner and talk about it, or you'll pack your bags! And if you make a true decision to play to a higher standard in your sport, or reach a cherished sports goal, then you'll do something about it - you'll take some action. Until the point of action, it's just been something you've been 'considering' - action makes it a true decision.

The interesting thing is that when you make a definite commitment to a particular decision, it unlocks the energy within you to achieve it.

I'm sure you've had the experience of agonising over a decision about something for weeks or perhaps even months - you know how such indecision can totally sap your drive, because you have no clear direction. However, as soon as you've hopped off the fence and decided one way or the other, you're able to start moving again.

In the next moment, right now, you could use this power of a true decision to change your life. The motivation, the power, the energy to succeed comes from making committed decisions.

Why not make some for yourself, right now?

In the next issue we'll move onto the third mental skill and I'll share some ideas on some powerful goal achievement strategies and principles to help you actually get what you want - once you've committed yourself to it!

About Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc.(AES) M.Sc.(Hons)
Jeffrey Hodges is a performance consultant to elite athletes, sporting teams and corporate clients. He is the author of the widely acclaimed "Sportsmind - An Athlete's Guide to Superperformance Through Mental & Emotional Training" and "Champion Thoughts, Champion Feelings"; creator of the Sportsmind performance enhancement workshops and audio tapes; and Director of the Sportsmind Institute for Human Performance Research.

He is a NLP Master Practitioner and Associate Trainer, and his Sportsmind programs have been endorsed by the NSW Dept Sport & Recreation, and recommended by top sportsclubs and successful athletes. Jeffrey has competed in many sports, notably Volleyball, Squash, Soccer and Golf, and currently trains in Aikido, holding a black belt.

Some of his clients to date include :
Australian Rugby Union
St. Joseph's College
Woodlands Golf Club
Financial Institutions Remuneration Group (FIRG)
Societe Generale
Qld. Swimming
Network for Fitness Professionals
North Sydney and Penrith Rugby League Clubs
Qld. Athletics Assn
NSW Netball Assn
Northern Inland Academy of Sport
Victorian Soaring Assn
Orange Agricultural College Equestrian School
Qld and NSW Departments of Sport and Recreation
Qld Academy of Sport
and the RAAF.

For more information, contact :
SPORTSMIND , 77 FLAXTON MILL ROAD
FLAXTON Qld. Australia. 4560.
PHONE 61 7 5445 7994
email : jh@sportsmind.com.au
website : www.sportsmind.com.au

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Seven Mental Skills of Champion Shooters: The Power of Goals Part 1

By Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc. M.Sc.(Hons) B.Ed.

Previously I've mentioned that there are seven essential mental skills for shooting success, all of which are learnable and teachable :

  • Precision Visualisation Skills
  • Positive Self Motivation
  • Powerful Goal Achievement Strategies
  • Emotional State Mastery
  • Positive Mental Attitude
  • Strong Concentration & Focusing Abilities
  • Positive Self Image & Unshakeable Self Confidence

All these skills of the SPORTS MIND can be learned and improved with some simple mental training techniques.

I have spoken of Visualisation, noting that it is the most important mental skill for shooters, and that to direct your shooting performance effectively you want to use clear visual images with feeling, not words, and that visualisation works because it has a measurable, physiological effect on our body. I also noted the importance of getting into the right mental state to visualise, outlined six specific visualisation applications for shooters, and gave some simple tips for getting the best out of your visualisation sessions.

I also introduced the important topic of motivation and said that motivation is an energy - an energy which is influenced by how you communicate with yourself. I noted that there are basically two simple motivation strategies : positive motivation and negative motivation. Negative motivation moves you away something you don't want to happen, while positive motivation moves you towards something you do want to happen.

With the beginning of a new season our thoughts turn to what we want to achieve - what goals we want to set for upcoming competitions, and for next year.

Goals are important because they provide direction, motivation and focus. Goals are especially important in shooting - those who have clear goals, and an action plan to achieve them are more successful in the long run

There are two types of goals that you want to be aware of : outcome goals, and process goals.

Outcome goals are the end result: winning a competition; being selected for the state squad; achieving a ranking in the top 100; etc.

Process goals are the specific steps, actions, behaviours, technical skills, moods, and mental processes required to achieve the desired outcome, for example maintaining a consistently correct posture; following a specific mental and physical routine before each shot; staying calm and focused if a distraction occurs; and so on.

In recent years, some people have suggested that it's wrong to set and think about outcome goals; that we ought focus upon and set just process goals.

However both goals are important to success: without a clearly defined and desired outcome, motivation flags and there can be a loss of direction; without process goals we don't have a clear plan or means for getting what we want. If you don't have a specific destination in mind, you might be a good shooter, but you'll end up going nowhere in particular - and this is what happens to many talented sportspeople, simply because they don't set long term goals. You want to have a desired outcome and not be afraid of setting it, and going for it. However you also want to have an achievable means by which you're going to get your outcome - and these are your process goals.

What is important is knowing when to focus on outcome and when to focus on process.

Generally, the time to think about outcome goals is prior to and after a performance; the time to focus on process goals is during a performance. If you think about winning during the shoot, your attention and concentration on the moment by moment performance can suffer as you imagine the future, or regret past mistakes, instead of being in the present.

What would give you a real buzz to achieve for yourself in the next twelve months, and 3 to 5 years? The goals you set want to be big enough to challenge and inspire you, but not too far out of reach to be unrealistic. Remember the quality and scope of the goals you set influences not just your direction, but also your character and personality. Most people set goals that are well below their capabilities, simply because of fear of failing.

Face the fear; be courageous.
Write down now your two most important outcome goals to accomplish for this season and within 3 years, and a long term goal - something you'd like to achieve within 5 - 10 years.

MY GOALS
This Season [ Or next six to twelve months ]
#1

#2

Winthin 3 years
#1

#2

My Long Term, or Dream Goal [ Within 5 - 10 years ]
#1

In the next issues, I'll discuss two essential principles if you are to successfully achieve these goals you've just written down!

About Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc.(AES) M.Sc.(Hons)
Jeffrey Hodges is a performance consultant to elite athletes, sporting teams and corporate clients. He is the author of the widely acclaimed "Sportsmind - An Athlete's Guide to Superperformance Through Mental & Emotional Training" and "Champion Thoughts, Champion Feelings"; creator of the Sportsmind performance enhancement workshops and audio tapes; and Director of the Sportsmind Institute for Human Performance Research.

He is a NLP Master Practitioner and Associate Trainer, and his Sportsmind programs have been endorsed by the NSW Dept Sport & Recreation, and recommended by top sportsclubs and successful athletes. Jeffrey has competed in many sports, notably Volleyball, Squash, Soccer and Golf, and currently trains in Aikido, holding a black belt.

Some of his clients to date include :
Australian Rugby Union
St. Joseph's College
Woodlands Golf Club
Financial Institutions Remuneration Group (FIRG)
Societe Generale
Qld. Swimming
Network for Fitness Professionals
North Sydney and Penrith Rugby League Clubs
Qld. Athletics Assn
NSW Netball Assn
Northern Inland Academy of Sport
Victorian Soaring Assn
Orange Agricultural College Equestrian School
Qld and NSW Departments of Sport and Recreation
Qld Academy of Sport
and the RAAF.

For more information, contact :
SPORTSMIND , 77 FLAXTON MILL ROAD
FLAXTON Qld. Australia. 4560.
PHONE 61 7 5445 7994
email : jh@sportsmind.com.au
website : www.sportsmind.com.au

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