- Controlled breathing and heart-rate
- No excess tension in muscles
- No fluctuation between sympathetic/parasympathetic states during triggering (shooters can shoot in sympathetic or parasympathetic, but don't want to be surprised by which state they are in)
- No interior monologue
- Sharp focus and good reactions to trigger at the moment when the sight image is correct.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Timothy Harkness Sports Psychologist I first mentioned the "G-word" to Abhinav after a training session at my house in South Africa in early July. I don't often talk about results to clients, but we had just completed an advanced respiration session (using a technique I had learnt from Bruno Demichelis from AC Milan) that demonstrated such a close link between control of heart-rate and shooting outcome, that I finally began to feel that we had cracked the code of shooting success, and a gold medal was a possibility. As a sports psychologist, disappointment and failure is part of the job. I have been greenside at the British Open and watched a client's putt slide past the hole, causing him to miss the cut, and I have commiserated with a sprinter who ran fractions of a second too slow to make it into the Olympic team. I've even worked with a hockey team who missed every single shot in a penalty shootout - and were the only team with a sports psychologist at the tournament! Obviously there are successes also, but in any career, being part of an Olympic gold medal team is a highlight. I do want to say though, that for 10 years as a sports psychologist, I have been saying that character counts more than results, and when I think of Abhinav, it is his character that I admire rather than his gold medal. Talent, hard work and good planning gives you a chance, and from there, sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn't. This one went our way. Abhinav and I were introduced in December 2007, and began working together in South Africa in February 2008. Our Olympic plan was formulated at a kitchen table in my mother's house. The team grew to include a doctor, chiropractor, physiotherapist, dietician and two shooting coaches in addition to myself. Looking back, I would say the crucial ingredients were a combination of bloody mindedness and flexibility. Abhinav is an athlete who will stop at nothing to achieve success - one of the two or three most determined athletes I have ever met. So it was a privilege to work with someone who would implement whatever he was asked to do. As someone who grew up in the 80s watching the A-Team, I have to say that I love it when a plan comes together. In 2006, PGA teaching professional John Dickson and I began to formulate a theory of how and why emotional states impede technical skill execution. We called this theory psykinetics. It draws upon evolutionary psychology, sensory integration and psychophysiology, and once you're talking psychophysiology, you need to be practicing with biofeedback. I use a FlexComp Infiniti hardware system with BioGraph 4.0 software. Shooting is a peculiar sport because of the lack of movement, and air rifle is the most precise and exacting of the shooting sports. I chose the FlexComp because it allowed me to seamlessly move between training modalities and multimodalities, and the BioGraph software because of its ability to measure and provide feedback. The system plus my laptop is small enough to pack into a Pelican carry case, which is useful for travelling. The psychophysiological requirements of shooting include:
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