Mental Game

Inevitably, any discussion about the mental game gets into the concept of Self Talk. Put simply, Self Talk is all of the things you say to yourself. Sounds a little nuts, I know. Try this, though - for one 24 hour period, consciously monitor every thought that runs through your head. You'll probably find that you really do talk to yourself a lot - and if you've never done this exercise before, you'll probably find that a lot of the things you say to yourself aren't all that flattering. "That was stupid." "You look like a dork." and so on.

Now, pay attention to what you say to yourself with regards to your shooting. Your Self Talk reveals a lot about your self-image - what you truly believe you are capable of doing, and also has the ability to undermine your performance (or, if used to your advantage, support and build it up). This really comes out following a stage with some mistakes in it - what runs through your head, then? "You dumb jerk, you really suck." "You might as well give up now." "Things never go my way." "This match stinks." Maybe you said some really, complimentary stuff to yourself before the stage, too... "I can't hit those hardcover targets." "Swingers always eat my lunch." "Let's see how bad I suck on this stage."

Would your best friend ever say anything like that to you? If so, why are they your best friend??? We would all do well to take a lesson from two of the best shooters in the game on how we should be treating ourselves on and off the range - Max Michel, Jr. and Travis Tomasie.

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With the season opener - the 2008 Florida Open - coming up fast in two months, its time to start dusting off the gear, running drills, and generally getting things back in order after a well deserved Winter Break. With a sport that seems to have no well defined "off season" (as opposed to, say, baseball, or football), it might be curious to some folks why you'd really want to take a break. I mean, the next big match is always right around the corner, right? And what do you do with that time off anyway? Doesn't that mean a lot more work to get ready when you're done slacking off??

Let's take a look at why taking a little vacation from our favorite obsession can actually mean an improvement in performance level, and help avoid everyone's favorite condition: burn out.

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