September 24th, 2018: Pre-shot Routine & Mental Game

Hi guys,

I am fortunate to work in the clay shooting industry and to be able to talk to some of the best pro-shooters and instructors in the World. We’ve been discussing a few times about a lot of shooters coming to ask about their pre-shot routine and mental game. It seems like mental game is THE BIG THING nowadays and even though it is definitely part of a good shooting process, I don’t think that it is the main reason most shooters miss targets.

Bonsoir à tous,

Pour en avoir discuté avec d’autres tireurs pros, de nombreux tireurs viennent à eux, pendant les leçons ou en compétitions, afin de discuter de la fameuse routine de pré-tir et de leur mental potentiellement défectueux. En effet, élément extrêmement important de l’acte de tir, la routine de pré-tir représente une partie d’inconnu dont le mental semble être une donnée incontournable.

It is not that simple, but I wish it was. Mental game is a concept that allows us to hide some technical lacks as well. So why do shooters miss some targets that look pretty affordable and breakable?

Malheureusement, ça n’est pas si simple, à mon avis, et le terme de « mental » permet de cacher de nombreux autres facteurs tout aussi importants. Nous aurions en effet tous préféré que le mental explique à lui seul nos multiples défaillances, mais j’ai peur que la solution ne soit pas si basique. Ainsi, comment se fait-il que nous rations des plateaux qui semble pourtant abordables ?

The key question is what a break point is. If you ask this question on a shooting ground, most of the shooters will tell you that their break point is where they feel the most confident they can break the targets. I don’t think it is the right answer and I think it hides something else. In my humble opinion, the break point should be the spot on the target line where the targets is the most visible thus the most breakable for most of the shooters. What I mean is that the break point might be on the drop even though I am not comfortable with droppers and I would rather shoot it at the pick when it is edgy. More than a vision issue, you understand that there is a potential lack of technic here that should be worked on. So before blaming it on the mental game, the shooter should definitely practice hard on his weaknesses to master most targets within 40 yards. A shooter shouldn’t fear any target line or type within this reasonable perimeter. Once this key portion of the shot is acquired, pre-shot routine and mental game would make sense. So, what is a pre-shot routine and why does mental game have to do with it?

La première question que le tireur devrait se poser est la définition du point de casse ? Pour une partie des tireurs, le point de casse représente le point de la trajectoire suivie par le plateau où le tireur se sent le plus à l’aise pour casser ce plateau. Il s’agit, d’après moi, d’une erreur. En effet, le point de casse devrait logiquement sur trouver sur le point de la trajectoire où le plateau est le plus vulnérable dans l’absolu, là où la grande majorité des tireurs le voit le mieux. Si ce point diffère du point où le tireur se sent le plus à l’aise, il y a déjà une lacune technique du côté du tireur qui préfère ainsi tirer, par exemple, un plateau tranche à son apogée et avec peu de vitesse plutôt que ce même plateau montrant son ventre à la descente à la même distance, mais avec une vitesse propre. Ainsi, toujours d’après moi, avant d’entrer dans la problématique du mental, il est primordial de maitriser sa technique au maximum jusqu’au point de ne plus « craindre » de plateaux normaux, quelles qu’en soient la nature et la trajectoire, dans un périmètre de 35-40 mètres. Une fois cette énorme portion de l’acte de tir assimilée, nous pouvons entrer dans la définition d’une routine de pré-tir et du mental. Qu’est-ce que cette routine ? En quoi est-elle liée au mental ?

The pre-shot routine is a process that would put the shooter in the best strategical, technical and mental conditions to execute the shot successfully. A proper pro-shot routine has different phases that the shooter goes thru:

  1. Target line: it is compulsory for the shooter to know everything about it (background cursors that the targets pass by, origin and end of the target line, target speed, target type…). The shooter will usually get this information thru the first view pair.
  2. Blue print: with an architecture background, I must talk about blue print. When building a house, you wouldn’t start without getting a precise layout. That is the exact same thing with sporting clays. You need to define your points that will lead you to a successful shot:
    – the hard focus point is the point where you can start looking at the bird and not only see the flash;
    – the break point is the point where the target is the most visible and breakable for 99% of the shooters;
    – the hold point is located between the two previous points and is the point where our barrel will wait for the target to be launched.
  3. Vision: the shooter has to get the best vision of the smallest detail on the targets in order to increase the chances to break these targets. If there is no visible detail, imagining a piece of dust on the center of the target would perfectly work. Getting a close-up view would force the shooter to get a strong focus on the target. Checking the blue print and making sure the detail on the targets would happen during the second view pair. Some World class shooters add another extra phase here too: visualizing the targets before calling pull.
  4. Trust: before calling for the birds, the shooter needs to trust himself (herself) and trust the blue print. Successful shots would have to go together with trust.
  5. Once the shooter would have passed all these pre-shot routine phases, his (her) subconscious would have treated and stored all the data that are required for a successful end and he/she would just have to focus as hard as possible on the details on the targets.

Il s’agit là d’un processus mettant le tireur dans des conditions optimales de préparation, stratégique, technique et mentale, avant d’appeler son plateau et d’effectuer son tir. La routine de pré-tir classique comprend différentes phases importantes, plus ou moins longues et détaillées selon les tireurs :

  1. Etude de la trajectoire des plateaux : il est important d’avoir une connaissance parfaite de cette trajectoire (points par lesquels les plateaux vont passer, origine de la trajectoire aux lanceurs, lieux d’atterrissage des plateaux et vitesse de ces plateaux, type de plateaux…). Cette étude est souvent réalisée lors de la vision d’un premier doublé à vide.
  2. Mise en place d’un plan d’attaque : une fois la connaissance de la trajectoire parfaite, il est important de localiser, pour chaque plateau, des points qui permettront de construire son tir :
    – le point d’accroche visuel est le point où l’on commence à pouvoir regarder son plateau (et non le voir) ;
    – le point de casse est le point où le plateau est le plus vulnérable dans l’absolu, le point où l’on voit le plateau le mieux ;
    – le point d’attente est le point situé entre les deux précédents et où l’on mettra notre canon en position d’attente du plateau.
  3. Vision du plateau : afin de maximiser ses chances de casser les plateaux, le tireur doit parvenir à effectuer un zoom visuel sur le plus petit détail possible sur chaque plateau, quitte à imaginer ce détail. Cela permettra une attention accrue et un résultat positif. La vérification du plan d’attaque et la validation du détail sur le plateau se font souvent lors de la présentation du second doublé à vide. Ensuite, certains grands tireurs visualisent, imaginent la trajectoire des plateaux à vitesse réelle afin de répéter ce plan millimétré.
  4. Confiance en soi : afin de permettre une parfaite fluidité du geste et éviter les hésitations, la confiance en soi du tireur doit aller de pair avec la confiance en son plan d’attaque. Seul un tel environnement mental permettra de placer le tireur dans les meilleures conditions afin de réaliser un tir.
  5. Une fois toutes ces étapes validées, le subconscient du tireur aura ingéré l’ensemble des données nécessaires au tir et le tireur appellera alors son plateau en ne pensant qu’à une seule et unique chose : regarder et suivre le détail sur chaque plateau.

In some aspects, clay shooting is very similar to other sports like golf. It is very interesting to compare both sports.

Sur beaucoup de points, la discipline du ball trap est très proche d’autres sports, le golf par exemple. Il est intéressant de faire une comparaison plus approfondie des deux sports.

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7 thoughts on “September 24th, 2018: Pre-shot Routine & Mental Game”

  1. Nicholas –

    I like your analogy to a Blueprint in describing shot planning. I’d offer another analogy that may (in my opinion) be even more similar; and that is the CPM (Critical Path Method). With an architecture background, I’m sure that you are familiar with project planning based on the Critical Path. I won’t go through a step‑by‑step description since your discussion below shows that you are well aware of the recommended steps, but I would offer that THE most critical step is the transition from the first bird to the second one. This critical step doesn’t get nearly enough attention by instructors (again, my opinion) either in person or in their videos.

    If you agree, may I suggest that you address this issue in a future blog.

    And please continue posting your videos of the LaPorte team shooters. I enjoy watching them and learn from each one.

    Thanks,

    Lew Skaug

    Like

    1. Thank you for your input Lew. You are totally right, the transition as to be thought about in the early stage of our pre shot routine. Getting your subconscious known how to get from break point 1 to hold point 2. I’ll try to get a write up about it soon.

      Like

  2. Super Nico

    Tout as fait ce que tu m’as fait faire en cour et c’est super génial et ca fonctionne très bien

    Bises

    De : Frenchnick, a French Sporting Clay Shooter Envoyé : mardi 25 septembre 2018 05:50 À : aime.martin@orange.fr Objet : [New post] September 24th, 2018: Pre-shot Routine & Mental Game

    frenchnick posted: “Hi guys, I am fortunate to work in the clay shooting industry and to be able to talk to some of the best pro-shooters and instructors in the World. We’ve been discussing a few times about a lot of shooters coming to ask about their pre-shot routine and m”

    Like

  3. Nick,

    Thanks for inviting me to give input into this discussion. I rarely interact on forums or blogs, however your post is a subject about which I am passionate, so I’ll throw my hat into the ring! I’ll write my response with English sporting and FITASC Sporting in mind. There are different components to skeet, trap and other disciplines.

    The potential discussion for “the mental game” is wide reaching. In my opinion, the preshot is a small yet critical, part of the mental game.

    From experience, the majority of students approaching me for coaching are looking for more consistent focus…that space in time between when you call for the target and pull the trigger.

    However, in perhaps 80% of cases the cause of the problem is not here. The cause of the problem is “up-stream” – in the process of preparation.

    You could go back into simple areas of “competition management”, such as rest, fuel and hydration. However the lowest hanging fruit for someone to make radical improvements to their mental game, is in their planning – how they study the target, truly understand it and then commit. This is the primary stage of any preshot. Without a committed plan, you are unlikely to have clarity of mental focus enabling you to have the visual focus on the detail of the target. This applies to the easiest as well as hardest targets.

    The more experienced shooter can start to take targets for granted. That 20 yard crosser still needs a committed hold point just like the 80 yard battue.

    With that commitment, it is then far easier to access the optimal mental state – a clear, relaxed, yet intense state of mind – as you call for the target and in its flight path.

    It is not my intention to map out a preshot here. But rather to reframe where people should focus their attention on their own mental game, based on my 20 years experience of producing champions…

    Don’t stress about the end part of how well you see the target or are you looking hard enough (mantras of many coaches). Rather think how you can make improvements “up-stream” in your game which will then enable you to focus better on the target.

    The area to improve which will have the biggest impact on your scores, is the quality of your understanding of the target and making a committed plan. That will have an effect “down stream” of a quieter mind and less mental chatter during the shot – the result being better visual connection.

    I look at this building of the mental game as putting together a 100 piece jigsaw. For you to have a good mental game you need all 100 pieces together. The pre-shot is only a small part of this. If you have not already seen my videos on this discussion, have a look at the free video series on https://getthementaledge.com

    So much more to discuss on this subject, but I hope that gives input to your excellent blog post. As I’m busy coaching, currently at the Fennell Shooting School, my replies to any questions will be slow.

    Henry Hopking

    Liked by 1 person

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