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Fehler Nr. 1 beim Schießen. Error Number One in Shooting Muscules Model Of Shot How To Create“Muskule Models” Stability Dynamic Aiming Pulse Technique Trajectory Length How To Choose A Good Prone Position Mental Training Segmenting A Performance Fehler Nr. 1 beim Schießen. Besonderheiten der Analyse von Koordination eines Sportschützen An der Grafik «Koordination» zeigt die X-Achse den Zeitpunkt eine Sekunde vor dem Abschuß, die Y-Achse - eine Abweichung von der Mitte der Zielscheibe, und die Kurve - eine durchschnittliche Abweichung sämtlicher Ziellinien von der Mitte der Zielscheibe. Die Analyse der Kurve läßt auf den Stand der Leistungen eines Schützen sowie seiner Vorbereitung zu dem jeweiligen Zeitpunkt schließen. Die Kurve kann drei Varianten aufweisen: • einen langsamen Abfall vor dem Abschuß. • horizontalen Verlauf • einen Aufstieg vor dem Abschuß. Die erste und die zweite Variante besagen üblicherweise, daß der Schütze in einer guten Form ist und das Training ein Erfolg war: allerdings darf man hier nicht übersehen, daß die Linie von der Mitte des Targets abweicht. Bei Ungeübten kann man öfters einen langsamen Abfall oder einen horizontalen Verlauf der Kurve feststellen, aber sie liegt noch weit genug von der Mitte entfernt, um als eine Topleistung für den Schützen bewertet zu werden. Die dritte Variante, wo die Kurve vor dem Abschuß einen geringen Aufstieg aufweist, besagt dem Sportler und dem Coach, daß es in der abschließenden Abschußphase Probleme gibt, oder mit anderen Worten, daß das Gewehr vor dem Abschuß den Zielpunkt verläßt.
An der Grafik fällt der Beginn des Kurvenaufstieges fast immer auf den Bereich 0.3 bis 0.2 sek vor dem Abschuß. Dies hängt mit der physiologischen Reaktion des Menschen zusammen. Beim Zielen faßt der Schütze Beschluß nach dem Präzisieren des Zieles und gibt dem Finger Kommando zum Abdrücken. Von der Beschlußfassung bis zum Abschuß vergehen 0.2-0.3 sek. Das läßt sich gut an der Zielscheibe bei einfachster Analyse der Ziellinie ablesen. An diesem Beispiel wird mit blau die Ziellinie 0,2 sek vor dem Abschuß, und mit gelb 1 sek vor dem Abschuß gekennzeichnet. Es ist offensichtlich, daß der Schütze in der Zeit 1 . bis 0.2 sek vor dem Abschuß die Waffe sicher genug in der Hand hält, aber 0,2 sek. vor dem Abschuß läßt diese nach und die Waffe entweicht dem Zielpunkt. Dies ist das Problem Nr. 1 im sportlichen Schießen. Damit hat absolut jeder Schütze vom Anfänger bis zum olympischen Spitzensportler zu tun. Bei der Befragung beklagt sich der Sportler darüber, der Finger drücke nicht ab oder das Abdrücken schwer geht. Man kann auch hören, die Stabilität sei perfekt, aber beim Abschuß gehe die Waffe aus der Mitte.. Der wesentliche Grund für diesen Mangel liegt in dem Verlust der Haltekontrolle über das Gewehr. Der Mechanismus dieses Fehlers besteht in folgendem: Während des Abschusses hat der Schutze seine Aufmerksamkeit auf drei Elemente zu konzentrieren: Zielen , Abdrücken und halten der Waffe. Aber es ist aus der Physiologie und Psychologie bekannt, daß der Mensch nicht imstande ist, seine Aufmerksamkeit zur gleichen Zeit auf mehrere Handlungen zu konzentrieren. Erfolg hat man nur, wenn ein Element, schlechter - zwei, und ganz unmöglich - 3 und mehr Elemente zu kontrollieren sind. Beim Schießen haben wir mit der dritten Variante zu tun. Vor dem Abschuß konzentriert der Schütze seine ganze Aufmerksamkeit auf ZIELEN und HALTEN , nach dem Präzisieren des Zieles faßt er Beschluß zum ABDRÜCKEN , aber seine Aufmerksamkeit reicht nicht aus und er seht sich gezwungen, die Aufmerksamkeit vom ZIELEN und HALTEN teilweise abzulenken und auf ABDRÜCKEN zu verlagern, dabei leidet daran meistens das HALTEN und im Endergebnis haben wir einen ungenauen Abschuß. Um dieses Problem besser einzusehen und Wege zur Lösung zu finden, wollen wir diese drei Elemente einzeln unter die Lupe nehmen. HALTEN - dieses Element hat in allen Fällen oberste Priorität. Es gilt, das Gewehr vor , bei und nach dem Abschuß festzuhalten. ZIELEN und ABDRÜCKEN - diese zwei Elemente sind am meisten umstritten und rufen Meinungsverschiedenheiten hervor. Die Physiologie gibt Antwort darauf, welches von den beiden vorrangig ist. Beim Konzentrieren der Aufmerksamkeit auf Trägermuskeln (Finger) liegt die Reaktionszeit im Durchschnitt bei 0,2 sek, und derjenigen auf Sensorsystemen (Zielen) - bei 0.3 sek. In den achtziger Jahren wurde in der Nationalmannschaft der UdSSR für Schießen ein Versuch durchgeführt, das Wesen des Versuches bestand in folgendem: Auf dem Schirm des Monitors befand sich ein Zifferblatt, ein Leuchtfleck lief im Kreise um. Es galt, den Leuchtfleck genau auf Ziffer 12 Uhr zu stoppen. Der Versuch ergab folgendes: • 10-15 Treffen von 100 bei der Konzentration der Aufmerksamkeit auf dem Schirm • 25-35 Treffen von 100 bei der Konzentration der Aufmerksamkeit auf dem Abdrücken.
Dieser Versuch hat die Prioritäten endgültig festgelegt: ABDRÜCKEN ist immer von größerer Bedeutung als ZIELEN . Dies vorausgeschickt kann man folgende Schlüsse ziehen: beim Abschuß ist die Aufmerksamkeit vorrangig auf HALTEN und ABDRÜCKEN zu konzentrieren, und ZIELEN soll passiver Kontrolle unterzogen werden. Wenn dies beachtet wird, gelingt es, die Kontrolle über das halten bei der abschließenden Abschußetappe zu behalten. Bei der Analyse dieses Problems möchten wir im vorn herein vor dem meist verbreiteten Fehler warnen. Wenn der Coach feststellt, daß der günstigste Zeitpunkt für den Abschuß 0,3 sek. vor dem Abschuß liegt, empfiehlt er den Abschuß ein bißchen vorzuverlegen. Dies aber bringt keinen Erfolg, weil der Hauptfehler - Verlieren der Kontrolle über die Muskeln, welche die Waffe halten - nicht beseitigt wird.
Daher, wenn Sie feststellen, daß die Kurve in der Grafik ansteigt, soll der Schluß und die Empfehlung sein - die Kontrolle über das Halten der Waffe vor und bei dem Abschuß nicht zu verlieren. Wie die geübten Sportler dieses Problem begeistern, entnehmen Sie bitte dem nächsten Artikel «Zielen». Alexander Kudelin Abdrücken zwischen Herzschlägen beim Gewehrschießen (Pulstechnik) Jeder Schütze hat beim Schießen damit zu tun, daß das Gewehr immer in Bewegung ist. Diese Bewegungen sind für die Stabilität ausschlaggebend. Diese Stabilität läßt sich in zwei Bestandteile zerlegen. Den ersten Bestandteil bilden die Bewegungen, welche durch unkoordinierte Muskeln und deren Zittern hervorgerufen sind, den zweiten Bestandteil bilden Bewegungen, verursacht durch Herzschläge. Wenn der erste Bestandteil ohne weiteres eingeübt werden kann, läßt sich der zweite praktisch nicht antrainieren. Nicht selten ist der pulsierende Bestandteil bei Ungeübten und Spitzenschützen gleich. Bei der Analyse der Ziellinie beim Spitzenschützen lassen diese zwei Bestandteile ohne weiters feststellen. Die Pulsierung beim Schießen im Liegen und kniend machen 60-80% von der Gesamtstabilität aus. Auf dem Schirm des Monitors rechts wird die Ziellinie beim Meisterschützen im Liegen angezeigt. Mit gelb ist die Strecke für den Herzschlag, mit blau - Schwingungen des Gewehrs zwischen den Schlägen gekennzeichnet. An diesem Beispiel sehen wir, daß das Gewehr im wesentlichen infolge der Herzarbeit schwingt. Daraus folgt, daß das beste Ergebnis nur erreichbar ist, wenn der Abschuß zwischen zwei Herzschlägen fällt. Insbesondere trifft das für Wettkämpfe zu. Wenn beim Trainieren der Sportler die Pulsation praktisch nicht mit dem Auge faßt und ziemlich erfolgreich schießen kann, gefährden diese Schwingungen die Topleistungen. In den letzten 6-7 Jahren wurde die Untersuchung der Abschußtechnik bei allen russischen und ausländischen Spitzensportlern durchgeführt und man kann heute mit Sicherheit sagen, daß Topleistungen beim Schießen im Liegen und kniend nur bei der Anwendung der Pulstechnik (Abdrücken zwischen Herzschlägen) erreichbar sind. Bei der Befragung von den Sportlern stellte sich heraus, daß viele von ihnen nicht geahnt hatten, daß sie zwischen zwei Herzschlägen abdrücken. Sie haben sich das instinktiv angeeignet und wurden daher die besten. Die Mehrzahl der Sportler beherrschen
diese Technik nicht und haben keine Ahnung davon. Unsere Aufgabe ist es, ihnen die Technik beizubringen. Die Methodik für das Erlernen und Verbessern der Abdrücktechnik zwischen Herzschlägen setzt folgendes Vorgehen voraus. In der ersten Etappe sei es in Erfahrung zu bringen, wie sie abdrücken. Dazu sei es beim Trainieren zu ermitteln, wie viele Schüsse von 10 Sie zwischen Herzschlägen abdrücken., Wenn es 7 bis 9 Schüsse in der Pause sind, sollen Sie am Treniergerät weiter trainieren und aufmerksam jeden Abschuß, seine abschließende Phase kontrollieren. Wenn die Zahl der Abschüsse zwischen Herzschlägen unter 7 liegt, empfehlen wir das Trainieren nach dem folgenden Plan durchzuführen. In der ersten Etappe gilt es, das autogene Training in Griff zu bekommen. Ich will nicht auf die Methoden dieser Technik eingehen, man kann eine Standardmethodik jedem beliebigen Handbuch für psychologische Vorbereitung von Sportlern entnehmen. Dies läßt drei wesentliche Aufgaben auf einmal lösen: Entspannung von Muskeln, Herzschläge an jedem Punkt des Körpers zu spüren bekommen sowie das autogene Training als das beste Werkzeug für die Vorbereitung auf den Wettkampf. In diesem konkreten Fall benötigen wir lediglich das Können, die Herzschläge an jedem Punkte unseres Körpers zu spüren zu bekommen. Wenn sie soweit sind, können sie zum ideenmotoorischen Training übergehen. Sein Wesen besteht im gedanklichen Abspielen des Muskelmodells beim Abschuß. Damit das Erlernen erfolgreicher verläuft, empfiehlt es sich, ein Gegenstand in die Hand zu nehmen, das ein Nachbilden vom Abdrücken ermöglicht, dann gilt es, die Herzschläge im Zeigefinger zu spüren zu bekommen, nach einem Herzschlag eine geringe Verzögerung von 0.2-0.3 sek einzulegen und dann abzudrücken. Dies soll ein Doppeltakt ergeben, das heißt an das Herzschlag schließt sich ihr zusätzlicher Rhythmus an, bei dem das Abdrücken zu erfolgen hat. Hierbei soll das Abdrücken nicht auf einmal, sondern in 3 bis 5 wachsenden Portionen verteilt werden. Wenn sie diese Technik ideenmotorisch beherrscht haben, kann man zu praktischen Übungen übergehen und das Eingeübte zu wiederholen. Während der Übungen ist nach jedem erfolgten Abschuß bei der Wiedergabe die abschließende Phase zu überprüfen und am Ende der Übungen das Erreichte anhand der Geschwindigkeitskurve zu bewerten. Diese Kurve zeigt Änderung der Geschwindigkeit der Ziellinie eine Sekunde vor dem Abschuß. An der unteren Grafik geht es um dieselben Übungen, aber die Analyse erfolgt drei Sekunden davor. (Hierzu sei bei der Betriebsart «Schußparameter« die Kontrollzeit um 3000 Millisekunden zu ändern). Diese Grafik, das wie eine Sinusoide aussieht, ist für die Spitzenschützen gekennzeichnend. Sie besagt, daß die Mehrzahl von Abschüssen genau zwischen Herzschlägen erfolgt; wenn das Abdrücken nicht an die Herzschläge angepaßt wird, wird die Kurve mehr horizontal verlaufen. Alle vorherigen Beispiele mit den Kurven betreffen das Schießen im Liegen. Diese Technik ist auch für das kniende Schießen von Tragweite. Beim Schießen im Stehen spielt diese Technik keine so große Rolle, aber bei eingehender Analyse der Ziellinie, insbesondere 3-5 Sek. vor den Abschuß wurde bei vielen Spitzenschützen das Abdrücken zwischen Herzschlägen festgestellt, wie beim Schießen im Liegen. Wir möchten erwähnen, daß bei der Analyse einer großen Anzahl von Übungen bei Schützen unterschiedlichen Ranges das Abdrücken zwischen Herzschlägen nur bei Schützen hohen Ranges festzustellen war.
Daher kann man diese Technik allen Gewehrschützen bei allen Schießarten mit Sicherheit empfehlen. Error Number One in Shooting Shooter's Coordination Analysis The «Coordination Diagram» shows the time equal to one second to the actual time during which a shot is made along the X axis, and deflection from the centre of the target along the Y axis, while the resulting curve shows the mean deflection of all the aiming trajectories from the centre of the target. Analysis of the curve makes possible the evaluation of a shooter's skill and readiness at a given time. The curve may be of three different types as follows: • Smoothly descending prior to actual shooting; • Horizontal; • Ascending prior to actual shooting. The first and the second types of curves are as a rule indicative of a shooter in good form and of a successful training session, although one should also pay attention to the deflection of the curve from the centre of the target. Beginners often produce smoothly descending or horizontal lines, though being rather far from the centre of the target, this is not indicative of high standards.
The third type of curve- the one with a slight ascent- relates the existence of a problem during the final stage of shooting. In other words, the weapon is shown to deflect from the aiming point prior to shooting. The beginning of the curve's ascent almost always lies within the range of 0.3-0.2 seconds before the shot is executed. It is related to the time of a human's physiological response. While aiming, and having made necessary adjustments, a shooter makes a decision and instructs his finger «to pull the trigger». The time delay between having made the decision and executing the shot is 0.2-0.3 seconds. The same is observed on the target while undertaking the simplest analysis of an aiming trajectory. In the following example the aiming trajectory 0.2 seconds prior to actual shooting is shown in blue, while the trajectory 1second prior to shooting is shown in yellow. It is evident that a shooter holds the weapon rather firmly in line with the centre of the target during the 1 to 0.2 second time span prior to actual shooting, but that the weapon is deflected from the aiming point during the last 0.2 seconds.
This phenomenon may be called the Number One problem in shooting. In fact, it is encountered by every shooter- from a beginner to an Olympic champion. When asked, a sportsman answers that either his finger fails to pull the trigger, or that the trigger is too hard to pull. Another common response is that the stability is good, but that at the point of shooting the weapon deflects from the centre. The main cause of the problem lies in the loss of control over the weapon's position. The origin of the error is as follows: When making a shot a shooter must focus his attention on three main components: AIMING, PULLING THE TRIGGER, and CONTROL OF WEAPON'S POSITION. But, as is known from physiology and psychology, a person cannot effectively focus his attention on several actions at the one time. One action is OK, two is a considerably worse, while three and over are impossible to control simultaneously. This is precisely the case with shooting, where there are three elements. Prior to shooting a shooter focuses his attention on AIMING and ARMS POSITION CONTROL ; after adjustment he makes a decision to PULL THE TRIGGER, but his concentration capacity is insufficient and he is forced to ‘borrow' from the AIMING or the ARMS POSITION CONTROL actions, more commonly from the ARMS POSITION CONTROL, thus resulting in an inaccurate shot. Let us address each of the actions one by one so as to better understand the problem.
ARMS POSITION CONTROL is always top priority. The arms position must be controlled prior to shooting, at the moment of shooting, and after shooting. AIMING and PULLING THE TRIGGER are two actions of competitive priorities the relative significance of which has given rise to much disagreement and dispute. Physiology provides us with the answer as to which should be accorded priority. When focusing one's attention on working muscles (finger) the response time, on average, is 0.2 seconds, while focusing one's attention on the sensor system (aiming) yields a response time of 0.3 seconds. In the 1980s the following experiment was undertaken with the involvement of the shooters of USSR's ‘National' Team: A monitor displayed a clock face and a light spot which moved along its periphery/circumference. Shooters were asked to stop the light spot at 12 o'clock sharp with a stop button. The results of the test were as follows: • 10-15 % exact stops/'hits' when focusing attention on the monitor screen • 25-35 % exact stops when focusing attention on the finger pressing The above results are strongly suggestive of the fact that PULLING THE TRIGGER is always more important. In conclusion, the shooter's attention ought to be focused primarily on ARMS POSITION CONTROL and PULLING THE TRIGGER with AIMING remaining under passive control. Following the above rule allows one to retain control of the ARMS POSITION during the final stage of shooting. I would like to warn against the most common mistake when analysing the problem. When a coach learns that the most favorable time for a shot is 0.3 seconds before the actual shot, he tends to recommend that the shooter make the shot a little earlier/in advance. This does not help, however, as the main cause of the error, i.e. loss of control over the muscles keeping the arms in position, is not addressed. Thus, if you see that the curve on the chart is ascending, the key conclusion and piece of advice is that you must aim to control the arms position before and during the execution of a shot. Alexander Kudelin MUSCLES MODEL OF SHOT For accurate shooting a shooter must hold rifle or pistol steady in centre of aiming area, before shot release, during shot release and after shot release.
Muscles hold the rifle or pistol and the brain controls these muscles. If we want to stabilise the rifle or pistol the brain must send many different signals to different muscles simultaneously all over the body from toes to head at the same time. At the same time the brain must also send the signal to the trigger finger to pull the trigger. This process we will call “muscle model''. Since the human brain finds it difficult to deal with more than one task (see Article “Error No. 1''). We must try to combine all the signals to the body muscles and trigger finger into one. Because it is easier to control as one thing rather than body separate to trigger. “Muscles Model'' will be individual for every shooter. The differences will be in how they feel their “muscle model'' as to how they create the model on the day. For example, one shooter could create this feeling by: 1.Imagine that he/she is of stone or metal construction. 2.Imagine that he/she is calm flat water (lake). 3.Imagine that he/she is Hajinbekove, Kyriakov, Shooman , Galkina, or other top shooter. (This often used by beginners) 4. Imagine previous competitions where he/she had shot and remembering the feeling of how he/she achieved them. There are a lot of other methods of gaining “Muscle Model'' but the shooter should try to create his/her own. If he/she has success with this model he/she should recreate it in future competitions if not he/she should modify until successful. A shooter can start to remember “Muscles Module'' 1.By concentrating on a part of his body, and from there progressing to the rest of the body including trigger finger. 2.Use as a key a previous place of competition where result was very good.
HOW TO CREATE “MUSCLE MODELS” During competition a shooter can try different models or even change models if he/she has bad results with shots in order to find different feeling of models. If the shooter finds that a new or modified model produces good results, then he can adopt this new model and begin
to use it for future competitions with similar conditions. This could happen even from as little as two shots during that competition. After the competition (the night before bed) he/she should mentally rehearse this feeling for approximately 5-10 minutes without a rifle or pistol and with closed eyes as first practice which can be repeated for the next 3-4 days again no more than 10 minutes at a time and then try it at the Range with live and dry fire maximum 30-40 minutes. This particular session the shooter must be in good physical and mental condition. We do not recommend to do this session after a hard day's work or other personal problems. During the live and dry fire session SCATT must be used and the shooter should only concern him/herself with “L'' (speed or trace) and size of aiming area during the last 0.2 seconds before shot registration. Depending on ability to achieve this feeling shooters can increase the time of training sessions. So if he/she needs this model for 1 hour during competition he/she should be able to achieve the model for another 50% approximately during training. It is recommended that shooters should watch for fatigue and take the necessary breaks to stop fatigue. After the shooter is confident with the model he/she can then try it during a competition. If shooters do not have a model but want to create one during training, he/she should stop training minimum one week to give them a change to clear their minds from all feelings and begin from ZERO . After the week they can begin to mentally search for model of stability without rifle or pistol and with closed eyes. Shooter must use an object to simulate grip and trigger in order to create model. (I.e. TV control). Do this for two days 15-20 minutes per day. After the two days he/she can check the designed model on the range with SCATT and repeat the “L'' and aiming area size method. This can be used to create additional models so the shooter can have a choice for the next competition. If one does not work he/she can try another. Alexander Kudelin. STABILITY To produce a shot we must hold rifle or pistol, aim it and squeeze the trigger. But to produce a good shot we must train all these elements. If we analyse all three, it is possible to establish which one has more potential for improvement. Physiology tells us that: 1.Vision can be improved very marginally
2.Squeezing the trigger, which is dependent on time of reaction, can also be improved only marginally. Reaction time being 0.3-0.2 of a second with very little change of improving to 0.15 seconds. 3.Stability then becomes the one that has the most potential for improvement. The process of stabilisation depends on two components. 1.The muscles, which hold the rifle or pistol. 2.The brain, which sends signals to the muscles. The muscles have sensors, which send information to the brain about level of tension and position. Children have fewer sensors than adults and gradually develop additional sensors. Shooters also can develop additional sensors as they train. The brain sends commands to muscles to hold the rifle or pistol, if commands are of good quality (amplitude and frequency) stability is achieved. Humans receive most of the information they need through visual (eyes). So the brain directs most of the attention to the eyes. But to achieve and improve stability we need to send most of our attention to muscles. Therefore, we must eliminate the visual by closing our eyes or aim to white background. This is possible to do with or without a rifle or pistol. a. Adopt shooting position. b. Try to stop all movement by using “muscle model'' (refer previous article). This should be trained approximately 1 hour per day or as much as possible. The SCATT can be used to check “L'' before this work and see results after a week of work. Eventually shooters must perform the above work on the range with dry firing, then live firing with eyes closed. When live firing, no target system should be used. This work must be done for at least 3-4 months. Shooters must be patient until they can achieve good results as it can get very boring. Coaches must help shooters through this period. Achieved improvement will motivate shooters to do more work on stability. Some exercises can be used to improve stability for beginners. 1.Making the trace in a figure “8”” on its side “ “ (Infinity Sign) The aim is to do the action slowly and with smooth movements. The next step is to introduce trigger action by stopping somewhere within the figure and dry firing the shot.
Check SCATT to verify that trace is a true “Infinity Sign” figure and the shot is on the trace. 2.Dynamic aiming: the shooter in this exercise selects different points on a blank target, then with slow controlled movemen brings sights to centre, stop, and fire shot. The stop must not exceed 1-2 seconds. DYNAMIC AIMING After the invention of the SCATT is was established that elite shooters were using two types of aiming techniques. The Classical technique and what we call now Dynamic Aiming technique . The Classical technique is when the shooter comes into the centre of his aiming area and holds four or more seconds before the shot release.
The Dynamic Aiming technique is when a shooter comes into the centre of his aiming area slowly and releases the shot within 1-3 seconds. It was also noticed that with the Dynamic Aiming Technique there were a few different ways to come into the centre of the aiming area, but shot release was always 1-2 seconds
It has been noted that approximately 70% of elite shooters when they had top results were using the Dynamic Aiming Technique. We recommend to any shooter who uses the Classical Technique, to try both types of the Dynamic Aiming and use the SCATT to check it. We realise that it will not be simple to change a technique, which was used for numerous years to this one, but an honest attempt must be made at least for one month. The reason why this technique can have better results than the Classical Technique , in our opinion, is that a shooter can hold his attention to his/her body and trigger simultaneously. We recommend, if you change to Dynamic Aiming Technique, and good results occur, that the shooter and coach continuously monitor on the SCATT that the shooter does not revert back to old technique. It has been known that even Elite shooters have done this and results deteriorated. Dynamic Aiming Technique requires a lot more concentration and effort than the Classical Technique and if shooters starts to tire, very often they go back to the Classical Technique , unfortunately, this can reduce results. Alexander Kudelin.
Pulling the Trigger in the Interval between the Heart Beats at Rifle Shooting (Pulse Technique) Every rifle shooter is aware of the constant movement of the arms during shooting. Arms movement determine its stability which may be subdivided into two components. The first component is contributed by poorly-coordinated muscles and their tremor. The second component is contributed by the heart beats. He former may be easily reduced by training, the latter cannot really be removed by training. Pulsation component may often be of the same order both for a beginner and marksman. When analyzing the trajectory of aiming of a marksman both components are clearly distinguishable. Pulsation at shooting from prone and from the kneeling positions represents 60 to 80 per cent of the total movement.
Right side figure at the monitor shows the trajectory of aiming of a marksman practicing shooting from the prone position. The section of the trajectory at the heart bet is shown in yellow, while the arms fluctuation between the two heart beats is shown in blue. The example shows that the arms fluctuation happens mainly because of the heart beats. So it brings us to a conclusion that the best possible result may be achieved when making a shot between the heart beats. It is still more important in competition. In practice a sportsman can not actually watch pulsation and be fairly successful in shooting, yet it is the pulsation that may become a serious obstacle to high performance. The technique of shooting of the marksmen from Russia and other countries was studied and analyzed for 6 to 7 recent years, the research proved that good results at shooting from prone position may only be achieved at making a shot in between the heart beats. The shooters often were not aware that they had followed the rule, intuition helped them to
become marksmen. A majority of shooters can not do it and don»t know about it. So our purpose is to master the technique. Methodology of training and mastering the technique of trigger pulling in between the heart beats is as follows: First one should find out when he pulls the trigger. While practicing one should see how many shots out of 10 are made in the interval between the heart beats. If 7 to 9 are made like this, one shall proceed practicing with training equipment carefully watching for the final stage of each shot. If the figure is below 7 practicing shall follow the following rules. At first one should master auto training, standard methodology may be found in any Aid for psychological training of a sportsman, so I will not go deeply into the details of the auto training technique. When mastering the technique, one solves three basic problems: relaxation of muscles, feeling the heart beats in any part of the body, and utilize the technique as a psychological support for getting ready for the competitions. In this case one need only learn to feel the heart beats in any part of the body. After learning to feel the heart beats one may pass to ideomotor training. Ideomotor training is visualising the muscles work at shooting. It is recommended to take some object to help you to imitate the trigger pulling, then to feel the heart beets in the trigger finger and pull the trigger with a little delay of 0,2,0,3 seconds after the heart beat. There should be a double timing as you add your own extra time during which you pull the trigger. Moreover the trigger pressure is increased in small steps after each heart beat ( three to five times) to develop the force needed to pull the trigger. After you have learnt the ideomotor technique you may proceed to real practicing, trying to reproduce the mastered technique. The final stage of the shot shall be checked at automatic repetition in the cause of practicing, and at the end of practicing the result of your work will be presented at the speed linear chart.
The upper chart shows variations in speed within 1 second prior to shooting. The lower one represents the same practicing but the analysis was made for three seconds. (For this purpose the check time in the shooting parameters shall be modified to be 3000 milliseconds).
The chart looking like a sinusoid is specific for marksmen. It shows that the majority of shots was made exactly in between the heart beats, and if finger pressing is not coordinated with the heart beats the chart will be represented with a more level line.
The examples above were taken from practicing from prone position. The technique is also of importance in shooting from the kneeling position. When shooting in standing position it is not as important as for the previously mentioned positions, but when a trajectory of a marksman was analyzed, in particular 3 to 5 seconds prior to shooting, it was traced that they made their shots also between the heart beats. It's worthwhile to remind that the marksmen alone showed the pulse technique application among many other shooters of various levels, whose shots were analyzed. So the technique, described above may well be recommended to all the rifle shooters for any types of shooting. Alexander Kudelin Trajectory Length One of the most informative indicators of the quality of shooting. It shows the path taken by the aiming trajectory during the period between actual shooting and one second prior to the shot. The length of the trajectory, ‘L', may otherwise be described as the stability of the weapon during the final phase of shooting. The smaller the ‘L', the better is one's steadiness. During the past several years a large number of training sessions of marksmen have been analysed, it being noted that when a shooter is performing well, his ‘L' indicators are also suggestive of stability.
By regulating ‘L' during training a shooter may address the following concerns: • Control of steadiness and its betterment • Control of fatigue during training • Selection of shooting attire (clothing) • Selection of the most effective position (izgotovka) Control of steadiness and its betterment The best shooters have the following ‘L's: Air rifle: ‘L' = 7-9mm Air pistol: ‘L' =55-75mm Small-bore rifle, prone: ‘L'=20-35mm Small-bore rifle, standing: ‘L'=40-50mm Small-bore rifle, kneeling: ‘L'=30-40mm If a shooter does not achieve similar results/ a similar standard, victory in significant competitions is likely to prove elusive. This is why the improvement of steadiness is a priority concern in shooting. In order to improve steadiness, training sessions where a large proportion of one's attention is focused on the holding of the gun are recommended. During such training sessions the shooter endeavours to minimise ‘L'. Control of fatigue during training During training the shooter takes note of ‘L' as well as the changes in ‘L'. If ‘L' is stable and has an appropriate value, one may continue training. However, if ‘L' is found to be increasing by 20-30% or more, training must be stopped so as to analyse the reasons behind this. Often an increase in ‘L' may be attributed to two factors. Firstly, fatigue. The shooter tires and cannot effectively focus his attention on the final phase of the shot. It is recommended that one stop training. In most such cases rest is required. One may resume training after rest. Secondly, (an increase in ‘L' may be attributed to) extraneous thoughts during the execution of a shot. If the number of such shots exceeds 2-3 per series of 10, it is again necessary to stop and establish what it is that concerns the shooter. Until one has addressed such personal or other problems, the quality of training sessions will remain very low. Excellent results may be achieved only through training with maximum concentration. Selection of shooting attire
It has long been noted that the steadiness of the gun varies with shooting attire, although it is difficult to establish (given minor difference) which clothing is best. This problem may be addressed with relative ease by using the measurement of ‘L'. In order to attain more accurate results it is recommended that testing be conducted over a period of 3-5 days. It is recommended that attention be focused on pulsation in both the prone and kneeling positions. It has been noted that often the use of tracksuits made from softer rather than harder materials leads to greater steadiness. -Harder tracksuits result in heartbeats being transmitted to the gun with a very small loss in intensity, while this intensity is considerably dulled by softer clothing. However, a tracksuit that is too soft is also undesirable. Selection of the most effective ready position In selecting a shooting position a shooter always encounters the problem of its objective assessment. Often the difference is so small that it is difficult to make a choice. Here SCATT is of great assistance. During the selection of shooting position a shooter analyses ‘L', the nature of the trajectory and the magnitude of the recoil. In looking for a new shooting position it is recommended to trial a series of combinations, even those which are uncomfortable or those generally considered incorrect. In trailing shooting positions, it is vital that the shooter give every shot his utmost attention so as to minimise the inaccuracy of the results. It is also necessary to verify trial results over a number of training sessions or better still during a relatively unimportant competition. A number of variables: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. mass of gun balance of the gun belt length position of sights – raise/lower point of attachment of belt to the stock length of butt-stock slant and height of back plate height of cheek-piece angle of slant of the rifle eg: tilting the gun towards oneself in the prone position allows for the position of the head between the left shoulder and the butt-stock and thus for the relaxation of the cervical muscles of the head (muscles at the back of the head) when shooting in the kneeling position, one should endeavour to find a shooting position in relation to the target such that when he is completely relaxed the rifle is not in line with the target at hand, but is facing one or two targets to the left/right. Such an opening stance may significantly reduce pulsation when shooting from the kneeling position position of the legs tilt of the head pivot point of the left elbow in the standing and kneeling positions the way in which the rifle is held by the left hand in the upright position the force/pressure applied to the hilt by the right hand rifle brand
11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16.
The above constitute only a small list of possible variables or changes which may be made to one's shooting position.
HOW TO CHOOSE A GOOD PRONE POSITION Stability in prone position has two components. 1. Pulse movement 60% to 80% in elite shooters (yellow line). • Stability between pulses 20% to 40% in elite shooters (blue line).
In beginners this will be differently divided. I.E. Increased stability between pulses will equalise the two components approximately to 50%-50%. Main target in this case would be to reduce BOTH components. In area and speed. (L). In order to reduce the FIRST component a shooter must try to change: 1. Length of shooting sling. 2. Weight of rifle. 3. Balance of rifle. 4. If shooter has more than one jacket, it is recommended to try all jackets and find out which jacket will reduce both components.
Sometimes softer jackets can produce better results due to the fact that a stiffer jacket will transfer 100% of body pulsation to rifle. Whereas, a softer material can reduce pulsation transfer to rifle. 5. Trying different adjustments of hook position and stock positions. Unfortunately it is difficult to give precise recommendations to help all shooters. A shooter is advised to experiment a lot to find his/her individual positions. If shooter has difficulty in finding all the positions, we recommend that they try unorthodox positions which are not very common. This may produce the desired effect. The main tool to monitor, in order to achieve the best positions, will be the “L''. “L'' will show speed of aiming trace. For the elite shooter this should be between 20 and 35 mm/sec. and the effect of pulsation should not take the trace outside the 10 area, approximately 5mm. The second component, stability between pulses, presents us with a much more difficult task. In order to reduce this component a shooter must spend long hours training to achieve any results. We will be explaining the requirements for this in our next article entitled “Muscle Model of Shot.'' Alexander Kudelin. Mental Training 1 EXERCISE No. 1 STOPPING NEGATIVE THINKING Aim The purpose of this exercise is to develop a procedure, which can be used to stop negative thoughts. Rationale Athletes sometimes develop thought patterns that become pre-occupied with negative features and events concerning their sport. An example of this type of thinking is excessive worry about not being able to perform a task or achieve goals. It is possible to learn to stop negative and distracting thoughts. The process of self-controlled thought stopping involves the repetitious interruption of the ruminative, negative thoughts. Because the interruption has aversive attributes, an avoidance response usually is developed. That causes the athlete to become “sensitized” to the negative thinking and the events, which precede them. Eventually, the negative thoughts
are avoided because the athlete learns when they are about to occur. They are stopped before they are emitted. This procedure requires the athlete to develop an awareness of the scope and type of negative thoughts, which occur, and to use a mild self-inflicted negative consequence. The steps for a thought-stopping procedure that has proven to be successful with athletes are listed below. Steps 1. List at least five specific negative thoughts that occur. If possible relate the thoughts to different aspects of the sporting experience (this should make you aware of the scope of the negative thinking). 2. Obtain a supply of rubber bands that will fit snugly on your wrist. 3. A rubber band should be positioned on your wrist between the hand and where a wristwatch might be worn. The band should be of sufficient tension that if it is pulled away from the wrist and released it will cause a harmless but sharp stinging sensation. 4. You are required to wear the rubber band all day every day. Whenever you are aware of negative thoughts, the band should be pulled and released so that it stings your wrist. This means that you punish yourself for thinking negatively and the negative thoughts are interrupted. With practice the length of each negative thought becomes shorter and eventually, will hardly occur. 5. Upon each occurrence of punishing a negative thought, you should deliberately execute a positive thought related to the event. For example, if you are worried about an impending competition, then after interrupting the negative thinking, an image of starting the competition in a very competent manner might be developed. Each negative thought that is interrupted should be followed (replaced) by a positive thought or image relating to the same situation. 6. This procedure should be continued and at the end of each day an evaluation of the severity of the problem should be made. You need to estimate the existence of the problem on a 10-point scale. If the problem has not lessened then an “X” should be placed at the high end of the line. If it has lessened then the diminution should be estimated and an “X” placed accordingly. This procedure serves as a daily log of the effectiveness of the thought-stopping procedure. The frequency and duration of negative thinking should diminish and eventually the invocation of positive thoughts should occur before the negative thoughts. This leads to the desirable state of positive thinking replacing negative thinking. 7. When you consider that you are doing less than two self-punishments per day, the continual use of the rubber band can cease. At that stage the band should be worn every other day. 8. When the rubber band is not used at all and you determine that negative thinking no longer is a problem, the procedure can be terminated.
Negative thought stopping is a self-directed activity. Full responsibility for the success of the procedure has to be borne by you. Attempting anything less than what has been described above, for example, trying a “quick” or abbreviated exercise, may not prove to be successful. The self-discipline displayed when the steps indicated above are followed is an index of your conscientiousness and determination to eradicate this problem. Thought stopping, as it is described here is a mixture of thought interruption and gradually increasing positive cognition. It starts with the intervention of thoughts under the athlete's control. The proportion of time spent thinking negatively should gradually decrease while the time in positive thinking increases. When to Use The major use for thought stopping is when the frequency of negative thinking is high, usually to the point where it disturbs the athlete or coach. As soon as this poor form of thinking is recognized, this exercise should be started. EXERCISE No. 2 POSITIVE IMAGERY Aim The purpose of this exercise is to develop a routine that can be used to “flood” an athlete's consciousness with positive thinking and imagery. Rationale Positive imagery employs a simple principle: if a person thinks a set of thoughts often enough, then he/she will come to believe them. This procedure is intended to establish a positive mind-set. It requires the repeated thinking of a variety of positive and successful events that are relevant to the sport. Positive imagery can be used periodically as a means of blocking the possible occurrence of negative thoughts. Its repeated use prevents the occurrence of undesirable negative thoughts. Thus, it can become an important ritualized behavior that might be used prior to a competition to produce a positive mind-set and to assist in the narrowing of attentional focus. When the situation arises it can be used as an intervention technique to recover from negative thought intrusions. The steps for implementing positive imagery are outlined below. Steps 1. The “Positive Imagery Sheet” is to be completed so that it will serve a cueing or prompting function when needed. 1a. On the blank sheet, at least three occasions concerning your sport when everything went very well, the rewards were satisfying, and the circumstances remain, as highlights of your career should be listed.
1.b Some mental imagery actions and expected positive outcomes should be described. 1.c Your willingness to tolerate, and coping strategies for, the techniques used to concentrate intently to block distractions should be recorded. 1.d Favorable reactions of others to your previous performances should be noted. 1.e The reasons why you are committed to the sport should be entered. Why you should do well should be justified and the lengths to which you will go to achieve your goals should be described. 1.f The justifications for why you can do well in the next competition should be noted. 2. When it is determined that developing a positive mind-set is necessary, you should seek an isolated site that is free from distractions. Go to that location and begin the recall of the positive and adaptive responses that you have developed. Be prepared to remain there for as long as one half-hour. 3. This sheet is to be used as a prompting device. Each entry on the sheet should be referenced singly to cue your imagination of the event or activity described. You should dwell extensively on each entry and fantasize as much as possible before moving onto the next item. The successful completion of each imagination should lead to a cumulative “flooding” of your mind with positive images. 4. This positive imagery practice should be continued until you determine that the procedure has caused negative thoughts to be blocked or a positive mind-set has been satisfactorily established. 5. As new and more exciting positive experiences occur, they should replace items on the established sheet. When to Use This procedure should be developed as a self-initiated activity and can be used at training, outside of training, and at competitions. If you consider that negative or “worry-type'' thoughts are developing you should first attempt using positive imagery to block the deteriorating mental condition. If it fails then a more deliberate and controlled procedure should be initiated. One of the best uses of positive imagery is as part of the competition preparation strategy. Early in the preparatory steps, a period of positive imagery could be employed whether or not it is needed. This will contribute to a positive mind-set being established. In general, there are two guidelines for when to use positive imagery: a) when you experience doubt, depression, or negative appraisals about some aspects of your sport, and b) at least once every two weeks as an habitual activity. At least once a month the content of the prepared sheet should be reviewed to see if it should be altered in any way. EXERCISE No. 3 COPING BEHAVIORS FOR COMPETITIONS
Aim The purpose of this exercise is to produce an alternative “coping” behavior for each activity that has been included in the basic competitive strategy. Rationale For each primary strategy behavior that has been planned, there is the potential for it not to work; that is, its intended outcome will not be achieved. Actions can be taken to combat that possibility. When an athlete predicts and prepares for problems, better tolerance and coping responses will be produced in a performance. Coping behaviors are action alternatives, which allow athletes to be flexible as they contend with the demands of competing. That flexibility is very important for performance potential. Apart from preparing what the athlete prefers to do (the primary strategy), a requirement for the development of strategies, is to plan alternative actions in case a primary behavior does not achieve its outcome. Each alternative action should produce the same outcome as intended for its primary behavior counterpart. The set of alternative or coping behaviors is called the secondary strategy. The ideal purpose of the secondary strategy is to predict and prepare for all possible distractions and problems that could occur in a competition. Effective results will be achieved if at least one alternative behavior is planned for each primary behavior. For each primary behavior in a strategy, an athlete should consider the following: 1. what will happen; 2. what could result from the event; 3. how the event will affect the athlete; 4. what is the appropriate preferred action; and 5. What is an alternate coping response that will achieve the same intended outcome? One should not confuse coping behaviors with negative thinking. Predicting and preparing for problems will produce better tolerance and coping responses in competitions. If an athlete knows what to do when something goes wrong, he/she will tolerate the problem and cope with it so that it will have a minimum impact on a performance. In most cases, the problem will be handled and the athlete will “get-back-on-track” with performing the primary strategy elements, producing outcomes, and achieving segment goals. Assertive and positive coping maintains performance capacity. A lack of preparedness or failure to cope reduces performance capacity. There is another feature of coping that has to be considered; what to do if segment goals are not achieved. While performing, an evaluation should occur at the end of each segment to determine if segment goals were or were not achieved. If a segment goal is not achieved, one would have to consider whether or not to disregard the failure or enact a recovery routine to recapture the failed goals before proceeding with the subsequent segment. Recovery routines should be prepared. A coping response would consume some time and would not allow the total completion of the next segment. Thus, after a recovery routine, an
athlete will have to enter the next scheduled segment at the most appropriate place. Recovery routines are coping activities that aim to recover the achievement of segment goals. Athletes should experience and learn all coping behaviors. Parts of training should be dedicated to practicing coping behaviors in situations, which simulate competitive conditions. To produce a desirable level of performance flexibility, a strategy requires i) an alternative behavior to be performed if a primary preferred behavior does not work, and ii) a recovery routine to be enacted if a segment goal is not achieved. A number of general problems also might arise in competitions. These are different to when a deliberate planned activity does not work. Strategies should be developed for handling them although they do not appear in the body of a competition strategy. Rather, they are included as a general problem-solving capacity that should be developed and learned. 1. A feeling of loss of control. If an athlete develops a general appraisal or feeling of losing control while executing a strategy, there are a number of coping behavior options that could assist in regaining self-control. a. Return to basic fundamentals that are in the strategy and with which the athlete feels very comfortable; b. engage in emotional positive self-talk; and/or c. Concentrate on mood words that are appropriate for the segment being executed. 2. Loss of focus. The reactions to a loss of control also are appropriate when an athlete stops thinking of strategy content. In that circumstance strategy concentration has to be restarted. A re-entry point to the strategy could be at a very well learned and comfortable phase of the segment that is being executed. Another alternative would be to analyze the situation and determine exactly where the strategy should be re-entered and execute from there. 3. Risk analysis. If risk analysis segments are included in the strategy, it is necessary to plan what will be done to cope with increased levels of threat caused by problematical circumstances. Actions to alleviate threat and dangers should be implemented immediately in a performance. The major feature of coping behaviors and strategies is that an athlete should never become rattled. The capacity to develop problem-solving behaviors for any difficulty that could arise in a match should be an aim of training and strategy development. With that capability, an athlete should be able to compete with confidence and certainty. The competitive experience will be appraised as being a potentially positive happening. The steps for devising secondary strategies and general coping behaviors are indicated below. Steps
1. This exercise requires you to develop coping behaviors and recovery routines. Obtain some copies of your basic strategy so that you can use them as working copies in the early steps of this exercise. 2. You need to complete the “Coping Behaviors” column on the strategy worksheets. For each primary behavior you should enter what your alternative actions will be to produce the same outcome. If you are a team sport player you should describe your specific function in the secondary team activity. Athletes in individual sports should describe an alternative activity to that which is listed in the “Primary Behaviors” column. Make the entries on the worksheet copies that already contain the primary activities, outcomes, and segment goals. 3. In the “Coping Behaviors” column alongside the segment goals you should indicate what your actions will be if you do not achieve each goal. For example, if a goal is not achieved you may decide to continue to strive to achieve it by enacting a recovery routine. That routine might be to perform the coping behaviors for the appropriate segment sections rather than repeating the primary behaviors, which have already failed. On the other hand you may decide to ignore the goal that has been missed. If that is done then it is good practice to very quickly recall the segment goals, which were, achieved (a positive thinking activity). It is important not to emphasize or dwell on any goal failures if no recovery routine is to be executed. 4. The amount of thought content in the total strategy should be sufficient to consume the total contest. Study and memorize the total strategy. Both the primary and secondary strategy elements should be learned to a high degree of familiarity. 5. As many segments of the total strategy as possible should be practiced at training when appropriate opportunities arise (usually in event simulations and scrimmages). It is not advisable to use strategy thought content for activities, which do not replicate competitive circumstances. At least one in every five “strategy practices” should be devoted to employing coping behaviors. On those occasions concentrate on joining together all the coping behaviors and using them as your performance strategy. This is done to develop familiarity with both the primary and secondary strategy elements. Do not neglect to practice coping behaviors. Strategies should be planned early because the opportunities to practice them are likely to be relatively few. When strategies are practiced there are some features which need to be considered. 5 .a The smallest amount of a strategy that should be practiced is a segment. By doing that the segment goals should be the outcome of the practice element and they will assist you in evaluating the effectiveness of each practice trial. If only a part of a segment is practiced it will be “taken out of context” and may not be as effective as if a total segment was used. However, there may only be opportunities to practice parts of segments and they should be used rather than doing no practice at all. 5.b The aim of a strategy practice activity should be to totally consume the activity time with planned thoughts. No new or irrelevant thoughts should occur. If they do, you either have to add more information to your strategies or learn the strategy content better so that no omissions occur. 5.c Thinking strategy content should become a standard part of your practice when competition-specific training activities are performed. Competition-specific training items are activities, which have many characteristics that are similar to what you would experience
during a contest. The intensity of the exercise and the tasks to be performed should be like a competition rehearsal. 5.d A coping behavior is used when it is realized that a primary behavior is not “working.” Since the planned content is repeated a number of times in a segment, as soon as the recognition of ineffectiveness occurs the coping behavior should be substituted. When a performance proceeds satisfactorily, only primary strategy behaviors are used but as soon as a hint of failure to achieve an outcome occurs you should switch to the coping response. 6. Each time a strategy element, segment, or section is used at practice you should evaluate its effectiveness and how comfortable you are with using it. There may be a need to alter some strategy features as a result of these opportunities. Immediately make those alterations on your planning worksheets so that they will not be forgotten. 7. Periodically test yourself to see if you can recall all the information contained in your total strategy. The content of the total strategies is what should be imagined in mental rehearsal and “psych-up” sessions. 8. On a “Recovery Routine Worksheet”, list the actions that you would take if the following “general” problems were to occur during a competition: i) you have a sudden lapse of memory and cannot recall the next segment item; ii) you are thinking of the strategy but gradually losing focus on its details; iii) some event that is unrelated to your performance (e.g., spectators, the performance of an opponent, a television time-out) occurs and disrupts your concentration; and iv) you experience a situation where you have been competing and not thinking of anything. When to use Now that you have most of the thought content and behaviors determined for your competitive performance it is necessary to start using these plans at training so that you can become familiar with them. You should aim to be very comfortable with being able to recall and focus on performing to achieve the outcomes that you have designed. Practice units, which are meant to simulate competitive situations (e.g., time trials, scrimmages, and exhibition games), should now include as much emphasis on their mental thought and control as that given to physical performance. When your mind is in total control good physical performance will result. Do not neglect to practice the coping strategies. It is recommended that for every four primary strategy practices, one secondary strategy practice should be conducted. You need to become familiar with all primary and coping behaviors. After each strategy element is used at training you should evaluate what you did. If necessary, modifications to the original strategy should be made. You may have to try very hard and practice in different ways to make the strategy “work”. EXERCISE No. 4 INTENSIFICATION SKILL
Aim The purpose of this exercise is to develop a plan for modifying competition thinking so that the mental skill of intensification will occur. Rationale One of the principal aims of strategy use is to maintain control throughout a contest. As a performance progresses there is the potential that an athlete's focus and concentration will diminish. There are external factors and internal events that could distract concentration. As an athlete tires, either through physical or psychological fatigue, the symptoms of that fatigue emerge as very strong distractions. The process of psychological intensification needs to be incorporated into a strategy to cope with this problem and maintain concentration control throughout a performance. A major pain theory suggests that while the mind is kept very busy and totally focused on some task-relevant and positive activity, the brain will not recognize fatigue or pain. This means that if an athlete can keep attention totally involved with mental activity (positive strategy content), then control in fatigued states will be maintained. The implication of this principle for sport competitions is that an athlete should keep his/her mind totally occupied with thought content during a contest. As the pain or distraction potential of fatigue increases, the intensity of contest-relevant thinking also has to increase in order to maintain performance control. Psychological intensification is used to guard against incurring the detrimental effects of fatigue. It stops complacency, loss of control, and loss of focus by requiring thought content and the intensity of thinking to gradually increase as fatigue develops. In the early stages of a competition when there is no fatigue, or the level of effort is in a “steady-state', an athlete does not have to think too intently. The main aim should be to keep in control of the performance and execute strategy content. With most athletes, there is a stage in a contest where it is realized that extra effort is needed to continue. Europeans call that stage the “stopping-wish” point. Before or at that stage is where thought control needs to be intensified otherwise performance will deteriorate. There are many ways of intensifying one's thoughts. For example, one can: i) think faster; ii) change the nature of the thought content (e.g., increase the amount of task relevant content), iii) think harder by putting more “effort” into the concentration process; iv) increase the sound volume and emotionality of thoughts; v) “picture” what has been written down on strategy worksheets in increasingly larger letters; vi) mutter out loud; and vii) combine a number of these activities. Some athletes like to introduce a variety of stages of intensification during a competition. At certain times they increase the manner of intensifying their thoughts so that their thinking progressively becomes more intense as the potential for distraction increases. For example, in rowing races some elite rowers go from normal thinking to stage 1 intensification, then to stage 2, stage 3, and finally stage 4. At each stage they introduce more elements and methods for increasing the thought intensity that is required for controlling their sporting efficiency. For very long competitions, stages for recommitment to intensified thinking are helpful. In those cases, the intermittent evaluation of the quality of thinking is very helpful for maintaining an effective focus on thought control.
There are some noteworthy features about the illustrated relationship between fatigue and the conduct of thinking. 1. While in a non-fatigued or non-bored state, an athlete does not have to think too intently. The principal aim should be to keep controlled and focused on the task, that is, do the planned strategy. 2. Just prior to the recognition of increasing fatigue, the thought processes are changed. At that stage the athlete introduces technique items of concentration, which aim to maintain high levels of skill efficiency. The athlete makes a deliberate attempt to concentrate better by attempting to focus more intently on strategy content. The rate of thinking starts to increase, a trend, which continues for the remainder of the competition. 3. Towards the end of the contest, the subjective symptoms of fatigue become more intense. Before that stage occurs, thought intensification should be increased further through an even more deliberate focus on thinking and a major emphasis on controlling the technical efficiency of sporting actions. The ratio of mood words and positive thinking to task-relevant content remains the same. It is the volume and intensity of thinking that increases. That increase blocks the recognition of fatigue. If an athlete were to relax the intensification process during this latter phase, then fatigue sensations would be recognized and performance would deteriorate drastically. There is little chance of recovering the level of performance once that interference occurs. Relaxing or losing control in the very final part of a contest accounts for many athletes failing at that very critical stage. The intensification process relies heavily on the athlete developing various and different methods of thinking. If one were to concentrate too long on one item it is possible that a rhythmical form of thinking could develop. A lack of continual thought vitality is counterproductive to good competing. Frequently changing content and thought modes is important in the intensification process. Another feature of intensification, is the timing relationship between changes in thought intensity and changes in fatigue. Thought intensity should increase before fatigue increases. If this is done fatigue is not given a chance to interrupt the conduct of the strategy. If an athlete were to wait until fatigue sensations increased and were recognized, then he/she would have to cope with fatigue instead of executing the primary strategy at critical stages in the competition. By preempting fatigue changes with intensification, the athlete maintains a preferred-action orientation, which is most desirable for producing maximum sporting performances. Psychological intensification maintains concentration control. That control will facilitate maximum levels of sporting performance. To summarize this section, psychological intensification has the following characteristics. 1. It is developed so that the volume and intensity of strategy thinking blocks the recognition of physical or psychological fatigue. 2. The nature, content, and intensity of competition thinking changes as a contest progresses.
3. The ploys used to intensify differ depending upon the athlete; one should chose those thought actions, which are successful and comfortable. 4. The further one progresses in a contest, the more difficult it is to recapture concentration and control if a disruption occurs. 5. Intensification uses planned strategies and requires an athlete to concentrate “harder” as a competition progresses. 6. Changes in the level of intensification should occur prior to predicted increases in fatigue. The steps for developing intensification procedures into a strategy are indicated below. Steps 1. Intensification requires a number of actions to be taken during a competition. Alterations in the way you think during a contest need to be instituted so that you will be able to think and concentrate “harder” and “better” as the competition progresses. This exercise requires you to modify the competition strategy that was developed in the previous exercise. Obtain a copy of your total competition strategy and pay particular attention to its segmented structure. 2. The way you intensify your thinking is a personal matter. There are several options for intensifying that have been mentioned above. They are further clarified below. You should remember that a number of ways of intensifying could be chosen. You are not restricted to using only one method. Read and understand the descriptions that are provided. Select the methods, which seem to be most applicable to you. 2.a Changing content. In particularly technical sports it is helpful to increase the amount of technical and tactical thinking as the event progresses. This approach needs some clarification. If thoughts are addressed to technical elements in non-fatigued states, performance is disrupted “cognitive interference”. However, when fatigue starts to interfere with performance the reverse occurs, that is, increased concentration on technical elements improves performance. The challenge for an athlete is to determine when the changeover from a non-fatigued to fatigued state occurs (it is usually earlier rather than later than is commonly thought). Thus, in sports where fatigue could interfere with performance, an increase in the amount of technical and tactical thought content is a necessary feature of intensification. 2.b Thinking harder. This involves increasing mental effort. It has two necessary ingredients; thoughts should become more vivid and intense and the awareness of irrelevant environmental features should be reduced. 2.c Increasing sound volume and emotionality. The level of “sound” that is imagined can be altered to increase the emphasis of thoughts. If volume and emotional expression are increased so that an athlete starts to speak to him/herself more forcefully “sound volume” or dramatically “inspiration” attention is improved. In extreme cases an athlete could change from controlled normal thinking in early stages of a competition to a screaming and demanding form of thinking in difficult later stages. Sometimes when thinking is very forceful an athlete vocalizes what is being thought.
2.d Picturing. When strategies are written and often looked at as part of a learning process, the physical dimensions and characteristics of the pages and writing are learned. Some athletes have found it helpful to picture what they have written as a method for maintaining concentration control. They often increase the imagery size of the writing on the page or view enlargements of strategy page sections. This magnification increases the focus of control on the content of the prepared strategy. As intensification stages are implemented, the size of the recalled writings progressively increases. 2.e Muttering. “Talking to oneself” is an effective way of increasing concentration while performing a task. This activity is particularly useful in sports that have a high degree of psychological fatigue (e.g., tennis, shooting, goal keeping in soccer and ice hockey). When words are spoken it is particularly difficult to think of anything else. This procedure allows an athlete to talk him/herself through difficult times and is a good procedure also for recapturing focus (i.e., in a recovery routine). The volume and emotionality of the self-talk should increase to produce the appropriate progression of intensification. 2.f Combinations. Any of the above six ploys as well as others that have not been mentioned can be combined to produce variety in the intensification procedure. It is best to consider using several rather than a single method of intensification because complexity and variety increases the effectiveness of the procedure. 3. The “Psychological Intensification Worksheet” worksheet should be completed before any entries are made on the previously developed total strategy planning worksheets. What you are required to do is to briefly indicate the segments that have been planned and alongside those entries list the thinking alterations that will produce intensification. After reviewing the suggested options for intensifying thoughts that are listed above enter what and when you will do it. You may also want to consider increasing the intensification in stages (as was explained in the “Rationale” section above). 4. This form of thought modification is usually a new experience for most athletes so it is valuable for you to “test” what you have planned at practice. Three criteria should be used for assessment: i) was thinking controlled; ii) was thinking vivid; and iii) were fatigue symptoms suppressed. This testing should be repeated under varying levels of training stress and fatigue. You should select what seems to be most effective in blocking fatigue sensations and that which produces the best thought control. Make changes on the Psychological Intensification Worksheet if you deem them necessary. 5. When you have determined how and when you will intensify, add your decisions and instructions to the total strategy planning worksheet. The incorporation of intensification then becomes part of the total strategy and should be integrated into strategy practices. For example, if you are practicing strategy segments that are to occur toward the end of a competition, then the intensity of thinking that is planned for that stage should be part of your strategy practice. You have to learn how to intensify just as much as you have to learn what is in your primary and secondary strategies. 6. Each time a strategy element, segment, or section is used at practice you should evaluate its effectiveness, how comfortable you are with using it, and your ability to produce the level of intensification that is specific to the relevant stage or circumstance of a contest. There may be a need to alter some strategy features as a result of these opportunities. Remember that you are the only one who can effectively evaluate these thought properties and effects. Be very critical and demanding of yourself when making these decisions.
7. By now you should be attempting to implement some strategy thought content practice at training sessions without the coach having to remind you. This is important because it is you that has to think that way in a competition. Producing thought control should be as important to you as any other aspect of performance. When to Use Use your strategy and its intensification properties at training. You should aim to become very comfortable with recalling and focusing on activities, which are to achieve, designed outcomes. Intensification should assist you in achieving those objectives. Strategy practices should now be self-directed and initiated. SEGMENTING A PERFORMANCE Aim The purpose of this exercise is to structure an intended competitive performance into segments. Rationale Segmenting a competitive performance is the best way to approach a complicated and extended event. A contest should be divided into discrete units, each with its own challenges, content, goals, and evaluation criteria. The actual dissection of a competitive performance is a particularly individual process. The purpose of segmenting is to make the concept of a competition one of sequentially concentrating on and achieving short-term goals that are intermediate to achieving the final contest goals. Research has shown that performance improves when an athlete attempts to achieve intermediate performance goals rather than intended final outcomes. This means that an athlete must divide a performance into 'chunks'1 (contest segments) that are meaningful to him/her. Each segment should have its own discrete set of goals to guide the nature of performance elements. At the end of each segment, an evaluation should be made to see whether segment goals were or were not achieved. If they were not, a recovery routine should be implemented immediately to recapture the features that should have been achieved. This will avoid the accumulation of performance errors. This means two things could happen at the stage of transition from one segment to the next. If the segment goals were achieved an athlete would proceed with the entire next segment. Alternatively, if the segment goals were not achieved, the athlete would implement a recovery routine prior to concentrating on the content of the next segment. That activity would consume some time and would not allow the completion of the total segment strategy in which it occurred. Thus, after a recovery routine, the athlete should enter the scheduled segment at the most appropriate place. It is best to have more than one goal for a segment because a variety of performance factors can then be monitored and controlled. For example, a set of goals might contain some evaluation of an aspect of technique, a feature of strategy, and a feeling of well-being. The size of the goal-set is an individual matter.
The size of each segment needs to be determined through experimentation. If segmenting "does not work" on the initial try, it may be because the segments were too small or too big. The size of a segment should be such that the athlete can concentrate fully for the duration of the segment. If segments are too large, there is a strong chance that concentration cannot be maintained resulting in a loss of performance control. The larger the size of the segment, the greater will be the information and control items that have to be prepared and remembered. For the initial stages of strategy development segments which are small and manageable should be used. With experience and practice, the size of segments can be increased. The purpose behind segmenting a contest is to change the nature of the performance. A competition becomes a challenge to sequentially complete a series of segments. This entails the periodic evaluation of the on-going performance and in-task adjustments of the performance aspects where necessary. Thus, a competition requires the athlete to think only of the content that is appropriate to achieve a current set of goals. A contest consists of the sequential completion of perfect segments. 2 Segmenting a performance produces sustained elevated performances. It requires the athlete to think about what currently is happening and the immediate future events that will lead to intermediate goals. This indicates progress through a complicated contest. Performance strategies should be developed around a segmented competition plan. Types of segments. The structure of segments is dictated in part by the nature of the competition. In some contests, such as in archery, shooting, and swimming, performance units are fixed. For example, a shot or arrow is fired and then there is a delay until the next action. In rapid-fire contests, groups of shots can be considered as one complete integrated action. Most champions focus on one shot at a time. In swimming and similar events, after the start, the number of lengths, stroke, performance-time goal, and general requirements are fixed. There is no "unknown" factor such as body contact or change in competitive medium. A swimmer should be able to plan and attempt to complete the "perfect" race, a feature of which is individualized segmenting. However, other sporting events are not nearly as predictable. In sports such as American football, basketball, ice-hockey, baseball, and volleyball, there are interruptions to a game's progress (e.g., time-outs, injuries, end of the period) that produce delays where goal assessments and refocusing of attention could occur. In American football, it is even possible to segment a total game by individual plays, the delay between each play being an appropriate opportunity to quickly formulate goals based on the play that has been called. In games such as these, the segmenting that occurs is influenced by forces beyond an athlete's control. The athlete is left to develop content that will be the focus of performance until the next interruption. In other sports, such as judo and wrestling, the duration of the contest is fixed. Occasionally there might be a referee's direction to break and restart the performance, but a significant minor portion of what will be focused on will be determined by what the opponent does. Segmenting will focus on an athlete's offensive and defensive skills as well as general psychological skills such as attention control, being positive, thought content, and intensification, factors that are presented in later exercises in this section.
The segmenting of a performance will be largely affected by the unique features of a sport. In some cases, some adaptation and initiative to construct segments will be required. To produce segments, the basic aims and criteria for desirable segments should always be considered. 1. Segments are sections of a total performance that contain strategy content which can be completely focused on by the athlete. 2. The structuring of segments should be in accordance with some plan to achieve a set of goals. 3. The successful completion of each segment will result in the attainment of a set of goals. 4. The content of segments should be restricted to the actions and thoughts that are needed to achieve each segment's goals. 5. The serial completion of planned segments is to be the total focus of a competition. The content of segments. In team sports where an athlete has to concentrate on both individual and team aspects of performance, it is necessary to include considerations of cohesive activities as well as individual actions and thoughts. This will require the athlete to alternate the focus of performance between the two concerns. When segments and segment goals are planned, both team and individual performance content will have to be included. The proportion of time spent on each will be the personal choice of the performer. The steps for segmenting an intended performance are listed below. 3 Steps 1. Participate in a team meeting so that team goals can be established. The role of the individual in subgroups within the team (e.g., as part of the offensive line in American football, playing as a back in soccer) should also be determined. The team's goals should be recorded on the Competition Goal Worksheet and considered as they relate to your performance in the targeted competition. If you are not participating in a team sport then ignore all references to team activities and proceed with purely individual decisions. 2. Determine as many individual goals as possible that are relevant to the intended competitive performance. Enter those on the Competition Goal Worksheet. 3. Select goals from the inventory and relate them to an initial attempt at segmenting the competition. Enter the segment description, an estimate of its duration, and associated performance goals on the Performance Segmenting Worksheet . 4. Revise the initial segmenting attempt. There should be a systematic alternation of individual and group goals throughout the performance. It is not advisable to only concentrate on either individual or group goals, nor is it effective to consider all the group goals first and then complete all the individual goals. Performances are usually more consistent when group and individual goal concentrations are balanced throughout the entire
performance. Make any necessary adjustments to the sequencing of goals and alter the segment sizes and durations because of those changes. Enter the changes on the Performance Segmenting Worksheet. 5. Review the segments and goals by imagining the sequence of events that could occur in the competition. The transition from one segment to the next should be smooth and require no drastic alteration in focus or mode of performance. If any problems are apparent make adjustments to your structured segments. 6. Perform mental practices of the segmented competition so that you can formulate a strategy to prepare yourself to focus only on the segment in progress. This form of concentration may be foreign to you and so you have to start to commit yourself to limit your thinking in the competition to segments rather than the complete performance. 7. At training it is necessary to practice thinking about extended performances in a segmented fashion. When the opportunity arises you should attempt to perform practice activities in a segmented manner. Particular emphasis should be placed on focusing on the active segment and avoiding any thoughts about the total activity or its conclusion. 8. After the competition, you should evaluate goal achievements. The first action for doing this should be to meet as a team and then, if necessary, in specialist groups to gather a consensus on group goal-achievements. Then your individual goals should be considered. Indicate successes and failures by placing a "+" or "- " in the column headed "Achieved?" alongside the goals for the segments on the Performance Segmenting Worksheet. This will serve as a resource for structuring future performances. When to Use The segmenting of an intended competitive performance is the first step for planning competition strategies. it is likely that there will be segments formulated for one competition that are appropriate for other competitions. In time, you should develop a repertoire of performance segments as a result of competitive experiences. When that occurs, segmenting a performance may simply be an act of selecting past successful segments and sequencing them for the next competition. That state is a characteristic of being an "experienced" athlete. So that selections can be made wisely, it is best to have all segments evaluated for their success in goal-achievements. That is why the last step in the segmenting procedure is included. It would seem to be obvious that successful segments warrant serious consideration for inclusion in or adaptation to future performances.
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