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Coaching Hour – How Not to Self-Evaluate During Shooting – Oct 2017

Coaching Hour – Oct 2017 – EXCERPT

Evaluation is a performance killer, plain and simple. Accessing skill from your long-term memory is crucial to becoming a better shotgun shooter, whether you’re a beginner or in master class. In this excerpt from the October 2017 Coaching Hour, Gil and other OSP members talk about self-evaluation and fear during performances and how to get over them.


Gil: The number one reason in my opinion for people to have problems shooting tournaments is they begin to evaluate how they’re doing while they’re shooting.

When you’re evaluating, you’re in short-term memory, and all of your skill is in your long-term memory. While you were evaluating what you did in your process and were totally consumed with evaluating it, it kept you from evaluating how you were doing overall score-wise, which is one of the things that process-oriented thinking does for you.

You can’t change the last result. You can, however possibly improve the next result. The flushing part of your exercise I think is a great idea. This is how you slip into the zone, or whatever you want to call it. It’s like Eagle said: when you’re in the zone, nothing else matters and when you’re not in the zone, everything matters. Because you’re evaluating everything around you, which pulls you out of long-term memory and puts you in short-term memory.


Bob: It creates anxiety, too.


Gil: Anxiety, fear. There’s a whole cornucopia of negative emotions that come from evaluation. Because you begin to evaluate before you’ve finished.

Then where are you going? You can evaluate all you want to before you’ve finished, but you’re blowing smoke, because you don’t know how you’re going to finish. The time for evaluation is after the gun goes into the truck. Just like you did after you took a photo of the scorecard. But you were still evaluating processes and presentations.

You weren’t necessarily evaluating how well you did, and you continued that thought process until you had everything in your mind and you know it now from this process. You know now what to go practice. And this should make it clearer and clearer where you need to go and train and create a deliberate practice routine to shore up any consistencies you might have. Were there any inconsistencies that were obvious to you in your evaluation process?


Tim: Yeah, I struggled with some teal type targets. Like a high, you know like a high trap kind of almost a high trap or teal target there, it wasn’t straight up. And I didn’t get ahead of those that were. That was consistent. Everything else was just a bit here and there. The other interesting point is I shot the whole thing with a mod choke, which I hadn’t done before. So, tightened up a bit and didn’t really think about it, then it worked better.


Gil: Welcome to the big leagues.


Tim: I don’t know about that. But it’s another step on the journey. Honestly, I figured I’d be above an 80, and once you lose more than a couple of targets, you lose track. But I really was surprised at the end when it was totaled up. And I think that process kept me away from worrying over what had happened or losing a couple more. Because it felt like I knew what to do to fix what wasn’t going right in the box.


Gil: Well, you can’t fix it if you’re evaluating, because evaluation comes from fear, like Bob said. It’s emotional. I mean, it’s in a completely different part of the brain. And it doesn’t matter whether your evaluation is “Man, you’re shooting great” or if your evaluation is “Man, you suck.” Both of them are going to give you suckage.

I said this several times when Vicki and I were shooting at Westside on Saturday. I would just smash six targets in a row with that modified choke. I mean, ink-ball them. And it was perfect, it was feeling great. And then I’d miss one.

Every time I said “it doesn’t matter what the thought is. Any thought that comes in after you’ve closed the gun and started your routine, regardless of how good or how bad it is, if it’s a thought, it’s from short-term memory.” So if you do your deal and you start your routine, “close, address, pull,” any thought that comes in, regardless of how positive, but especially of how negative, any thought that comes in has taken you out of your long-term memory. You’re in short-term memory.

We talked about this quite a few years ago at the Advance Class when Stevie Ray brought up the positive soundalikes. It can be as positive as anyone can make it, but if it’s evaluation, it still comes out as a negative, because you switch brains. You’re not in long-term memory. You can’t access it. That’s just all there is to it.

Interesting concept, Tim. You’re going to build on this. And after another 1000-1500 practice birds doing the same thing, you’re going to find that it’s going to begin to be automatic. And it’s a huge step. Everybody on the air here has gone through that.

I’ll share a little story from Dean Olson, who went to the Seminole Cup. After he shot so well at Nationals; finished runner-up and won two events. Then he shot at Seminole Cup. He got there, started feeling kind of queasy, and went out Friday, shot a little bit. He’d come down with the flu. He went back and went to bed.

The main event was Saturday and Sunday. He said that night he sweated so much he had to leave one bed and get in another. He went out on Saturday and just shot and never even looked at the scoreboard. Just shot. He was just concentrating on how miserable he felt. The next morning, he showed up feeling a little better. He ended up winning second high overall in the main event, sick as a dog.

He called me when it happened and said “What happened?” I said “Well, you absolutely had no expectations. You were there, you’d paid your money and were gonna shoot the targets anyway. And you went out there and instead of being concentrated on all the process things that you were concentrating on, all your process stuff was already in your long-term memory.”

All he had to do was look at his targets and run his plan. He had absolutely zero expectation or evaluation while he was performing, which allowed him to shoot an incredibly great score, even though he was really sick with the flu. We’ve seen that a lot; when you just don’t feel good and just go through the motions. Well, there’s something to be said about just going through the motions and not worrying about the outcome. You’re beginning to learn that right now.


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