2003-09 - September 2003 Coaching Hour - What If
.......September - What If.......
- Brian Brewton’s Journey in Practice
- Dick Baker’s Renewed Commitment
- Practicing with Purpose and a Log
- Tom Kirchmer on the Voice and Perspective
- Best Time to Write in the Log
Three shooters take a starring role in this Coaching Hour: Brian Brewton, Dick Baker and Tom Kirchmer. Brian talks about the evolution of his practice game, and how he has overcome his demon of rushing himself while shooting. Dick talks about his renewed commitment to practice frequently for shorter periods of time, and Tom courageously shares his rebound from a performance where he “stunk it up.” We also continue to look at the voice of conscious doubt, especially Tom’s voice that says “what if,” and how a shooting log makes a big difference.
Brian Brewton’s Journey in Practice
Gil: Starting off tonight, Brian Brewton has just completed the complete sale of his business, and from what I understand, the check’s been cashed. But more importantly, he also achieved a great goal that he’s been working toward for a long time. He said he’s had some new things happen to him in his shooting game. Brian, do you want to talk a little bit about that, your evolution and your practice?
Brian: Well, besides taking the pressure off of me having to get rid of the business, I’ve also been working quite hard on doing some of the things we’ve been talking about for so long and I just keep working on honing those skills. And my biggest goals were to develop focus, feel and trust. Finally I had succumbed to the point where I started getting out of my way and things started happening. And consequently I went to a little tournament here a couple weeks ago and won everything they threw at me. And that’s what I did. I was just able to focus on the targets at hand at that moment and was able to take them out. So I just didn’t have the voices, I wasn’t listening to anybody else. I just had one of those good days.
Gil: What about your practice sessions?
Brian: Like I told you earlier, I’ve been dedicated in keeping my log and I’ve been able to keep track of where I am. And each time I go out to practice, I have my specific plan of what I want to work on and I’ve been able to work on those aspects. It’s really mainly working on how to handle myself, learning how to handle the pressure. Shooting the problem targets is no problem, long targets are no problem, and the fast targets are basically no problem. But my course is set up so I get all kinds of targets and I’m having a really good result. Each time I’m building more confidence in myself and how my game has matured, and I just feel like there’s not much they can throw at me that I can’t hit. That’s where I’m at right now.
Gil: When you practice, how much do you shoot? Is it the same every time, or does it vary and if so, why?
Brian: Well, I generally shoot a hundred rounds. I shoot every day. The variation will be if I’ve got a target that I find I have a weak spot on while I’m shooting. After I’m through, I go back and work on that target. By doing that I can pretty well find out what is wrong; if I was rushing the target or if I was crowding it or whatever. Once I realize what it is, I can analyze it and I correct it, and that’s the end of it. The next day I come back I don’t have that problem. I may have another problem with something else, but I won’t have that same problem. But I’ve found the easiest way to shoot a rabbit is to relax your grip pressure. I mean hold your hand out where it feels like it’s not even touching the gun and you’ll be surprised how quick that gun goes on that target. You’re not tensing up your muscles and it just explodes.
Gil: There is no gun.
Gil: Very interesting. Tell us about how you think you were able to realize when you could feel rushing coming on and how you were able to stop it.
Brian: Since January, when you told me that rushing was killing my timing. And it’s been something that I’ve been working with for quite some time, but I’m now beginning to recognize when I’m picking up my pace. Once I see that that’s going to happen, I just break open my gun, take another deep breath and just start all over. I visualize where the targets are and where I want to break them and I go through my complete routine. Then I close my gun, get my eyes still and call “pull.” And it’s made a big difference in the game.
Gil: You also mentioned to me that you’ve been working specifically on not dropping the last pair, how did you do that?
Brian: That’s right. Just like what we were talking about, kind of tricking yourself or challenging yourself. Saying: “Okay, this is a match, this next shot will put you on the podium” and focus on the target and let it happen.
You and I both mentioned that hard focus is hard to beat.
Gil: Hard focus can’t be beat. You also mentioned to me earlier that through all these things that you’ve been doing, you’ve discovered that it’s more about focus and feel and trust. And that your trust has been growing and you kind of looked at confidence from a different perspective than in the past. It was easy for you not to worry. How do you think that it was easier for you not to worry and just shoot them one at a time? Do you think that’s a product of how you’ve been practicing?
Brian: I think so. You don’t get confidence in one shot. It’s built over a period of time. And the more you do it, the better you can count on it. And that’s what’s happening.
Dick Baker’s Renewed Commitment
Gil: Okay, Dick, why don’t you talk about what you had mentioned earlier because you discovered what Brian’s discovered, haven’t you?
Dick: Yes, somewhat I certainly have. When Brian Ash and I went to the Zone—and we shot with Brian Brewton also—I shot all right. Just my usual all right, but the year is pretty well drawing to an end. And Brian and I set down in a room and popped a cork and had a drink or two and he made this statement. He said, “You know, I’m not shooting good either.”
He said, “When I was really shooting good I was practicing more. I practiced all through the week.”
As I listened to that, a bell kind of went off and I said, “You know, Brian, when I shot my best I practiced at least twice a week and then shot on the weekends. But then I had this idea that I can go to American (Shooting Center) practice on Thursday and then go shoot a tournament on the weekend and do well. It has not worked for either of us.”
And we talked some more and I thought about it more and on the way home I told Brian: “I’m going to start practicing. You’re not going to see much of me. You can come over if you want, but I am going to start practicing targets.”
So I have shot every day, maybe skipping a day when I don’t really feel up to it, but I have not skipped more than one day in between practicing. And as I practiced, two things have happened. I haven’t thought about lead, and I hope I never think about lead again. And focus, if you can focus on that bird and if you can just turn yourself loose and let that shotgun go, sometimes they break and you don’t even know it. You realize you’ve pulled the trigger and the target breaks and that’s wonderful.
But to me I have to do repetition after repetition. I guess that’s the way I learn, but going over to a course and shooting a hundred birds, you shoot 10 birds at a station and then move on. That just won’t get it for me. I have got to work and work until that good feeling comes along. Just throw that bird and just break it. It’s a great feeling.
My goal is to carry that feeling into Nationals. I have no expectations, but it does feel good, and I was just telling Gil about this. And another thing you mentioned was quantity. Like one afternoon, I went down there to shoot and I shot 60 birds and I only dropped one and I said, “Sue, we’re going back to the house, that’s it.” It was perfect, I felt so good. Why labor when you’re feeling good and you’ve got that feeling? I hardly ever shoot over a hundred birds, but if you’ve had that feeling, just quit it and go, you had it. I shot it every way it could be shot and went to the house.
I hear guys talking about shooting a whole flat of targets. If I shot a whole flat of targets, the next day my neck would be so sore I wouldn’t be able to do anything. But maybe that’s what age will do to you. I’ve found that on left-to-rights, my eye focus had to be much different than right-to-lefts, and all these years I’d never noticed that. My eyes have got to be closer to the gun on left-to-rights than on right- to-lefts. I mean that makes a difference, but I don’t know how you’re going to learn these things without just a lot of practice.
It sure is a good feeling, and I wished I had done this earlier in the year. I’ll tell you one thing, if I’m able to shoot again next year, I’ve learned a lesson. I will do my practice before tournaments. Tournaments are great; you learn a lot, but you’ve got to get that practice time in. I was kind of avoiding it, thought I could do without it, but I cannot. I guess that’s the bottom line.
Gil: Well, Dick, nobody can do it without it. We’ve been talking about practice all year and you’ve heard the CDs, everybody has. But each person has to seek their own level of how much practice is enough and what kind of practice is enough.
Brian: And how to practice.
Gil: Brian, what do you mean when you say that?
Practicing with Purpose and a Log
Brian: First of all, you’ve got to have a purpose.
Gil: And when you say purpose, what do you mean?
Brian: Well you’ve got to know what you want to work on. Because if you’re just going out there randomly shooting, you’re not really practicing, you’re just entertaining yourself. But you should go out there and say: “I need to work on my trust part of the game, I need to start focusing on the target, I need to focus on those rings, when I see the rings I need to pull the trigger” — those are the aspects of the game that I’ve really worked hard on. Instead of sitting up there shooting a flat of ammunition, with good quality, you can do it in 100 rounds.
Gil: Brian, how much do you think your log has helped you to know what to work on and possibly kept your year in perspective?
Brian: I don’t think you could do without it.
Gil: Dick, do you keep a log?
Dick: (laughs) Since the Zone Six I do.
Gil: Wait a minute, wait a minute. I just found out something. Now hang on guys. Listen up to what’s happening. Brian’s been keeping a log all year and he’s been progressing steadily. Dick is just kind of putting his toe in the water … I’ll shut up and let you talk.
Dick: Well, I had asked Brian Ash, “Do you keep a log?” And he said, “No, but Dad keeps telling me I’ve got to.” He said, “You know I’m going to start one once I leave here.”
And since then I’ve kept a log of everything I’ve done. I have found a few things in the way I focus, and I don’t want to forget that and I’m writing it down for no other reason. But come next year I want to review this and remember what I’ve learned in this month. And possibly it may help us in other ways. They say if you want to ingrain something in your mind, write it down. So maybe there’s more to it than me just wanting to remember it for another year.
Gil: The thing that’s very
obvious to me is that the guys who are really religious about keeping a log
progress more quickly and more steadily, and
if they have a setback it’s very, very short-lived. We’re going to talk to Tom Kirchmer about this very thing in a
minute. But that part of the discussion is very, very short-lived. I don’t care how bad the setback is, all you’ve got to do is go back to your
log, and just reading through it will help you remember things that otherwise
you would have completely forgotten. Like Dick said, you’re going to have to
learn it again, because you haven’t really
soaked it all up. And if you get as old as Dick you forget more than you learn, and if you don’t have anything to remind you,
you have to keep relearning the same things. Dick, don’t you think you are just relearning
the same things because you don’t keep a log?
Dick: Yes, and I’ve learned some new things that I sure don’t want to forget. Everybody’s gotta learn where they want to focus, where they want the gun in relation to their eyes. Those are things I don’t want to forget, so I feel like writing this material down ingrains it in your mind. It has to.
Gil: I’m sure that you probably didn’t hear me offer this, but we do have a log page that we would be more than happy to fax to you.
Dick: Well, see coach, you faxed that to me at the first of the year. My girlfriend Vicki did, but I just didn’t use it, see. And now I’m using it. Another point, just remember when you go off to shoot and you don’t shoot well, sometimes if you just sit around with somebody and review it, it helps. So we just have to learn from our experiences.
Gil: Well, people who pay for our advice and don’t use it, you know what Vicki calls that?
Dick: I have no idea.
Gil: Cash flow, baby. Cash flow. It’s a pretty good job to get paid to say the same thing over and over again. But it’s good to see that you’re keeping a log and that it’s working for you. I will tell you that, in my opinion, and this is just my opinion, the fact that you’re keeping a log has had a greater impact on the consistency and quality of your practice sessions and on your shooting than you realize yet. And I admonish you to keep doing it. One more thing, Dick. You mentioned to me that you’ve been practicing a lot and you took a week-long vacation?
Dick: Oh yes, Sue finally made me take one. Three years I’ve been promising to take her to Colorado and she bought the tickets so I had to go. And I thought, “Damn, here it is I’ve been really rolling along, now I gotta go take a trip for a week.” And I said, “Well, I’m going to go practice this visualization.”
And in that week, I really was able to do something with it. You know, I’m not as good in a room visualizing, but I got better. I tried it on the plane, but boy, get up early in the morning and walk outside and you can really do it. I shot every target, re-shot every target of the Zone shoot. Every morning I did that. I came back thinking that I’d have to start all over, but boy, I’ll tell you what, it was just amazing. I didn’t lose a thing. I did not lose a thing. It has been a good experience and a good feeling and I’ve really enjoyed it.
Gil: Well I hope that you’re an inspiration to some people out there about keeping a log and about consistent practice and quality practice. You don’t have to shoot a flat of ammo three times a week. It’s more the quality of what you do. Based on our experience, one of the main things that enable you to have a quality practice session is having a log so you can go back and review exactly what it is that you need to work on.
Tom Kirchmer on the Voice and Perspective
Tom: Yes sir.
Gil: Since you’re going to say some of the same things they did, I want you to say it all, but I want you to begin with those two tournaments that you’re trying to forget.
Tom: Just prior to that, I’d gone to the pre-Zone shoot and won A and punched into AA, and I’d gone to the Zone shoot and come in fourth in AA so things were going well. But I went to this shoot on Saturday, and it was a difficult shoot, there was no question about that, but you know, I kind of stunk it up a little bit.
Tom: So I went on Sunday to another shoot that I was expecting to shoot well at, and boy it was more than one step below “stunk it up.” And it was funny, I thought a lot about this, I don’t think I’ve ever had two days in a row like that. After Sunday I was driving home and I was really bottoming out. I know it’s a game and I know the sun’s going to come up in the morning, but boy you can really get down. And when that starts happening, the “what ifs” start coming in. And there are a lot of what ifs. What if the wheels are coming off? Basically I let myself down, I mean, I really did, and I know it’s silly.
Gil: According to your wife you were more than down, you were really irate.
Tom: I was. There’s no doubt about it. And I’ve got to tell you, I was having a hard time with it. Thank God for good friends. I started getting these phone calls, I guess the word started going around, and they made it clear that not many of them knew anybody that had gone from D to AA in less than one season. The bottom line was: “Get over it.”
And that was a big step. It was huge because that got me rolling. I quit wallowing in it. Then I had to face that demon; I had to go shoot. I wanted to go shoot some targets that were tough for me. I didn’t want to shoot cupcakes. I just had to know. And I remember driving in the car to go shoot, and it’s really funny ’cause I was listening to the previous CD and you were talking about the what ifs and it’s amazing. “What if you don’t shoot well today, Bubba? What if the wheels are coming off?” I just had to deal with that, actually it kind of ticked me off because it’s your own brain telling you that. I mean it’s you. What the shit is this? I mean it ticked me off. My own brain is trying to torpedo me. Fortunately I shot really well and it seems that things are A-OK.
But it was really kind of an amazing experience; I’ve got to tell you.
Gil: Tell them a little about when you played football and baseball and you needed to win and if you lost it was a letdown regardless of the fact that the sun would still rise.
Tom: That’s the thing, we talk about all that, but I’m going to tell you, I went to A&M and if you lose to the University of Texas it takes a while to get over that. It takes a long time. It’s the same with baseball games. If it’s a big game, you really want to win, and it knocks you down if you don’t. And that’s the way I felt. That’s what I identified with. It was like I lost the big game. And you just got to pull yourself back up and that’s sort of the way it was. It’s really funny, I was sitting there wallowing in it and I know the sun will come up tomorrow, I know that nobody died, nothing horrible happened. But it doesn’t matter, you still feel horrible.
Don: At least you didn’t call Gil and tell him to cancel you out, that you’d had enough and you were through. ’Cause God, then he’ll ride you to death and make all sorts of jokes about it. So you did all right.
Gil: So Tom, you stunk it up, but this little voice kept coming back and saying “what if,” but you kind of learned to put a face to it and told it to shut the hell up, right?
Tom: Boy did I learn something. I said it a little more colorfully than that, but I learned something, I mean, my voice, doesn’t like confrontation. So I start doing it when I’m shooting. Once in awhile it will creep in. You know, you’re doing well and there it is, “Boy, you’re running them now … what if …” So I learned to say, “Just shut the you know what up.” And it goes away. My voice doesn’t like that. It doesn’t like to be internally screamed at. And hopefully that will be helpful.
Gil: Okay, looking back at it, do you think going through those two demoralizing experiences helped you in any way? And if so, how?
Tom: I think so. I think I’m just a little bit stronger now. I think I’ve got a better understanding of the “voice.” You guys kept talking about it, and I sort of knew what it was, but boy do I know what it is now, and I think I know how to confront it a little better. I just feel a little stronger through all this.
Gil: Interesting choice of words, “to confront it.” I think we’ve talked about this. I’ve forgotten where I read this, but he says, “If you can put a face to that voice, it’s a lot easier for you to tell it to shut up and make it get out of the way, if you can recognize it when it comes in.” In fact, I got to tell you that Tom called and I said, “Tell me what’s going on.” He went through what he went through with you guys, and he said, “I really need to get a lesson from you.”
As my schedule would have it and as the rain would have it, I wasn’t able to meet with him. I called him after practice and I said, “How was practice?” And he said, “It was great.” And he began to tell me some of the things that he’s sharing with you. And I said, “Well, just keep practicing.”
And he’s practiced and practiced. When I ask him how his sessions are going, he says they’re going real well. He’s telling me about the voice and how he’s learning to control that. And he said, “I feel much stronger having gone through all of that.”
I told him that I felt like it was meant to be that Tom wasn’t able to have a lesson from me. ’Cause you can’t always go running to Gil and Vicki. Sooner or later you’re going to have to work on adversity on your own. And you’ve done some things without realizing it, things that we’ve talked about and read about, like putting a face on that voice and telling it to shut up. Is it not amazing, Tom, how your own brain will try to submarine your own performance?
Tom: Incredible. Like I said, as I was driving to test it all out, it was saying, “What if you don’t shoot well today? Then what? It’s right before Nationals!”
That is, until the point I just got really mad. It’s you doing this to yourself. It’s crazy. And the best thing for me to do is to confront it.
Gil: And you also said that you started looking at your log from a different perspective.
Tom: Yeah, I did.
Gil: And understand, guys, Tom started with Vicki and I last year. And he shot nothing but singles until what, February of this year?
Tom: Actually until around November of last year.
Gil: Okay, then he started shooting pairs and three weeks later he goes and shoots an 82 at his first registered shoot and the high score is an 88. Now continue with what you’ve discovered after you’ve been breaking phones and throwing green tomatoes at people and saying things you shouldn’t be saying about your coach and your wife and that kind of stuff. Go ahead and tell them what you discovered when you went back and reviewed your log.
Tom: It was kind of interesting. I went back and looked through it and what I noticed was, yeah there are ups and downs, but what I really noticed was, every shoot, I had shot well. Every single one. Then I noticed how short a period of time it really was. You’re not talking about a ton of tournaments and you realize, “My gosh, it wasn’t that long ago that I was in D and struggling, and I’m in AA now so get over it.” It was very helpful to me. It also shows you that there’s been other down times. I think that if you’re a Craig Hill or a Nathan Pakish you’re pretty much shooting at the top of your game most of the time, but when you’re just starting out it’s pretty damn hard to do that.
Brian: They have their good days and they have their bad days too.
Gil: Everybody has bad days. And it’s not how you handle the good days, it’s how you handle the bad days. It’s how you handle losing. These things are never fun to go through. Let me ask you something Tom. Based on what you’ve gone through this time, both you and I have agreed that it’s made you much stronger. The next time you have a poor performance, do you think that your reaction will differ in any way?
Tom: You know, I really think that it will. Intellectually I can say right now that I’m going to improve from that and it’s not the end of the world. I also know that I can still shoot, and I’m still going to be able to shoot after that bad performance. I just don’t know that I would go down that quickly again. One bad weekend isn’t going to put me in the dumps like that.
Gil: I will go through something that I reviewed with somebody a couple weeks ago. I forgot who it was, but I saw them at a tournament and they shot real well the day before and they had shot four or five stations and they weren’t shooting real well and they were about to give up. I said, now’s the time to start trying. Now’s the time to get back in there and be even more determined to shoot well, to focus well, to let it happen, and to get out of the way. Now’s the time to experiment and see what it takes for you to come back from a poor performance. And I know that’s hard to do.
And in Tom’s defense, he went to a shoot at Greater Houston Gun Club, which took four and a half to five hours to shoot a hundred targets. Not only was it poorly run and they were using bad trap machines, they were having traps break. It was the format they were using, it just took exceedingly long, it was exceedingly hot and the targets were very, very difficult. So you pile all that together on somebody that doesn’t have as much experience in this game, and you’re susceptible to buckling pretty easy.
At the Open on that day it rained so hard, Vicki got to the last station and she said, “Screw it, I just want this to be over.” And we hadn’t finished ten seconds when Mark Landry came up and said, “This is a day when personal comfort supercedes wanting to shoot a good score.” So there are going to be times when you’re shooting and competing that you’re just not going to shoot well. It’s just like going into a slump. When you feel like you’re going into a slump, the worst thing you can do is try to resist it. Just relax into the curve, let it happen. Start practicing the way you particularly need to practice and just get back to fundamentals: focus and feel and rhythm and trust. And guys, I’m not going to quit saying this: If you don’t keep a log, I don’t have any sympathy for you. The log is the thing that helps you keep everything in perspective.
Tom, how long after you stunk it up and broke a few phones and did things that were in character but you don’t like to think of as in character for you, how long after that did it take you to review your log? Was it after everybody called you?
Tom: It was after everybody called me.
Gil: And if they hadn’t called you, what would have happened?
Tom: It probably would have taken me longer to do it. I was kind of wallowing.
Gil: Kind of wallowing?
Tom: A lot wallowing.
Gil: When you were wallowing, what was the voice saying to you?
Tom: “Oh man, what if you’re in a slump? It’s just before Nationals, you don’t have time to get out of it. What if the wheels have come off? What’s happened?” It’s amazing. It just tries to drag you down further and further. It ain’t your friend.
Best Time to Write in the Log
Jack: I have a question about the log. When is the optimum time to write in it? If you’re at a two-day tournament, do you write in your log when you’re sitting in your motel the first night and then again the second night? Or do you wait until you’ve been home two or three days later after you’ve thought about it? When is that optimum time to put those things down in the log?
Gil: I think you ought to do it at the end of every session that you play with your gun. Now, obviously you don’t want to draw final conclusions on a two-day shoot after the first day. I think it was Brian Brewton, talking about a tournament that he shot earlier this year that he didn’t do well on the first day. It was out at the Zone last year.
Gil: Now Jack, this was at the Zone shoot last year, it was brutally hot and Brian went out there. Just kind of review what you did at that shoot, Brian, and what you put in your log between the first day and the second day. Contrast that with what you put in your log after the shoot.
Brian: Well, I went there and had high expectations, and after the first day I really kind of stunk things up. Once I got back to the motel and got my logbook out, I started writing it down and realized what I was doing. I made my goals for the next day to just go out there with no expectations, to just shoot one target, one pair at a time and have a good shoot. Consequently things that day did click and I had a good score. I did really well. So it helps you keep on track.
Gil: Now contrast that with what you wrote in your log after the shoot was over. Do you remember?
Gil: Okay, well I would tell you Jack Parker, that we recommend you write in that log after every time you play with that shotgun. Here’s the reason: by writing in that log, you’re keeping track of how you ate, how you slept, if it’s a practice session, what you went out to work on specifically. And that’s drawn from what you needed to work on after you shot your last tournament.
For instance, the entry before says: “I need to work on dropping teal that have a right-to-left slide to them from 30 to 35 yards because I didn’t do well on that and I need to improve.” In fact, what you might want to do is write in your log before you practice. Write down your eating, your drinking, your sleeping and what the goal for the practice session was. You put your logbook down. You’re focused in purpose. You go out and you have quality practice sessions.
Like Dick said, it doesn’t matter whether it’s 50 birds or 150 birds, it’s quality practice which improves the overall quality of your practice, number one. And then when you get through with that practice session, you put your gun in the gun case, you get in your truck with the heater or air conditioner on and write down how it felt. Write down: “I did this well today. I focused well today. I felt good today even though I didn’t get in a good night’s rest or because I ate a different thing for lunch.”
It’s just a recipe book for how you perform when you get a certain amount of sleep or when you eat certain things, and it’s a reflection on your whole day with the shotgun as well as specific reflections on what you did well and what you need to work on. And you will find that every time you touch that gun, if you go to shoot your 50 birds, if you go to shoot your league, when you get done, you write in the log how you felt. The more you do that, the more you have a true reflection of what’s really there. Because without a log, without a true commitment to look at your game for what it really is, you only remember the poor performances. You get caught up in the web that Tom Kirchmer got caught up in. This guy had two bad shoots back to back and he’s losing it, after all he accomplished in such a short time. And Tom, it’s easy for that voice to get in, isn’t it?
Tom: Oh man, and it’s pretty loud too.
Gil: Pretty loud?
Tom: It’s screaming at you.
Gil: Now I would tell you that maybe the next time you encounter this problem, one of the first places you should go is to your log, rather than wallowing. You see what Brian Brewton did at the Zone shoot a year before last. And Brian, wasn’t it in reviewing what you had written in your log that day, that you discovered the root of the problem was expectation?
Gil: And it’s okay to review this log. Review it every four or five times you touch the gun, Jack. And halfway through the year, review your log.
You listen to the CDs from before tonight. You listen to where we talk about that log. You will be astonished at what a creature of habit you are when it comes to sleep and the times and amounts you do things. Number two, you will be astonished at how obvious the strengths and the weaknesses of your game are. And in knowing that, it allows you to increase the quality of your practice sessions, which means you don’t have to have so much quantity if you’ve got quality. Now I'm not telling you that you don’t have to practice a lot. But I think you could ask Dick Baker or Tom or anybody else that’s on the curve here, it’s the frequency and the quality of the practice, not the quantity of the practice that’s crucial. And in my opinion, there’s no way anybody can know how to get the proper combination of those things without keeping a log. Do you agree with that, Dick?
Gil: How about you, Brian?
Dick: I had one other thing come to mind when Tom was talking on self-talk, when he was talking about that voice. This may sound ridiculous, but you know I’ve got several names, I’ve gone by my initials, I’ve gone by Dick. But I had an old marine friend, and when he said Richard … goddamn, things were serious. And I want to tell you, when I say “Richard” and talk to it … if you really want to get rid of that voice, pick out what your mother always called you. Dick to me is just a friendly name, but when you call me Richard, things are getting serious. And I find this really helps.
Gil: Well, that goes back to what I was saying a while ago. If you’ll just put a name and a face to that voice.
Dick: Yep. Talk to your voice by using a name in your life that really means something.
Gil: That’s a tremendous value because you can’t hope to control something if you don’t know what it is. Although we’ve said this many times, Tom, I think has really finally understood what we say when we say, the voice of conscious doubt will take many faces.
Tom: I’ve thought about that phrase throughout all this and it’s interesting because it does.
Gil: And it will take any avenue to get in and submarine your performance. It will even be overly positive, which in turn, is doubt. See what I mean? When you become overly confident—for instance: “I’ve got to practice every day; I’ve got to practice a lot because I’ve got a big shoot coming up” That could be doubt. Practicing up to the day before the shoot. Now practice in and of itself is not a bad thing, but it is when you think you have to practice up until the last day before the shoot begins. That sounds to me like the voice of conscious doubt. It just occurs to me, this guy is even more clever than you are. He is even more clever than you are, because he can get inside your head and you don’t want him there. And it’s like Dick said. If you can put a name on it or a face on it, it’s so much easier to control. It’s an amazing thing.
Jack: Thanks a lot guys, that helps.
Gil: Good. And you have been keeping a log right?
Jack: Yes, but not with practice or league. Just with tournaments, and that’s going to change tomorrow.
Gil: Good, can you not see the benefits of doing it every time you touch the gun?
Gil: Good, you don’t want to draw any tournament conclusions on the night of the first day. But you can certainly go and write in your log about what you did well and what you need to work on. And if you need to make a mental change or a mechanical change for the next day, go ahead and make it and at the end of the shoot, go back and say: “Well, I caught it halfway through. It didn’t take both days of stinking it up to figure it out.”
Brian had a huge victory by changing what needed to be changed on the second day, simply because he was able, through writing in his log, he was able to focus on what the problem was midway through the shoot. And he was able to come back and correct that. I feel personally that when you’re able to do that, it makes it easier for you to not have that expectation on the first day of the next shoot you go through.
Brian: Yeah, that’s correct.
Gil: Keeping this log thing is kind of like visualization. It’s silly. You don’t have to make any sacrifices. It doesn’t take a lot of time. It’s just silly. But it is one of the greatest tools that you can have to enhance your performance. If you have a good ability to use visualization and you are constantly and truthfully writing in your log, I have to believe that your game will improve. But more importantly, your game will improve because your practice sessions will improve. And I will tell you this again: I ain’t going to change my mind. We’ve seen it happen too much.
Vicki and I don’t keep a log because we don’t go to tournaments. We only go to two or three tournaments a year, but we are constantly writing down what we learn when we teach. We learn something new every day, and I’ll take a note card and write down what I learned today. We’re constantly evaluating our teaching skills and our ability to analyze a student’s problem and get to the solution, provided they’re willing to accept the solution. Just simply being willing to write it down, makes it more a part of you. I am going to talk to Mick Howell in San Antonio in the next week and see if he’ll come back. I’m also going to talk to Craig Hill and Nathan Pakish and ask them the same thing. Good night.