Confidence and goal setting Back up to relaxation page

Past success is good for confidence. In fact, it's probably the only really safe basis for confidence. So how can you develop a track record of real success?

The simple answer is always set realistic goals. This page tells you why.

This is a pretty important point for coaches, too. Beginners don't set their own goals well, because they don't know what is hard and what is easy. They learn fast, but the earliest steps in building confidence are very much in the coach's hands. In many ways, it's more important for the coach to set realistic goals than it is for the archer.


 Realistic goals set a track record of success Top of page

Realistic goals mean achievable goals. Achievable goals mean frequent achievement.

What you get out of this is a track record of achieved goals. You may not be confident of winning against the current world champion, but you will be confident of your own ability. That means that you can go to a competition and say, quite honestly, "I usually achieve the goals I set". Of course, when you've trained to the point where you're in a position to set a realistic goal that goes "I will beat the world champion", you can go along there and believe in it.


 Realistic goals are NOT "Easy" goals Top of page

Setting trivial goals is pointless. Anyone can set a goal that says "I will get arrows off the string most times I let go". The art is in setting goals that you have to try for, but are within reach if you do try. That way, the success you see is a genuine result of reasonable effort.
Another important part of the art is to set the challenge according to how well you cope with challenge, not arbitrarily. It is sometimes said that an effective goal is 50% achievable (ie, that you achieve such goals half the time). Some people do indeed thrive on such goals. Others need more regular achievement. Often, particularly where there are other pressures, going for 90-95% achievable goals is more useful.

 Setting 'outcome' goals Top of page
I't been said elsewhere that 'outcome' goals are motivating, but not so good for anxiety management because they are not completely in the archer's control. Nonetheless, having such objectives is actually very common. Here are a couple of tips for setting the most common - score goals. Score goals are can be there to win 'absolute' awards (eg a FITA Star or qualifying score for a classification like master bowman), or they can be something you aim for in order to beat an opponent.
Base short term score goals on current performance

Record practice and competition scores routinely. When you go to a shoot, your score goals for the shoot should be based on the range of complete scores you're putting in.

Example: take a series of practice FITA rounds with scores of 1002, 990, 1041, 1082, 1017. Now, if you go to a shoot looking for a 1000 star, you're onto a sound bet unless the conditions are bad (maybe it rained the day of that 990?) But it would be a brave man who went out expecting 1100 at an important shoot. Why? That just looks at the best score - NOT sensible.
The typical score is quite variable, but scores from 1000 to 1040 look fair. Given that 'real' shoots add timing pressure and nerves, the top half of the range is perhaps a little under 50% achievable; maybe a goal of 1015 or over would be challenging, but reasonably sound. Now, if you don't think that's enough, get out there and train more; that's to do with your longer term goals.

Adjust for conditions

You go along to a shoot with a realistic 1125 expectation, and arrive at the ground to find a strong and variable wind blowing from your least favourite side.
Unless you figured that into the 1125, think again and readjust your expectations downwards, as far as necessary to give you the same 'challenge' given what you know about your windy weather shooting. if you don't want to do that, at the very least recognise the reason your scores are low! You can't beat yourself over the head for the weather.
But you can find out a bit more about your bad weather performance, and see if you need more practice to cope with it; it's a rare setback that allows no learning.

Train to find long term goals

You want another 100 points next season. Maybe that's because you want the next star; maybe your favourite opponent beat you by 30 this time and you reckon they're on for 30 over that next season.
How the h*ll are you going to find 100 points?!
That common reaction is not very positive, is it? Try this instead
 100 points next year is about 10 points a month.
 Analyse your score card; where's the easiest extra ten points? Work on that for a month.
 Analyse your technique; where's the biggest chance for another 10-30 points? Work on that for a month or three.
 Check your equipment; is there a ten point advantage to find in there somewhere?
 How much practice time can you add (if that's low); can you find extra space?

... and so on. Now, instead of climbing a mountain in one jump, you're climbing small steps. This is a better way to hunt points; also, you find out what works and what doesn't.
By the way, this sort of thing is a good coach's job; working regularly with a good coach can get you started well and monitoed as you go. Not many people have regular access to coaching, but if you can, maybe there's a lot more points out there...


 Learning from achievements Top of page
Two possibilities; you achieve everything easily, or you miss some!
Easy achievements

If they're coming in easily, and you're oodles of points in hand all the time, great! This is a problem we'd all like to have. As a coach, I'd only worry if I thought someone was building themselves a comfort zone; a score range they were happy in, but feared to try and exceed in case they failed. That's a cue to manage 'input' or 'process' goals to get sustained training effort; that should lift the performance without focussing on the score until, maybe, a new objective score goal comes into easier reach. Like a comfort zone between 1100 and 1140; too far from 1200 for that to be real, but 1160 seen as hard. Train until things start moving on up and the higher scores look genuinely achievable. Alternatively, take a BIG step; break the mould and go straight for the top, with commitments to match. More effective, I think, but higher risk.


Missing goals You won't make all your goals, especially early on. But failure to make a specific score goal doesn't make you a bad person. Think back:
- did you set the goal to be 100% achievable? If not, you shouldn't be expecting to hit them all.
- Is there something to learn about goal setting? If you consistently miss goals, you're setting them too high for your own good. Rein back on your short term expectations, and move the high achievement goals to the longer term. Then you can start looking at how you need to train to get there.
Top of page