Izzy Carpenter is no stranger to a finals field. Here are her hints and tips for Improve Your Game - staying calm on a finals field.
Staying calm on a finals field is something that many archers want to know about. Whilst it might be daunting, nerves aren't something we should be afraid of. They are a common factor of being a competitive athlete that you can be sure everyone is experiencing.
The trick is learning to use them to your advantage and not allowing them to overwhelm you. Whether you're shooting at a local competition or doing head-to-heads on a national stage. The methods for staying calm under pressure are transferable.
In September 2020, one of the few events that was allowed to take place under strict COVID regulations was the National Tour Final at Lilleshall. For the athletes competing, there were a few differences to shooting at an ordinary finals field.
The biggest change from previous years was there wasn't an audience in the stands cheering and clapping. Myself and some of the other archers found the lack of noise a little eerie even though we knew plenty of people would still be watching on the live feed.
With any amount of change, the key is to include it in pre-competition training. In this case, I made sure to practice in a very quiet environment to emulate what I thought the event would feel like without the audience.
Audience or no audience, cameras or no cameras, remember to consider the possible atmosphere of the competition you're attending. Try to recreate this in training so that there are no surprises on the day. This will help towards staying calm on a finals field.
One massive cause for nerves is unfamiliarity with the space. Naturally, we can't help but imagine what the competition will be like, and it's almost always worse in our own heads.
At one of my first international trips, we were encouraged to look up where the finals stage was going to be held. You can either view the field on Google Street View or even try to visit the space beforehand if it's permitted.
For the National Tour Final, I had competed on Lilleshall's orangery in the past which automatically erased the nerves that come with the unknown. It's also good to try to envision yourself shooting on the finals field the night before competition.
You can do this as you try to fall asleep or in a safe, quiet space. Therefore, when the big day arrives it feels as if you've already been there and done it, resulting in being calm(er) on the finals field.
Another reason people may become nervous is if they think too far forward. During a head-to-head, or in any form of competition, it is vital to shoot in the moment. It's very easy to start doing the maths in your head to work out what points you need, and for most people this produces the opposite desired effect.
Some archers also think forward to future matches instead of focusing on the match at hand. I would suggest that when you're shooting to stay in competition mode; be present with your shot sequence and focus on your form to prevent your mind from straying from the task.
Like with all factors of shooting, we are individuals and we are all different, but nerves are universal. The key is to focus on the factors that you can control: training, research, and your shooting process. Nerves become easier with practice and exposure, but until then embrace your nerves and transform them into fuel to drive the power of your shot.
Make sure you watch Izzy controlling her nerves and putting her tips into practice. Can you see how she is calm on the finals field for the National Tour Finals 2020? We sure can!