Quick Tip: Pressure

I recently found some interesting notes from a major match.   I wrote them mid-match and reflected on my performance.   I am going to actually copy what I wrote word for word except for a couple spelling corrections in this blog.   There are a couple revelations I noted, but most interesting was that I commented on the fact that it really did not matter what type of event I exposed myself to, as the exposure to that type of pressure was the key thing of value.  Anyway, read it and take away what you can! 

Shooting the Steel Challenge stage "Outer Limits," the one stage requiring movement in the current match.
Shooting the Steel Challenge stage “Outer Limits,” one of the biggest pressure stages in the match!

My notes on pressure:   “I write this as I sit in my car at the 2009 pro-am, which at this point I am shooting like A$$.  Pressure and learning to operate in it are the key to success at the top of the game.  Skills are important, but operating under pressure is the key.  I am in a negative emotional control state, and an not playing to my strengths.  Training in the future should include exposure to pressure at (more) national caliber matches. Ultimately it is not the match type that you shoot that matters, but the exposure to the pressure at that type of match.  Emotional control zone today had been influenced by the presence of the bigdogs, (max, rob, etc.).  Increasing heart rate during training may also be a good way to train for these conditions.  Simple mistakes become big in these conditions.

Lessons and Thoughts (after re-reading my notes):

  • The Modules of Success that I refer to in the training program (YCHTP) are inclusive of not just practice habits (dry fire, live fire, etc.), but also exposure to “game day” events, i.e. matches.   Without this pressure, there is no way to really judge your training program and skill.   You MUST expose yourself to the environment you wish to succeed in.
  • Pressure can also be simulated, both by modifying your training drills for an increased heart rate, but also by simulating mental stress by creating do or die situations.  An example would be to set up a drill that required a certain sequence, and get some good times you can perform the drill in.   Then give yourself one chance to shoot the drill with great hits in that time, no second chance to simulate the pressure of a stage or “must perform” situation.
  • Skills must be developed and tested under pressure.    There is almost NO way to simulate the true pressure that you will experience at the event, so the best way is to simply shoot more matches.   This is a personal problem I have had to deal with due to my teaching schedule.   It’s pretty simple in the end, the better your skills are honed in the pursuit of mastery, the more you need to rely on “pressure testing events” to really see where you are.   There is simply no other way!

Until Then –  Train Hard!

Mike S.

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