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GunBugBit

Filtering Out Distractions

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Posted (edited)

Last Steel Challenge, I cared about my performance quite a bit and expected to have a good match.  There ended up being several distractions, the details of which I won't go into.

 

In retrospect, the extent to which the distractions affected my shooting was under my control.  I can't blame anyone else.  Everyone has to deal with this at some point.

 

Interested in reading examples of distractions you had that you feel you didn't deal with well, and what you mentally would do differently if you could have a do-over.

Edited by GunBugBit

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Mental distractions?  How about a 3 year ongoing divorce?  I was a basket case.  I learned to focus on things that will improve my life, my kids and let my lawyer deal with all of the stuff going on.  I'm mentally stronger now than I have ever been in my life.  This process has taught me to focus and to ignore all of the "outside noise".  

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Partly because my hearing is so bad, I don't get distracted   :)

 

I just concentrate on the task ahead.

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being in the present and almost meditating before a stage is one of the most helpful things to me. When i get put in the hole i stop taping targets and start getting in the mode. when i move to on deck i prefer people to stop talking to me so i can run through the course of fire in my head. This helps clear out all the distractions so i can shoot to the best of my abilities.

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Suggest everyone read "With Winning in Mind", by Lenny Bassham.  Excellent book on how anyone can excel at any task, especially geared toward shooting since Lenny was a Gold Medal Olympic shooter.  After mastering mental training techniques for himself and attaining his shooting goals, Lenny started Mental Management Systems, a business to train others in how to use these techniques in any area of life.  Lenny is recognized as a teacher of the world's best in mental preparation for sport and business.  His clients include: FBI, Secret Service, Navy Seals, Marshals Service, Army Marksmanship Unit, Marine Corps Marksmanship Unit, and various Olympic teams from around the world.  I read his book with some hesitation, but it comes highly recommended by many top shooters in USPSA and other organizations.  Never gave much thought to the importance of mental training before, but since applying some key techniques from the book I have quieted the distracting voices in my head and seen my classifier scores progress in an upward direction.  I am a believer!

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Posted (edited)

Interesting question.  I’ll lead with a little background on on my perspective: my education was financed (in part) by a D1 athletic scholarship. I worked with my university’s sports psychologist in an attempt to perform more consistently.  My techniques are not for everyone, especially folks with type A personalities (like my wife).  It is more of an embrace chaos than control it type strategy.   

 

For me, minimizing the perceived effect of distractions works the best.  Rather than think that a stage, race, or test should be distraction-free, I convince myself, with a surprising amount of success, that distractions are expected, don’t matter, and that I cannot control them so I mustn’t concern myself with them.  Generically, I lump distractions into two categories: universal (those that affect everyone) and individual (those that affect just me). Universal distractions are more easily swept under the rug in competition as you can file them away as having the same effect on everyone.   Rain?  Nbd, it rained on the guy before me.  Bad stage design?  Everyone has to shoot it.  Besides, you can’t affect the universal distractions.  You can work these distractions to your mental advantage if you (sincerely) believe that you are better at dealing with them than your competitors are.  

 

Individual distractions are a bit harder to deal with.  You have to convince yourself that they don’t matter, which is tougher when they only seem to be affecting you.  I try to remind myself that the distraction doesn’t truely change my performance.  For instance, tiredness, stress, mosquitoe in your ear; none of those things actually make me pull a shot off target.  Only i can do that by thinking about them.  Individual distractions are just inputs to the system that is me, I still control the outputs.  (Or so I tell myself.)   The other thing that worked for me when I was a serious athlete was to tell myself that distractions just didn’t matter because I was so damn good that I couldn’t be held back by something minor.  Arrogant? You bet.  But very effective.  I got there by competing and training in bad or distracted situations and taking note of the times that it didn’t affect me and by comparing the magnitude of the distraction to the magnitude of preparation I put in. (For instance, I couldn’t let a night of bad sleep outwieght a decade of training).

 

In the end, you must convince yourself that the situation you have at hand is one you can be successful in.  If you honestly believe, deep down, that none of the distractions can really hold you back, they won’t.  

 

An aside on prep: regimen is good, it keeps you from forgetting, but deliberately avoid rituals.  As an RO, I see a lot of folks get distracted by imperfections in self-imposed rituals that cause them to crash.  

 

I hope this helps, but I’m afraid it’s worth exactly what you paid for it.  

Edited by general_cluster
Typos

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Cluster,
‘Preciate the advice and thanks for the reminder to get out of your head and be arrogant enough to just tell your self you’re going to crush it no matter what since you’ve put in the effort.
I was having a rough match last weekend and thought I could get back on the rails on the classifier but I let the outside pressure of the people I was shooting with and the fact I just need a mid pack A class run to make M, just completely ruin my day.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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On 7/23/2018 at 5:47 PM, stick said:

Mental distractions?  How about a 3 year ongoing divorce?  I was a basket case.  I learned to focus on things that will improve my life, my kids and let my lawyer deal with all of the stuff going on.  I'm mentally stronger now than I have ever been in my life.  This process has taught me to focus and to ignore all of the "outside noise".  

Good for you Stick!  Turning those negatives into motivation to concentrate on other things can be a huge asset!  

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On 8/2/2018 at 9:47 PM, general_cluster said:

Interesting question.  I’ll lead with a little background on on my perspective: my education was financed (in part) by a D1 athletic scholarship. I worked with my university’s sports psychologist in an attempt to perform more consistently.  My techniques are not for everyone, especially folks with type A personalities (like my wife).  It is more of an embrace chaos than control it type strategy.   

 

For me, minimizing the perceived effect of distractions works the best.  Rather than think that a stage, race, or test should be distraction-free, I convince myself, with a surprising amount of success, that distractions are expected, don’t matter, and that I cannot control them so I mustn’t concern myself with them.  Generically, I lump distractions into two categories: universal (those that affect everyone) and individual (those that affect just me). Universal distractions are more easily swept under the rug in competition as you can file them away as having the same effect on everyone.   Rain?  Nbd, it rained on the guy before me.  Bad stage design?  Everyone has to shoot it.  Besides, you can’t affect the universal distractions.  You can work these distractions to your mental advantage if you (sincerely) believe that you are better at dealing with them than your competitors are.  

 

Individual distractions are a bit harder to deal with.  You have to convince yourself that they don’t matter, which is tougher when they only seem to be affecting you.  I try to remind myself that the distraction doesn’t truely change my performance.  For instance, tiredness, stress, mosquitoe in your ear; none of those things actually make me pull a shot off target.  Only i can do that by thinking about them.  Individual distractions are just inputs to the system that is me, I still control the outputs.  (Or so I tell myself.)   The other thing that worked for me when I was a serious athlete was to tell myself that distractions just didn’t matter because I was so damn good that I couldn’t be held back by something minor.  Arrogant? You bet.  But very effective.  I got there by competing and training in bad or distracted situations and taking note of the times that it didn’t affect me and by comparing the magnitude of the distraction to the magnitude of preparation I put in. (For instance, I couldn’t let a night of bad sleep outwieght a decade of training).

 

In the end, you must convince yourself that the situation you have at hand is one you can be successful in.  If you honestly believe, deep down, that none of the distractions can really hold you back, they won’t.  

 

An aside on prep: regimen is good, it keeps you from forgetting, but deliberately avoid rituals.  As an RO, I see a lot of folks get distracted by imperfections in self-imposed rituals that cause them to crash.  

 

I hope this helps, but I’m afraid it’s worth exactly what you paid for it.  

 

Hmm, I like that universal and individual categorization. Thanks for the perspective.

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On 8/2/2018 at 9:47 PM, general_cluster said:

For me, minimizing the perceived effect of distractions works the best.  Rather than think that a stage, race, or test should be distraction-free, I convince myself, with a surprising amount of success, that distractions are expected, don’t matter, and that I cannot control them so I mustn’t concern myself with them.  Generically, I lump distractions into two categories: universal (those that affect everyone) and individual (those that affect just me). Universal distractions are more easily swept under the rug in competition as you can file them away as having the same effect on everyone.   Rain?  Nbd, it rained on the guy before me.  Bad stage design?  Everyone has to shoot it.  Besides, you can’t affect the universal distractions.  You can work these distractions to your mental advantage if you (sincerely) believe that you are better at dealing with them than your competitors are.  

 

Individual distractions are a bit harder to deal with.  You have to convince yourself that they don’t matter, which is tougher when they only seem to be affecting you.  I try to remind myself that the distraction doesn’t truely change my performance.  For instance, tiredness, stress, mosquitoe in your ear; none of those things actually make me pull a shot off target.  Only i can do that by thinking about them.  Individual distractions are just inputs to the system that is me, I still control the outputs.  (Or so I tell myself.)   The other thing that worked for me when I was a serious athlete was to tell myself that distractions just didn’t matter because I was so damn good that I couldn’t be held back by something minor.  Arrogant? You bet.  But very effective.  I got there by competing and training in bad or distracted situations and taking note of the times that it didn’t affect me and by comparing the magnitude of the distraction to the magnitude of preparation I put in. (For instance, I couldn’t let a night of bad sleep outwieght a decade of training).

 

In the end, you must convince yourself that the situation you have at hand is one you can be successful in.  If you honestly believe, deep down, that none of the distractions can really hold you back, they won’t.  

 

An aside on prep: regimen is good, it keeps you from forgetting, but deliberately avoid rituals.  As an RO, I see a lot of folks get distracted by imperfections in self-imposed rituals that cause them to crash.  

 

This is, if anything, more spot on than anything I've read in respect to distractions, and it makes me VERY HAPPY that I read this, today.  

 

I have been enacting this advise, subconsciously/consciously, and have seen myself improve in this field.

 

I'm actually very Type A in many circumstances and take lead, even though I don't prefer it, but because I have to.

 

I'll highlight the ones that I think are important, in no particular order;

 

1. Believe in yourself (this is the arrogance he speaks of) - know that it doesn't matter the kind of distraction - you will do as you best will, stop being a weakling in mindset/thoughtset.

 

2. Nothing is a big deal - I'm blasé to many distractions at comps.  All (not a typo) comps I go to - I have to RO the entire day.  It's exhausting.  Does it affect my performance?  Yes, forsure.  Same way an MD as a competitor cannot compete to their max because they have to worry about other things.  But I'm not going to let this hinder me.  I'm still going to push to my max.  What I did do is only go to 2 comps a month instead of 4.  Because I'm so exhausted from ROing, feel bad for when I don't and things go awry - this isn't ego speaking... I have not-good stories.  Also because I wanted to focus on my other hobbies (art, music, nature).

 

3. Don't readily attribute (esp without logical evidence) results with affect/effect.  This is BS thinking that I see unwise shooters do - one of them is a Prod Master that is a good shooter.  We make fun of him because he'll blame his sights very often at matches, when he misses.   

 

4. Avoid the rituals - stop with your superstitious bs and be dynamic in thought; don't let one method of doing things anchor you to your notion of success.

 

In summation - I stopped trying.  So far as to not dry-fire at all - I never really did.  I also stopped practicing.  I used my matches as practice.  Obviously I don't recommend this/can't as most pros will tell you to dryfire and train and to separate practice from matches.  But I went to the extreme with not caring and started beating really good shooters that practiced and dryfired.  Most likely because of the way I'm wired.  I'm weird.  Most won't ascribe/shouldn't ascribe to this.  The reason this worked for me was because I didn't differentiate and didn't see/allowed myself to act differently in practice/performance/matches.  Hear me out; every action/every opportunity, I treated as final.  We all can do insanely well when there are no others around - we can draw super fast, hit super fast, etc.  I ignored all pressure/distractions at the match and enacted the above advice every time - everything was equal, all the time.  That's why I say I treated matches like practice.  They were one and the same to me.

 

and did a lot better.

Edited by blueorison

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