Sometimes it starts while you are waiting on station to begin your round. Possibly stepping into the box on the first or last field initiates it. For others, it may be constant during a tournament from start to finish.

Attending a Zone shoot one weekend, a State shoot the next—re-packing—then attending another distant tournament, I see many familiar faces. There’s something else that is very familiar at competitions, regardless of sport, location or skill level.

Body language, facial expressions and general commentary all reflect the fact that today is the day. Everyone has their game face on. This is serious. Every target counts and scores will be posted on the master score board later. For many of us, the atmosphere around us turns electric the split second our tires roll onto the tournament grounds. We are glad to be here or we wouldn’t have come. But the hard realization that our skills, patience and a host of emotions will soon be tested, often produces a well spring of palpable uneasiness.

There are multiple causes of this phenomenon, and the degree of affect it has on the individual varies from person to person. I thought we could look at some of the causes and maybe a few suggestions to manage these emotions more effectively.

First, I think it’s important we recognize that tournament conditions can have this affect on us. If we acknowledge it to ourselves, openly, this in itself begins to dismantle the tension we are building inside us. You are not alone with these feelings and thoughts. More importantly, the affects of tournament pressure do not have to be disabling.

“I’m glad no one else can hear my heart pounding when I step into the box.” Trust me, there are legions of people in sports who share the same experience. But, an increase in heart rate when you step into the tournament box is normal, not abnormal. Once you begin to believe this is normal, you’ve drastically reduced the disturbing affect it can have on you. Some competitors actually use these feelings to motivate themselves. They’re wisely turning a negative reaction into a positive one, using it to their advantage. Provided the mind isn’t going like a casino, the increase in adrenaline flow can be a real performance advantage…….

This Sporting Clays Article was previously published in Sporting Clays Magazine by Dan Schindler in July 2002.

The Paragon School of Sporting is now making available the remainder of this article as well as numerous others, available for download on The Paragon School of Sporting Website.

Sporting clays continues to be an elegant sport born of long tradition, fulfilling our wingshooting passion to experience the wing and shot. Feather and clay, inescapably tied, grants us so many learning opportunities to hone our skills, a path of personal growth that affords us a refreshing, unbiased look at ourselves. Time and again, my students have learned how entirely more capable they are than once thought. The American sporting clays shooter can honestly and proudly say, in a very short period, he has indeed advanced to take his rightful place among the best in the world. And, let’s not forget, no one is having more fun out here than you and I are.

The events, times, places and persons in my articles are all true. While I changed a name here and there, 100% of the information came from my experiences with you. Each tournament, each lesson, each experience with you generated the material for my work. I am grateful.

We hope you enjoyed the first part of the article and will visit us online to browse the numerous collection that is available. Until then, happy Sporting!

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