How to Handle Tournament Nerves – SHOTIQ

By Brodie SwisherApril 3, 2024

Joel Turner shares some valuable words of wisdom on how to handle the pressure that comes when you step up to stake at your next tournament.

Ever worry about an upcoming tournament or shooting with other people??

Tournament nerves are the worry of many archers, most of us actually. 

They happen in every tournament to one degree or another.  Sometimes they are not so bad in a local tournament, but Vegas and Lancaster can really test your metal.

The thing about tournament nerves is that they are a natural part of the human experience. We have a fear of missing which is really a bigger fear of public humiliation. With this fear, comes adrenaline because your body is attempting to help you in a stressful situation. The problem lies in the fact this adrenaline causes shaking and increased muscle tension. Both of which are not friends to the archer.  

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We cannot control the amount of adrenaline that gets dumped into our system in these high stress events…

However, there are several things we can do to manage these nerves.  Knowing how and where the nerves hit us in a tournament is one of the best fact finding missions we can have. 

Does the adrenaline make you shake? 
Does it cause tension in your hands? 
Does it make your legs or your bow arm feel weak? 

These are all things that have happened to me in the past. From what I gather from the thousands of other archers I have talked with, I am not the only one with these problems.  

We know these tournament nerves are a problem physically, but what do they do to us mentally??

On the mental side of the house, tournament nerves are no different than any other problem. They raise the volume of our thoughts. 

Remember, thoughts have no strategy. Thoughts have no instruction. 

If your thoughts are on how much you are shaking, you will not solve the problem.  Only thinking solves the problem. Thinking is your voice, and it must be the loudest one in the room.  

If we know where and how the tension hits us, we can then start practicing for, and with, the symptoms of adrenaline. 

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Understand where the tension hits you and replicate that effect in your training. Essentially, make your training more difficult than reality.  Too often, we allow the opposite. Practicing with the effects of adrenaline will give you incredible reps in bringing the volume of your thinking to a level that surpasses the volume of your thoughts. 

However, to know where to place your thinking, you must first mentally blueprint your shot.  

Remember, you can never take the same body with you to the line, so you must take the same mind. Knowing that mind comes from blueprinting your shot. 

To find out how to play the mental game of life, there is the MindIQ Online Course.  To find out how to play the mental game of shooting, there is the ShotIQ Online Course

Brodie Swisher
Brodie Swisher is a world champion game caller, outdoor writer, seminar speaker and Editor for Bowhunting.com. Brodie and his family live in the Kentucky Lake area of west Tennessee.
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