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Article 11 – 2010

people posing and smiling with shotguns

Question: I have been shooting clays for a couple of years socially, but my real passion for sport has always been golf where I played off a handicap of between 2 and 5 for many years. I am trying to take my shooting more seriously, but I was after your opinion on using a sports psychologist to help me get better faster. I did try a couple over the years in golf and I found it helped me. I am curious if you have used one and what your thoughts are on the subject?

Bert Ellis, Ipswich QLD


Answer: Over the years the Australian International Shooting Team has used a variety of Sports Psychologists with varying results. This is only my opinion I stress, but largely I would think that they have been a failure with our team because there wasn’t a strong relationship between the competitor and the psychologist prior to the competition where they were used. It takes a fair bit of pride swallowing to pour your heart out to a virtual stranger admitting why you did not succeed or are failing to reach specific goals. Unfortunately at least two of the psychologists that were assigned to our team actively “scouted” for work. By this I mean they virtually waited for somebody to shoot have a bad day then couldn’t wait to force them onto the couch wanting to psycho analyze the competitor’s brain. This type of aggressive doctoring was often met with very little positive results.

Interestingly though the Australian Olympic Committee since 1996 has employed what they call ”Athlete Liaison Officers” to work with competitors during the Olympic Games. The Liaison Officers are really doing the work of Sport Psychologists, but instead of having a degree in behavioral science they have experience as successful sportspeople. Some of the names that have been used include Peter Brock, John Eales, John Bertrand and Laurie Lawrence. The AOC found that many athletes would often listen to a person who has earnt their respect as opposed to a paid professional that has never experienced the high pressure of competition. I probably fall into this category of athlete mainly due to some poor psychologists that were forced on our team when I was younger. I have no doubt that if you believe something will help you then it probably will. Give them a try for this reason alone at the very least.

Question: Is there any truth in a rumour I heard that the Down The Line (DTL) format of trap shooting is being considered as a future Commonwealth Games event because many Commonwealth countries shoot this discipline? What do you seriously think the chances are of it happening?

Michael Nottingham, Corio VIC


Answer: Michael I seriously give it as much chance as Halley’s Comet suddenly changing direction from deep outer space next week and colliding with Earth this Christmas Eve just before Santa has had a chance to delivers your presents. Enjoy your festive season and I wish you a prosperous new year.

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