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Article 2 – 2011

people posing and smiling with shotguns

Question: I read with great interest your negative comments involving the use of Sports Psychologists in the December edition of Australian Shooter. With just about every major Olympic Sport in Australia employing the use of a full time Psychologist as part of their team I wonder if you would like to re think your approach to an obvious oversight.

Donald Fitzgerald, Hawthorn VIC


Answer: First of all Donald very few Olympic Sporting Teams have a full time Sports Psychologist on their books due to nothing more than the financial cost of this luxury. I would suggest of the thirty one Olympic Sports there would not be more than four or five teams with a totally employed Psychologist.

My current response to the question asked of me late last year about the use of a Psychologist to help performance remains the same. It is a very individual and personal relationship that needs to be formed before, from my own experience and observations, the prolonged use of a Sports Psychologist can be given the credit for a competitor improving their performance. It has never helped me personally, but that does not mean it’s not worth trying if you have the time and money.

I am a great believer in quality training and exposure to lots of competition as the first steps to improve performances, but in a similar vein, I recently had some hilarious experiences with some shooters that turned up at some competitions wearing a new gimmick in sport called “Power Bands”. These rubber wrist bracelets were promoted by very aggressive marketers who paid some high profile sports people to suggest amongst other ridiculous claims that the bands will “increase strength, balance” and of all things “inner core stability” whatever on earth that means? Some of those shooters wearing them were reasonably intelligent people and all of a sudden they believed when they put on this piece of rubber on their wrist they were somehow going to hit better scores. It was with no great surprise that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced in December that the bracelet was a sham and ordered the marketers to admit that what they claiming were completely wrong, misleading and on top of this had to offer a full refund to anyone that bought these items (some consumers paid up to $85 each for them).

I can only imagine the embarrassment that these shooters felt, who previously claimed very vocally that these wrist bands were working miracles that Saint Mary MacKillop would have been proud of, when all of a sudden the wristlet was exposed as a useless hoax. As a form of unique punishment everyone who swore these rubber bands worked will now have to keep wearing them on their wrists for the rest of their lives due to the ridiculing they will now face if they take them off even though they now know they are no more than a bad fashion accessory. Interestingly very few of those wearing the bands showed any significant improvement to their scores, but the power of belief or what is often referred to as the “Placebo effect” was, in these shooters eyes, was having the desired effect. That is my point with Sports Psychologists. They try to install the power of belief then if you can be totally consumed by what they say, which is usually just promoting a belief in yourself, then go for it. Positive belief is a major component of success and it can be far better installed through a Sports Psychologist than a piece of rubber around your wrist.

Unfortunately the ACCC’s decision put paid to an idea I gave recently to the CEO of Australian Shooting, Nick Sullivan. I suggested we produce an AISL approved wristband, pay Michael Diamond a few grand to wear it and sit back and enjoy the profits generated from all those gullible people out there willing to try just about anything to improve except hard work.

Above all else my simple advice to better scores remains this. If the clay target is going right then shoot to the right of it. Do the opposite if it is going left!

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