Mental warm-ups - Getting your brain in gear. Back up to relaxation page
Physical warm-up gets your body into shape; mental warm-up does the same for your mind. Techniques on this page:
  Check out other pages for detailed techniques and key skills used in mental warm-up.
Attunement   Visualisation
Warm-up routine   Relaxation
Warm-up tapes   Arousal control


Attunement is a sporting bodymind system. The idea is to make sure you have adjusted to the environment, and your place in it, before competition begins. There are six steps, paraphrased here briefly. I see them as a kind of checklist. The book builds a whole mental warm-up system on this.
Steps in attunement
Place Take time to look at the place, check out details, find out what the lighting's like, where the wind will come from, what kind of distractions to expect. Deal with potential distractions; bodymind uses the black box technique for some of this..
Body Observe your own physiological state, thoughts and feelings. Apply any necessary techniques to adjust mental and and physical state. Mental state adjustment could include relaxation, 'psyching up' or concentration techniques. Physical state will involve your normal warm-up and practice routine.
People Check out the individuals around you, including the competition.
Team If you're in a team setting and teamwork is important, the team needs time to settle in together for the day. That may be as little as walking the line saying hi! to each other, or it could be the team manager's pep-talk.
Objective Brain in gear, settled into the place, met the people - time to reaffirm what you want out of the day
Strategy ... and finally focus in on how you;re going to achieve it. Think it through, and finally get out there and do it.
Warm-up routine
Your pre-competition set-up and warm up routine can do a lot to set you up for the shoot. The order of events can vary according to what works best, but here are the main components.
Leave Time Allow time, or have a routine that needs little time. Most people take at least 30 minutes to adjust before a shoot, and that doesn't allow for discovering you left the tent pegs in the car...
Physical warmup For archery, your physiological arousal level - breathing, heart rate etc. - doesn't generally need to be very high. Typical recommendations now are 'loosening up'. But if you find you need to be a bit 'pumped up' to perform well, combining a more vigorous physical warm-up with some visualisation is a great way to get there.
Review aims As for attunement, take a few moments out to remember what the aims are, and remind yourself of your personal targets for the day. Adjust score targets for conditions, too, if necessary.
Clear distractions Check out possible distractions and get adjusted to them; put your own demons in their boxes for later.
Adjust arousal levels Apply any visualisation, relaxation or other techniques to ease yourself into your best pre-competition state of mind.
Warm-up tapes
One useful trick for mental warm-up is to use audio tapes to warm up. The basic idea is to record a set of instructions, affirmations and musical cues to run you through the pre-competition stage. A typical tape might be 5-15 minutes long. The main elements are typically:
Music Music is a well-known mood-adjuster. It works for arousal control as well.I know a man who uses the battle hymn of the Republic as the last thing he hears before moving up to the line; he feels unstoppable after that. Other people want calming down. A typical trick is to use some general listening to settle you in, then shift over to whatever really pushes the buttons.
Positive self-talk A few phrases to remind yourself that you're prepared, competent and geared up to achieve what you set out to do.
Cue words or phrases If you use a cue word to control your shooting ("power". "line", "smooth"...) it sometimes helps to put a reminder into the warm-up tape.
Exercise instructions You might include a short relaxation exercise script, or talk through your physical warmup - it saves remembering it and allows you to combine the warmup with visualisation instructions and cue words.
So next time you see someone sitting listening to the Walkman before a shoot, maybe it's more than just Ricky Martin.
    Oh, and remember to check the batteries... :-)