You are using an outdated browser. For a faster, safer browsing experience, upgrade for free today.
  • So now we have a process, what can we do to ensure that we follow it every time? The more defined your process, the easier it will be to fine-tune and repeat it. It will also help when you feel under pressure - all you have to do is follow your process and everything will be fine!

    It goes without saying that it is important to use the same process in practice/training as you do in competition. This will help to reinforce the process and help your build confidence in it. After all, that is what practice is for!

    These days, I know I have a process that works for me in any situation that I am likely to encounter. I know that all I need to do is trust in it and it will all be fine. If you start trying to use a slightly different process in training and competition, it is just going to undermine your confidence in it. You'll start to question what you are doing and your abilities. Ultimately, this will lead to confusion, frustration and a poor performance.

    Here are some ideas that might help you to record and fine tune your process. I am sure there are other ideas out there too, so feel free to innovate!

  • Imagery script

    Once you have a process, write it down! This will force you to break it down and understand it bit by bit. You might think you know it perfectly well, but it isn't until you start to write it down that you realise how incomplete it might be or how much better you understand some bits rather than others.

    But an imagery script is more than just writing down your process.

    It is an opportunity to use your imagination to recall what it feels like to perform well. By building sensory information (what you see, hear, smell) into the script, we can incorporate positive visualisation into our process. If we can do this in a written script, and invoke these feelings every time it is read, we are more likely to be able to replicate the same feelings during the actual performance. So if we build feelings that invoke calmness and self-confidence into the script, these are more likely to be felt during the performance.

    Let's not forget that you can read the script, and invoke these emotions, without being on a training ground. So now you can train anywhere and at anytime! And it isn't going to cost you anything!

    In skeet shooting, there are only 25 targets and 7 different shooting stations in skeet. How hard can it be? The script is going to be short. Right? Wrong. Mine is 4,300 words long and covers 7 sides of A4. I found it really useful as an aide memoir in the early days, but now the process is so deeply ingrained I use it only occasionally.

    If you search on the Internet, you will find lots of other examples of imagery scripts from different sports. Here's two that I found - one for swimming, and another for studying for an exam.

    Here's my imagery script for skeet shooting. I have updated it over the years and this is version 6. I found it most useful when I was starting out learning my process. These days, I know it inside out. In fact, re-reading it now, I realise that my current competition script contains a lot of additional information.

    Imagery scripts often provided the foundation for what many athletes refer to as a "hypnosis tape". When you hear that someone is using an "hypnosis recording" before an event, it is usually a combination of relaxation exercises and an imagery script. A lot of athletes find these sorts of recordings really useful and we will cover these elsewhere.

  • 6x4 crib cards

    These started as another way of presenting the imagery script. I wondered if it was possible to condense the 7 sides of A4 text into a set of 6x4 cards - one for each shooting station. Each card would contain all the information required for each station (e.g. foot position, gun hold, break points etc) - all on a standard format 6x4 index card. Then during practice, I could just use the relevant card as I got to that station - a sort of memory aid. If I found anything needed to be tweaked, I could make the notes on the card and update them over a period of time.

    I also thought that it might make a great training tool for new shooters. A coach would effectively start with a formatted, but blank set of index cards and then work with the shooter during a coaching session on the details. At the end of the session, the pupil would have a set of crib cards that they could then use in their training sessions.

    However, by the time I came up with the idea of the cards, my own process was well developed and rehearsed and never needed to use them into anger. I have given copies of them to other people who have adopted them for their own use. But don't forget, your gun holds and feet positions might be different to mine.

    What is important here is to work out what works for you and then be consistent in applying it - every time. Your coach should will be able to help you with the former, the cards should help with the latter.

    Here's the set of crib cards. I produced them using Microsoft PowerPoint and they are designed to be printed on 6x4 index cards. You will need to change the data on the cards according to your script. Remember, what works for me might not work for you! You have been warned!

  • Video yourself (and release your "inner critic"!)

    So the funniest thing happens when you are coached - someone (usually your coach) will see you do something that you swear you don't do! Your grip with your left hand is too tight! You lean forward as you take the shot! You are bending your knees as you turn!

    The problem is that after hours of practice, all of these (bad) habits have entered into your sub-conscious and you aren't aware that you are doing it any longer. It takes a coach to spot it. Or does it?

    Again, I wondered if there was another way. How about I video myself and watch it back? Could I actually coach myself? OK, so I won't be as good as a qualified coach, but I should be able to spot fairly basic flaws in technique. Watching myself back on video was a real eye opener. It was simple to do - just a GoPro on a tripod on a skeet range after everyone else had gone home.

    I filmed myself shooting every station on the skeet range and then edited together using Movie Maker on the PC. I found that I could actually step through the video frame by frame. This allowed me to analyse what I was doing in minute detail, for example, I could identify when I first saw the target and when I started moving. It was a real eye opener. And what's more, it cost me nothing to do!

    The other revelation I had occurred because I did this filming exercise once every couple of months. One time I spotted that a new error had crept into my technique (I am not entirely sure where they come from!) and I could go back 3-4 months and look at the previous videos I had made. I could actually see that the error had started to creep in a couple of months earlier and just became more and more extreme over time. Eventually, I spotted it and corrected for it.

    I still use videoing as part of my training. It is really useful to be able to go back 12-18 months and compare my performance now to how it was back then. I can step through the video frame-by-frame and identify when I see the target and when I start moving. These are events that even the most eagle eyed coach would be unable to spot.

    Here's a clip of me training from March 2017. It is a little more sophisticated than I would normally use, but only because I have used a camera to look down the gun and included some slo-mo for each of the stations. However, I think you will get the idea.

  • Audio

    Audio, just like video, can often be overlooked as a tool. It seems strange since most of us carry a smartphone that is more than capable of recording (and editing) video and audio. It costs nothing, but a bit of time to put something together.

    So what is it that athletes are listening to as they are preparing to compete?

    In a lot of instances, it is going to be a music playlist that gets them in the right mood to compete and allows them to relax before a big event. It is a method for coping with pressure and I have included this elsewhere.

    However, some athletes are using a "self-hypnosis" tape of some sort. These are generally an audio recording that provides:

    • Guided relaxation - I have covered relaxation exercises elsewhere, but in terms of the audio, it is simply a walk-through of a relaxation script.
    • Guided visualisation - again visualisation is covered elsewhere, but this is an audio recording of your imagery script, but might also include some material to help you with self image development.

    I wondered how easy it would be to create my own "self hypnosis" tape and the answer is that it is pretty straightforward. I used the imagery script to produce some guided visualisation and added some additional material to it on self image and relaxation. In fact, it almost became an audio summary of much of the material that I have included on this site. I included some music as a backing tracking and recorded my narration over the top (take a look at Audacity software on the PC - it is a great tool for producing this sort of thing). I thought that if music is that powerful, why not combine it with the narration to get double the impact. The end result was pretty cool. I use it fairly regularly, particularly before big competitions.

    Does it work? Yes, I think so. It definitely helps me to block out negative thoughts and self doubt while keeping me focussed on the things that matter. It is also nice to have it as a "safety blanket" - if everything starts to go pear shaped the night before a big competition, I know that I have something that I can rely on to help me get back on the right track!

  • Updated: 3/9/20

Further information


There are a number of websites online that can provide more detailed information. I have included a list for you to use as a starting point.


You'll find an extensive list of books included on the Further Info pages. They are all readily available on Amazon.


There are some great TED talks available that cover many of the areas discussed on this website. I have included links to many of them on the Futher Info pages.