Improve Your Game – Preparing for a Pathway Weekend
This week for Improve Your Game, we discuss what Pathway weekends are like for athletes. Three athletes explained what they've learnt, gained and developed whilst attending Pathway weekends.
My time on Pathway – Nicole Burdett
Having been on the pathway for 5 years now (4 on NAG and 1 on Conversion), I have attended many pathway weekends over the years! The weekend usually consists of our time being split between shooting, strength and conditioning and athlete learning activities such as nutrition talks, yoga and teambuilding exercises. On the pathway, each athlete is assigned an Archery GB coach, the weekends being an opportunity to build a strong relationship with them which is critical for improving performance.
Over the two-day period these areas are all covered with the shooting time often split down into coach contact, to work on technical improvements with our coach, and more competitive shooting tasks which may include team simulations. This is really engaging for us to allow us to progress as well as train and get to know our teammates better. The pathway weekends are great at providing this opportunity as it brings all of us together from all over the country which is important for improving our performance both individually and as a team. In addition, training with people of a similar ability and with mutual aspirations is a great motivator – especially as we are athletes training for a sport which is less commonly practised in society than others.
In the learning activities throughout a pathway weekend, we have had workshops in nutrition, psychology and yoga which are designed to better our understanding of how other areas of our lifestyle factor into our performance in the sport. These are a great way of sharing our experiences and learning how we can make them better. They also include regular education on anti-doping which is important for us to be comfortable and aware of what we can be exposed to experience at competitions, especially as we progress to an International level.
Having been a squad member for several years now, I have found the pathway to have built my confidence greatly as well as making me a lot more independent. This independence is in my shooting; understanding my equipment and the reasons behind technical changes and also in being able to manage myself in competitions and training. Becoming less reliant on others is so important to develop in this sport and attending these pathway weekends has been a major factor in myself achieving this. In particular, when I first started on the pathway, I was 14 so being away from home for the weekend first gave me independence. As I have got older it has come from taking more responsibility for my own planning and equipment, which has been facilitated by gradual exposure to more challenging tasks given by my coach throughout my years on the pathway.
As a whole, the squads aspire to educate and enhance the exposure we get to shooting at the highest level and work with us to improve our performance. The team atmosphere is the best part of the weekends for me as it allows us to make friends with like-minded people that also goes on to further our team performance in competition. This is because the atmosphere is carried over to the competition environment which makes the events better in terms of comfort and therefore performance.
Being on the pathway is an enjoyable and rewarding experience which has made me a better athlete and team player by developing my archery as a whole as well as providing me with life skills.
My Experiences on Pathway- Siri Mantravadi
During a weekend at Lilleshall, we usually set up our bows and do a team warm-up before splitting off into our coaching groups. We then spend some time talking about our training at home with our coaches and then get to shooting. We then have a lunch break to rest with friends. After lunch we either get back to shooting or attend an athlete talk with Archery GB’s experts, like how to maintain a healthy diet, balancing archery with schoolwork and other commitments e.t.c. We have dinner and then go to yoga. The next day is spent doing S&C and shooting.
On the weekends I learn about how to improve the feel of my shot, including how I hold the bow, draw the bow and release the arrow. I also learn how to take care of my body and different types of exercises to prevent injury. As well as all the physical aspects of archery, I learn about how to control my mind. Staying calm under pressure and competing against myself more than others are also useful in archery and most other sports. However, one of the most important things I learnt was to keep doing skills and drills as much as shooting arrows because a lightweight band/bow helps you to improve your technique so that you can apply it to your actual bow.
My favourite part of the weekend- aside from shooting- is yoga. Although I don’t consider myself to be a flexible person I do like doing the breathing exercises as it helps calm my wandering mind at the end of a hectic day. I never used to do yoga before Pathway, so I listened to people speaking about how yoga helped really helped them focus. Now I really believe them after doing it every Saturday at Pathway. I know I used to not like doing S&C mainly because I used to get tired way too easily and just not enjoy it. But during quarantine I have decided to push myself and get out of my comfort zone so I have been doing some of my own S&C every morning as well as attending the sessions on Zoom.
My goals and aspirations with archery and squads is to represent Great Britain in world championships and also the Olympics. I feel like if I have come this far, then why not go a step further and be the best I can be. As well as goals linked to competitions I would also like to see a change in the way I shoot before and after I joined Pathway. Another goal for me is to stay focused and take my coaches’ advice to apply it for competitions and everyday life. I have made so many friends and teammates through Pathway that I hope I can keep. Overall, I would like to thank everyone at Archery GB for giving me amazing coaching and advice, as I have seen myself improve in archery and with my confidence since I have joined!
My First Pathway Weekend – Archie Bromley
I started archery 5 years ago, the day after my 8th birthday and have always had the ambition to be part of the Great Britain Squad. In August 2019 I received the confirmation that would change my whole archery experience and my life. I had been training as part of the National Talent Development Programme for 3 years and felt ready to step up to the level of my archery career.
I was so emotional when the email came through, I could not believe that Archery GB had recognised my achievements, hard work and dedication to my sport. The first camp was just a few weeks later, I had so many mixed emotions.
I was excited to be part of the National Age Group Academy, looking forward to meeting my coach David Morris, a little nervous to spend my first archery weekend without my Mum, she had been with me to every shooting session, competition, and training session to that point, apprehensive of what to expect, what would be expected of me. Mostly, I was worried about letting Andrew and the team down, after they had put their confidence in me.
On the day of the first camp, when Mum and I walked into the café to meet my coach, I felt so proud of how far I had come. David was friendly and really approachable; we broke the ice and I felt really good to be working with him.
The first session was an introduction to the programme. The session is a bit of a daze, I was just so overwhelmed to be there and seeing who of my archery friends had also gained their place on the squad. We had a motivational talk by Jenna Downing, and I felt so inspired by her determination and story. As I left with the other athletes and coaches saying goodbye to Mum for the weekend, I felt a sense of pride in myself and I told myself, “I can do this”!!
We first had an equipment check and induction to the Pod led by Lloyd Brown whom I have looked up to as a coach for years. This also included my first GB “test” on the rules of shooting. After this, it was lunchtime and we were given the keys to our room. I was so relieved to be sharing with one of my archery friends, Max.
After lunch we spent the afternoon with our individual coaches. My coach has 2 other archers, 1 of whom I knew from the NTDP and got on well with. We decided to call ourselves David’s Dream Team! It felt amazing to get the expert 1:1 coaching from the best coaches in the country, and using the Lilleshall facilities. I had been there loads of times before, but this time was so different.
Early that evening we did a team building exercise before dinner. This was so much fun and great to spend time with everyone on the squad. After dinner was the session, I was most apprehensive about…my very first yoga session. I did not know what to expect and actually found it enjoyable, if not a little painful the first time!
10pm and time for bed and I was both exhausted and hyperactive, looking forward to the upcoming day. 6.25am and my alarm goes off. Showered, packed and ready by 7.30am ready to meet my friends for breakfast and see what the day would bring. We started the day with a Strength and Conditioning benchmarking session. This was similar to the NDTP session, but again felt so much better.
Next was a lifestyle workshop, which was really motivating on just how far you can go with the programme with hard work and dedication. Lunchtime hit and I suddenly realised I hadn’t spoken to my Mum since I had left her the previous morning. I had had such an awesome experience I had totally forgotten to call. A quick text to say I was ok and off to my next coaching session. This was followed by a social media talk; I had not realised how many social platforms were out there.
It is 5.30pm already and I am packing my kit away and saying goodbye to David, when I see my family at the door ready to collect me. I had survived my first ever GB training camp and could not wait for the next. As we drove past the gates to Lilleshall, I felt I belonged there.
Thank you for putting your confidence in me and giving me such an incredible experience.