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Socially-distanced coaching

July 27th 2020
Vicky Sartain

Coaching methods have been adapted over the last few months, with online training sessions a popular alternative for archers wishing to maintain their form during lockdown. With the gradual easing of restrictions, socially-distanced coaching is now possible back at the range.

Pete Hill, Chairman of Wymondham Archers in Norfolk, has seen some success with his socially-distanced coaching sessions, which have also inspired a number of people to return to the sport after years away from it.

Pete said: “I’ve been coaching archery for around four years and it’s been a big part of my role at the club. In the last few weeks I’ve coached archers who were looking to refresh their skills, and had many enquiries from other people about similar sessions. I’ve developed a way of coaching that seems to be working well, where I demonstrate shooting techniques by mirroring the archer.

“The new method has been an interesting challenge – the mirroring technique I use means I have to use the opposite hand from what I’m used to. When you’re learning it can be difficult to remember everything, so I like to incorporate humour and memorable terminology. For example, knowing the names of each part of the body used in archery is important, so I’ll remind archers to push their thenar eminence (area beneath the thumb) into the bow, then ask them to raise both arms, zombie fashion, into a position that helps set up the basic shot. The place I get them to draw to is called the sternocleidomastoid, said to be the most superficial muscle in the neck. It may all feel a bit silly at the time but it sticks with them!

“Those I’ve coached so far have been competent archers who already have their routine in place, but my job is to check that the first few arrows they shoot are right. I haven’t coached beginners this way yet but I think it would work just as well for them too. I also incorporate the use of clinibands into the first sessions, and go through bow set-up, demonstrating how I would do it. Then it’s all about refining shot technique. Patrick Huston’s YouTube page is my go-to channel for inspiration.

“Overall, it’s about taking baby steps to get the archer completely comfortable with their shot. I’ve been coaching family groups during lockdown too, including young children – as long as you keep it fun, socially-distanced coaching works!”

Pete’s advice at a glance:

  • Be prepared to work in a new way: patience will be more important than ever
  • Maintain social distancing by using two targets, five metres apart
  • Set up a bow and get the archer to copy you with theirs
  • Focus on structure; get the small details right
  • Keep it fun for everyone

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