“Words are our most inexhaustible source of magic, capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.” - Albus Dumbledore
Words have a profound effect on us all, every day. We don’t always think about what we say and the intentions behind our words often get misinterpreted. Words can do so much for us and against us. I feel like everyone would do better to really find the purpose of their speech before delivering it. Even if your mind and energies are compelling you to speak quickly, consider your choice of words.
How do words affect archery?
Sometimes when we are shooting and we aren’t doing well we say things like “That was horrible!” or “I suck at archery today.” We do this because it’s the first thing that comes to mind. In the moment it seems so real and we just blurt it out. Why not? Most people aren’t gonna say “I’m doing great!” if in reality they are doing the polar opposite. The problem with letting these words fall from your lips is that they provide negative verbal reinforcement. Words like horrible, bad, and awful all have what in common? Negativity. When we say these things at a competition or even during practice we are reinforcing how we are shooting with verbal acknowledgment. This means our attention is lingering on the negative aspects of our shooting and it solidifies our not so great performance. If the connotation of the words we use can affect our shooting then why not use positive words? Even if we aren’t shooting well we can still find a positive light for our choice of words. Instead of saying “I am shooting horribly.” say “I need to work on this more.” Do you see what I am getting at? Change out the negative words for positive ones and you will see a change in your shooting. Because guess what? Eventually you’ll start believing what you say - that you just need to work on it a little bit more. That is how we improve our shooting. When I shoot I will ignore my bad shots and not comment on them. When I hit the center; however, or my shot feels good, I say “That is like me!”, or “I feel good about that!” Using words to connect your shot process and good shooting is a way to reinforce your work positively. Using positive and encouraging words will also help your teammates. It will help them stay positive and shoot their best.
I challenge all of my teammates and fellow archers to speak words of positivity and encouragement even in the face of bad performance. This may be even harder than shooting for some of you, but I believe in all of you. You can be positive even when everything is telling you that you can’t be. Shoot with positive reinforcement in mind, with courage, and a level of confidence that will carry your arrow to the X.
“Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall.”
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.