Training like a pro

Phil Coley plans your season’s training to make sure you hit the high scores

Clay shooting requires a high level of concentration so your physical training routine needs to be backed up with mental training to avoid mental fatigue in competitions.
Many shooters don’t give enough time to mental preparations, and consequently their scores will suffer.

Below is a training schedule that I use with many of the country’s top shooters – the world’s top sports people will use schedules very similar, but this one has been developed especially with clay shooters in mind.

The programme outlines the months in the year when you should be working on certain areas. If you are looking to move up a level next season on to improve on your scores even more, following this programme will help you to reach your goals.

Rest from shooting is really important as it is a chance for you to catch up on other things or try a something different. At this time of year some may be out game shooting, which is an ideal way to keep using your gun but also acts as a rest from competitive clay shooting training.

For those of you who don’t shoot game you can still keep your gun working, but try a different discipline – it’s only for fun so don’t worry about giving your competitive edge a bit of a rest.

Technical Training
Technical training is vital for any clay shooter in any discipline; use this time to check your gunfit, get used to a new gun or try something different with your gun.

Technical training is what it says, the time for you to polish up your technique and focus on specific targets. This period is the time when you are able to shoot lots of targets to improve or work in new ways.

It is worth noting that many clay shooters use the summer months to carry out technical training – this is not the best time to do it. It is impossible to change something major in your technique part way through the season. Take advice from top golfers; if they change their swing, they will only ever do this out of season.

Mental Training
The time allocated to mental training is a chance to take your routine apart and rebuild it looking at comprehensive mental training skills.

Mental training, especially combining this with your technical training, is best carried out in the off season. The mental training period is very similar to the technical training period, in the fact that you can work on new habits.

Key mental skills will include goal setting, visualisation skills, anxiety control and competition planning. In this period you should be working with your mental skills expert on a one-two-one basis.

Physical Training
This gives you time to focus on your physical training for your clay shooting discipline – you will need a high level of fitness to shoot; fitness helps protect from physical fatigue through a season and competitions.

A simple plan would be combining visualisation with a dry mounting programme. For example, a Sporting shot may visualise shooting less common targets, such as over-head quartering targets, or targets rising underneath you. This is both a mental and physical training session.

Competition Training
Specific training for competition involves simulating competition situations and conditions. This is not a time for trying out new techniques – they should have been covered in the technical and mental training phases. This phase will be your busiest and most important part of the year; once this is completed the competitions begin.

You will find that this three month period builds on your mental and technical training that you have already completed, through to a competition simulation at home or abroad. I always suggest a training camp for two days followed by a two day competition.

Technical Top Up
This time gives you a confidence boost or a technical update. Work with a coach, who will advise you where you are technically lacking – a good coach will tell you if things look good or bad, they won’t just tell you something for the sake of it.

Mental Top Up
This is a chance to add to your new mental skills and develop any small changes – it is not the time for a mental rebuild.

There is a famous saying that “failing to prepare, is preparing to fail” – if you are serious about your clay shooting then take a look at the plan and develop your training around it. For more information on training plans, remember you can get your Free Mental Skills handbook from

In 2012 Clay Shooting Success will be launching a fantastic training programme combining technical and mental training days and support for all clay shooters.

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