Brady Ellison discusses mental game during AMA for NBC Olympics on Reddit
Last season was the best of the 31-year-old’s career. He won the World Archery Championships and a record fifth Hyundai Archery World Cup Final, broke the 72-arrow 70-metre ranking round world record with 702/700 and returned to the number one spot in the recurve men’s world ranking.
With a trip to a fourth Olympic Games on the horizon, Brady opened up about the impressive mental approach that has carried him to recent new heights in the sport.
Asked how he prepares for major events, Brady replied:
“A lot! The gist of it, I guess, is that I work every day on my mental games and that prepares for the big shoots.”
“My mental routine is applied to life, not just sport, so I am always trying to be the best I can be at everything. I may shoot 350 physical arrows a day but I shoot 1000s in my head every day.”
“On the range and off the range, I am hardly ever not doing something mentally. It’s just how I work and how I get better.”
Ellison delved deeper when a question came about what turned him from an archery enthusiast to a committed professional.
“I started a pretty strict mental regimen in early 2007. I think there has been a lot of ‘ah-ha’ moments for me but, at the same time, it’s just mental barriers to overcome.”
“Indoors I had a big moment in 2011 or somewhere around there. I knew I could break the world record and I was doing it in practice and I just had to accept that I was scared to go and do something that nobody had done before. I shot my first 597 to tie the old record that year. It still took me several years to finally break it but I wasn’t scared.”
“The mind is a funny thing. If you think something is impossible then it will be for you.”
“I had this huge breakthrough last year with outdoors. I always believed that everything had to be perfect to shoot a 700. I shot a couple in a row and I realised that inside, shooting 70 metres when everything was perfect, it was actually easy to shoot a 700. I now can almost shoot one on command inside.”
“Also, outside I know that even in a little wind it is possible. I was able to shoot a 702 last year to break the record and I still had two eights. Once again, it was just breaking the mental barriers to let me do it.”
“I shot the best 36 arrows of my life last year before the World Cup Final. I shot 359/360 at 70 metres. I missed my last shot. At that point, I realised that recurves can shoot just as good as compounds.”
“I ended up shooting my PB at a 714 that day. When you believe it can be done, that is when you start to show it can be done.”
The world record that Brady shot at the Pan American Games in Lima last summer, just 18 points off perfect at 702, is still 12 points off his practice best, then. Imagine if he finds those missing points in competition.
Another question was about how Ellison keeps his composure under high-pressure situations and stops the focus draining his energy when competing.
“This kinda makes me laugh because I don’t ever feel very composed on the line! I don’t think anyone can… not be nervous. You just have to get used to it, really.”
“Learn that it’s going to be there and then let it happen and embrace it, not let it make you more scared.”
The USA currently has one men’s and one women’s spot qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Ellison currently leads his national trials.
Read his full AMA for NBC Olympics on Reddit.