mental strength (or weakness): a hot topic at the 2020 olympics

By Dawn Grant September/October, 2021

Should you wait to work on your mind game?

This is a question I get asked at least once a week. It is also a hot topic among shooting instructors as they too get asked the same question regularly as well.

I have a pretty clear opinion on this, as I outlined in "Should You Wait to Work on Your Mind Game?" (ClayShootingUSA, July/August 2021, pp. 88-90). But to be clear, that opinion is total based on my specific mental training process, techniques, objectives, and angle. I believe a true mental training program should sufficiently and successfully address these human conditions: frustration, anger, regret, worry, fear, lack of confidence, doubt, second guessing, over thinking, trying too hard, distractions, lack of focus, over thinking, moving on from a miss, etc. While it trains a person in genuinely having focus, confidence, fun techniques to apply before, during and after shots, and ultimately the end-all-be-all peak performance zone.

Before I dive in further... I'd like to send out a huge congratulations to all the Olympians of the USA Shooting Team!

We are reminded loud and clear by some of the 2020 Olympians of how vital their performance. Some allude to it in interviews. Some, like Damian Warner, Tom Dumoelin, Simone Biles, and Naomi Osaka come right out and admit to being proponent of mental training or take action to protect their well-being by acknowledging they're not in the right head space.

Here is a testimonials from 2020 Olympic Silver Medalist Kayle Browning written for me and my training:

"Thank you SO much for everything that you have done for me. You're such an inspiration to me. There's no way I could make it to where I am right now if it wasn't for your help! I appreciate you so much, thank you!" -Kayle Browning 2020 Olympic Silver Medalist

Kayle is hugely successful both in shooting and life, here are several more of her awesome accomplishments!

- Pro USA Shooting athlete (international bunker trap)

- 2020 Olympian

- 2012 U.S. Olympic Team alternate

- Multiple World Cup and national medalist

- Former national champion

- National record holder

- World record holder

- World champion gold medalist - team event

- Owner of Cypress Creek Lodge

- Profession shotgun coach

- Beyond the Podium podcast host

Not convinced yet of the undeniable value of a good mental game? Feel free to listen in to the over 150 episodes on the Olympic Channel Podcast. Here they have interviews some of the world's top athletes and asked them how they look after their mental health, including how they cope with negative thoughts and how to have confidence in risky situations.

Tune in and you'll hear statements like this from wrestler Jordan Burroughs: "I think the best athletes in the world are the people who can control their emotions."

I agree with Jordan and many of the other statements related to the mental game which are stated in the over 150 episodes! Hence, why I consider my mental training program true mental training- because it does address emotions, as well as mindsets, perceptions, thought patterns, belief systems, and habits.

In order to tackle such mental issues, I believe we must begin with a detailed explanation of the make-up of your mind. Because I believe it's important that you have a general understanding of your mind before you attempt to give it a tune-up, just like knowing it's important to understand an engine before you take it apart and change its parts. And, as you know, you would get yourself in a mess if you started deleting files from your computer before understanding if they are important to the processes of that computer.

You have a conscious mind, a subconscious mind, an unconscious mind; and some would also say a superconscious mind. For a point of reference, know that many of you are shooting too much from your conscious mind, and need to learn how to shooting from your subconscious mind- aka: shoot instinctively, shoot intuitively, shoot automatically, shoot without thinking about it. But how can you do this if you don't even know what those minds are, how they function, why you are working with one more than the other, and how to switch which mind you are accessing so you can actually shoot from your subconscious?

Think about this. We have yet to invent a computer as powerful as our mind(s). Such a computer would have to be able to take in information from its sense of sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch, and emotion, while simultaneously and appropriately responding to those stimuli baed on information from the past, present and potential future. Meanwhile, as it engages in these high tech maneuvers, it must also filter through its 60,000 thoughts a day, all of which have their own set of cause and effect circumstances. Then, oh yes, there is more... here is where it gets very tricky. For most folks, especially those who have not participated in any mental training, you are in a very poor habit in which a large percentage of those 60,000 thoughts are negative, limiting, unhealthy and unproductive. And since you don't know any better, you are believing and reacting to all of them, which brings about instantaneous decrease in your performance.

So, you see the dilemma. It is imperative that you understand your mind and make change to the default programming. But at the same time, this is no easy task, and it can be very challenging.

Attempting positive change with limited knowledge of your mind functions could ultimately put you in a much more difficult and limiting position. It is just as important to recognize the fact that attempting to make change with the same mind that got you in your current predicament, will only result in the same outcomes. You need a fresh perspective and training to gain the insight and skills necessary to bring about effective, long term change.

As great as all this sounds, and as convincing as it is. Taking action to address your mental game is different than just believing it is important. Then, taking the best, most successful action is even more important.

Like everything, you have a lot of options for your mental training. To see if my mental training is the best option for you. I encourage you to start with my free webinar: The Elusive Zone for Clay Shooters, which you will find under the "Free" menu tab on my website, you can apply for a free 30 Minute strategy call to discuss your current situation and issues, and to go over the training programs that would be best for you.

Dawn Grant has had a private practice as a mental trainer and hypnotist since 2001, where her main clientele has been weekend warriors, elite competitive athletes, and Olympic hopefuls, who live all over the world. Many hold credentials in PGA tour, LPGA, tour, IJGA, USA Shooting, ISSF, PSCA, USA Sporting Clays Team, WBA, Ironman, and NCAA. Her work has contributed to multiple World Champion titles and Hall of Fame honors. Most notably, she assisted Vijay Singh in winning the 2008 FedEx Cup Championship. Her Clay Shooter's Mind Game Mastery online course, clay shooter's hypnosis audio, custom hypnosis audios, and private session have helped several thousand clay shooters all over the world to have consistent focus and peak performance. Dawn is the owner of Amelia Shotgun Sports in Yulee, Florida where she offers lectures, clinics and workshops at her Mind Training School. She is also the author of 7 Strokes In 7 Days: Quick And Easy Break-Through Mental Training That Will Revolutionize Your Gold Game And Life, and the inventor of She travels to major NSCA events and offers her clinics at clubs across the country.

You can learn more about Dawn, and her online and live training programs at

Check out her shotgun club at

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