HIT THE BULLSEYE

Inside Sport - - INSIDER - WITH TAY­LOR WORTH – Andrew Mar­mont

Olympic medal­list Tay­lor Worth ex­plains what an archer re­ally fo­cuses on.

T AYLOR WORTH is tak­ing on the world at the Archery World Cham­pi­onships in Oc­to­ber in Mex­ico City. The 26-year-old made his­tory by win­ning bronze as part of Australia’s first medal-win­ning archery team at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Here, the West­ern Australia na­tive talks us through get­ting com­pe­ti­tion-ready, shoot­ing in wild con­di­tions and how he is re­shap­ing his game plan.

COM­PE­TI­TION TRAIN­ING

We go through two main train­ing cy­cles. One is high-quan­tity – when you just stand there out on the range and shoot as many ar­rows as you can for as long as your body will al­low you. For ex­am­ple, you could do 300-400 ar­rows for five-seven days a week in a big way to build strength and en­durance through­out that phase. You would ta­per that into high-qual­ity. You would re­duce the amount of ar­rows that you shoot and the time you shoot for, but make ev­ery shot as if you were com­pet­ing – as per­fect and as best you can men­tally and phys­i­cally to try and get the best of out of your shot. To know ex­actly what’s hap­pen­ing around you, in your body and through­out

your shots as well.

KEEP­ING IT IN­TER­EST­ING

I work with the na­tional head coach; we train to­gether three times a week. It’s help­ful to bounce ideas back and forth about dif­fer­ent equip­ment, tech­niques and any unique at­tributes. The other days of the week are more free train­ing for me, where I go out there and do what I want at my own pace.

You can play games and drills while you’re shoot­ing. In­stead of mind-numb­ingly shoot­ing ar­rows down range, you have small chal­lenges through­out the day to keep you men­tally stim­u­lated.

One ex­am­ple is we would play the gold game – you see how many shots in a row you can hit the golds (tar­gets); as you get higher and higher num­bers, the more stress­ful it is to keep re­cip­ro­cat­ing the same out­come. I found there’s no real way to sim­u­late the pres­sures and anx­i­ety of in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions in a do­mes­tic sense, par­tic­u­larly in a train­ing en­vi­ron­ment. But there are lots of dif­fer­ent ways to put pres­sure on your­self just like that to be on top of your game.

BAL­ANC­ING OUT THE GYM

Be­cause archery is such an iso­met­ric sport, depend­ing if you’re left or right-handed, one arm holds a weight ver­ti­cally and the other arm back-pulls the weight. We’re us­ing our body in two very dif­fer­ent ways through­out the whole shot, and our ca­reers as well. In the gym, we try to even out our body com­po­si­tion, evenly dis­tribut­ing strength through­out our body.

SHOOT­ING IN THE RAIN

Be­cause we shoot in al­most any con­di­tion with­out fail or pause, the el­e­ments around us af­fect us in a huge num­ber of ways. Rain is a re­ally big fac­tor – you have a projectile fly­ing through the air and a force pushing down on it at sporadic in­ter­vals. You need to aim higher.

At the 2013 World Cham­pi­onships, the weather turned quite bad to­ward the mid­dle of the com­pe­ti­tion in terms of wind. It was forc­ing most of the top archers to even miss their tar­gets al­to­gether. We would be aim­ing at the tar­get next to ours – it was pushing us that far. Peo­ple were think­ing of any way pos­si­ble to make them­selves heav­ier to stand still, like putting full bot­tles of wa­ter in their back­packs to stop them­selves from be­ing pushed over in the wind.

IN THE ZONE

The con­cept of be­ing “in the zone”, or be­ing switched on, takes many years to truly learn in terms of un­der­stand­ing what to do and in­ter­pret­ing it. The first time I was in the zone, I had it for maybe half a ses­sion and then lost it for maybe two years. The sec­ond time I got it, it lasted for a day, then it was an­other six months be­fore I got it again and un­der­stood what was go­ing on around me. The zone is brief moments; the more you’re ex­posed to them, the moreyou learn how to adapt and make them your own.

THE PER­FECT 10

It’s an in­di­vid­ual sport, so I stand there and push my­self to the ab­so­lute limit to see where I can go and how good I can be. It comes down to the day-to-day train­ing en­vi­ron­ment where you can spend hours and hours at the range, just shoot­ing ar­rows. It can get quite lonely and ex­tremely bor­ing. So you need to find ways to keep your­self mo­ti­vated on what you’re do­ing and keep it in­ter­est­ing and the train­ing en­vi­ron­ment as fun as you can as well. The sport is all about that one per­fect shot, when ev­ery­thing just lines up and you ex­e­cute your shot, and you don’t even need to watch it fly or watch where it hits on the tar­get. You know it’s go­ing to be that per­fect ten. I think ev­ery­body in the sport loves that feel­ing and you chase it be­cause it is ut­ter per­fec­tion. You need to be a bit of a per­fec­tion­ist in the sport; you’re pushing your­self to the ab­so­lute limit to what you can do to hit a per­fect score ev­ery time.

CHANG­ING THE GAME PLAN

Post-Rio, I took six months off from the sport where I didn’t shoot at all, just to build a bit more of my per­sonal life, be a bit more in­volved with my fam­ily and my fi­ance, in­stead of be­ing over­seas six to nine months of the year. I just gave the time my fam­ily needed – it just bal­anced me out, in­stead of charg­ing through and burn­ing my­self out be­fore the next com­pe­ti­tion.

I’m work­ing to re­struc­ture my whole tech­nique and shot cy­cle to make my­self stronger for the next four years. I’m try­ing to play the long game, where I’m build­ing my­self to be as strong as I can for Tokyo in 2020, which means I’m sac­ri­fic­ing some per­for­mances for this year and next year for work­ing on those struc­tural changes.

RAIN IS A BIG FAC­TOR – YOU HAVE A PROJECTILE FLY­ING THROUGH THE AIR AND A FORCE PUSHING DOWN ON IT AT SPORADIC IN­TER­VALS.

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