Using Training Blocks in Clay Shooting
I’ve always been a lover of the use of training blocks as part of my training within clay shooting as part of my overall training programme, but what are they and why?
A training programme is a process in which we prepare ourselves as athletes to improve our ability to perform from multiple aspects, including technical and tactical to mental and physical.
A training block is when you spend a number of intense, back-to-back training days. They will look different across various sports, but with a common purpose, which is to improve performance in ways such as endurance and strength which is achieved through volume training.
Training programmes enable us to get the most out of ourselves and our resources, but training blocks can enable us to do this in a way that we can analyse, plan, implement and evaluate changes in one block.
Having a block of time spanning over 3-5 days affords us the time to break down our shooting and look at it in closer detail, and ideally with a coach, or someone that you shoot with regularly.
The first part of a clay shooting training block should always start with an analysis of what you’ve been doing well and what needs work. This will require some self reflection and you will need to be honest with yourself. If you have videos or photos of you shooting, this could be a great starting point if you don’t have a coach with you. If you don’t, I recommend getting a tripod and filming yourself shooting.
This is where we can identify what good looks like for us individually. It’s important to recognise that everyone is different and this will be reflected in our techniques. One size does not fit all and we need to remember that just because something works for someone else, it doesn’t mean it will work for everyone.
It’s also really important that we don’t neglect our strengths. Working on what we do well can also help us turn strengths into super strengths, as well as making sure we don’t overlook them and subsequently lose touch with how we perform in these areas.
For example, alongside a couple of other things, I’ve recognised recently that the timing of my routine is no longer as consistent as it has previously been when I have been at my peak. This is something I can address in my upcoming training block.
This is the time where we can plan our training block wisely, based on what we found in the analysis stage. This means we can think carefully about which skills and drills we can implement into our training sessions throughout the training block which will help us develop the skills which we are looking to improve.
For example, to make sure my timing is what it should be, we’ll be timing different sections of my preparation and shot to ensure everything remains consistent. We’ll then put this under pressure in various scenarios to ensure that this doesn’t change under duress.
This is the fun part and the part which needs no explanation! This is when we get to pull the trigger. Putting everything discussed in the analysis and planning stages into practice.
We have to be open and ready for feedback in this stage, to ensure we are actually doing what we have outlined in the planning stages.
It’s also important to work with intention during this time, making sure we are applying conscious effort to the areas we are targeting to ensure that they then become subconscious actions at the end of the training block.
During this phase, it’s also a great idea to continually refer back to your plan to ensure you’re doing as you said you would, but also so you can adapt if you need to.
Time to decide exactly what went well at the end of each day and if there are ways you can improve during the next. Are there different skills and drills that you can include which will test your abilities? Did you focus on the objective throughout the session on the range?
Taking time to debrief during each day is really important, so the following day you can hit the ground running and use your time and the time of your coach wisely.
I personally love using training blocks, especially before a big competition, as I can do a self-service of my technique and use volume training to build up confidence and consistency.
It can be incredibly easy to make technical changes and quickly forget the progress we made if we don’t repeat the work and make our actions subconcious.