In just a short time as head coach of the Michigan State archery team, Glen Bennett has experienced a great deal of success. Under Glen’s tutelage, the team has brought several championship trophies back to the Demmer Center in Lansing, including USIAC National Championship victories for both teams and individuals.
Glen preaches positive mental management as the driving force behind the success of the kids he coaches, and it’s tough to argue with the results. And, if the success of his team is touch to argue with, then so are the principles behind that success. Here are five of the principles Glen has used to turn recreational shooters into national champions.
1. It’s never too late to start
Rookie archers are often intimidated when they first walk onto a range and see people that have been involved with archery for a long time hitting near the bull’s eye with every shaft. However, you should not allow your lack of experience to make you think you can never be competitive. If you’re willing to put in the work and listen to the advice of your coaches, you can become an incredible archer in a relatively short period of time.
“I had a girl that came here in 2013 with basically no experience at all, and she’s now a three-time national champion and an All-American,” Glen said. “She came in and shot as much as she could be here. She was a person that has the internal drive to want to make themselves better, and she’s been one of my best archers I’ve ever had as far as having all the right tools.”
2. Build your strength
Archers don’t have the same sorts of strength demands placed on them as football players and hockey players that need to move opponents out of the way. At the same time, archers do need to maintain their posture, which requires an entirely different sort of muscle control and stamina. And, that sort of advantage can’t be reliably developed simply by tugging on a bowstring.
“Archers need strong core muscles and strong back muscles,” Glen explained. “We use a small training tool called Flexor that the kids use to build their core muscles. Building their muscles makes them stronger and it allows them to hold the bow steadier.“
3. Eat right to shoot straight
If you think archery is a sport where what you put in your bodies will have no influence over how well you perform, think again. While archers don’t need to worry as much about the amount of weight they’re carrying as a swimmer or a runner might, there are other ways in which a sugary snack or poor choice of refreshment may affect them.
“Nutrition is huge in archer,” Glen said. “I like kids to stay away from sugary drinks and caffeine because it makes them jittery and affects their aim. Being hungry and thirsty affect you both physically and mentally, so you need to make sure you’re hydrated.“
4. Practice with a plan
Archery isn’t like basketball or football, where practices are broken up into a series of stretches, warm-ups, drills and scrimmages. At the same time, practice sessions are not just ceaseless repetitions of firing arrows into targets for two hours. Like it is with any other sport, going into archery practice with a plan is essential for truly developing the skills that are going to make you better.
“On average, the travel team members shoot an hour to an hour and a half every day, and I like them to keep track of what they’re doing by using a shooting journal,” Glen said. “I don’t want them shooting targets all the time; I want them working on their shooting form and the shooting process. The person who shoots within a strict process will generally shoot consistent scores.”
5. Shoot to win
Even if you hope to attend a school without a NCAA-recognized archery program, there’s still an excellent chance that if you’re good enough, you’ll be offered a scholarship to compete for a school with a club team. However, no one is going to know if you’re worthy of a scholarship if you don’t get out there and show people what you’re capable of in a competitive setting.
“I can find out a lot of information on a kid from USA Archery or National Field Archery Association,” Glen said. “I can review the information and the scores, and I can see how good a kids is. Or, if I see a kid at the Demmer Center that’s doing really well at a young age, I can recommend different things to them about how to advance with their shooting, and a lot of times, those kids have already shot in juniors. So, kids wanting to get recruited should definitely start participating in competitions as early as possible.”
The Meijer State Games of Michigan is a multi-sport, Olympic-style event(s) that welcome athletes regardless of age or ability level. The Games embody the values of participation, sportsmanship and healthy living.