This was an incredibly helpful read. I’ve tried writing this review a few different ways but I want to be as straightforward as possible to convey how much of an asset this book can be for anyone willing to listen. The authors are highly accomplished grand masters that have been shooting on a high level for more than a few years. Ben Stoeger is a name anyone that’s spent five minutes in competitive shooting has heard of, here in the US and throughout the world. Joel Park is another strongly established shooter, and while his accolades may not include a national title that does nothing to hinder his ability to teach and relay instruction to growing shooters. While the concept of match mentality isn’t exactly an easy topic to master, it does not make the book a complicated or dry read. Ben and Joel do a great job of simply explaining the concepts of mental management and what they do to maintain control and perform at a high level throughout a day or several days of shooting.
Think of the mental game as your connection between the skills you’ve developed and your ability to actually use them on command. You can have tremendous par times in your dry or live fire training, maybe you can burn down El Prez dry in 3.5 seconds and in live you’ve even made it under 5 seconds several times. That’s awesome and truly a great accomplishment for anyone to achieve. However, if you find yourself at a match and El Prez is set up for a classifier it won’t matter how well you practiced at home if you don’t have the mental game included in your practice. No one will really care about what you can do on your own range or in dry practice, and the score and classification certainly aren’t going to take your personal bests at home into account. The mental aspect of shooting is a chokepoint, your skills and abilities are on one side and delivering on demand is on the other side. With anxiety before a match or stage, nerves, stress, etc., that chokepoint will constrict and strangle your ability to deliver those hard-won skills on demand. The stronger your mental game the more that chokepoint widens and the less it hinders your abilities from being available when you truly need them.
There are so many different aspects to the mental game, and Ben and Joel do a tremendous job covering nearly every conceivable aspect in detail. Visualization, match pressure, stress management, equipment issues, match strategy and stage breakdown, and far more are covered in this 200 page book. A book focused purely on the mental aspect of shooting may seem a bit dry or boring, I have read others that have proven to be a bit more difficult to force myself through but that isn’t the case with this book. They both write in plain language that anyone that has shot or witnessed a match before will understand. There is often a pedestal that shooters at their level are placed on and shooters with less ability tend to think that there’s some kind of secret trick that GM’s utilize or that they aren’t affected by stress or the match pressures that the rest of us face.
The authors put those misguided thoughts to rest and beyond simply stating that they experience all the same pressures, they explain the best practices for combating such stress. From thoroughly covering the topics I mentioned above, there is also a section dedicated to their personal routines. From pre match training, prep for the match, how they plan the logistics of the event, walk throughs, during the match and after, they explain what they do and why they do it. It was honestly my favorite part of the entire book, and their planning was so simple and straightforward that anyone could implement their methods into their own match prep.
If you stopped reading this article right now and instead purchased the book and spent your time reading and learning from that I would be 100% behind that decision. I had only shot a few matches when I started reading the book, and I was halfway through it when I had my next match. Two seemingly minute details they covered in the book paid off tremendously during my stage walk throughs and when I had to make a reload I hadn’t planned on during a stage. Unfortunately I made some pretty big mistakes on a memory stage and came home to find the next chapter in my reading covered Memory Stages and would have saved me from a pretty big loss of points.
This book can save you time and stress if you simply take the time to read it and apply it to your shooting. In closing I just want to say no one paid me to write this review, the writers have no relationship to compel me to write this. I enjoy reading, I enjoy learning, and I truly enjoy helping others find the right tools to make improvements in their own shooting abilities. I do not gain or lose anything for writing this or suggesting you give this book a shot, but I do hope it pushes you to add Match Mentality to your personal library.
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