During the time I was playing basketball my cousin came over for Thanksgiving and brought this strange stick with a net attached to it. I asked him what it was and he called it a Lacrosse Stick. I was enamored with it and lucky for me he had two. In a frigid upstate New York we spent the next 5 hours playing catch and rolling the ball to each other. It was on this day I found a passion for a sport I would spend the next 20 years of my life. Fast forward to my senior year in High School. We were playing in a sectional game to advance to the next level of the state playoffs. I was wide-open, caught the ball, ‘cranked-up’, and let loose a 90+mph shot… I was certain I had the top right corner of the net open and I heard the sound no lacrosse player wanted to hear. It was a ‘ping’ and I hit the corner cross-pipe of the goal. I was certain I had it. When reflecting on my shot I realized I took my eye off my target before I completed the motion of the shot and it threw my shot off course. Needless to say this ended our season.
This experience happens a lot to me and others in shooting. This experience is what I call “Gap Time”. This is the time when your brain decides you’re going to fire the gun, your eyes will move before your finger pulls the trigger, your gun starts to move with your eyes and that’s how you start missing. This phenomenon happens all the time to new drivers. If a new driver looks to the left, what happens to the car? It goes where their eyes are going – to the left. This all may seem simple to keep under control until you are under pressure and the timer goes off and your squad mates are throwing down some fast runs! Let’s break down why it can be difficult to shoot well. Maybe it will make you feel better, there is a lot going on. Warning, reading this may give you a headache.
Here is the order of operations assuming you have a ‘hit’ on your first target.
- Your eyes See Target #1
- You hear the buzzer go off
- Your Ears send a message to your Brain to move the gun to the Target #1
- Your Brain tells you to align the sight of the gun with Target #1
- Your Eyes see the sight of the gun line up with Target #1
- Your Eyes sends a message to your Brain to pull the trigger
- Your Brain sends a message to your Trigger Finger to pull the Trigger
- Your trigger Finger pulls the Trigger to break the shot
- Your Eyes see the sight picture of the gun on Target #1 when the shot breaks and sends confirmation to your Brain
- Your Brain confirms you have a hit
- Your Brain tells your Eyes to transition to Target #2
Where our shooting fundamentals start to break down when we are ‘rushing’ is our Brain goes from Step #8 to Step#11 and skips step #9 and #10 completely.
9. Your Eyes see the sight picture of the gun on Target #1 when the shot breaks and sends confirmation to your Brain.
10. Your Brain confirms you have a hit
Your eyes are heading to the next Target instead of holding them on the first target until the shot breaks, this is where the “Gap” is created. You expect to get the desired results, but you short-cut the physiological shooting steps. When you are practicing by yourself, think through the steps listed above and determine which step you had a “Gap” on or which one needs some attention. Some self-diagnosis will help your valuable training time be more meaningful!
See you out on the range soon!