Coarse Angling on a stillwater - Whip fishing

Coaches: Improve Mental Performance!

Richard Hadley, Angling Trust Coaching Centre Manager and Lead Safeguarding Officer reckons that although many coaches focus on the technical, tactical and physical aspects of angling some fail to work on improving the mental aspects of performance….

In sport, technique, tactics and physical performance factors only account for a maximum of around 10% in improvement. Mental skills can lead to 33% increase in performance or a 33% loss. With such a massive swing, working on the physiological side of angling can really benefit the people we coach.

If we look at the 4 C’s that make up the building blocks of an anglers’ psyche: confidence, concentration, commitment and control, it is easier to see how these might be included into coaching sessions and how these apply to the top anglers in our sport.

How often are juniors set up on the easy pegs, with fish in front of them? Should we rather be selecting poorer swims where commitment, concentration and confidence are tested. Think of the number of times you get a bad draw in a match and you disappear in doubt and despair, just trying anything rather than trying to plan your way through the match, changing tactics just for the sake of changing.

We should always practice the “what-ifs”, as they can build confidence to cope in any situation, so we adapt constructively with no drop-in performance. Although this might mean that you still might not catch, knowing that our performance was without panic and planned, we can build confidence that next time, if there are fish there, we are going to be very successful.

Here is a very simple concentration practice for your juniors: On the journey home, get them to count the number of red cars they see, next time you meet, ask how many they saw. The answer will be an exact number. The next question is how many blue cars did you see? The answer will be don’t know. This is because fine tuning concentration filters out unnecessary background distractions. This can prove useful when detecting a bite. A small mark on a float tip will improve concentration greatly, in sport speak it’s called taking dead aim. Top players don’t “Watch the ball”, they watch the stitching or crest on the ball.

As a caveat to this, concentrating on the same spot for 5 hours will be mentally impossible and very tiring. Switching off and on between casts or occupying your mind to another task when you are not actually fishing helps and will improve the quality of concentration when you are.

It is a massive subject, we haven’t even considered control! As a challenge, just think how would you coach “feel”? Then try to put it into your sessions. It is important to remember that every practice will need an element of what you are trying to achieve.

There are no quick wins when building mental toughness…


Richard Hadley
Angling Trust Coaching Centre Manager and Lead Safeguarding Officer
07720 974811 |