Sight, Sound and Smell

28 February 2019

Richard Hadley, Angling Trust Coaching Centre Manager and Lead Safeguarding Officer explains how Sight, Sound and Smell play a role in coaching…

When you are “In The Zone” and performing any complex task perfectly, everything seems effortless. But this can be few and far between in any sport. We should try and increase the number of times that those we coach get to feel this, to “lock-in” the unique set of circumstances so that they can be accessed again when performing. This can be achieved using Sight, Sound and Smell.

When performing at a high level (…and that can be any angling task such as casting a fly, bagging up on a swim, playing and landing a specimen fish), the first thing is to recognise you are in the zone. Then use your senses to add memory to the experience. Concentrating on the sights around you, the sounds you hear or the smells you experience will help lock this into a memory.

Next time you need to lift your performance try to recall the sights, sounds and smells of these good times.

Here are a few examples…

Sights: line laying straight and gently onto the water, landscape, groundbait falling through the water, fish coming to the net

Sounds: the sound of the line in the air when casting (especially when listening to the rhythm of a good cast), the swish of your rod, your catapult, pellets hitting the water

Smells: bait, water, your fly box, line floatant

Note: smells are very strong ways to access memory. Think about how memories of childhood are triggered by smells…

Other techniques for firing performance from memory include using “Self-Talk” and “Trigger Words“.

Self-Talk can help with nerves or when you need to process lots of information in short periods of time and react quickly. This is a technique used by advanced police drivers in pursuits.

Giving a verbal commentary on what is going on really helps concentration. This can be used in sport too when performing complex tasks, such as casting heavy weights at distance (i.e. where lots of elements need to be controlled and then released at a critical moment).

Trigger Words can also be used to fire muscle and movement memory, particularly when under pressure. Tennis players may use “bounce-hit” when returning shots.

Trigger words usually reflect the rhythm of the skill. For example, in cricket when hitting a half-volley for four I use the words “Kerr-Ching”! This is my command to move my head towards the ball, step and backswing together, flex front knee, rotate shoulders through the direction of shot, present full face of bat and check the drive level with my shoulders.

Using a trigger word allows me to forget about all those single actions and concentrate on the ball only. It gives rhythm, timing, and value to the shot.

To apply this to angling… Think about complex casts. Do they have a natural rhythm? Does the sound of the line or rod through the air have a word or words that mimics them? Or, could the outcome be reflected in a phrase?

Try it. When the pressure is on or your timing is off, having a fall-back trigger word can really help!


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