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Pick almost any sport in the world, and you should find at least one instance in which a good sense of aim would be indispensable. Quarterbacks routinely spot locations to throw the ball so that receivers can make a clean catch. Soccer players try to target the one area of the net not covered by the goalie. Obviously, archers strive for perfect bullseye scores by keeping their aim consistent. Top athletes in any category of sport spend training time on improving their ability to find a target and hit it consistently. But you don't need to be an elite athlete to learn how to improve your sense of aim. Here are some pointers on how to improve your aiming skills, no matter what sport you pursue.

First of all, aiming starts in the mind, not in the body or the equipment. You should have a clear mental picture of what result you need to achieve and what you'll need to do with your body or bat or bow or whatever to make that result a reality. Visualize a perfect moment for a few minutes before training. What does a well-aimed shot look like? See the ball in slow-motion, leaving your arm and sailing into the catcher's mitt. See the arrow land solidly in the gold center of the target. See the wide receiver break free and reach out his hands to catch a pass exactly where you needed it to be. Once you have a strong mental idea of what perfection looks like, then you are ready to work on the physical aspects of aiming. Professional golfers are not just looking for the curves and bumps that will change the course of the ball, they are also visualizing precisely what that ball will do between the club and the hole. Pro tennis players are not just reacting to shots, they are planning a way to get their opponent tied up on the other side of the court. Aiming starts with visualization.

Once you have a firm idea of what a perfect moment looks like, then you are ready to work on the physical ways of achieving that moment. What areas of your physical game need attention in order to improve your end result? Do you need to throw the ball faster in order to reach the target area? Do you need a different aiming point to insure more consistent results? Your body or equipment should be an extension of your mental game. Coaches have always preached that the game is won or lost through mental toughness, not failure of the equipment or the condition of your body. Professional tennis players rarely look at their rackets while playing. They are looking directly at the spot where they want to place the return shot, which is what will win the point. Once you have the mental focus, concentrate on learning the muscle memory that will make swinging the bat or throwing the basketball a natural extension, not an issue in itself. Very few sports are won on defensive play alone, so at some point you will need to find a target and hit it decisively. That process should not start and end with your body or equipment alone. Put all the fundamentals on autopilot, and use your sense of aim to your advantage.

Beyond even the mental and physical aspects of good aiming, there is an element of aim that transcends raw ability. Any pitcher knows what a good strike looks and feels like, but hardly anyone pitches a perfect game. Despite your best efforts at aiming, something or someone will always be in the way of a perfect match or personal best score. When faced with a 'real world' situation in your sport, you should develop a sense of accepting your limitations. Good aiming is more than finding the target- it is also learning to adjust from mistakes. If the batter hits your first fastball down the middle, adjust your aim accordingly. If the intended receiver is blocked by two semi-trucks in uniforms, find a different target or accept the fact that your perfectly-thrown pass was uncatchable. You are striving to improve from within, so never let a few misfires take away from your mental focus. Consider this for a moment- there are Zen Buddhist monks who can fire an arrow from a thousand yards away and hit the bullseye. Sounds impressive? Consider the fact that they don't aim their bows, and they often miss as much as they hit. Their philosophy- the target is irrelevant. They are striving to improve their aim from within, in spite of having a target to hit. This should be your goal as well- good aiming is not always about hitting or missing a target, it is about learning enough about the sport to improve from within.