Without a doubt, the start of a new season this is one of the most exciting and emotionally charged times for competitive anglers. Revisiting our last years triumphs and victories. While the mistakes and poor showings are mentally filed away and forgotten. A few “coulda, woulda, shoulda” thoughts remain, though mostly we are filled with excitment, positive anticipation, enthusiasm and hope. This year is gonna be the year!” At least in our minds, we’ve figured out where the monster hang out and how we’er going to put them in the boat.

Hold on to that enthusiasm! It’s a great start on the frame work on which to build practical skills as well as some psychological techniques that will help you develope your tournament Mo-Jo for the upcoming season.

ENTHUSASTIC DRIVEGood anglers at this point know they need a smooth running engine, made up mechanical/practical parts along with well-oiled psychological components. They know, you cant slow down, they know they don’t want to stop at the intersection of Great Expectations and Hope. To get to where they are going they will, “so to say”, put the hammer down on a that jacked-up, super charged turbo to smoke the competition!

CONFIDENCE
Confidence comes from all aspects of tournament angling, confidence in your decisions you make, confidence in the equipment you use and confidence in the places you fish just to name a few. Start your season off with confident equipment. As you go through your tackle this winter, do an honest inventory. Do you keep several rod-and-reel combinations, even though some of them don’t really fit what you want them to do?
Be realistic when assessing your equipment. Do you have reels that slip occasionally? Is this a reel you might have in your hands when the tournament is on the line? If you answered yes, then replace, check your terminal tackle, rust on hooks and swivels is unacceptable. Clean or replace your hooks or terminal tackle, Remember our objective here is confidence, and you cant confidently rely on corroded tackle.

CONFIDENT GOAL SETTING
It’s important to set goals going into the new season, but keep in mind though, these key points:
1) Set realistic, attainable goals that are somewhat above last year’s level;
2) Make your goals specific enough to be useful: EXAMPLE “doing better than last year” is a wish, “improving four places in the club points race “is a goal;
3) Create a list of things you can do to reach your goal, and then do something at least once a week to get closer, because goals don’t just happen by themselves, you’ve got to make them happen by regularly practicing practical and mental skills.
4) Make a practice plan for each of your goals and follow them. Successful anglers spend a lot of their time implementing practice plans. You need to do the same if you want to get better.

CATFISH TOURNAMENT

As you are making your goals a reality, give yourself some dead honest feedback, dont distort it by either being to harsh or to positive. In other words really think about all the aspects involved before you decide. Giving yourself too much positive feedback can be just as damaging as too much negative feedback. Most everyone knows that if you are too harshly critical of your own performance, you create a negative atmosphere in which it’s difficult to overcome. (When someone’s yelling at you, it’s hard to hear the message, right?) However, too much sugar-coated feedback stops you from recognizing and correcting your mistakes. Giving yourself realistic feedback will often keep you pumped up!

MAKING MISTAKES WITH CONFIDENCE
One final thought: Be confident in knowing that you have learned from the the mishaps you will still have and have had happen in the past. Dont look at past mishaps as mistakes! Instead use them to your advantage and view them as a valuable learning tool used throughout the seasons, to help you build a stronger framework in your knowledge base and your performance psychology effects in your tournament competitions