Category: Tournament

 Oct 17th, 2014 by OutdoorsFIRST 

Modified Oct 17th, 2014 at 12:00 AM

KVD, aka Kevin VanDam. Those initials and that name are associated with greatness in pro bass fishing. Think Michael Jordan, Babe Ruth, Tiger Woods. You get the picture, not just a one-off champ, but a man who has won eight, yep eight, Angler of the Year (AOY) titles. He earned seven AOY titles with B.A.S.S. and one with the FLW.

In fact, KVD won four AOY in a row from 2008-2011. The 2014 season was his worst in memory. In fact, KVD finished out of the Top 10 in AOY rankings for the first time in many years and didn’t qualify for a Bassmaster Classic for the first time in over 20 years. Even with the downside, don’t expect VanDam to change much in 2015; probably a tweak here and there and then the fishing machine that is KVD will be on the hunt once again for his ninth AOY title.

8-time AOY winner Kevin VanDam (Joel Shangle)

So, how does an angler have such a dominant career and consistent success over 20 years? VanDam knows and gives us a little insight.

It’s all in your head, according to VanDam.

“The mental side of the game separates the successful anglers from the rest of the field,” said VanDam. “The guys I’m fishing against now are as good if not better than they have ever been. The gear they have, the knowledge, the physical skills are all better than when I started over 20 years ago.

“The playing field is more level than ever before. So, what you need to win and do it consistently to be AOY is a strong mental focus. Just like in any other sport. You need to be able to shut out the external negative influences and focus on your task at hand. The little voices in your head will hurt you.”

“Even though I had a bad year, I don’t expect to change much for 2015. I’ll analyze what needs to change and make the adjustments needed to get back in the AOY race.”

No guaranteed formula for success in KVD’s arsenal.

“You’ve got to be a versatile angler to have a chance at winning an AOY title,” said VanDam. “Being a specialist can help too, at times. Especially when a bite is happening that you have a particularly good skill at taking advantage of. You also need to be a risk taker.

“You need to have good finishes throughout the season. Ideally your worst finish should still be decent, enough to earn a check. It’s all about managing your successes and controlling your bad events as much as you can.

“There is no sure-fire formula for success. I’ve been doing this a long time. For 24 years I believe I’ve been in the Top 10 in AOY points all but two of the years. With all of that, there still is no perfect formula to win AOY.”

Real confidence is necessary to have long-term success.

“I’ve seen so many anglers not have faith in their fishing abilities,” said VanDam. “They’ll say they are ready to go. They say they believe in what they are doing, but you can tell they don’t have it. They don’t have true confidence.

“Once again it comes down to being able to be focused mentally. Be prepared physically and believe in yourself and what you’ve done to prepare for your season and each event. True confidence comes from the strong mental aspect that some anglers have and some don’t.”

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