HAVING FUN: I agree with Abraham Lincoln, who said, “People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
I think that having fun is, in fact, a mental skill. Most people believe having fun is as easy as getting involved in something you enjoy, which is true. However, what happens when what you enjoy also becomes a source of pressure, anxiety, fatigue and pain?
Most athletes start swimming because they love being in the water and enjoy being with their friends. When they decide to turn their “hobby” into a competitive activity is when some of the “fun” can be taken away.
That is, when you now have to practice for two hours after school and you are being asked to push your physical limits, you may start to focus on the aspects of competitive swimming that you don’t enjoy.
Focusing on your dislikes is what can make the fun disappear. Then, when you start to get good, develop high expectations for yourself, and feel pressure to drop time every meet or win every race, you may find even more things you don’t like about a sport you used to enjoy.
If you take it to the next level and start swimming to possibly get or keep a college scholarship and your whole reason for swimming is based on the belief that you HAVE to swim well or you will lose this opportunity, then even more anxiety occurs.
Basically, the higher the level at which you compete, the more potential there is for you to find things you don’t like about swimming, and thus, swimming becomes less fun.
Don’t worry though, just because you are now competing doesn’t mean swimming has to cease being fun. As I said before, you control your own happiness.
INJURIES: When you work hard, push yourself to your limits and engage in physical activity, you are not only competing with other swimmers, you are also competing with your body.
If you have ever been injured, you know how stressful and life-altering it can be. Whether it’s the disappointment of having trained so hard and no longer being able to compete or the feeling of being an outsider rather than a part of the team, there are many sources of injury stress.
It is important to know how to cope with this stress and what mental skills you can use to help throughout the recovery process. This article is about how to cope with injuries so you can get back in a pool ASAP.
Athletes are dedicated. They are committed. They are willing to
make sacrifices in their lives to help their sport performance. However, when you take this commitment to their sport and add a similar level of commitment to their academics, social lives, work and family, it can lead to a very difficult juggling act.
Take “Christina” for example. She is an athlete whom I work with that did not play well partly because she had done poorly on a paper and was stressed about it and partly because she didn’t get a chance to eat before her game and instead had taken a nap.
She was so tired because she was up until 1 a.m. finishing a paper. She was up so late because she had procrastinated and did not manage her time well. She had known about the paper for a week, but said that it wasn’t really that long or difficult of an assignment. She even admitted she could have done a better job managing her time because she probably didn’t have to watch “Grey’s Anatomy” (which took longer for her to watch than it did to actually complete the paper).
She also said her friend had a bad day, so she spent almost an hour on the phone talking to her. Because she waited until the last minute, waited until she was totally exhausted, and did not prioritize well, she not only did poorly on her paper she also did poorly in her game. Juggling her fun time, with her friend time, with her sport and academics proved to be too overwhelming. However, if she had thought it through and worked to manage her time and energy better, she could have been more successful in both her academic and athletic performance.
Unfortunately, I’m sure many of you can relate to Christina and are wondering how committed athletes who look for success in all areas of their lives juggle everything. Here are some suggestions to help you juggle your many demands successfully: