February 9, 2018
The water was too cold. Didn’t feel right. Coach’s workouts obviously weren’t hard enough. Didn’t feel motivated. Think I might switch teams next year.
They justify an outcome, even if the rationalization isn’t accurate or truthful.
We obsess over the results. And because the results are never 100% in our control—the pool temperature, your feel for the water vanishing on you the day of the big race, the whole “other swimmers” thing, plain old luck—there is an element of helplessness that makes excuse-making so easy.
Your coach does more than just give you technical and racing advice.
They can give you a reality check on how you are performing and training in practice and competition.
Their perspective and experience give them a unique view on your swimming: ask them for feedback on your training. Spend 10 minutes on Saturday after practice and go over the week.
Let them know what you liked about the practices. What you didn’t. Ask for constructive feedback.
The coolest thing you can do in your growth as an athlete (and as a human being) is to be able to dispassionately handle criticism and apply it to your swimming.
Rank your effort each day in practice.
This is one of my all-time favorite training hacks.
Anyone can do it, there’s no learning curve, and it takes no time flat to drop it into your daily routine.
All ya gotta do is grade your effort each day. Seriously. That’s it.
Take the 3.2 seconds to write down a 1 out of 10 score for yourself after practice.
When grading yourself focus completely the effort you brought to the table. Not even necessarily the results, or how you swam compared to other swimmers in the group, or what the pool temp was like.
For example, a 9/10 would indicate that you did the whole practice with excellent effort and technique, contributed to a positive team culture, and so on.
Swimming, for a lot of us, is an intensely individual sport. With the exception of relays, we compete on our lonesomes.
For most of our swimming career, the teammate we see the most is the tiled black line.
This sense of individuality can cause us to think we have to go at it alone in training, as well. We all want to swim in a great environment that is positive and supports our goals: we know that the team will be better for it, and that we will benefit from it as well.
Don’t wait for other swimmers to take the lead on being a great teammate, do so with no expectation.
Evaluate your process.
When I talk to swimmers about ownership, often they will start by owning up to their results. A disappointing race. A successful meet. How they crushed a get-out swim and got the whole group out of practice. (Clutch!)
Because the results are what we are measured up against in the sport, it’s the first thing we latch onto when trying to take control of our swimming.
The process, the things you are doing on a day to day basis and therefore a little harder to measure and quantify, is what you should be evaluating. Which, while good intentioned, is a mistake.
After all, when you master the process, you master your results.
Not the other way around.
Each week go over your week of training and look at what you can be doing better within your process.
There is something else that happens when you take full ownership of your swimming.
THE SELLY SELL
I don’t have
I don’t know where to start...
I doubt it would work for me...
These are just some of the
excuses I hear when it comes to swimmers who aren’t working
on their mental training.
In developing Conquer the Pool: The Swimmer’s Ultimate Guide to a High-Performance Mindset, I spoke to over 200 head coaches, Olympians, world record holders and NCAA champions to get their feedback and perspective on the mental struggles of the elite-minded competitive swimmer.
Combined with 5 years of research and writing, a whole bunch of studies and papers on sport psychology, and my own experiences as a national record holder and finalist in the pool, Conquer the Pool was born.
It takes the confusing, nearly endless topic of mental training and distills it into an actionable workbook that you can use from day one to swim better, smarter and faster.
Whether it’s learning how to be more focused in practice, being mentally more tough, or learning how to make anxiety work for you instead of against you behind the block, this book has got your back.
It will help you take ownership of the trickiest and most underused part of our swimming…the mental side.