It’s shocking how many swimmers adopt a completely laissez faire approach when it comes to how they mentally approach their training.
They prefer to kind of see how it goes, and base their mental approach on how they are feeling in the moment, as practice starts.
This means they are constantly reacting:
Grumbling when the main set is harder than what they “feel like” doing…
Rolling their eyes when coach makes them redo the second half of a set because it was done poorly…
They tend to have their minds wandering to just about everything and anything--school, the girlfriend, friend drama, where did I leave my keys?—but what’s happening in the water.
You can choose to have a more focused approach to your training.
It will help you be more engaged over the course of your workouts. (i.e. you will be way less bored)
It will help you increase your technique and efficiency in the water because you are practicing more deliberately. (Greater efficiency means you get to swim faster with less effort. Heyo!)
It will help you face up moments of adversity in training so that you can get more from your time in the pool.
And it will help you…wait for it…become mentally tougher to boot.
Here are two simple and organic things you can do to be mentally prepared today at practice:
Go in with a goal for the practice.
Most swimmers will react to what coach writes up on the board, without wanting to work on their swimming on their own accord.
Things like technique, a better streamline, kicking more evenly—these are all things you have control over and can choose to work on.
Each day challenge yourself beyond what coach is asking you to do.
Track your self-talk.
The number one reason we struggle in practice isn’t because the set is hard.
Or that we aren’t “fast enough.”
It’s because our self-talk stinks.
I can’t do this set. It’s too hard. I can’t do that interval. It’s too fast.
Don’t be surprised if you are swimming poorly in training when your inner monologue is actively telling you that you can’t do something.
Each day when you get out of the water make a little note about how your self-talk went in the pool that day.
The majority of our self-talk starts with the following…
I can’t…I’ll try…I will.
Try to shift your self-talk to the right hand side of those three as much as you can.
You’ll be stunned how much harder you’ll work…
And how much faster you’ll get.
See you in the water,
P.S. Your self-talk is something you can easily track in your training journal, and something that will have a massive impact on your swimming for the three seconds per practice it takes to reflect on.
In the pages of your log book grade yourself 1-5 on how positive your self-talk was that day in the water.
YourSwimBook has a ten month log book plus goal setting section that is designed specifically for competitive swimmers. And some great info and tools on how to clean up your woeful self-talk.
Also, we have a set of motivational posters for swimmers that don’t suck. Five of them. Check ‘em out here.


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