July 10, 2019
Coaches Section by Andy Pym
It’s getting to be that time of the season when we rest and find out if all that hard work pays of at our championship meets. I am plagiarizing a really good article I found a Swim/Swam a couple years ago explaining important information swimmers should take to heart while they taper.
Championship season beckons. Over the next 3 weeks, the best of the best will converge for the biggest meets of the year. It is time to quiet your thoughts and really trust in the work you have done to get to where you are. Getting to this point requires a great amount of dedication and time invested by you as an athlete, your coaching staff, and your family. So believe in yourself and the work you have done.
Believe in yourself
You have put in the hard yards and stayed late to practice your starts. You have pushed through dryland training to get stronger and faster. You have done the extra stretching and recovery work to prepare for your next workout. Now, only you can believe in yourself to be the best you can be when you get there. You cannot control what any other swimmer at the meet does, so don’t worry about your opposition. Control what you can control and focus on being the best you can be when it counts.
Avoid being a swimmer or coach who gets to the taper phase then adds extra work because you don’t believe in the work you’ve done or second-guess the taper work. Be careful of suddenly increasing the volume of starts and turns you do during the taper phase. It would be like suddenly adding jumps to your dryland or weight room work. Stay true to the work you have done during the year and trust in your taper. In the same way, avoid increasing the volume of core work you do during taper. Allow your body to rest and recover during your taper to perform at your best during the meet.
Rest = Speed
Speed and rest are synonymous, but don’t confuse rest with taper. Taper is a phase of training where volume and intensity decrease in an attempt to elicit recovery and the ability to reproduce top-end speed for multiple bouts. Taper is coach-induced. Rest is athlete-controlled.
Rest means giving your body and mind the opportunity to recover and your nervous system the time to catch up from multiple training phases of stress and high intensity. Rest means adding a short nap of 15 to 30 minutes to your daily routine if you are not doing so already. Rest means not spending as much time on your mobile devices or video games as you typically do, especially at night before bed, to allow your ocular systems time to recover while not over-stimulating your brain ahead of sleeping. Rest means taking care of your homework and other assignments in a timely manner to allow yourself time to unwind and recover without the monkey on your back of assignments and test prep hanging over you. Start resting more now to build as much speed in practice that you can.
As you give yourself more rest, you will notice your excitement to train go up and your quality of speed work improve. Pay special attention to your streamline and breakout as you focus on your speed work. Focus on your finishes. From the flags to the wall can mean the difference of stepping on to the podium, qualifying for the finals, or swimming a best time. As you rest more, your distance per stroke will change, affecting your finish. Practice your finishes a few days a week.
At this point in your preparation, every day of the week counts. Jump at every opportunity that you get to rest and recover. Every small nap you can take – on the way to practice, on Saturdays and Sundays – be sure to seize those moments. Give both your body and your mind the opportunity to rest and reset..