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The Power of Chunking & Habits

The Power of Chunking & Habits

We all know that GOALS are incredibly important in sports.  And, if it’s important in general "sports" it is exponentially more important in the sport of SWIMMING.  Swimming is very unique in that everything is gauged by the clock.  Success is dictated by the very cold and unfeeling digital numbers that click by one one hundredth of a second at time.  It is just YOU & the CLOCK.

The clock doesn’t care if you “really wanted to go 1:01.3” in your 100 breaststroke.  The clock is unfazed by your desire to swim fast.  With the clock – it either is/or it isn’t.  You either swam fast or you didn’t.  So, you better have an incredibly focused idea of just how fast you want to go!  You have got to have a very specific number in mind.

(We will talk more about setting GOALS at a different time.  This is a peak at how to attain your goals.)

The best way to achieve your goals is to create empowering and positive habits! 

Let’s say my goal is to go a 43.39 in the 100 free (Sr. National Cut Time).  That’s great!  I set a goal!  Hooray!  Now…how am I going to achieve this goal?  It’s not like I wake up on Monday morning with a best time of 46.50, set a new goal of 43.39, and wake up Tuesday and expect to go three full seconds faster!  The answer is CHUNKING it down into manageable pieces & creating new, disciplined, empowering habits! 

What do I mean by this?  Here’s an example.  If I know that my flip-turns are sub-amazing, I create the new habit of: EVERY turn is FANTASTIC in practice.  Just the turn.  Just the flip.  Tight, aggressive, powerful tuck and flip.  Once I have engrained this into my motor patterns I can then add to it.  Now I create the habit of a FANTASTIC approach to the wall, FANTASTIC set-up, FANTASTIC flip! 

Once I’ve engrained this into my motor patterns (creating a new program in my brain) I can expand onto that.  EVERY turn has a FANTASTIC approach, set-up, flip….now I add OFF THE WALL.  Tight Streamline, aggressive propulsive dolphin kick – EVERY TURN!  Before you know it – I have the best darned turns east of the Mississippi! I have created the new, disciplined, empowering habit of GREAT turns!

Break it down into workable, manageable CHUNKS!  Create new, better, disciplined, precise habits.

Now, my turns are GREAT!  What’s next?  How about head position and breathing?  I FOCUS on keeping my head in line with my spine.  EVERY DAY.  Once the program for this body/head position is downloaded into my brain (the super-computer that runs everything) I can work on the timing of my breath.  Every breath I take I make sure my head is already moving, so that, once my fingers are going in the water my face is out.  I’ve gotten my breath before my recovering hand goes past my face.

Each one of these examples takes time off of my overall swim.  Even if it is a few one hundredths here, and a few one hundredths there, that is time!  Add all of these one hundredths and you have dropped seconds!!

Now, I hate to break it to you…..this takes time….work…..discipline…..and persistence.  It means creating new, disciplined, empowering habits.

But, if we can break down the three full seconds I need to drop (to achieve my goal of 43.39 in the 100 free) into small, manageable, workable pieces….If I chunk it down….the likelihood of achieving my ultimate goal increases.  Immensely!