March 22, 2010
Making Practice Count
How many swimmers can say that if they attended just three days of school per week, that their test scores would be as good as those who attended five days per week? The answer is likely to be not very many. The same thinking can be applied to swimming. If your teammates and competition all train seven times per week, and you are training three times per week, chances are pretty good that you will get beat when you face each other at the championship meet at the end of the season. The chances are also very good that the swimmers who trained more often and more consistently saw greater improvement, stayed healthier during the working phases of the season, and had far more confidence when they stepped on the blocks to race than those who trained on a less frequent schedule. That is not to say that our 8-and-under swimmers who train two or three times a week need to train as often as our 14-and-over swimmers train. The intensity and the frequency of the training should be relative to the age and ability of each athlete. For an 11-12-year-old age group swimmer, the key is to train as frequently and as consistently as the rest of the 11-12-year-old swimmers in the same training group. If you swim a two-hour practice six times a week, then you have spent 12 hours committed to training. There are 168 hours in a week. Your commitment to swim practice eats up just 7% of your time. Establishing a solid attendance habit at the age group level is critical to success at the higher levels. It’s very rare that a swimmer who commits to 100% of the practices quits due to burnout. The swimmers who usually quit are the swimmers who are the most inconsistent and whose bodies have never had a chance to get over the hump of hard training. Get to practice as often as you can, and make each practice count. You’ll be much happier with yourself, and you’ll be much more confident at the championship meet. The impossible is only possible when you’ve got a solid base to back it up. Anything else and it’s a toss up, and that usually doesn’t work very well in this sport!