Know Hope, Know Doubt; No Hope, No Doubt

With all the end of season championship meets coming up, it is so important to remember how important the "mental" part of swimming is.  Just like you train your body each day you come to practice, you must also remember to train your mind.  Swimming fast at the right moment takes just as much mental preparation as it does physical.  Here is great article from which talks about the importance of believing in all your hard work and ways to help develop your self-confidence. 

Know Hope, Know Doubt; No Hope, No Doubt

A swimmer is getting ready for a big race and I hear them say, "I hope I win." "I hope I swim fast." "I hope I swim a best time." I hope...I hope...I hope...

Know the truth; there is no place for hope if you truly want to achieve success. Hope is your fallback if you have not prepared properly to give you the confidence you need. Hope is removed on a daily basis through your constant and consistent effort and focus. Hope is where others place a heavy emphasis when they do not know what lies ahead. Hope, Arkansas was the childhood home of President Bill Clinton. Hope is not where you want to place your future.

There is nothing wrong with hoping things work out when you have limited control, but it should be a second, third or fourth option, not your first line of defense. So how do you move past the uncertainty into the confidence?

You gain the confidence by repetitive activity with accuracy and consistency. Just like life, it is a daily event. Please do not misinterpret repetitive movements for brainless activity or lacking of focus. On the contrary, it is absolute focus and training of muscle fibers to the point of boredom. The body will function for what it is trained to do. Bad technique enables injuries to occur and stagnation will limit potential.

When you train and compete, you must have the mental confidence to know, that you are prepared, both mentally and physically. You have trained proper technique, proper pacing, proper turns, and proper "do whatever I can to the best of my ability." Only then can you have "No Doubt."

No one, not your coaches, teammates, or even your parents truly know if the daily effort you give is your best effort. You may be improving your best times and even your training intervals but you need to periodically ask and even challenge yourself it you may be able to dig a little deeper and find the seldom-used high gear.

Once you have gone beyond your previous best, seldom will you regress back to that level. The increased speed will eventually come with less effort. I am not saying it will be easier. I am saying you will become more proficient and comfortable at those speeds and that will become your new comfort level.

I think of those swimmers trying to break 1:00 in the 100 distance. You need to think about 57 or 58, not 1:00. Your mind will enable your body to go as fast as you think. If you focus on 1:00, you will go 1:00.

However, if you focus on 57 or 58 you may only go 59 but you achieved your goal of breaking 1:00. Rarely, will a swimmer go slower than 1:00 once they have gone beyond that barrier.

You are in control of many things even though you may feel that nothing is within your control. How do you receive feedback, instructions, or even compliments? Are your respectful, receptive or resentful? Are the comments viewed as an inconvenience and nit picking or a positive way to remove blemishes? You control how you react. Take the comments and use them as the steps on which you rise up to higher levels.

I have never been someone who enjoys adversity all the time. Ironically, those challenging times are the same events that enable us to grow. Welcome them, face them, overcome them.

As you have read this article, I do not hope you have enjoyed. I have No Doubt that you will gain something from it. That may be compliment or criticism. Either way, you have formed an opinion as I have challenged you to look within and figure out a way to remove the Hope method and proceed with the No Doubt.

Use it or not, is your choice, not mine, not a teammate, parent or coach. It is yours and yours alone, and I have No Doubt that you will make the choice that is right for you.

Jim Lutz is the Head Age Group Coach for Viper Aquatics in Westfield, Ind. Lutz has coached at the club and college levels for more than 30 years, with stints as head coach at Illinois and Michigan State as well as serving as an assistant at Arizona. He's also served as a head coach for several club teams. Lutz also is a published author with several books available on Amazon