The Positive Attitude


The Positive Attitude

Written by Forbes Carlile, Head Coach of the Carlile

School of Swimming and Head Coach of numerous

Australian Olympic Teams. His book, “Forbes

Carlile on Swimming” was the first modern book on

competitive swimming.

Just as it is of utmost importance that coaches must

be continually positive and optimistic, so too must

parents. It has been said that 95% of us are

predominantly negative in our approach to life—so

most of us have a problem!

These notes are equally applicable to parents, and if

not understood and acted upon by the whole

swimming family, swimmers will be greatly

handicapped, and not reach full potential. Being

critical, no matter how much it may seem justified to

the parents (“who have spent so much money and

time”) is clearly a negative approach with a strongly

undermining effect. When constructive criticism is

needed to form the foundations of a revised plan for

improvement, parents should express their ideas to

the coaches. The secure coach will be able to

handle such help. Most coaching organizations

welcome constructive criticism, presented in the

right way at the appropriate time.

Parents should continually protect the swimmers

from the damaging input of negative thoughts. If

they can make a habit of always being positive and

only foreseeing success, swimmers will be given the

greatest opportunity to transcend existing

performance levels. Clearly, the training must be as

good as well, but where, in addition, an atmosphere

is of positive self-expectancy continually promoted

by coaches and family, even when progress seems

to be slow and the going difficult, swimmers will

have the right mental approach. While doing their

best to carry out all aspects of preparation well,

swimmers will learn to regard themselves as

winners, and eventually succeed in reaching realistic

goals. The chances of this diminish greatly when

parents, often because personal shortcomings (in

having a pessimistic, negative nature) continually

remind a child of the lack of improvement or failure

to come up to expectations. Swimmers should

continually be programming their subconscious by

positive self-talk and visual imagery of success.

This task should be made easy by reinforcing

positive vibrations around them.

It is important for the swimmers to know that they

are loved no matter what their swimming

performance. The negative fear of failure is mush

less likely to develop when parents emphasize their

love and compassion.

When setbacks occur, the attitude of parents and

coaches must express the idea…”Well, you did not

do as well as you are capable of this time, but next

time it will be better”…positive self-expectancy and

optimism. This helps the programming of the

subconscious mind that we should be striving for.

The coach and swimmer should analyze and

determine what can be improved and positive action

taken. Parents, about all, should be the least critical

and never suggest that what has happened is more

than a temporary setback. If such principles are

applied to all our thinking we might well improve our

lives too. It is not only the swimming development of

the child that parents can help by the right

psychological approach. We can all benefit greatly.

The parents eventual reward for their sacrifices of

time and money will be when the grown-up, mature

swimmers realize that their parents have played an

important part in their success as a swimmer, and as

an individual, by giving them the opportunity to train

without attempting to intrude, or basking in reflected