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Methods to Put together for the Moments within the Pool When Issues *Actually* Damage


by Olivier Poirier-Leroy. You possibly can join his weekly motivational newsletter for competitive swimmers by clicking here.

Immediately we’re gonna speak about a pair highly effective methods to assist swimmers learn to push themselves by way of “that” second in competitors and coaching the place every thing goes to Sucktown.

Let’s get after it:

Whereas swimmers practice for various occasions, distances and strokes, there may be one factor that unites us all: the surge of soul-crushing ouchies that devastate us at a specific level throughout our races.

It might be on the final 50. The ultimate flip flip. Watching a swimmer move you by. Or not pulling away from a slower swimmer.

Your legs flip to cement. You possibly can barely swing your shoulders. Your flip turns really feel like your are twisting by way of pudding. Your arms slip and claw by way of the water.

It’s that second, the place issues begin to actually harm.

But it surely’s not the bodily signs which might be the worst factor to occur.

It’s the doubt.

The panic.

The giving up.

Methods to Put together for the Inevitable Journey to Ouchietown

Is there a solution to reduce that particular level of distress?

To make it much less hurt-ey?

To make it in order that swimmers can deal with it simply sufficient with the intention to end races and exhausting units with velocity and dignity?


Right here’s two of ‘em that you should use along with your swimmers.

1. Visualize your self conquering the ache.

There are a lot of uses for visualization, from mid-practice imagery to spice up efficiency to prepping your self for strolling onto the pool deck to your first nationwide or international-level meet.

One in every of my favourite methods to make use of this device is to situation towards future moments of adversity.

Garrett Weber-Gale, who swam the second leg of the infamous 4x100m freestyle relay at the Beijing Olympics where the Americans upset the French, preserving Michael Phelps’ probability at 8-gold medals in tact, used the sort of visualization to assist him push by way of these moments the place our physique desires to give up.

He would visualize that second and feeling forward of time so when it inevitably did occur, he was mentally ready.

As Weber-Gale notes [1]:

I do visualize that second–the second when my arms really feel like sandbags, when my legs are burning and my again feels prefer it’s tightening up like a rubber band. I get myself to the purpose the place I’m utterly ready for the ache. After imagining this level for a very long time, I do know I’m able to endure the emotional stress and bodily ache. I stay up for this level as a result of I do know I’ll conquer it!

What’s particularly superior about this type of visualization is that you should use it in the midst of these exhausting swim practices, too!

Swimmers usually pull their punches in observe as a result of they fear about “dying” or not having the ability to take their physique to the restrict. They coast by way of the primary few reps of the principle set to save lots of power. Or they wait till the final lap to drop the hammer on their effort (Sammy Save-Up, ahem).

This psychological train might help you higher deal with the ache and discomfort that occurs throughout exhausting components of coaching as a way to get extra from your self, extra usually.

2. Efficiency cues to push by way of.

One other solution to higher metal your self for *that* second is to have a efficiency cue lined up for that actual second.

The explanation that performance cues are so effective is as a result of our mind—though wildly complicated and highly effective—isn’t all that scorching in terms of multi-focusing.

In actuality, we are likely to give attention to one factor at a time, with our actions following suite.

Now, when issues get hurty within the water, that’s completely what lock onto. The distress. The ache. The sheer ouchiness of all of it. When you consider it, the extra you zero in on how a lot you might be hurting, the extra your efficiency falters.

Redirecting your focus with a pre-planned efficiency cue will enable you beat back panic by supplying you with one thing particular and tangible to focus on. You might be mainly distracting your self from the ache with one thing that can positively have an effect on your swimming.

Easy one-word efficiency cues, when utilized by elite observe athletes, gave a 2% increase in 100m dash efficiency (Mallet, 1997). The athletes remarked that the cues saved their thoughts from wandering, helped maintain their method collectively, and naturally, centered their efforts.

Efficiency cues can and ought to be tremendous simple and uncomplicated.

The shorter, the higher. For instance:

  • When my legs begin locking up I lean on the straightforward key phrase, “Increase!”
  • When I’m 10m away from the wall and I must bury my head, “Hulk smash!”

The Fact About Ache

The sneaky actuality of ache is that this: it’s subjective.

It’s depending on how you’re feeling emotionally and what we’re centered on.

Give it some thought: you understand these moments in coaching or competitors when your stroke feels nice? And you’ll be able to actually push your self? It’s the very same ache you expertise when your stroke is wobbly and you might be snow-plowing the water.

In the identical approach that some swimmers experience anxiety as excitement and not as stress, the best way we “endure” relies on how we expertise and interpret it.

That’s it.

Once you don’t anticipate or plan for the plan, it hits you want a metric ton of water-logged swim towels.

If you’re prepared for it, when you’ve got a plan for pushing by way of, the burden of the agony and distress received’t catch you off guard and knock you off your race plan.

Figuring out this, you are able to do issues to raised put together and situation your self in order that whenever you begin to bodily collapse in competitors (and coaching!), you don’t additionally collapse mentally.

Visualize your self overcoming and pushing by way of the ache.

Write out a handful of cues to maintain you centered.

The place different swimmers will see adversity, you will notice alternative.



Olivier Poirier-Leroy is a former nationwide degree swimmer. He’s the writer of YourSwimBook, a ten-month log e-book for aggressive swimmers.

Conquer the Pool Mental Training Book for SwimmersHe’s additionally the creator of the lately printed psychological coaching workbook for aggressive swimmers, Conquer the Pool: The Swimmer’s Final Information to a Excessive Efficiency Mindset.

It combines sport psychology analysis, worksheets, and anecdotes and examples of Olympians previous and current to offer swimmers every thing they should conquer the psychological aspect of the game.

Able to take your mindset to the subsequent degree?

Click here to learn more about Conquer the Pool.

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