Tip #1 Set Powerful Goals
Your goal, a vision of where you want to be is your greatest asset. Setting powerful goals is not enough, you have to know the fundamentals of setting an awesome goal and more importantly, learn how to create a complete and realistic plan for achieving it. Make sure your goals are specific, realistic, measurable, plain, actionable and continuous.
Specific: your goal should be as specific as possible. There should be a particular aspect of your training you intend to work on. Narrow your goals to two or three to help you stay focused and simplify your training and regenerative efforts.
Realistic: set realistic yet challenging goals, this will make you work really hard to achieve them. Avoid setting easy goals which can make you develop a fear of setting future goals with a high risk of non-achievement. However challenging your goals may be, set them based on your level of athletic and competitive abilities.
Measurable: be objective and make sure your goal is performance oriented. For you to keep track of your performance, set time, date, precise amount of change you intend to see and so on, so you don’t miss out on the celebration that comes with your achievement.
Plain: write out your goals and place them in conspicuous places around you for example your bathroom, kitchen, training bag, seeing them will often remind you of your goals at practice. An example of a goal is “to achieve the best time in the 50 yard freestyle competition in the next one month”. Put it into writing and stick it around you.
Actionable: map out an action plan on how you want to achieve your goal. It could range from day-to-day practice to different training methods, to be included in your routine. Training methods could be to:
- Include maximum speed work in practice at a volume of certain meters per week or
- Include extra quality kick each day equal to an amount of yards per week
Continuous: make sure your goal setting is an ongoing thing and stick with the plan. Build reminders to keep yourself on track and make out time to regularly review your goals.
Tip #2 Break Bad Habits
Habits good or bad make up who we are. How we react to things, what we focus our energy on, what we eat, how we train and so on are pointers to our habits. However, with a commitment to daily actions, bad habits can be transformed into new better ones. There are 4 steps you can take to smash your bad habits:
- Identify: search within yourself to determine what harmful habits you indulge in that is affecting your performance and when it normally happens. For example, do you give up on difficult sets when you fall behind your teammates or do you eat junk food lunches when you are at school?
- What’s the payoff?: what do you stand to gain from the bad habits that you hold on so tight to them. In the first example, the payoff is the pride that a full effort wasn’t worth placing behind teammates, so you would rather not put in much effort and place second than to exert all energy and fall behind after all. The second scenario’s payoff is convenience; the 5 minutes before school it will take you to prepare a healthy lunch.
- What’s the trade-off?: what are you giving up for the pride and convenience? when you hold on to pride you are giving up a better level of fitness and the confidence that would come with a job well done while if you go for the convenience, you would be giving up the proper fuel for your body to perform at optimal level.
Our bad habits are not neutral, they pull us in the opposite direction of where we are supposed to go.
- Commit: make the commitment to change the bad habits, gradually change them into the form of a new better one. Do a positive self talk whenever the negative thought of “I CAN’T” creeps in. Every time you tell yourself that you can’t, that it’s too difficult, insert a “BUT” and a positive statement at the end. For instance, I can’t finish this set, it’s too hard… but if I did, it would make me a better swimmer.
Tip #3 Motivate Yourself
We all experience those moments where we have doubt. Both in training and competition, where things feel hopelessly stacked up against us. Having a history of your workouts can give you that push to help you get back on track, so to stay motivated, record all of your best times, from the short course and un-shaved off event, to your best 100 free kick (without board), it will help you to track and celebrate them.
Tip #4 Stay Focused
What distinguishes the great from the rest is the ability to focus when it matters most, to be able to shut out the world and make all the noise around disappear. So, to stay focused;
- Do away with any form of distraction at practice or during competition, log out of your social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snap chat and so on, turn off your mobile phones and any other gadgets.
- Turn off all mental distractions within and outside you.
- Don’t hinge on your time by going for long swim sessions, take frequent breaks to refresh yourself mentally and physically.
Tip #5 Track Your Performance
One of the biggest benefits of tracking your performance in the pool is getting accountability for your swimming. Regular evaluation is a must over the course of a training cycle or a season. This will help you to;
- Stay on track with your goals.
- Know where you are kicking butt.
- Conquer the weak spots of your training and swimming.
The faster you improve, the more likely you are to beat the competition. At the end of the day, that’s how races are decided, it’s how personal bests are made.