14 Types Of Young Swimmers

by SwimSwam Contributors 2

November 10th, 2016 Lifestyle

By Rebecca Smith

Read through the list of the 14 Types of Young Swimmers and see if one sounds like you or your athlete.  Keep in mind… most people are a mix of more than one type.  Each type of swimmer has strengths, weaknesses, and unique needs.  Each also has a different priority for mental toughness training.

Strengths & Weaknesses

There are two sides to all of us.  Some of us are better at spotting strength in ourselves, and some are more comfortable focusing on our weakness.  It’s important to acknowledge room for growth as well as talents.

What They Need

This section is for coaches and parents.  Learn what you can do to help your young swimmer grow and thrive.

Mental Toughness Tip

This section is for athletes.  Find out what mental toughness technique will help you maximize your swimming.

 

1. THE STAR

Strengths

    • This swimmer is full of natural talent, doesn’t have to try as hard as some others do, and makes it look easy.
    • Everyone aspires to be like this person.

Weaknesses

    • Can cause jealousy in teammates.
    • Because swimming comes naturally to this athlete, he or she might not be as good at pushing through when things get tough.

What They Need

    • Challenges.  This swimmer needs to gain experience working hard, whether in the sport or not.
    • Humility.  Help them discover room for improvement.  Don’t focus too much attention on talent, applaud efforts, not outcomes.
    • Perspective.  Give them leadership roles so they can work with others and see that skill doesn’t come to everyone as easily.

Mental Toughness Tip

    • Grow.  Know your strengths, but embrace room for growth and challenge.
    • Stretch.  It’s easy to be good without trying.  If you want to be great, you have to be willing to get outside your comfort zone.  Do things that make you nervous, put in more effort, aim higher until you feel yourself stretching, otherwise you risk complacency.

2. THE PERFECTIONIST

Strengths

    • Works as hard, if not harder than most of his or her teammates.
    • Sets lofty goals, and wants to be the best.
    • Often good at lifting other people up.
    • This swimmer really cares about their sport – maybe too much.

Weaknesses

    • Stress.  The amount of pressure they put on themselves can take the fun out of racing.
    • This swimmer hardly ever lives up to their expectations, often falling just short.
    • Makes simple mistakes as a result of getting anxious or overly invested in the outcome.

What They Need

    • Unconditional love.
    • A reminder that they are acceptable and loveable no matter how well they do.
    • A relaxing, low-pressure environment.  This athlete is already highly critical of their performance.  Too much negative feedback from others can send them over the edge.

Mental Toughness Tip

    • Goal setting.  Set achievable goals that focus on doing your personal best, and parts of the performance that you have control over (not ones that compare you to other people).
    • Relax.  Take slow deep breaths and release the tension in your shoulders before you swim.

3. THE CLUTZ

Strengths

    • Creative.  They’re used to having to modify things to accommodate their injuries/setbacks.
    • They often have a sense of humor about their streak of bad luck.

Weaknesses

    • Kids get discouraged by setbacks.  Comparing themselves to their peers and where they “should” be in their training can be disheartening.
    • Tends to dwell on what’s wrong, rather than what’s going well.
    • Often attention-seeking by nature.  Sometimes kids subconsciously hurt themselves (or overly react to minor pain) because of an underlying need for support and attention.

What they need

    • Care.  Always allow the doctor to take the lead on any injuries and follow their instructions on returning to competition.
    • Attention.  Often, as children, we learn that being sick or injured gets us attention. Notice them when they’re healed too, maybe they will stay healthy longer.
    • Positive reinforcement.  Sometimes their story “I’m so unlucky” permeates into every area of their lives.  Point out their effort and how hard they’re trying despite their setbacks.

Mental toughness tip

    • Visualization.  Imagine yourself doing sets and practices that you can’t fully participate in.  Use all of your senses and make it as real as possible.  Your brain and muscles will communicate with each other as if you’re really training.
    • Focus on what you can control, not the past or the future.

4. THE SLACKER

Strengths

    • This swimmer knows how to get the most done with the least effort – you gotta hand it to them, they’re efficient!
    • They have a knack for making things a little easier, and pulling it off under the wire.

Weaknesses

    • They don’t get the full benefit of learning/training.
    • They bring the team down if it’s obvious they don’t put in as much effort as their teammates.
    • They can be seen as lazy.

What they need

    • Positive reinforcement.  There’s nothing that eats away at motivation more than negative comments and sarcasm.  When kids are punished for being “lazy,” they have even less fun, and feel bad about themselves.
    • Inspiration.  Find a way to lift them up an inspire them to work hard.  Then let them know when you notice them doing well.

Mental toughness tip

    • Motivation.  Find your “why.”  Why do you want to work harder?  What is your ultimate goal?  When you know what you’re working toward, you’re much more willing to endure some discomfort or hard work along the way.

5. THE CLOWN

Strengths

    • Keeps practice light and fun, doesn’t get too stressed in competition.
    • Helps teammates have a good time.
    • Able to let things roll off their back.

Weaknesses

    • Focus.  This swimmer is easily distracted.
    • Social approval is a big motivator – they are concerned with what people think of them, which can lead to self-sabotaging behavior.

What they need

    • Attention.  If you see them contributing to the team in a positive way, let them know.  When you focus on reprimanding distracting or disruptive behavior, it will persist.
    • Calm energy.  Take a moment and have everyone get out of the pool, ground their feet and take a breath if things are getting out of control.  Everyone can benefit from a little time out.
    • An outlet.  If an outgoing person is always being told to be quiet, they lose motivation.  Give them a time to have fun, then it’s time to be serious.

Mental toughness tip

    • Find a leadership role.  Volunteer to help with an important task.  That way your focus is channeled into being helpful and you still get the attention you feed off of.
    • Motivate others.  You’re likeable and fun – use it for good, not evil!

6. EEYORE

Strengths

    • Slow & steady.
    • Not a grandstander.
    • Consistent.
    • Humble.

Weaknesses

    • Sets the bar low, doesn’t expect much of themselves.
    • Often doesn’t live up to his or her potential.

What they need

    • Neutral feedback.  Stick to the facts.  Help this swimmer realize what is going well.  But don’t do too much cheerleading – they will be skeptical of overly positive feedback.

Mental toughness tip

    • Neutralize negative thoughts.  When a negative thought comes up, catch it, and replace it with a neutral or positive factual statement.
    • Example:
      • Negative – “I’ll never be as good as so & so”
      • Neutral – “I’m working hard to improve”
      • Positive – “I’m getting better every day”
    • Note: with practice, everyone can start to think positively, but it’s a process to reprogram a lifelong pattern of negative thinking.

7. THE TEACHER’S PET

Strengths

    • Always willing to help out or demonstrate.
    • Helpful with new kids.
    • Do what they’re asked and set a good example.

Weaknesses

    • Desperately seeking approval.
    • Only feel good about themselves when they are validated by other people.

What they need

    • Unconditional love.  Let them know that they’re inherently valuable, no matter how well they swim.
    • Positive feedback, compliments.

Mental toughness tip

    • Self-care.  Being kind to yourself is really important to people who are “helpers.”  Remember to always put on your own oxygen mask before helping others!
    • Some ideas for self-care: start a compliment file, meditate for 5 minutes, take some deep breaths, pet a puppy, ask for help.

8. CAPTAIN BOSSYPANTS

Strengths

    • A natural leader, he or she takes charge when necessary.
    • Good at keeping things going if a coach or parent can’t keep an eye on everyone.
    • Wants his or her team to do well.

Weaknesses

    • Critical and judgmental of others and themselves.
    • The added pressure of making sure others are doing the right thing can be a distraction from their own training efforts.

What they need

    • Opportunities to lead, and opportunities to be led.
    • It can be stressful always being in charge, even if they put themself in that position.  It’s good practice to let someone else do the leading, even though it can be uncomfortable.

Mental toughness tip

    • Learn to accept imperfection – from others and yourself.  When someone falls short of your expectations, notice your reaction, then let it go.
    • Be patient.  Practice listening and letting others have a chance to take charge, even if you think you could do better.  

9. THE SQUEAKY WHEEL

 

 

Strengths

    • Always willing to volunteer and contribute.
    • Direct and honest.
    • Lets others know when they need something.
    • Good at communicating their needs.

Weaknesses

    • Doesn’t share well with others.
    • Lacking in empathy or compassion for others.
    • Can be selfish at times.

What they need

    • Patience.  Acknowledge their contribution/question and let them know you will get back to them after you’ve had a chance to help the other kids.  Be kind and help them practice waiting for your attention, then give it to them when it’s their turn.
    • Attention/positive reinforcement – pay attention to good behavior, ignore disruptive behavior – they will learn over time that their positive contributions get them what they want

Mental toughness tip

    • Mindfulness.  Learn to be aware of the whole picture – what are the needs of the team as a whole?  What does it feel like to wait?  Can you wait with a calm mind?
    • If attention and help are not available right away, can you find a creative solution to your problem?

10. THE MOUSE

Strengths

    • Respectful of teammates.
    • Kind and considerate.
    • Good at sharing, working together with others.
    • Patient.

Weaknesses

    • Doesn’t ask for the help they want or need.
    • Doesn’t get the same amount of coaching or feedback as their squeaky wheel teammates.

What they need

    • Confidence.  They are often nervous that speaking up will make other people think poorly of them.
    • Let them know what they’re doing well, thank them for their dedication and encourage them to try a leadership role from time to time.

Mental toughness tip

    • Speak up.  Practice speaking your mind at least once a day.
    • Act as if.  Watch what other, more confident teammates do, and “act as if” you were confident too.  Stand tall, shoulders back, speak slowly and with purpose – see how it feels, keep practicing.  Even though you may never be just like those people, it will get more comfortable to speak up and ask for what you need.

11. THE TORTOISE

Strengths

    • Consistency.  This swimmer may not be the fastest, but they are steadily plodding along, always working toward improvement.
    • Doesn’t demand too much of teammates or coaches.
    • Not outwardly stressed out.

Weaknesses

    • It can be hard to stay motivated when other people are improving at a faster pace.
    • Might be silently feeling frustrated and “less than.”

What they need

    • Reassurance that they’re on the right track, that training will pay off.
    • Acceptance.  Not everyone learns and improves at the same pace.  But, everyone has a positive contribution to make – let them know that they are a great example of perseverance.

Mental toughness tip

    • Confidence.  Find successes in every practice/performance.  Don’t just depend on times to tell you if you did a good job.
    • Set out to achieve your personal best every day.
    • Notice examples of other tortoises who succeed, have faith that you are on the same path.
    • Comparing yourself to others is a losing proposition.  It’s like comparing other people’s highlight reel to your bloopers.
    • Compare = despair – just don’t do it.

12. THE DIEHARD

Strengths

    • Passionate, driven.  This swimmer knows what they want and they will stop at nothing to get it.
    • Courage.  The desire to succeed is stronger than their fears.
    • Can-do attitude.
    • Confidence.  There is an underlying belief that the challenge is within his or her reach.

Weaknesses

    • High strung, high expectations.
    • Can get burned out or over tired.  This swimmer is not usually good at taking breaks or listening to their body.
    • Fighting for outcomes that are out of his or her control can lead to low self-esteem.

What they need

    • Internal motivation.  Help them remember to be present, and remember why they are doing it.
    • Fun.  Give them permission to lighten up from time to time.  Play a game, relax, switch it up.
    • A challenge that meets their skill level.  Help them aim just above their skill level, giving them chances to rack up successes and confidence.

Mental toughness tip

    • Focus on the controllables – thoughts, attitudes, and actions.  Let go of things out of your control – other people, the clock, pool conditions, the weather, etc.

13. THE DIVA

Strengths

    • Intelligent, well spoken, talented.
    • Not afraid to speak up about what they want or need.
    • Confident.

Weaknesses

    • Doesn’t take criticism well.
    • Assumes they already know.  Therefore, this swimmer might miss out on critical information that could help them train or perform better.
    • Stubborn/inflexible.
    • Needs to be right, even if it means self-sabotage.

What they need

    • Perspective.  Show them new ways of seeing what they think they already know.
    • Compliment sandwich:
      • When giving feedback or corrections – start with a compliment, then critique, then another compliment – they will receive constructive criticism better when it comes with positive feedback.
    • Give them opportunities to help other teammates learn what they know.

Mental toughness tip

    • Say, “ok.”  Sometimes it’s hard to go with the flow, but at least once a day, instead of pushing back against someone, try just saying, “ok.”  And let the other person get what they want.  Notice how it feels and notice if you become more or less effective.  You might be surprised.
    • Listen to the message within the message.  When you hear someone criticize you, find what you can learn from it, then let go of the rest – there’s always a message worth hearing hidden inside.  If you hear the same comment twice, it’s definitely worth pondering.

14. THE SPACE CADET

Strengths

    • Relaxed, doesn’t get too stressed.
    • Not too worried about what others think of them.

Weaknesses

    • Focus.  This swimmer often misses key instructions, miscounts laps, or forgets what they’re supposed to be doing.
    • Can miss out on important information that can help them improve.
    • Lacks the confidence to take on a leadership position.

What they need

    • Patience.  Not everyone has a stellar attention span.  Especially when dealing with kids diagnosed with ADD or other attention issues, know that they may learn best when they don’t look like they’re paying attention.
    • Some kids need to be moving all the time.  Allow them to fiddle, stand, or bounce – they may learn better when their body can move while they listen.

Mental toughness tip

    • Practice mindfulness meditation.  Sitting still for even 5 minutes a day starts to re-wire the brain for better focus and a stronger ability to be present.
    • Download guided meditations or visualizations to practice being present.

Whether you’re an athlete, parent, or coach, you probably know someone that fits into each of these categories.  The better you understand different personality types, the easier it will be to reach common goals.  

And I’m guessing you relate to at least one of them yourself…

Based on your “athlete type” make a decision to try one of the suggestions above.

 

Rebecca Smith, M.A. is a former competitive gymnast and High Performance Coach in the SF Bay Area.  She specializes in mental toughness training for swimmers and gymnasts age 10-18 and their parents. 

Are you giving your young swimmer the best chance at success?

The longer you wait, the more tears and frustration you will have to deal with.  Join us in the #PerformHappy Community. Go to www.performhappy.com and we’ll help you navigate the ups and downs of sport parenting. 

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Sylvian

Very good article !!!

TexasFlyer

I’ll keep this as chart on my office wall! LOL!

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