Olivier Poirier-Leroy is a former national level swimmer based out of Victoria, BC. In feeding his passion for swimming, he has developed YourSwimBook, a powerful log book and goal setting guide made specifically for swimmers. Sign up for the YourSwimBook newsletter (free) and get weekly motivational tips by clicking here.
We spend so much of the time locked staring into the eyes of the black line that we sometimes forget to check if there is any way that we can be training smarter or better.
While most swimmers cruise along hoping that the soft points in their craft will get better, the enterprising swimmer will seek to improve on his weaknesses, seeking out ways to hammer and shape the shaky parts and add it to their foundations for success. This 3-point guide will help you do the latter.
There are several reasons to do this:
- When we master a weakness it reminds us that we can conquer things that we previously thought were an inherited or “nothing-I-can-do-about-it” piece of our swimming. This, in turn, frees you to chase down and improve other areas and skills.
- We generally brush off our weaknesses as “not my thing” or because we aren’t good at it now, we are destined to never be good at it. Baloney.
- An argument can be made that solely our strengths should be focused on. This would be an ideal strategy if our weaknesses didn’t often hamper our strengths. (i.e. We can be fantastic swimmers, but if we have a bad start we are at a sizable disadvantage.)
- Unblocking one weakness can help cause improvement in other related areas as well.
Here are the three steps to molding those weaknesses into strengths:
1. Break down your training into areas or compartments. Here are some of the basics, but feel free to add others:
- Attendance. Do you make it to every workout? Or do you find that life has a different way of preventing you from getting there? One day it might be excessive homework, another you might have a tummy ache.
- Consistency of Effort. Making it to every workout is one thing, but making the most of them is another. Are you consistently throwing down 9/10 workouts? Or do you post a couple awesome sessions and follow it up with a streak of duds?
- Nutrition + Hydration. What we put into our bodies fuels us. Are you getting the proper nutrients and H2izzle to keep you primed while also helping you to recover swiftly?
- Rest. Are you getting your required number of hours of sleep each night? With school starting up again time starts to come at a premium. Are you ditching sleep in order to balance the rest of your life and swimming?
- Mobility/Flexibility. Is your stroke limited by a lack of mobility and flexibility? Can you achieve a greater range of motion if you had just a little more flexibility?
- Technique. Is your technique as good as it can be? Are you swimming one way in practice but then another at meets? Are you getting caught on the same technical hang-ups that coach keeps bugging you about?
- The non-swimming Swimming. Everything outside of actual swimming technique falls into here.
- Underwater kicking, starts, turns, and breakouts.
- Support Group. Enveloping yourself in a culture and a group of peers that reflects excellence and positivity can only help you get closer to your goals. Are you surrounding yourself with people who want to see you succeed, or are you stuck in a cluster of people who naysay and sabotage your chances of success?
This is by no means a complete list, so don’t hesitate to add whatever else you can think of to your training. With your additions however, make sure to limit them to things that fall within your control.
2. Grade Them
Assign a grade for each one of them. Do it numerically (1-10), or go with the old school format of a basic report card (A+-F).
To get a better sense of perspective, have your coach go through the list as well and compare so that you can see how accurate you are in your self-assessment.
3. Find the top areas that you can improve and GO.
Now that you have this twice-done list of items in front of you, it is time to attack a couple of your weaknesses with vigor and ruthlessness.
There are two different ways to approach taking action, and ultimately it will be up to you.
The first is to tackle the one thing that will cause the most rippling change throughout your swimming. It will also likely be the most challenging one.
The second route is to go the opposite way and start with the smallest weakness. The purpose behind doing this is to give you the confidence of starting small so that you can catapult yourself to the next weakness with the wind at your back. And further up the scale you go.
Either way, start with one.
Habits are a tricky thing, and starting small is always the smartest way to go. If there are a handful of F’s on your list you’ll feel the urge to tackle them all at once. Resist this. Approach them one at a time, piece by piece, and then methodically move to the next.
YourSwimBook is a log book and goal setting guide designed specifically for competitive swimmers. It includes a ten month log book, comprehensive goal setting section, monthly evaluations to be filled out with your coach, and more. Learn 8 more reasons why this tool kicks butt.
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