This little fella originally appeared over at YourSwimBook.com. Join Olivier’s weekly motivational newsletter for competitive swimmers by clicking here.
Walking onto nearly any pool deck I can usually tell within a couple minutes who the swimmers are with an awesome attitude.
It reads in their body language. The way they present themselves. The look in their eyes as coach explains the set. Their attentiveness to the practice that is about to unfold before them.
It’s the same with the swimmers with the not-so-hot attitudes.
They stand with their shoulders slouched. Not paying attention. Sighing and sagging when a challenging set is outlined. Whispering and complaining to teammates while coach instructs.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the swimmers with the positive attitudes are also the ones that are making the most of the practice.
Their attentiveness means they are absorbing more, their willingness to try means progress is being made, and they can leave practice with their head held high no matter how they performed in the main set because they gave a full and complete effort.
Here are 3 simple strategies for developing a better attitude at the pool this year so that you can make the most of those tough workouts (and ideally also put a whopping on your best times!):
1. Be willing to try before you convince yourself that you can’t do something.
How many times has a fairly ridiculous set been scrawled up on the whiteboard, leading your shoulders to shrug, your lungs to sigh, and your brain to start searching for the first excuse it can get its eager little hands on?
If your coach was anything like any of mine probably quite a few times. Admitting defeat before the battle is a little premature isn’t it? In those moments decide to reserve judgement and to try the first little bit of the set. And then a little more. And soon enough you are halfway done, and coming home feeling invigorated and pumped because you are doing what minutes ago you doubted you could.
So the next time that tough set gets posted, hold off judgement until you actually get in, and like, swim the set.
2. Motivation comes from acting – not from thinking about what lies ahead.
Many of us are under the impression that we require motivation or inspiration to act. That we cannot go ahead and give our full and undivided effort unless we are fired up, amped, or whatever you want to call it. But if you are sitting around, waiting for that bolt of excitement to overcome you, you’re going to be waiting around for a very long time indeed.
Here’s a fun fact that you might not have known: Motivation is caused by action. Yup, read that again. Slowly and out loud if you have to. Once you get started on that big terrifying set, you start to feel motivated because you are doing something.
The next time you feel an overwhelming lack of motivation, act.
3. How we think feeds into how we feel.
Our thoughts (and the stuff that we say aloud) drive the way that we feel. If we are thinking and putting words to our negative thoughts – “I’ll never be able to do this set!” –than the workout is already pooched. You are going to pump that negative energy into the way you feel in the water, which will reinforce your thoughts, launching you into this awful loop that just keeps layering negativity all up in your noodle.
If you decide to be positive minded – “I am going to complete this set!” or “I am going to punch this set in the face!” – those positive emotions drive positive feelings, allowing you to swim with determination.
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