Just as swimmers conduct a physical warm-up just prior to a practice or competition the best prepared swimmers have also developed a comprehensive psychological or mental warm up in order to put them in the best frame of mind for a great training opportunity or peak performance. This can be easily accomplished in just a few hours and, over time, can be refined and individualized in order to give you a distinct advantage and enable you to “win the mind game.”
ONE – Planning
- What frees you up to perform your best? Think about a previous performance that you are proud of. What three words would you use to describe your thoughts and feelings just prior to that performance?
- What interferes with you reaching your true potential? Self-doubt? Worry about mistakes? Lack of confidence? Rest and sleep? Nutrition? What three words would you use to describe your emotions just prior to that performance?
Keep in mind that when we take our thoughts away from the moment, we automatically limit our potential. This is true in practice as well as in meets. Try taking 2 minutes prior to practice, or your next set, to create some challenges for yourself. Recall your best performance, or your best technique. Resolve to take on this next challenge with more focus and intention than ever before.
- So, is there anything that you would like to improve about the way you approach practices and competitions? Attitude? Intensity level? Nervousness? Self-talk? Technique?
TWO – Execution
How would you prefer to think, feel, or act just prior to getting in the water to train or compete? Most world class swimmers report being in a state of relaxed intensity, are highly focused, and feeling supremely confident in their ability. At this point, they are not thinking about anything, or anybody, else.
THREE – Evaluation
- What aspects of your mind set were empowering?
- What aspects of your mindset were distracting you?
- What thoughts can you develop in order to manage any limiting beliefs?
- Next time, what can you do to prepare yourself to be at your best, perform your best, or stretch your limits?
The cycle of planning, execution, and evaluation is continuous. With attention and commitment, in a short time, you will have developed a powerful mindset that works just for you, and therefore puts you in the best possible position for performance excellence. Have a goal to make steady progress, evaluate what went well, and build on that. You might even notice what needs more attention from you and resolve to focus on that as well. Before you know it, you will have won the mind game and put yourself in a unique position to have some fun daring your opponent to match your confidence and intensity!
Pete has worked in the sport psychology and human development fields with Fortune 500 companies, Division I,II, and III collegiate athletes, as well as high school and middle school staff and students. He was a swimming coach at the club, high school and collegiate level for 30 years. Pete now runs a private Sport Psychology and Adolescent Life Coaching practice, working with student-athletes nationwide. His life coaching sessions for adolescents are designed to create challenge, teach resilience, and instill self-esteem.