Courtesy of Daniel Barth
After a tough practice or a meet where the results did not necessarily turn out as planned, it is easy to get down on yourself. It is important to set goals and expect a certain amount out of yourself whenever you are in the pool. However, having a negative attitude afterwards will not only affect your future performance, but your overall happiness as well.
What is the best way to combat this?
Positive self-talk promotes better performances in the pool, increased motivation, and most importantly, a healthier lifestyle. It is important for any athlete to encourage themselves and to have that voice inside their head that is promoting positivity and growth.
Here are 3 strategies to focus on when implementing self-talk into your swimming life:
1. Eliminate All Negativity
The first, and arguably most difficult, step is to erase all of the negative thoughts you have about yourself and your performances. It is ingrained in most of our minds to get down on ourselves after a poor practice or meet. Reversing the way that we think is no easy chore when we have been accustomed to thinking in a different way. It will not happen overnight, but diligence in fostering a more positive way of thinking will improve results. Instead of getting down on yourself after a race that did not go the way you had hoped, focus on what you did well and remind yourself to work on what you did not do well the next practice. Allowing negative thoughts to fester based on one performance will only make it more difficult to perform better the next time around. Take note of what to improve on, focus on what you did well, and move forward to the next day with a positive attitude.
2. Boost Your Confidence
Directly related with being positive, boosting self-confidence is a positive result that can stem from effective self-talk. Whether it is a blazing fast interval or an agonizingly long set in practice, or stepping up onto the blocks in a meet with someone you view as much more talented than you, it is easy to allow yourself to think there is no way you can do it. These thoughts are toxic and typically untrue, so it is not even worth entertaining these thoughts. Take the time to remind yourself throughout practice that you can do it and that you are a talented swimmer even if you are going through a rough patch. Our actions are inspired by thoughts, so if you think you are not good enough, more often than not, your actions will follow suit. Instead, believe that no matter what set your coach throws at you or who is getting up onto the blocks next to you that you can do it. Get in the habit of telling yourself you can every time you dive into the pool. The results you see by enacting this type of an attitude may surprise you.
3. Relish in the Positive Outcomes
After each practice and meet, take the time to acknowledge what you did well and be joyful that you did these things well. For example, maybe your stroke was not as good as you wanted it to be, but you had great turns and underwaters. Well, take note of what you can do to have a better stroke the next time around, but pat yourself on the back for having great turns and underwaters. Whether it was the worst race of your life or the most miserable practice you have ever endured, you should be able to pull something positive out of every experience you have in the pool. Be grateful for the talent you have been given. Appreciate every opportunity that comes your way. Dive into the pool every morning with joy that you have the chance to take part in such a great sport. This frame of mind will help to bring in positive results both in and out of the pool.