Contributor Rick Paine is an expert on the college recruiting process. He is also the Director of Swimming at American College Connection (ACC). AAC is a Swimswam Partner.
All of the great coaching your swimmer receives from their club and high school coaches and from swim clinics and all of the brilliant advice that I provide will be wasted if your swimmer does not have the proper support system at home.
This is proven time and again with athletes in all sports. It takes a lot of learning and work on the part of the parent to nurture and help their swimmer reach their full potential.
You must encourage them to sit down with their coach to establish goals. The coach should have a plan for their training and they know what are and what are not realistic goals for your swimmer.
The most important thing to learn when trying to help your swimmer is “DON”T PUSH!” I hope you know by now that the more you push your advice or help on your swimmer the less likely they are to accept it….and if you haven’t figured this out by now, then you need more help than I can provide.
You can help them with goal setting by trying to get them to avoid “avoiding.” Goals such as “I want to break a 1:05 in the 100 free” are barriers that they will continually bounce off of. The brain doesn’t hear “I want to break”. It interprets the statement to mean I want to avoid a 1:05.0. The goal should be stated, “I will go 1:04.9 or faster”
Count the Cost
Encourage them to count the cost of achieving their goals. Try to get them to make sure that they understand what they have to do in order to reach their goals such as, attending more practices, improving their technique, getting more rest, organizing their time better or eating better.
Once they determine that their goals are worth the price, encourage them to commit to their goals. Words like “I will try”, “I hope to” or “I want to” do not express commitment. Help them “talk the talk” so the coach can help them “walk the walk.”
“Do or Do Not. There is No Try”
Write Them Down
Insist that they write down their goals and place them where they can see them regularly. This really does work. Encourage them to share their goals with you and their support group. It helps them commit.
Ya Gotta’ Believe
Remind them that you believe in them, but don’t over do it. They know that you believe in them because you are the parent and that’s what parents do. Always let them know that you love them because of who they are as a person not as a swimmer. One common denominator among great swimmers is they don’t allow swimming
Define who they are as a person. This helps keep the pressure off. There is nothing more pleasurable for a parent than to watch their child achieve their goals. Love and appreciate your swimmer and remember,
“the worst swimmer is still better than the best video game junkie.”
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