Neuroplasticity: 6 Success Strategies to Change Your Brain

by SwimSwam 4

December 11th, 2014 International, Masters, News, Training

Courtesy of Pete Thompson

The mind (energy and information flow in the brain) is created by the brain. Our brains learn mostly by what the mind attends to, and what we attend to necessarily change’s our brain. For example, when we remember a joyful occasion, we are more prone to be playful and creative in the present moment. It follows that how we choose to focus our attention (how we intentionally direct the flow of energy and information) alters our brain chemistry, and literally changes our mind, which then changes our brain! As a result of any mental activity our neurons begin to make connections, and the longer we attend to a thought or experience, the deeper those connections become, and the more likely we are to re-experience them again. This impacts the following;

  1. Stress levels
  2. Kinesthetic awareness
  3. Personality tendencies
  4. Our interpretations of what happens to us, or what is said to us
  5. Sense of optimism and hope

What we have learned from neuroplasticity studies is that the more we can integrate the positive aspects of our experiences into our mental awareness the more frequently our neurons will fire differently. We can therefore manage our stress level (emotional vs. calm; distractible vs. mindful), how we move through the water, how we interpret obstacles, and how we manage our relationships.

Success Strategies to Change Your Brain:


Reinforce and internalize every positive experience, no matter how small.


Remember, in detail, the best races or practices you have ever had.


Intentionally call up your strengths and focus on how good it is to feel strong, confident, etc…


Engage powerful, relaxed, at-one-with-the-water muscle memory.


Set goals (intentions) and be sure all levels of your nervous system (thoughts, emotions, intentions, arousal) are all in sync. Then, act as if you have already achieved your goal.


Connect your nervous system to the water through dry land and in water drill work.

When done consistently over time you will literally change your brain and begin to feel more alive and centered resulting in greater feelings fun, happiness, creativity, and wisdom.


Pete Thompson, headshotPete 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. For information regarding Pete’s Life coaching and sport psychology services click here.

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Sam King

Thanks Pete. Love it.


Good article, Pete. How is neuroplasticity related to Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP)?

Thanks Chooch. That is a great question! My understanding of NLP (developed from Milton Erikson’s hypnotic trance, and popularized by Bander and Grindler, as well as Tony Robbins) is that it combines the way we use language to perceive our reality. When we use it positively, we can overcome phobias, and change our habits. Most of Robbins’ books capitilize (literally!) on NLP. These thoughts can be imbedded in our bodies, our unconscious, and we believe them to be absolutely true and therefore operate in this “truth.” There is debate as to the efficacy of this theory (it has worked for me personally, though). Neuroplasticity is highly researched and validated as a method and strategy for utilizing the mind, and the… Read more »


Thanks, Pete! Always fun to learn something new. It sounds like there are places where the two sciences overlap. (My wife uses NLP in her business training and coaching and we have all of Bandler and Grinder’s early books.)

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