By Matt Swanston on 28/01/18 11:09 AM
Are you someone who regularly swims much slower in races than you expect to? Are you frequently underwhelmed by your results at swim meets? Do you find yourself consistently falling short of your own expectations in competition?
There are many different reasons swimmers underperform, but one thing they all share is overlooking crucial pieces of the puzzle. If you find you aren’t meeting your expectations in the pool, take a serious look at the list of common problems below and consider how you could improve to make your expectations a reality.
You’re not consistent
One of the most common reasons swimmers fall short of their expectations is a lack of consistency in preparation. If you want to succeed, you need to be fully dedicated to the process and give your best effort in training one hundred percent of the time.
Don’t base your expectations on your best practices while disregarding the times you missed practice or slacked off. You need to consider the big picture and recognize the fact that habits are formed over a long period of time. Remember that you need to be consistent in your preparation to reach your goals.
You have a bad attitude
Mental preparation is just as important as physical preparation. Even if you’re working hard in training on a consistent basis, your attitude might be holding you back. If you’re always negative about training, angry at your coach, and bitter about your performances, you can’t expect to excel.
A positive outlook is the foundation of fast swimming. It doesn’t matter how hard you work if you have a bad attitude, because that negativity will weigh down your performances. If you want to meet your expectations, you may need to improve your attitude.
The world doesn’t owe you anything. You don’t deserve to swim fast just because you show up at the pool and put in the meters. Sport doesn’t bend for nice people. Your parents can’t buy you fast times.
These lessons can be tough to learn – especially for this generation’s swimmers, who often have privileges spoon-fed to them. Drop your entitlement and realize you need to work hard if you want to succeed.
Your lifestyle is damaging
Your expectations should reflect not only the work you’re doing in training, but also the way you’re taking care of yourself outside the pool. Maintaining good eating and sleeping habits are just as important as maintaining your training habits; you can’t be a part-time athlete and expect to swim fast.
Too many swimmers complain that they aren’t racing fast while completely disregarding the fact that their diet is fast food and they sacrifice sleep unnecessarily. Before questioning your lack of success, take a hard look at your lifestyle choices and consider how you can improve your habits.
You’re out of touch with reality
If you aren’t meeting your expectations in the pool, it might simply be the case that those expectations don’t match up with the work you’re doing in training.
Some swimmers are quite delusional about cause and effect. If you don’t put the necessary work into preparation, you can’t expect results. Swimmers who aren’t committed don’t deserve to get upset when they fall short of their wildly unrealistic expectations. Make sure you’re not out of touch with reality when it comes to preparation and results.
You’re not mentally preparing for races
It’s possible that you have a great attitude and a positive lifestyle with very reasonable expectations based on the work you’re doing in training – yet you still aren’t meeting those expectations when it comes to competition. If this is the case, you may need a closer look at the psychological aspects of your race preparation.
There could be many different reasons you’re struggling to translate performance in training to performance in races. One possibility is you’re stressing yourself out. Getting extremely nervous before races can be damaging if that stress isn’t handled properly. If you’re the type of swimmer that dreads racing, you might need to develop strategies for calming yourself down before you compete.
Another possibility is that you’re not directing your energy and focus in a productive way. Your training is all for nothing if you can’t step up to the blocks and apply it in a race. Don’t expect your training to carry you through races without proper mental focus – you need to figure out how to get “race-ready” so that you can put all of your hard work to use.
You aren’t taking ownership of your swimming
Even if you’re doing everything your coach asks you to do and you perceive yourself to be a hard worker, it might not be enough. Settling for the bare minimum is not customary for elite swimmers.
If you set high expectations for yourself, you need to do everything in your power to meet those expectations. That includes becoming a student of the sport and learning as much as you can about your own swimming and the sport in general. Identify weaknesses in yourself so that you can figure out how to improve and map out a road to success.