RIO Competitive Coach’s Corner – May 2012
Find an excuse to go to practice, and take the path to success
As swimmers, we have the privilege to participate in a sport where year round dedication is required to excel and reach maximum potential. Besides taking off a few weeks at the end of Long Course and Short Course Seasons, all groups in the competitive team plan to work hard and pay attention to the details of the sport during all months of the year. Each season has a phase where different aspects of strokes and training will take place and if a person wants to excel in the beautiful sport of swimming, they need to be dedicated to be at practice and work to give their best effort and pay attention to all the details of every practice. While training to get better, you will still come across obstacles such as tired or aching muscles in practice, or a looming test and project due next week. While facing these obstacles, choose to take the path to success by finding a way to get to practice and continue to work hard with your best effort even when you are tired and sore.
Sometimes the path to success in swimming can be hard to follow, and at times it can be hard to tell when you are on the right path to get better. As opposed to sports such as basketball, baseball, and football where points and wins can determine success, swimming is not so black and white. As a swimmer, you may have a meet in the middle of the season where you were a few seconds slower than all your best times, or got touched out by a competitor. As coaches, we look to find positives in everything we do. We can see aspects of that meet as still successful if you were truly racing each race and have been in the habit of attending the required minimum practices, or even going above required minimum practices. Being in the mode of racing mid season and working your tail off at each practice, will help you get ready for the end of the season where championship meets take place; where more racing opportunities await. Swimming can be a great life teacher for perseverance, learning to push through tough times and continue to do give your best effort no matter what.
As coaches, we want our swimmers to swim with great technique to be efficient in the water, maximize speed, and minimize injury. We want them to train and practice with their best effort while paying attention to the details of each set in each practice. Combining your best effort with attention to detail at each practice will get you ready to race at swim meets. At swim meets, your body will only do what it is used to doing while you were training in practice. The same goes when it comes to your practice habits and the habits of your life. All of your coaches understand that “life can happen” and that you may have to miss a practice for a family event or a study session for school. While being sensitive to each person’s individual situation, if you get in the habit of missing practice that habit has a large chance of continuing. Life will happen where you will have a very reasonable and worthy excuse to miss practice, and your coaches understand that. The fact of the matter is that when you miss practice, you miss practice as well as the training opportunities to get better that goes with each practice. The reality is while sometimes it is impossible to avoid missing practice, some reasonable excuses to miss practice can be avoided with awareness, responsibility, and time management.
When I say, “find an excuse to go to practice” what I am really saying is “find a way to work around the obstacles that get in your way to be at and work hard during practice”. If we have a travel meet over a weekend, with good time management and awareness you can foresee that you will have homework piled up. Instead of waiting after the meet to make up the work, and possibly have to miss practice to do so, do extra work the week before the meet and even ask your teacher if you could work ahead. If you feel tired in the water and if the set is hard, tell yourself we are working to develop in the days and weeks to come and to get ready for the next meet. If you have a study group that needs to meet on Thursday night and you have to miss practice, it’s understandable and ok. But, with great responsibility and sacrifice, choose to come to a practice that is offered on a day that you usually don’t attend to replace the practice that you had to miss. These are simple examples where you may find the answer to your obstacle is not so simple. When you take the responsibility to work with those obstacles and can find a way to be at each practice available to you, when you pay attention to all the details of each practice, and push to give your best effort even when you are tired, you are placing your feet on the path to success not just in swimming but also in life.
– Coach Rich