SEPT BLOG - NEW SEASON
The start of a new season can often bring with it a fresh impetus for improving. Many swimmers will come back from a summer break fresh and with renewed vigor, particularly after watching swimming during the summer (such as with the Olympic Games this year). As a coach it is always exciting to see swimmers come back ready to try new things and setting ambitious goals, but how do we make this period of time the most productive possible and set us up for success not just in the short term, but further down the line when the initial burst of energy may fade.
There are a few tips that I think can ensure swimmers are setting themselves up for success in the early season,
- Goal Setting
- Preparing yourself for all eventualities
- Create world class habits and an environment for success!
The first of the points above is the possibly the most important. Setting inspiring and motivational targets for the season allows swimmers to dream big and be excited about what they can actually achieve. It is important to be open minded and talk to your coach about what can truly be achieved. When setting goals for a season for the first time, it is often best to keep it simple, write down the long term goals that will motivate you (this may be qualifying for your first national championships, or maybe even qualifying for your first Middle East Junior Championships), whatever the goal, it must be something that can bring butterflies to the stomach or make your head buzz at the thought of it. Once you have done this, it is then important to think about the areas that you will need to work on to be able to achieve these goals. Identify your weaknesses with your coach and also identify the areas that you do well; once you have done this you will be able to write down some process driven goals that you can action straight away. These process driven goals could be as simple as…
- Attend 100% of my sessions
- Eat more fruit and vegetables to help my body to recover
- Don’t breathe last stroke into my turns on Freestyle
- Stay hydrated by drinking more water during the school day
- Improve my push up technique within landwork
These process driven goals will give you the immediate direction to focus your attention on improvement. By achieving these goals, you will then get closer to your overall target and make the link between your daily tasks and your long-term goals.
PREPARING YOURSELF FOR ALL EVENTUALITIES
By setting goals you are giving yourself the motivation to get moving. But how can you ensure that you are resilient and stick to task in the long term. Just like a new years’ resolution, it is easy to say what you want when you are fresh and in the right frame of mind. But if you wish to achieve these goals it will take resilience throughout the season. One of the things that you can do right now to help you with this is to visualise the problems and issues that may occur further down the line and then plan how you will need to react in that moment. A few examples of this would be…
- You have a busy week of school and feel tired, you are considering not training. What do you need to say to yourself in this situation?
- You didn’t swim well at your last meet and some of the skills that you are working on, didn’t pay off. How will you react to this?
- Your friends are having a birthday party and you have been invited to attend, but it clashes with a competition. What will your priorities be?
These are situations that may occur during your season and they will pose challenges to your goal setting. If you are truly committed to your goal, by planning in advance how you will react to some of these problems, you are training your mind to make the choices that will lead to your goals.
CREATE WORLD CLASS HABITS AND AN ENVIRONMENT FOR SUCCESS!
The habits that you set in place at the start of the season will play a big role in how well you perform for the rest of the season. It is also a time where you are fresh and able to apply your mind and body to things that you find challenging.
- When a swimmer is 10 years old, they are not going to post a world record time in their race, but they can be world class in making sure they are punctual and arrive on time to every session.
- When a swimmer is young, they will not be able to fly kick with the same power as Caeleb Dressel, but with focus and commitment they will be able to learn some of the movement patterns that will allow them to kick like Caeleb Dressel in the future.
- Not every race will end in a positive result, but with strong guidance and support from parents and coaches, every race can end in a positive lesson being learned!
By putting in place these productive habits early in the season, swimmers and parents can help to create a great environment for success.
The success that Hamilton Aquatics has achieved over the years comes from a solid foundation of habits and behaviours that lead to swimmers progressing to high levels, not just in sport but in their education and future careers. Lets make sure that at the start of this new season, as a club, we are recognizing these habits and behaviours and continuing to create a brilliant environment that allows our swimmers to achieve at all levels – from the learner pool, to the international podium!