Coach Pete

Expert advice for Swimmers, Triathletes, and Coaches

The Mental Side of Training


  It’s No Joke When You Choke! Many swimmers perform their best in training, but choke at meets. Choking is a decrease in performance due to too much perceived stress. Ultimately it’s not the external situation, like having to swim a certain race or having to swim against a certain somebody, that causes stress but the way swimmers think about the situation that leads to thoughts of stress, anxiety, and fear. Swimmers who tend to choke need to understand they can control the thoughts they have relative to the event. Following are some tips that could make choking a thing of the past:
Before the Race:
Understand that pre-race jitters are normal and accept them
Don’t fight the nervous energy you feel
If you feel an adrenaline rush before racing, understand that it’s normal and part of your body’s way of preparing for the race
Prior to the race breathe easy, close your eyes, and visualize yourself racing according to plan
Keep your race plan simple with one or two key focus points
During the Race:
Focus on the challenge at hand rather than the outcome
Stay present in the moment and avoid thinking too far ahead
If your mind goes negative focus only on your breathing or try a quick smile, both have the potential to turn a negative situation into a positive one
After the Race:
Review the race and recall the things you did well
Focus on the actions, thoughts, and behaviors that enhanced your performance
Acknowledge things that could have been better, dismiss them for today, and improve them tomorrow
Remember you avoid choking if you are aware of the pattern of negative thoughts that snowball before and during competition. If you find yourself in a downward spiral, simply acknowledge those thoughts and let them go.

June 20, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment