Category Archives: swimmers

Balancing School and Swim Practice

Nothing is more important that good performance in academic work in school for our young student-athletes.

Every practice, as children leave, and say goodbye, I say “Study hard, get smart, become an intellectual!”. Its done in a light-hearted way to remind them that after practice, that’s “what’s next” in their life, or should be.

Now we’re closing in on the end of school year, with upcoming tests and related “due dates”.

At the same time, we’re at the beginning of the long course season. The work we put in in the pool NOW, is paid off in July at various championships. Without consistency NOW, there is no payoff later on.

For the 60 years that Age Group Swimming has existed, it has been proven for literally millions of swimmers that they can uphold their commitment to training AND study well and get good grades. Its an exception in swimming when a child does NOT get good grades. Partially because there is real URGENCY to study when you can when a few hours each afternoon are taken up in training. When swimmers are NOT training, they get the attitude of “oh, i have all this free time now..i can goof around for awhile and get to studying later”. That never works out very well.

Everyday I ask children about their homework. Sometimes I hear, “I don’t have any.”  My response is always the same “YES, YOU DO.”  Get your books out and WORK AHEAD…even if you only comprehend 10-20% of what you are reading, that’s a 10-20% jump ahead rather than seeing/hearing it in class for the first time. When you’re in school, you ALWAYS have homework…open the book and “get ahead.”  Study is like any other habit….do it 2 hours a night EVERY night, and you’ll avoid having to be up and working at 11 PM or later on some of those nights……steady, consistent work is the key, in school and in swimming.

Homework EVERY DAY for all ages. Study Everyday. Swimming practice consistently as well.  Studying ahead removes anxiety and keeps the student on the leading edge of the class, not the trailing edge.

“Study Hard, Get Smart, Become an Intellectual!”  DAILY. Lets be equally consistent with both practice attendance and daily study. It’s hard work…but it’s so much better than being unprepared, anxious and upset later.

Parents, please share this with your children.

All the Best, Coach John

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Swimming Psyche Outs: How to be in control, confident and composed when faced with psyche outs (and how to use them to your advantage!).

Swimming Psyche Outs. How to be in control, confident and composed when faced with psyche outs (and how to use them to your advantage!!). Part One.Posted: 17 Mar 2011 12:08 AM PDT

by Wayne Goldsmith

“The highest reward for a person’s toil is not what they get for it but what they become by it.” John Ruskin

How many times do you hear a football player or baseballer or basketballer say something like “It was tough out there today. The other team really psyched us out”.

Sportspeople talk about the psyche out as something someone else did to them – that someone somehow did something mystical or magical that impacted on their performance.

Lots of people talk about psyching out…………..so what is it?

What is a psyche out?

A psyche out is the words, actions and behaviors of another person trying to increase pressure on you and as a result try to negatively influence your performance.

Pressure is a misunderstood concept in sport.

  • Pressure is not the race;
  • It is not the crowd;
  • It is not the gold medal;
  • It is not the opposition.

It is something you put on yourself – it is something you create: it is something you generate.

The psyche out has one goal – to convince you to put more pressure on yourself.

Even the best swimmers will perform poorly if they lack confidence and can not deal with the pressure of competition.

Think about swimming in your home pool on a warm summer morning with your friends. It feels great. It feels relaxed. It feels comfortable.

Now imagine 50,000 people sitting in the stands around the pool watching you swim.

How do you feel? Nervous? Tense? Uncomfortable? Under pressure?

Why?

The pool hasn’t got any longer. The water hasn’t changed. The only thing that has changed is you – and your perception that swimming in front of 50,000 people is different (and more pressure) than swimming in front of a few moms and dads.

Pressure is something you generate in response to your perception of the situation.

Why do some people try to psyche out others?

Nothing impacts on performance like pressure! The main reason people try psyche out others is to artificially create pressure by increasing doubts, fears and insecurities in their opposition and try to erode their confidence.

Remember this…………Pressure places people in positions for poor performance.

Why are psyche outs such an effective strategy?

Your attitude and your confidence determine your destiny. Anything that impacts on your attitude and destroys your confidence is potentially damaging to your performance.

The psyche out is a tool some people use to attack attitude and kill confidence to get you to increase pressure on yourself.

What kinds of psyche outs are there?

Psyche outs come in two basic forms – the Dirty Downers and the Positive Power Plays.

Dirty Downers (DD) are those psyche outs which focus on bringing people down through criticism, sarcasm and down right meanness.

Positive Power Plays (PPP) are psyche outs which give you strength and confidence without putting anyone else down.

Dirty Downers: Where do they happen?

Dirty Downers can happen any where – the locker room, at the end of the pool during warm up, in the ready room, in the marshalling area, behind the blocks…….you name it, the Dirty Downer can hit you anytime…anywhere.

Who does them?

Thankfully not many swimmers are Dirty Downer Do-ers!

Dirty downer do-ers are often swimmers who lack confidence in themselves and decide their best tactic (and their best chance of winning) lies not in developing their own confidence and self belief but in destroying the confidence of others.

Make yourself psyche out proof.

Here’s the secret……………………..psyche outs only work if you let them!

It’s not the psyche outs that are the problem – it’s how you respond to them.

Dirty downer do-ers can find fault in your appearance, your clothing, your hairstyle, your club, your friends, your family, your coach, your training program, your swim gear, your body odor, your dog………but the important thing is to learn to control how you respond to the comments and criticisms.

A Dirty Downer Do-er is trying to get you to lose confidence and get you to create pressure on yourself by making you feel inadequate in comparison to them.

Forget comparing yourself to other people – compare yourself with how close you are to your own full potential.

Some of the best (and worst) psyche outs:

A few leading swimmers were asked to talk about the best and worst psyche outs they have ever heard. Here are some real beauts!

“Is that swim suit really small or have you just put on weight lately”

“Are you still swimming? I heard you gave up a long time ago”

“You look really tired – are you ok?”

“Those goggles are really old. I can’t believe you still wear them”

Regardless of the psyche out – remember the secret – the psyche out only works if you respond to the pressure it is trying to create!

What they say and what they mean………………………….

Often the Dirty Downer Do-er will give hints about how they really think and feel in their psyche outs.

If they are feeling a bit flat, tired and fatigued, they might try to hit you with a “hey you look tired and worn out” comment.

Listen to what they say but also listen to what they mean:

For example:

They say: “I have been doing 10 sessions a week and I am in the best shape of my career” .

They mean: “I am not really sure how i am going to go today”

They say “We’re swimming through the meet. We’re not even tapering for this meet”

They mean: “I need an excuse in case I don’t swim well today”

They say:“We’ve just done a hell week”

They mean: “I am really tired”

They say: “We’re doing 50 miles a week”

They mean: “I am really tired”

They say: “I’ve just done a huge pb in the gym”

They mean: “I need to make you think i am stronger than i really am”

So………what do you do when a Dirty Downer Do-er strikes??????????????

Read Part Two later this week which starts with Ten things you can do to respond to a psyche out-er!

Wayne Goldsmith

Dryland: Stronger Shoulders for $2 and 6 Minutes Per Day

Grif Fig, of IHPSWIM.com, recently posted a great article on shoulder stability and prehab exercises.  Prehab – rather than rehab – is the coined term for sports injury prevention – i.e., make the body strong and mobile with functional and sport-specific exercises as a way to prevent overuse/overtraining injuries down the road.

Grif’s post shows a demo of these exercises using a flexibar.  A similar piece of equipment is the Bodyblade.  I don’t know much about the flexibar, but a Bodyblade will cost you somewhere between $50 and $150, depending on the weight/size you want.

Use is simple:  You push and pull on the pipe (basically waving it back and forth), which produces the oscillation or flex of the pipe, which then require force output from you to neutralize the speed and movement of the blade. You have to start, stop and change directions of your own body while controlling your mass.

Your athletes can get the same effect – at a much cheaper cost – through the use of PVC pipe.  Here’s what I’ve had my athletes do:

1. Go to Home Depot/Lowes/any sort of hardware store that sells PVC pipe.

2.  Purchase 1/4 inch PVC pipe at a length somewhere between 7 and 8 feet (long enough to be flexible; short enough to be manageable).  This will cost you less than $2.00.

3.  Bring to practice.  (Obviously, it’s much easier if you can store these at the pool, once acquired.)

4.  Daily, incorporate a prehab routine into your practice.  There are a multitude of routines you can follow, but I’ve had my athletes on a very simple plan that took us about six minutes per day.

– 30 secs left arm/30 secs right arm — arm extended overhead

– 30 secs left arm/30 secs right arm — arm extended in front of body

– 30 secs left arm/30 secs right arm — arm extended out to side – palm forward

– 30 secs left arm/30 secs right arm — arm extended out to side – palm down

The benefits are enormous – athletes increase core stability, shoulder stability and improve their overhead and lateral range of motion.  And incorporating these exercises with some regularity and self-discipline really does prevent shoulder soreness, pain and injury.

So, if you want less whining and “stretching” on the wall, and/or stronger and healthier athletes with far less susceptibility to injury, start some shoulder prehab – all you need is $2 for PVC pipe and 6 minutes per day.

(Note:  Although the shoulder prehab routine described above is a bit different from typical use of a Bodyblade, click here for a video if you need a little more insight as to how it all works.)