THE CURRENT CLIMATE:
For the majority of swimmers and coaches in Singapore, the second quarter in the year represents a change in pace and training focus.  After a hectic first quarter of back-to-back meets and major events you may be feeling worn-out and needing time to reflect.

A small percentage of Singapore club swimmers have the SEA AGE Swimming Championships to look forward to, as well as the SEA Champs, and the Youth Olympic Games.  However, the majority of club swimmers will not have another chance to compete until next year and you may be one of the athletes who make up this group.

REFLECT:
Throughout this month, my chats with coaches and athletes have revealed some common themes:

  1. A drop in motivation and less clarity about what to focus on in the pool over the next few months.
  2. Exam period is in effect with frequent disruptions to training attendance.
  3. A feeling of tiredness and overwhelm by the large block of training ahead.

If these points reflect how YOU feel currently about swimming, then you certainly aren’t alone, but it is very important that you do not ignore these feelings and make some changes immediately, otherwise you will find yourself swimming up and down the pool, going through the motions, and achieving less and less as time goes by.

A POSITIVE TRANSITION:
In this article I will help guide your assessment of your current training habits, and give you an awareness on how to raise your standard of training over the next few months.  All of these actions will revive your motivation to train and give you a sense of purpose and direction.

First rate how often you perform the following actions using the rating scale below:

NEVER

SOMETIMES
30-60%
of my weekly training sessions

OFTEN
70-90%
of my weekly training sessions
ALWAYS

PLANNING AND PREPARATION FOR TRAINING:
Q1. I visualise myself swimming well and working hard before the training session.
Visualising yourself swimming hard sets well before training can help to steady your focus for training and ready your body as it can activate the flow of adrenaline in your system.

Q2. I don’t tend to think much about training before the session, I show up and wait for my coach to give me the sets and tell me what to do.

Q3. I have a focus goal for my training session and/or I know exactly what I want to achieve (e.g., working on technique / kick/ turns/ breathing).
Don’t wait for your coach to feed you the plan for the session. You should be independently thinking about what you will focus on, whether it’s your kick during main sets, a technique correction your coach has advised on, or even your turns. When you decide what you will focus on each day, it will prevent your mind drifting in training and makes training more purposeful.

FOCUS AND INTENSITY:

NEVER

SOMETIMES
30-60%
of my weekly training sessions

OFTEN
70-90%
of my weekly training sessions
ALWAYS

Q1. I need my coach to push me in training to ensure I train at my best.
You should not expect your coach to be there by your side to push you along in training.  You need to do this more often yourself if you want to improve. Think about the goal you want to achieve by the end of the year whenever you are feeling tired in training and challenge yourself to work with intensity.

Q2. I train my best when I feel 100% motivated, healthy, and rested.
Leisel Jones attributed her long awaited gold medal performance in the 100m Breaststroke at the Beijing Olympics to consistent training habits and no excuses when she was sick or tired.

You have to learn to put in a consistent effort in training when you are tired, and don’t feel like training.  The more consistent you can be in your efforts, the faster you will improve.  Instead of focusing on the reasons why you should NOT train (the excuses), focus on the reasons why you SHOULD get in the pool and put in a good effort.  Putting in a good effort when you are not feeling 100% builds confidence and you will feel much happier at the end of the day knowing you have accomplished something.

Focus on improving these actions in training over the next few months and recognise that even when you do not have a competition looming, you still have plenty of actions to work on in training that will help you to achieve faster times.

Dr Jay-Lee Longbottom PhD | Psychologist MAPS
Book an appointment to further develop your positive training habits with Dr Jay-Lee at the Singapore Sports Medicine Centre.