Train Your Brain: Using Sports Psychology to Improve Swimming

You’ve got your favorite suit & goggles on… Check.
You’ve got your awesome underwater iPod… Check. 
You’ve got your favorite swim playlist… Check.
You’ve picked a lane…Check.  

You read our last blog on technique tips and it inspired you! You are really excited to apply these techniques to your own swim style.  You hop in the pool…You press play…
All of a sudden, you look up at the clock and it’s been an hour! You’re workout is done and you totally forgot to work on improvements because you were totally in the zone.
Don’t worry.
Sports psychologists have researched strategies to help athletes improve focus. Increasing your focus will help you train your mind to be engaged. Which will enable you to improve technique.
 

1. Pick a Focal Point

How can a photographer have a crisp image if he/she does not know what to focus on? You have to choose a focal point. An area to spotlight…like the eyes.
The same applies in swimming.
You have to choose an area to spotlight in order to keep your focus. Or how will you know what to concentrate on? Choose a specific tip. Like timing of breaths.
Make sure that your choice is something that you can control. Like an action, a behavior or an attitude…instead of an outcome or your surroundings. For example, don’t just focus on cutting your time by 3 seconds. Instead, focus on your pull to improve speed. This helps prevent unneeded stress and anxiety.
 

2. Visualization

Using mental imagery to perfect a process is a very powerful tool. By imagining yourself complete the process perfectly, it helps prime your body to follow suit.
Visualize yourself doing the action over and over again.
It keeps your focal point in your mind’s eye so that you can’t help but work on it.
It also helps you build your confidence in achieving your goals because you can already see yourself doing it.
 

3. Trigger Words

Use short words or phrases that remind you of the focal point. This will cue your mind and body to perform the way you’d like.
“HIPS HIGH!”
“FULL STROKES!”
“BREATHE NOW!”
These are all examples of trigger words. This technique jogs your memory in a very useful way.
 

Your Advice

Do you have any additional tips for staying focused in the pool?
Are you a sports psychology guru?
If so, please add to our list in the comments section.
It would be much appreciated!

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