Feeling lucky today? Is luck part of the winning strategy?
Most athletes are going to tell you NO.
Instead it is a combination of PRACTICE and MENTAL STRENGTH.
Are there things that you can do that will bring your luck down? I have come up with 10 ways that you can sabotage your swim. Look out for these things that swimmers do to themselves.
Sleep is key to any successful activity. Most people know that increasing the amount of sleep in your routine can pay dividends. A post in psychology today broke down the benefits that a good night’s rest can add to swimming. Not getting enough sleep before a race or a work out can slow you down, wear out your body and wear out your mind.
Eating can really make or break your swim. We have been posting all month about how specific diets can help you improve. Vice versa is also true. Some foods are going to sabotage your swim. One food to avoid, especially right before a swim, is sugar. Sugar can really mess with your mental game. Instead opt for whole grain, protein, or some antioxidant rich fruit.
Swimming is an individual sport. Why focus on the person in the lane next to you? Sometimes competitors try to get into your head by trying to force you to focus on their game and lose your focus for your own. Instead keep your head on your own goals, times and techniques.
Another thing that can sabotage your swim is obsessing too much over your goals. Setting goals is essential to performing well, but obsessing over reaching those goals is actually unhealthy. Some people think “If I don’t hit this time” or “If I can’t work out this long, I give up.” Etc. If you think that the only reason for swimming is to reach goals, it will become much harder to keep swimming.
Assuming that your brain will keep track of your weekly work outs is just silly. Being able to analyze your progress is helpful in setting realistic goals and keeping track of how you are doing.
Try using the Lap Tracking App on the Delphin with the Companion app for your phone. This will allow you to hear your lap times audibly in real time, and then have a log of your workouts for you to go back a look at later. Check out this link for more information.
Some competitors think that before a big race it is a good idea to push yourself and see how far your body is ready to go. Before a big race you should decrease both your intensity and length of your swim sets. This is known as tapering before your race. It helps your muscles recover and helps your mental game stay strong because you are not exhausting your body..
Similar theory to not buying new shoes before a big run. Trying new swim techniques before you have had time to get comfortable with them is never a good idea. Keep to your normal routine. There is more than just comfort in your routine. Rituals and routines give you confidence for your swim.
One thing that can personally ruin my work out is comparing my fitness now to how fit I used to be. As an athlete who exercised every day in high school, comparing myself to the past can really discourage me. Try to never think about ‘peaking’ or wonder why you are not as good as you used to be. Instead think about new goals and consistency.
Don’t psych yourself out thinking about failing. Fear of failure can really bring down your swim. Starting to worry about failure? Your first step should be to actually get into the water. Just showing up and participating means that you are already succeeding. Not all work outs or races are going to be the best you can do and that should be perfectly okay.
While you shouldn’t try new techniques on race day, a great time to try them is practice. Don’t fall into a practice rut. Sticking with the same routine can really hurt your swimming. Instead, variety in a swim routine or work out can really help keep the mind attentive and engaged. The moment something becomes habit, the mind loses interest, so always try to keep the mind interested by challenging it.
Look out for these personal pitfalls and avoid mental sabotage. Working on your mental game is just as important as working on your stroke.
Keep your mind in the right place and you will become even more successful. No luck necessary. Any of these mental traps sound familiar? Anything else that you want to warn me about?