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Mental Physical Technical Swimming

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: Barries To Success

Barries To Success

12 Apr

A swimmer’s mind is similar to a rocket’s guidance system; if programmed correctly, it will lead them predictably to their desired destination or goal. Unfortunately swimmers can develop mental barriers along the way, causing their guidance systems to malfunction. It’s hard to say how these mental barriers take root, but the results can be devastating. In one instance, a swimmer who I had coached for many years, found it necessary to criticize herself no matter what the circumstances. Even when she would win a race handily or drop time in every event, she would find fault because she didn’t win by enough or drop enough time. She was unable to see the good in any of her accomplishments. As hard as I tried to paint a positive picture, she could never get beyond her self-critical barrier. In time, it began to get the better of her as she grew even more critical, discontent, and frustrated. Swimmers, who she once beat handily, began beating her. Eventually, it became too much for her and she quit the sport – in her mind, a miserable failure.

Mental barriers can take many forms, including but not limited to: negative thinking, counterproductive habits, compulsive thinking, the need to continually seek other’s approval, self-limiting beliefs, reliving bad memories, holding grudges, envy, anxious thoughts, recalling past setbacks, associating with the wrong crowd, hyper-sensitivity, and impatience.

Swimmers would be wise to reach out to their coach or parents if they feel a mental barrier taking root. Parents would be wise to reach out to the coach or a qualified professional if they feel their child is being hindered by a mental barrier. In my experience, mental barriers typically don’t go away on their own and swimmers need help to overcome them.


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