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Mental Physical Technical Swimming

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: Mindfulness for Clarity of Mind

Mindfulness for Clarity of Mind

20 Mar

Research indicates that the average swimmer processes hundreds of random thoughts when practicing a specific task; while elite-level swimmers process far fewer thoughts, allowing them to benefit to a greater degree. The need to focus the mind in practice is paramount to improving swimming performance, yet little time is spent on this all-important skill. One technique is to have swimmers perform meditative breathing prior to learning a new skill or performing a skill set. The process involves taking a series of five deep inhales, followed by five deep exhales, with each inhale and exhale performed to the count of five. Upon conclusion, swimmers perform the required task. This simple breathing exercise helps to rid their minds of unwanted and unproductive thoughts.

Another method is called “divide and conquer”, which simply means dividing the task to be performed into smaller pieces, allowing swimmers to focus on just one portion at a time rather than the whole. Presenting a task in this manner can make it far more appealing, thus increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome.

Note: It’s rather ironic, but on the very day that I wrote this piece on meditative breathing for swimmers, I discovered a newly-published article, Marines Studying Mindfulness-Based Training, written by Julie Watson of the Associated Press. The article reports that the U.S. Marine Corps is studying how to make its troops even tougher through meditative practices, yoga-type stretching, and exercises based on mindfulness. Mindfulness is a concept that emphasizes active attention on the moment, in order to keep the mind in the present.


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