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Mental Physical Technical Swimming

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: Stop and Think: 10 Coaches, 10 Approaches

Stop and Think: 10 Coaches, 10 Approaches

11 Apr
Nick Baker

As the saying goes – 10 coaches, 10 approaches. Although every swim coach has their own spin on training swimmers, they can be classified into one of three general categories: physical coaches, physical-technical coaches, and physical-technical-mental coaches. All three types believe in the importance of physical conditioning but to varying degrees. Physical coaches emphasize the physical above all else and believe that most if not all of a swimmer’s needs can be addressed through high yardage and hard work. Physical-technical coaches emphasize the physical as well, but offer various technical sets throughout the week to improve starts, strokes, and turns. Weekly yardage totals are less due to the time allotted to technical conditioning. Physical-technical-mental coaches also emphasize the physical, but offer various technical and mental sets throughout the week. Technical sets focus on starts, strokes, turns and more. Mental sets target essential performance factors such as confidence, mental toughness, and swimming in the “zone”. Weekly yardage totals are the least due to the time allotted to technical and mental conditioning.

I happen to fall into the third category and believe a balanced approach to the training of swimmers (mental, technical, physical) is by far the best. The mind provides the swimmer with vision, drive, toughness, confidence, and control. A well-trained mind will bring about one result, while a poorly trained mind will bring about another. The technical components (i.e. the start, stroke, and turn) provides the swimmer with the mechanisms needed to transport their body down the pool. Well-trained technical components will bring about one result, while poorly trained technical components will bring about another. The level of physical fitness (i.e. aerobic versus anaerobic) provides the swimmer with the energy needed for speed production over the course of a race. A well-trained body will bring about one result, while a poorly trained body will bring about another. Recently, I received an email from a young swimmer who attended one of my camps. I believe her words sum it up best:

“Thank you so much for teaching me The Swimming Triangle (mental, technical, and physical) this past summer. It has helped me tremendously in my swimming career. I have dropped time in everything. For example, when I was at championships this year, I made finals in all my events and got on the podium three times!”


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