WHAT WILL YOU DO DIFFERENTLY?
New Year has always been a time of reflection. Was it a good year for you? Or can things only get better? It is inevitably a time of reflection and acts as an opportune time to make individual changes in our habits. A New Year’s Resolution is generally seen as making an effort to improve our personal goals in life. For the swimmer, it is the ideal time to adopt better habits or set about accomplishing some aspect of self-improvement in the water. After all, if we do the same this year as we did last year, will we end up with the same result?
A key aspect of a New Year’s Resolution that makes it different from other intentions is that it is made in anticipation of the New Year, and new beginnings.
Listed below are the 10 most popular resolutions that people in general make;
Improve my life style by exercising more
Spend more time with my friends and family
Tame the bulge by eating better
Improve my finances by saving more and getting out of debt
Improve my approach to education by studying harder
Become more organised
Save up for something special
Improve myself by reducing stress etc.
If members of our family make a New Year’s Resolution that they hope will improve their quality of life, then why can’t we as swimmers do the same and improve our performance in the pool? Now is the perfect time think about what will make you a better swimmer. Evidence has shown that by sharing your resolutions with your parents, coach and friends there is a significantly higher chance of you achieving your intentions.
Before I started to write this article, I contacted a large number of swim coaches and asked them to contribute by forwarding me the areas that they would like their swimmers to adopt as New Year’s Resolutions. Many of the suggestions are similar, which goes to show the importance that all coaches place on certain fundamental aspects of training. For example, attitude towards training featured regularly, as did attendance and punctuality!
Here are the main areas of feedback that I received. Please read them and pick out one that will help move your performance forward;
Adopt the 3 A’s – a great positive Attitude (even when things are not going well). Attend as many workouts as possible. Apply yourself and don’t just go through the motions at training sessions.
Get to the pool early and bring energy and a positive approach
Fill in a Log Book after every session
Work on your time management so that you balance academics and swimming
Steam-line your body leaving every wall so that your feet always get past the flags. A minimum of 3 dolphin kicks under the water
Arrive at every training session with a full drinks bottle
Get at least 8 hours sleep every night
Bring something to eat at the completion of every training session
Take pride in your skills by not breathing in the last 5m. Pay attention to detail.
Be honest in your attitude. Be honest with your coach
Be the best team player you can be
Encourage other members of the team who are having a hard time
Believe in yourself
Change your eating habits
Resolve to improve your personal best by at least 1% per year if you are a senior athlete but by significantly more if you are an age grouper
Train the way you would like to race. Train with purpose. Try to perform in training as close as possible in all areas to the result that you require.
Resolve to kick under 3.00 minutes for 200 metres before the end of the year
Be a leader and don’t just follow the masses
Contribute to the training group
Start each training session with a quality race dive
Swim down properly so that you are recovered for the next workout
The problem with resolutions that are made by people other than swimmers is that although over 50% of people have the intention of making a change in some aspect of their life, only 12% actually achieve their goals. If you are to fulfill your potential as a swimmer, your resolution has to be achieved! You are not like other people! You get out of bed early to attend workout, you sacrifice your social life, you suffer from sensory deprivation every time you train and you have a burning desire to succeed. You are different from your class mates. You are more mature, you are happy with your own company and you are have the depth of conviction to implement your New Year’s Resolution because it will make you not only a better swimmer but also a better person.
Finally, evidence shows that boys will achieve their goals better if they actually target something measurable eg. 4/5 kicks off every wall. Girls on the other hand, will succeed better if they share their goals with friends, family and coach.
Tips for Making a New Year’s Resolution for Swimmers
Create a plan! – A New Year’s Resolution is a form of goal setting and as such requires a plan. You are trying to resolve something so make some clear steps that can be put into action.
Create your plan immediately! Don’t be like most people and let it drift. There are only the first few days in January to implement your motivation. After this, most people forget their New Year’s Resolutions completely.
Write it all down! This will help you stick to the plan
Try and think ‘forever’ not just New Year. Nothing big gets accomplished in a couple of days. Your Resolution is a starting point but it must develop into a habit if it is to be successful.
Remain flexible! The plan will change but recognise any partial success along the way. Always remember that your resolution will not be achieved in a day but neither is it accomplished the day you reach your goal. It is accomplished by achieving many small goals along the way. Remember to acknowledge these incremental steps as they come and be pleased with them!