You can’t always control what the competition in the pool is doing. But there is one thing that you have control over every time you step on deck. Here’s what happens when you choose to give a good effort.
How do you commit to effort?
What makes you decide that you are going to give 100% at practice?
What makes you decide that you are not going to give 100% at practice?
Is it motivation?
How you are feeling in the water?
What coach writes up in the board?
Effort is a series of decisions. And your swimming is the result of those decisions.
“But I try my best all the time,” you might be saying.
“That’s adorable,” to which I would reply.
Effort Isn’t Universal
One of the funny things about effort, when you stop to think about it, is that we don’t apply it equally across all of the things in our lives.
With some things we are total go-getters, while with other things we could easily be called lazy.
For example, when it comes to going to the gym and throwing some weights around it takes me next to nothing to convince me to go.
But when it comes to getting my hair cut, I procrastinate and procrastinate (seriously—you should see the unkempt hedgerow that has grown on my head recently). Same goes for taking out the recycling. My front porch ends up looking like back-to-back episodes of Hoarders until I finally deal with it.
Regardless of what we tell ourselves, we do not give our best all the time.
In fact, we rarely hit triple digits.
Effort is a complete choice.
How to Trigger Better Efforts
Giving your best promotes highly awesome results. Whether it’s studying or training, you know that when you try your best some pretty rad stuff follows suite.
Good grades, faster swimming.
So how do we insure that we are firing on all cylinders more often?
Here are some “effort triggers” to help you start pile-driving effort energy in the directions you want:
Having a clear goal is critical. Effort directed at something with an uncertain or vague outcome feels wasted. So we don’t do it. Have specific goals not only for the season, but for your training. Focus matters, and having clear, targeted goals is step one.
Take ownership of your training. Accountability for your swimming is key. And something I talked about recently with you guys. When you own it, you own your effort. Write down your training, set weekly goals, stop blaming others for your lack of results.
Accept that it’s going to be ugly. Not feeling like doing something is not an excuse. That resistance will always be there. You know you can’t be successful in the pool without the hard work, so quit deluding yourself into believing that you can’t somehow outsmart the grueling work required. This means that you will fail, repeatedly and sometimes spectacularly. The stuff that makes up success has a face made for radio, if you feel me.
Grade your effort. The #1 way to increase your daily average of effort? Rank yourself after every practice. So easy. So fast. And surprisingly, so effective. 8/10, A-, three golden bears out of five—whatever ya like. It takes literally seconds to do. Grading your effort touches on that whole accountability thing and keeps you honest. If you want to give a more free-range effort on the regular you need to start by grading and recording it.
Find your own effort triggers. There are things that get you in the mood for superior effort. What are they? Think back to the times where you destroyed a workout or cycle of training. What were the things you did that led you to giving a deadly effort?
(Write ‘em out—thinking about them isn’t good enough.)
For a hot moment think back on how much effort you gave at your last swim workout…
And now think about how much faster you will be once you top up those workouts with full energy at every one of your practices moving forward.
You might be feeling like garbage, the lane might be overflowing with swimmers, and your feel for the water might be utterly lost…
But the effort you give today is a choice.
More Stuff Like This:
Choose Your Struggle. Success in the pool always looks easy. But it’s usually met first by those who have chosen what they are willing to endure. Here’s why you need to choose your struggle.
6 Benefits of Mental Training for Swimmers. The greats all have it–an iron-clad mental approach to racing and training. Here’s just some of the things that happen when you start working on your mental skills.
The 36 Ultimate Workouts for Swimmers. Our ever-growing list of practices and sets for swimmers, including workouts from Phelps, Ledecky, and much more.