How to Have Better Practices in the Pool This Season

How to Have Better Practices in the Pool This Season

It can be infuriating for coaches (and swimmers) to watch their athletes simply swim through a workout.

Everyone knows that how a swimmer performs when it comes to meet time is tied to what type of effort is put forth in practice, so why would swimmers squander even a single training opportunity where they could improve?

Instead of feeling like you are simply going through the motions, here are several ways for you to make the most of your time in the water:

How to Have Better Practices in the Pool This Season

Have a Pre-Workout Routine

Developing a pre-workout routine is powerful for several reasons. A good pre-workout routine, once repeated enough that it becomes nearly automatic, will get you in the water and your body primed to train like a boss with little thought or need to be motivated.

A pre-workout routine (or as I like to call it—a “launch list”) is particularly helpful for those morning workouts when the last thing you want to do is crawl out from underneath those warm bed sheets.

Pick a simple act to kick off the routine. Something so simple, so banal, that to think up a reason not to do it is close to impossible.

Things like—

  • Drink sports drink.
  • Pack swim bag.
  • Listen to a particular song.

The key is to make it super simple and accessible.

By doing this habitually you will create a set of triggers that will let your body and brain know that go-time is rapidly approaching.

Consistently applying your pre-workout routine you are teaching your body to expect a certain behavior once the action is completed.

The effect is this:

“When I do this, then this happens…” 

The secret behind why this is so effective is that it bypasses the need to be “motivated” or “inspired.” Waiting for motivation to strike is a bit of a fool’s errand, and very often only comes after we have begun to start the activity we need to do.

Rarely does it strike us out of the blue at 5am on a cold Wednesday morning, pushing us to get out of bed. That motivation and energy flows from action, from starting.

Having a pre-workout routine helps launch you into those first few steps.

Track Your Workouts.

If you are serious about wanting to make progress in an area of your swimming, whether it is swimming less strokes per 50, having better breakouts, or the simplest goal of swimming faster, than measuring it is critical.

Saying that you want to be the best swimmer you can be is one thing, but how important can you claim your swimming to be if you aren’t actually tracking what you are doing in the pool?

How Important Are Your Goals in the Pool

For instance:

  • Swimmers who say they want to be more consistent in practice, but don’t track how many workouts they make it to.
  • Swimmers who claim that they want to have a more efficient stroke, but don’t count the strokes they take per lap.
  • Swimmers who say that they want to swim a particular time, but don’t monitor how fast they are swimming in workouts to gauge progress.
  • Swimmers who say that they want to eat healthier, but don’t write out what and how much they are eating.

This isn’t a case to journal and monitor every last little thing in your training.

But you should be noting the couple of things in your swimming that will make the most profound impact on whether or not you achieve your goals.

After all, if you are truly down to improve a facet of your swimming, you oughta be measuring it.

Make the routine the goal this year.

While having season-end goals is important—they provide a compass for our season, after all—they shouldn’t be the focus of your mental energy. Instead, the routine should be your focal point.

After all, when we think about our big, unbelievably awesome goals it can often lead us to feel “less than,” discouraged because we still have so much work to complete, and they are typically phrased in an all-or-nothing manner.

But this puts us into a bit of a quandary—if goal setting has its downsides, how do we accomplish our goals?

Simple—by making the routine the goal.

Make an Excellent Routine the Goal This Season

When you focus solely on creating the daily habits and routines that will get you to your goals you unburden yourself of the pressure that comes with your goals.

Take a few minutes and write out the daily schedule you’d like to be able to carry out. The things you will need to do on a daily basis to excel. The things you will focus relentlessly on improving day-in and day-out.

The powerful part about this is that once you’ve got your routine in place, it will start to become habitual.

And that is where the real power of your routine will show itself.

Take Your Swimming to the Next Level

YourSwimBook is a log book and goal setting guide designed specifically for competitive swimmers. It includes a ten month log book, comprehensive goal setting section, monthly evaluations to be filled out with your coach, and more.

Learn 8 more reasons why this tool kicks butt now.

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Olivier Poirier-Leroy Olivier Poirier-Leroy is the founder of He is an author, former national level swimmer, two-time Olympic Trials qualifier, and swim coach.

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