Having a process-based mindset in the water is just about the best thing you can do for your swimming.
Particularly for swimmers who overthink everything in the water and/or swimmers who ride the highs really high and the lows really low.
Focusing on the process—YOUR individual and specific process—each day when you go to the pool does some rad stuff.
- Are able to stay present and engaged in the moment
- Dwell less on past poor workouts and races
- Don’t obsess over things they don’t control
- Evens out the natural highs and lows from training
- Are more consistent during hard main sets and long weeks of training
- Cut down on overthinking that causes performance to crash
These are just some of the chlorinated perks to being all about the process.
And yet, plenty of swimmers resist this kind of mental approach to their swimming.
They prefer to obsess over the results, overthink things, and incur all the stress and uncertainty that comes along with it.
Here are a few of the common myths that surround a process-based mindset that I have seen with swimmers and coaches.
“It means I’m not focused on winning.”
Ultimately, how you swim on race day is up to you. But how others perform is not. No matter how well you prepare, there are countless things out of your control on race day.
Being process-focused puts you in the best position to win, without explicitly having to obsess about it. Which can feel like very counter-intuitive.
Winning on race day can only happen if you are “winning” your process each day at practice. Instead of obsessing about winning on the day of the big meet, focus on winning each day at practice with your effort and focus.
The winning will take care of itself.
I get it—the word “routine” doesn’t elicit a lot of excitement in some circles. Booooooring.
But the structure and routine nature of it is actually HIGHLY motivating because you are regularly executing things at a high level.
Those moments when you sit down with your logbook and check off another day of successfully smashing your process is anything but boring. Your cheeks will flush with confidence and your swimming will crackle with improvement.
What’s more exciting and more fun than making meaningful progress towards your goals each day?
“It means I won’t achieve my goals.”
Being process-focused doesn’t mean you are abandoning your goals…
Focusing on the results, and the uncertainty and unpredictability wrapped up in it, causes stress, anxiety, and feelings of being overwhelmed.
Which has the opposite intended effect of achieving your goals. A process-focused mindset helps you stay focused along each step of the journey towards your goals.
Your training will be more consistent, your mindset will remain anchored, and your goals will never know what hit them.
“It means I won’t improve fast enough.”
One of the reasons that swimmers struggle with keeping a process-based mindset is that they struggle to see how each day’s worth of training will add up to fantastical results down the road.
They struggle to grasp how doing things really well today will give them the drastic improvement they want at the end of the season.
Perhaps it’s because they subconsciously believe that improvement has to be made overnight.
A process-based mindset flies in the face of overnight results, shortcuts, and get-fast-quick schemes.
“It means I am not doing enough.”
When working with swimmers and coaches, one of the first things I do is ask them to build a process that includes absolutely no more than five things. Just five, critical things that they can tackle each day.
Simplifying what needs to be done in this manner keeps your daily effort clear and simple, which has the effect of keeping you focused and motivated. But for many swimmers, this doesn’t feel like enough. They need to have a massive checklist that matches their ambitions.
I can appreciate that you have big goals. But overwhelming yourself with a huge process is impossible to sustain.
Mary T. Meagher, one of the greatest butterfliers in history, had a process that was about simple as I have seen: Get to practice on time and do every turn to the best of her ability.
Excellence naturally springs and flourishes when we do a couple of things exceptionally well.
The rest of your swimming will fall in line when you decide to do 2-5 things to the best of your ability every day. Your lifestyle habits shift into a better direction organically when you decide to go to bed at the same time each night and eat healthy dinner every day.
Being process-focused is a sneaky way to instill better habits and behaviors across your swimming and lifestyle.
Build a Process for Success
Get more from your swimming by putting together a simple and clear process that will unlock improvement in the water.
Pick just 3-5 things you will do each day at a high level.
Here are some examples that you are more than welcome to take and adjust according to your goals:
- At 9pm each night, I will start my “power down” routine.
- Each day that I go to the pool, I will give a 9/10 effort on the main set.
- When I wake up in the morning, I will make a healthy lunch and drink a glass of water.
- Do every turn at practice to the best of my ability.
- Show up to practice 15 minutes early every day.
Pick a few clear, simple, controllable, and measurable things and build a process that you can believe in.
Mental Training for Swimmers Made Simple
Whether you are tired of choking on race day, want to finally conquer your mindset so that you can give your PB’s the beating they deserve, or you want to develop a killer game plan for your mindset, Conquer the Pool is your ticket to faster swimming.
“This is the best book I’ve ever seen concerning mental training.” — Ray Benecki, Head Coach, the FISH Swim Team
Used and trusted by some of the top clubs and swimmers on the planet and written with the feedback of 200+ head coaches, Olympians, former world record holders, and NCAA champions.