Swimmers are no different from other athletes when it comes to mental toughness. For an athlete to succeed professionally, they have to have had developed a certain amount of mental toughness. Skill only gets a person so far.What takes swimmers and other athletes to the next level are the abilities to overcome obstacles, reflect, discipline themselves, and improve. All of those qualities come from mental toughness. Here are three things for swimmers to do to improve their mental toughness.
- Try and focus on two or three things at one time. It’s easy to focus on lots of things and hope to improve at everything at the same time, but that isn’t realistic. By setting two or three goals or working on two or three techniques at a time you are far more likely to improve, which creates mental toughness because improvement is encouraging and a good motivational tool. Focusing on two or three things at a time will also develop your ability to focus your mind, and thus improving your mental toughness.
- Write down a few keywords or cues that you know will keep your mind on track. It could be something as simple as yelling “Focus!” or it could be something more meaningful to yourself that you know you will respond to you. If there is a specific reason you are competing, it could be for a family member or simply because of your desire to win, remind yourself of that constantly. Doing so will keep your mind focused and strengthen your mentality.
- Lastly, take pride in what you do, how you do it, and why you do it. Constantly remind yourself of your achievements and the feeling you had when you achieved something. Then take that feeling and remind yourself that you want to get that feeling back.
Ashley Zehnder coached swimming at the Clearfork Swim Club in Lexington, Ohio in 2009 and 2010. While she was a student at Kent State University, she was a Kent State Masters Swim Coach from 2010 to 2012.