Category: blog

The training system : The overlooked part to optimize individual performances

In order swimmers and coaches to achieve optimum performance and to be able to reach a personal goal, they must accept that our surroundings are changing milliseconds by milliseconds and that everyone needs a system to optimize their competition performance.

I can talk for endless hours about swimming skills, techniques, training programs, strength and conditioning regimes that can benefit swimmers. However, the truth is that in order to help my athletes to reach their full potential, I must constantly come up with new ideas in a way that I can provide beneficial advises that can prevent them to fail on competition day.

Through series of blog posts I will try to provide information in terms of performance optimization that are based on composition of my personal experiences and scientific knowledge. As sports scientist and an elite performance coach I will try to explain how a specific training system can be critical to optimal performance and marginal individual gains.

From personal experience point of you, I believe that occasionally there are some heroic competitive swimmers that are able to handle extensive amount of work and still perform exceptionally during competitions, break records and achieve personal best times. However, is also known that every swimmer has different capacities and individual characteristics, we are all humans and not factory manufactured machines and while we go through various training regimes and we pass a vast majority of our days training under certain stimuli a physiological and psychological fatigue factor can be present and can lead to underachievement.

Most swimmers from young ages are put into complex tasks of managing daily activities with high volume swimming training sessions, this means that they are trying to get better and better by putting in hard work that requires developed physiological and psychological capacities. In some cases, this can function well and they can deliver acceptable results and they can continue training hard and improve constantly. On the contrary even though that some swimmers put in the hard training, they do not reach any goals neither their full potential and they perform poorly on competition day.

I think that during training false expectations can be created, there so many swimmers that simply train hard and believe that can reach world class standards by simply going up and down the pool lane and covering many kilometers per week without any particular reason. They use modern equipment and follow fancy training regimes that are designed for the needs of a world record holder or Olympic Medalists and they believe that they should achieve competition results equivalent to their effort or similar to the attitude that they have. Therefore, when they perform poorly during competition and underachieve, there are concurred by fear and insecurities and are caught in negative thoughts, self-questioning and self-doubts.

The past 15 years while working as swimming and strength and conditioning coach I needed to answer to questions such as;

Do I have the qualities and the capacities to do better?

What I must do next, shall I quit the sport and focus on other things that I enjoy?

Did I do enough training?

Did I pass my taper?

Did I over-train or overreach?

Did the competition pool have higher Ph values than my training pool?

Did the starting blocks were higher than the blocks that I am used to?

I cannot state that I had all the answers, some of the questions were pretty straightforward, some others let me wondering what went wrong and other simply did not make sense. However, I was able to provide the most appropriate feedback to my swimmers and athletes for the time being. I was able to explain and fill up the existent gap between expectations, attitude and actions and create a culture that could optimize individual performances

Most common sports injuries

The term sports injury, in the broadest sense, refers to the kinds of injuries that most commonly occur during sports or exercise. Some sports injuries result from accidents; others are due to poor training practices, improper equipment, lack of conditioning, or insufficient warm-up and stretching. Continue reading “Most common sports injuries”

Overcoming Failure :

Everybody can fail and can underachieve, this is part of our nature, the difference between failure and success can be marginal, however by simply having and integrated athlete development system the possibilities of failure can decrease dramatically. As I coach, I had to set up a notion for continuous competitive development and handle the responsibility to prepare every single swimmer so there are no failures on competition day.

By acting, training and talking as an Olympian is simply not enough to achieve a personal best or set of goals, swimmers must change  their conventional way of thinking and adapt their training regimes and daily habits to their own capacities and routines. Additionally,they must focus on a specific skill , technique or habit that will make them better swimmers and not on devices or training regimes that created Olympic champions. Every training session has a value, swimmers must stop wasting time and effort and must gain experiences on their own, race against themselves and others every single day . Swimmers must know that there are competitions to win and competitions to loose and that they must learn from all of them, at the top level swimming, having the experience to race against others is more valuable than any training regime. While racing many unfavorable situations can occur (e.g. missing a start), swimmers must learn to make an unfavorable situation favorable. For example, even though that they missed a start, after the race they can recall the action, analyse it and put some additional training segments that can improve their overall start capacities, so the next time they will have an advantage over the other competitors.

Happiness is a crucial factor for competition success, swimmers must be happy with themselves and their coaches, if not so, they must change their priorities while training so they can achieve a certain level of happiness.

Knowledge of the key performance components and the ability to assimilate and use them for individual benefit is an educational process, therefore swimmers education is the key to reach an optimal performance.

When coaches fail to prepare their athletes to achieve their goals on competition day there is a chance that they missed out on the key points mentioned above. Therefore, they can question their coaching structure, program or training design, in some cases they can make small adjustments and tune their training methods or change the whole training structure completely. On the other hand, they might simply continue with the same training methods and accept the fact that their athletes do not possess the essential athletic capacities to achieve a personal best while following a proven coaching recipe that delivered great results for certain individuals.

The individual coaching approach does not matter, what it matters is that the insecurities and the fear components of under-performance restrict individual freedoms and can lead to devastating daily choices, miss communication and broken relationships. Hence, appropriate communication can make swimmers and coaches being at ease and will omit fear and will set up a system for individual performance optimization.

As coaches we are seeking for years and years the swimmer that will be the ultimate hero or heroine and will perform no matter what training methods we use. Unfortunately, the swimming world has very few heroes or heroines, as coaches we must have the affinity to change methods and attitudes and form a communication channel towards everyone that can affect our work, so instead of looking for heroes, we must create them.

An optimal training performance system is not like a cooking recipe that is solely based on written information and designated ingredient quantities.  An individual performance optimization system is based on individual goal setting and must include the fundamental training mechanisms such as physiology, biomechanics and psychology assembled with a plan that will integrate nutrition, hydration and recovery methods. Additionally, must have an artistic point of view that will include personal expressions and moods, blend in and create a motion pattern that can signify and highlight individual strengths, weakness and will accept changes and diversity.

An optimal performance training system will include everything that was mentioned above and will be suitable to any coaching style and swimmer’s individual capacities. Will fit well with any other auxiliary training component and will save coache’s and swimmer’s time and energy and most importantly will not have the likelihood to be challenged by anyone, because simply will have performance results.

There many excuses that can lead to failure, however there are no excuses that stops us to communicate with each other and form long lasting relationships that can help us to prevail over daily tasks  and challenges and lead us to a system that can makes us get better athletes and better coaches .

A charismatic coach can make you achieve greatness :

Coaching performance is critical in order swimmers to achieve a set of goals and to reach their full potential .

Coaching charisma and leadership can define the outcomes of the competitive season or cycle and can affect individual performances .

How do I define charisma: In my own terms I can define coaching charisma as the ability of the coach to provide answers and solution to athletes without even being asked a question or have a present problem. Is this unique ability of a coach to guide swimmers through difficulties and walk with them side by side as their companion for a long lasting quest that no one knows when and how will end. Likewise, coaching charisma is highlighted by exceptional sacrifices and efforts that build prosperous future heroes  that will make difference in the life’s of others .

By  looking at the mannerism and the communication skills of a coach,  I can normally sculpture the sporting attitude and mindset of his/ hers swimmers and identify the culture of the coaching program that they come from .

Charismatic coaches do not provide hope to their swimmers, for me hope symbolizes failure, for example people are often hoping that by winning a lottery ticket all their problems will disappear and will live happily ever after, winning the lottery for sure can resolve financial problems however cannot guarantee that will help individuals to reach their objectives. Hoping on getting a better high paid job without trying to improve your culture, daily habits, regimes and interaction with others will only lead to stress overload and continuous struggling for something that is just based on illusion. So, charismatic coaches do not provide hopes to their swimmers, they provide them with the means to sculpture not only their training regimes but also to make their life more fruitful. Having more fruitful life can equal to a never give up behaviors and will craft future winners.

A charismatic coach will not be bothered by the behaviors and attitudes of the individuals that surround his/her daily life. Will have the affinity to constantly face the facts and will set a working notion without restrictions that will lead to limitless possibilities that can form the culture and the values of individual or groups.

A charismatic coach will be able to say a big NO to traditional methods and training regimes and will provide revolutionary and innovative solutions to individual swimmer’s needs. Additionally, he/she will have two distinctive characteristics, the one will mark the characteristics of the his/hers training program and the other will mark the attitudes of his/her swimmers. These distinctive characteristics must be achieved through complimentary work that will add value to any coaching system and this work will be signified by consistent meaningfulness which will highlight individual qualities and skills.

I was lucky enough that the past years I was able to work in various countries such as Italy, U.K., U.S.A and Greece alongside some really charismatic coaches. These individuals made me understand that certain training plans and programs will provide me with certain results and the detailed analysis of individual’s training can lead me to optimize individual performance, however they also made me realize that daily activities can be captivated by self-searching for the perfect plan can lead to failure. Occasionally this possibility to fail created me insecurities and self-doubts, however I understood that by working alongside this charismatic coaches I was training to fail, and that by only understanding how to fail I can create perfection.

So, by following the guidance of this charismatic coaches lead me to a process of daily searching and significant daily live experiences, lead me to discover the meaning of adaptations to different needs and desires. I found that the courage to adapt to individuals and assist others to succeed can be meaningful and can lead to optimal daily satisfactory results, I found the ability to discuss daily problems and resolved them so I can achieve better results with my swimmers. Certainly a charismatic coach can provide swimmers with an ambient that will continuous challenge individuals to find solutions and set up a notion to higher performance standards. At the end of the day charismatic coaches deliver a decision making system that can create excellence and better swimmers in a way that is not only physical but also mental and signifies improvement in all features of their swimmers.