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