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 .