mental toughness

Can you imagine yourself standing at the end of the pool at your next Swim Meet, hands on your hips, with a huge smile on your face and laughing as all the usual challenges and problems like nervousness, anxiety, pressure, “psyche-outs”, emotions and noise bounce off you like bullets bouncing off Superman’s chest?

Would you like to be mentally stronger – mentally tougher, so that nothing can affect you, nothing can harm you, and nothing can stop you from swimming like superman?

Would you like to be so mentally tough that you go to Swim Meets filled with with courage, calm, confidence and composure (as opposed to feeling weak, wimpy and wishing you could be somewhere else?).

Here’s how:

  • Mental Toughness Tip 1: You have to make training more challenging and more demanding than the competition you are preparing for:
  • Mental Toughness Tip 2: You have to out-prepare – in every aspect – every swimmer that you will be facing in competition:
  • Mental Toughness Tip 3: You have to do the first two tips every day, in everything you do, in and out of the water.

Mental Toughness Tip 1: You have to make training (physically and mentally) more challenging and more demanding than the competition you are preparing for:

Think of it this way.

Imagine Swim Meets had a “ranking” between 1 and 10, where a ranking of 1 is a swim for fun meet at your own club just for prizes and laughs and a ranking of 10 is the Olympic final.

If you are preparing for local school Meet, let’s say with a ranking of 4 out of 10, then your preparation needs to be set at a level of 5 or 6 out of 10.

If you are preparing for the State Champs, with a ranking of 6 out of 10, make sure your preparation is at a level of 7 or 8 out of 10.

Unfortunately many swimmers prepare for a “4” level Meet by training at a level of 2 or 3 and then hope that everything will work out when they get to the competition pool. ….and hope is not a recommended strategy for success

By always preparing to a level higher than the Meet you are preparing for, you can race with the confidence that there is nothing the Meet can throw at you that you can’t beat: no obstacles you will have to face which can stop you, no challenge that will be too great for you to defeat.

 

Mental Toughness Tip 2: You have to out-prepare – in every aspect – every swimmer that you will be facing in competition:

This means not just training harder, smarter, more consistently and faster in the pool than your opposition – this means every aspect of your preparation must be better than every swimmer you will race against.

  • You have to eat better than your competition;
  • You have to get more (and better quality) sleep than your competition;
  • You have to work harder in the gym than your competition;
  • You have to take care of any injuries more effectively than your competition;
  • You have to manage your time, your work, your study and rest better than your competition.

Imagine for a moment you are preparing to race an outstanding swimmer at your next Meet. Imagine you are going to look across the pool to Lane 4 and there’s Phelps standing smiling back at you. Or Stephanie Rice.

Now there is nothing you can do to control their talent, their skill, their training or their abilities. All the things that they own – that are part of who they are – are outside your control. So forget about them.

What you can control is every aspect of your own preparation.

You can control what you eat.

You can control when you go to bed and how well you sleep.

You can control how much effort – how much focus – how much concentration you give to your pool and gym workouts.

And if you know that you have consistently “out-eaten”, “out-slept”, “out-recovered”, “out-gym-worked” and “out-trained” your competition you can go to the Meet with the confidence you can perform at your best in every situation, every race, every time.

Think of it another way.

If you were racing Phelps or Rice – with all their talent and ability and….they had also eaten better than you, slept better than you, recovered better than you and trained better than you…you have no hope what-so-ever of beating them.

By Controlling the Controllables: by controlling all the things that you can control, you can always compete to your full potential and you are giving yourself the best possible opportunity for success.

Mental Toughness Tip 3: You have to do the first two tips every day, in everything you do, in and out of the water.

Want to know the secret to being mentally tough????

The secret to being mentally tough is to not have to be mentally tough!

Most people think being mentally tough is fighting hard to overcome tough situations. Others believe being mentally tough is staying strong in the face of adversity. Some people think being mentally tough is never showing pain and never succumbing to pressure.

But the real secret to being mentally tough is to not have to be mentally tough.

By ensuring that your training is consistently more challenging and more demanding than any Meet could ever be, and by knowing with absolute certainty that you have out-prepared in every aspect every competitor you will be facing in competition you don’t need to be mentally tough.

Talking tough, walking tough, yelling team war-cries, painting your face, listening to motivational speakers, getting tattoos, screaming out heavy-metal rock tunes…all these things are great fun but none of them are real and none make you really mentally tough.

Real mental toughness comes from one thing: preparation.

Real mental toughness comes from one person: you.

Real mental toughness is based on confidence.

Confidence which comes from knowing.

Knowing that you have done all within your power to prepare to the best of your ability every day.

Summary:

1. Building a Bulletproof body is a matter of training hard every day, making sure your practice sessions are always challenging and demanding and above all consistently training to your full potential;

2. Building a Bulletproof brain is the same: challenge your mind to face new challenges every day, learn to overcome demanding and difficult situations in practice and consistently engage your mind to its full capacity in everything you do;

3. Being bulletproof in competition comes from confidence and confidence comes from knowing…knowing that every day you have challenged both your body and your mind to a level even more challenging and more demanding than any competition could ever be.

Wayne Goldsmith