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Comparing Yourself To Faster Swimmers

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One of the worst things (for self-confidence) and one of the best things (for improvement) is to regularly compare yourself to better swimmers in your own team or squad. Yes - I know this doesn't seem to make sense, so let me explain. Laura, a swimmer, asked me about this recently, and the answer is that comparing yourself to others can be a 'double-edged sword' - meaning it can be good OR bad for you, depending on your personality type.

Swimmers who may be a little low in confidence may only drive their confidence down further by comparing themselves to the faster swimmers in their team, whereas the more competitive types often thrive and improve even faster by doing this. It all depends on what type of person you are and your level of confidence in your own ability. It's important to work out which category you fit into, as otherwise you may be tearing down your confidence each time you are beginning to build it up again. I must say that the majority of swimmers I have worked with have generally been far better when they simply worked upon improving their own PB's - as this keeps them focused upon their own performance and off their competitors'.

This fits in with my philosophy of 'focus upon the goal, not the obstacles' - but this is not to say that you couldn't be in the other category - it is up to you to work this out for yourself. One sure way of knowing is if you find yourself obsessing about other swimmers' times, this is a sure sign that you should bring your focus back in upon your own swims.

However, regardless of which category you belong to - never, ever allow your competitors' performances to dominate your thinking - your prime focus should always be your own lane, and your own swim. Otherwise, you may find your own performance is beginning to suffer due to lack of mental focus and attention - and this often occurs with overly-competitive swimmers. These swimmers often want to win so much they almost try to will their competitors to lose rather than focus upon their performance - and this simply does not work. Your mind requires a very clear goal to act upon (to give you the result you want) and so if your goal is totally focused upon another swimmer, your subconscious mind's role in your swim is basically rendered useless - as it cannot directly influence another swimmer's race.

This means that even the highly competitive swimmers (who thrive on trying to beat their team mates and competitors) focus upon what they are doing, and then they check out the other swimmer's times later. The more you know about yourself, the better a swimmer you will be - so it's worth discovering which motivations which bring out your best, and use them to your advantage.

The Mind controls the body, and the mind is unlimited. The best of success,

Craig Townsend

Mind Training Tips for Swimmers - Sports Psychology Tips for Swimmers
From Craig Townsend, http://www.swimpsychology.com

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