USA Swimming News

Monday, September 24, 2018

Mental Toughness Toolbox: Make Your Goals Your Own


Mental Toughness Toolbox: Make Your Goals Your Own

As the new season begins, you want to make sure that you're headed in the right direction! What's the “right” direction?

To answer that, we have to talk about the concept of goals, or exactly why you're swimming.

As you know, competitive swimming is not a sport for the fainthearted! To get good as a swimmer, you have to be willing to sacrifice your time, energy and social life. You have to be willing to physically suffer! As an endurance sport athlete, you have to be willing to consistently move towards the pain and fatigue of oxygen debt in order to improve. This means that when the going gets rough, you have to get in the habit of moving yourself towards this physical and emotional discomfort. This is not an easy thing to do given that most of your non-swimming peers organize their lives around avoiding discomfort!

In order to “chase” this pain and fatigue on a daily basis in training, you have to have a very good reason! Simply put, you have to have goals or what I call a “BIG ENOUGH WHY.” It's your “big enough why” that will help answer the question that every swimmer asks themselves  whenever they're tired, struggling or discouraged. “Why am I doing this?”

It's your goals that will help you answer this question and get you through the hard work and discomfort. It's your goals that will provide you with a sense of direction for where you want to go in this sport. It's your goals that will ultimately make all your suffering and sacrifices worthwhile in the end.

So what's the “right” direction?

Whether your goals are to become an Olympian, get a college scholarship, break a pool record or achieve a certain cut, it doesn't matter. What does matter is that your goals belong solely to you! You have to swim because you want to! You have to work hard because there is something that you really want at the end of this journey! You have to swim because you love it! The “right” direction is taking ownership of the sport for yourself and making sure the goals you are going after belong to you!

While we all want to make our parents and coaches proud of us, you can't swim for that reason! You can't swim to make others happy! You can't swim to not disappoint others either! You have to swim because YOU really want to. This is the “right” direction that I speak of and only this will supercharge your training and direct you straight towards your dreams!

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