Competitive swimming is a very tough sport consisting of one challenge after the next. Challenges differ depending on a swimmer’s ability and experience level. A 10-year-old swimmer may find swimming a 1,000 yards freestyle without stopping a difficult challenge, while a 15-year-old may start their swim meet warm-up with a 1,000 yards freestyle. Understanding how swimmers view and react to challenge is a key to coaching success.
A great coach will get into a swimmer’s mind seeing the challenge from their perspective. By doing so, they connect with the swimmer, put them at ease, and make the successful completion of the challenge far more likely. On the contrary, a coach who dismisses or belittles a swimmer, who balks at a challenge, is failing to coach in my view. While the act of dismissal and belittling are common coaching practices and may work in the short-term, they “weaken the heart” of the swimmer, making it increasingly difficult for them to succeed in the long-term.