PVC Mental Strategy 40

Three Ways to Enjoy the Pressures of Competing

One of the most common issues swimmers face is the overwhelming pressure they feel before and during competition. Often, along with pressure comes a shift in focus and thoughts of doubt. Many swimmers look for ways to improve their mental performance in a race by boosting their confidence through training, staying more relaxed, and quieting their minds to avoid over-thinking. But often, the problem goes beyond mental skills. They must also learn how to find and maintain a state of happiness when competing. Research on happiness shows that when swimmers focus on it, they get better results and enjoy competition even in the most challenging situations. 

Listed below are three ways you can start working on increasing enjoyment when competing:  

  • First, focus on racing, not time. 
  • Second, think of yourself as being “one” with the race and not separate. Swimmers often struggle with this skill and begin to focus on things outside of the race itself. They “become the coach,” critiquing every decision and action, and unable to get out of their way. Negative thoughts may ensue and weaken their performance, such as future criticisms from parents or coaches or feelings of defeat before the race has ended. 
  • Third, focus on the joy (or thrill) of competing from start to finish. Many swimmers shift their focus to an external goal midway through the race, such as achieving a personal best time. This temptation interrupts the “joy flow,” lowering performance and decreasing happiness.
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