PVC Technical Strategy 60

Controlled Versus Uncontrolled

This concept may surprise you, but there are only two kinds of swimming; controlled and uncontrolled at the Olympic level. 

Controlled means the swimmer’s mind is fully engaged and controls all technical and physical efforts throughout practice (from warm-up to warm down). As 12-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin once said, “I think about every stroke I take in practice.” 

Uncontrolled means the exact opposite, but perhaps not in the way you think. It doesn’t mean the swimmer’s mind is out of control or crazy, but rather, it allows the body (technical and physical) to “think” on its own without any oversight. A similar term would be “automatic pilot.”

An Olympic swimmer would score 10/10 on controlled practices and 10/10 on uncontrolled racing. The term “train smart, race stupid” fits perfectly here. So how do you match up to an Olympian? On a scale from 1-10, what role does your mind play in practices and competition? At your stage of development, you should score eight or higher in training and two or lower in competition. Remember, if you want to be an Olympian one day, you have to start the process today!

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