Season Transitions: Don’t Skip an Important Part of Your Development

The season has ended.  It’s over.  What’s next? 

For a lot of us in the sport, it’s just on to the next season.  Or maybe we don’t even see seasons, but just one continuous, endless series of practices and meets.  I hope that’s not true, but many of us swimmers appreciate the structure we get from it and life without it seems strange and foreign.

While your passion for the sport may be intense and your drive to succeed burns bright, I want to tell you the benefits of a thoughtful transition from one season to the next.

  • Understand we are all human and no matter how tough you are (or think you are), endless swimming without a break will eventually break you.  A steady trickle of water can cut deep gouges in the hardest of rocks over time.  You need to give you mind and your body a break.  Two weeks, three weeks, more?  That’s up to you.  It’s different for everybody.

    Your body needs time to heal up a bit too.  It probably won’t take much to convince you that there is a lot of repetition in swimming. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel in the long run when you give your body some well deserved rest.
  • It is a great time to step away from the pool and reflect on the positives you can take from the season that just ended.  Even if overall, you were not pleased with your performance, I guarantee there were some positive points you can take away.  Any lesson learned is a positive in my opinion.  Anything you did well, whether in a practice, in a meet, or as a teammate, is a positive.

    Taking time to acknowledge the positives is how you build confidence as an athlete.  Even if they seem small, they add up.  The more positives you can put you can put in the bank, the more confidence you’ll have.  You’re never going to be perfect.  Let me ruin that surprise for you…but, you have done many good things and you should take time and take stock of those after each season.
  • It’s also a great time to plan for what’s next.  You don’t have to go crazy here but pick two or three things you want to focus on to improve as you start the next season.  These don’t have to be specific to in the pool either.  It can be to your mental approach, how you act as a teammate, or maybe even your communication with your coach.  Some of these have a bigger impact to your success, your team’s success, and your overall well being that just fixing your right hand entry.
  • Lean how to shut it down and focus on something other than swimming.  This is an advanced skill that kids should start learning as they get into their mid-teens.  I like to call it flipping the switch.  As you get older, you get more and more on your plate.  School commitment goes up, social options increase, time in and out of the pool doing swimmy things becomes more.  How can you possible succeed in all of these (and eat and sleep and spend time with your family)?  It’s a challenge, but by learning to turn one thing off and another on will help you quite a bit.  During a transition is a perfect time to work on this skill because you have less going on for a period of time and you can choose what to focus on without everything being crammed into a tight schedule.

As swimmers we are wired to push, do a little extra, and always drive towards success.  It allows us to do what many others cannot.  It also comes with a price.  If we don’t learn how to manage it and incorporate breaks and thoughtful transitions, that wiring will burn us out, lead to frustration, and make a once loved activity into a chore with little reward.

Take a step back, breathe, relax, reflect, reset, enjoy…then step back in

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