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Teaching Athletes To Compete With Grace

Youth sports sometimes pretends there's no difference between participating in sports and winning... but not swimming. Your swimmer will know when they win, when they come close... and when they don't. For young athletes in particular, swim team might provide their first taste of competitive defeat. To some, this competitive reality can be demoralizing. But by focusing on an athlete’s effort and development, coaches (and parents) can make the most out of not winning every time.

Redefining what is a win.

Every swim is a race against yourself and the clock. Track your swimmer's times and progress over the season and from year to year. Acknowledge and celebrate when they have personal bests, regardless of how they place in a competition. And when they have an 'off' meet (everyone does), remind, as well as show them the ways they have improved. Shifting the emphasis of competition from “winning” to “improving” will make it easier for young athletes (and parents) to maintain perspective to help them compete with grace. One method is the "Mastery Approach", developed by University of Washington psychologists Ron Smith, PhD, and Frank Smoll, PhD. This coaching method advocates praising athletes for effort and dedication, not just for winning. The researchers' method "isn't a focus on the outcome of competition, on winning and losing, but on something that occurs during the process of competition—personal effort,".


Swim Practice 101

1) Be on deck & ready to swim 10-15 minutes before practice!
2) Always jump feet first into pool- never dive in from the side unless a coach says!
3) Don't touch the feet of the person in front of you- for obvious reasons!
4) Don't leave the wall early. Respect your teammates & give everyone the space to practice!
5) When swimming fly in a crowded lane switch to 'one arm fly' as you pass other swimmers!

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