A note from Badger Parent Advocate, Mike Conaton:
Badger age groupers are starting to swim fast in some very important mid to late season meets. The boy’s high school Sectionals and Catholic Champs are this weekend, with the State Meet in a few weeks. Senior Mets and Silver Champs are at the end of February and the 8&under Champs, Junior Olympics and Bronze Champs are in March. A lot of important and anxious days ahead in the near future, right?? WRONG.
This week’s article is about the importance of routines- Click here. This article, found in Psychology Today, does a great job explaining how routines can help with focus and peak performance. I believe a byproduct of this is less anxiousness and nerves because of the focus on things only in your control. Your swimmers will learn that one way to handle the stress and nervousness of the big meet is to try to treat it as just another race. The kids will hear their coaches reminding them before their races to not get nervous about all the stuff that’s out of their control. All they can do is think about executing their own race plans (splits, pace, starts turns, etc.)…things they have done thousands of times before at practice and in other meets. Ryan Lochte is a strong believer in this approach. As my kids would say, he seems “so chill” and focused behind the blocks before his race.
At home, parents can help keep the excitement levels in check and try to keep their swimmers on their normal routines. I got sick of hearing about it last week during the Super Bowl but it’s just another example of how the elite athletes approach their big events. How many times did we hear the players and coaches say that they were trying to treat the Super Bowl as just another game, and despite the travel and the media and all the other distractions, they were trying to stay focused on their game plan and keep their daily practice routines.
As parents, of course we feel the excitement of the big event. Of course we feel nervous for the kids and want them to do well. They’ve worked so hard for so long, of course we’d like them to meet their goals. But we also know, our swimmers probably feel the exact same way we do whether they show it or not. Of course they want to do well and might even feel more nervous than us. They don’t need to take on the burden of our anxiety on top of their own! We may not notice it but we can come across as nervous too. Or maybe we come right out and ask them if they think they’re going to go fast or ask how they’re feeling in the water or we wonder if they think they’ll get their best times…etc. They don’t know for sure but of course they’re going to try. Kids are very receptive to the subtle and can be sensitive to the direct. Keeping the normal routine and every day dinner time or family banter may help them to actually take their minds off of the nervousness and things that are not in their control, (like the race that is weeks away).