Monitor Your Thoughts Before A Big Race

What thoughts and emotions go through your mind in the 10 minutes before an important race?

This question may be crucial to your results in the pool. It seems that the more science discovers about the human mind, the more important the power of thought becomes, especially in swimming.

Believe it or not, every thought you think, every word you say, and every emotion you feel in the 5-10 minutes before a race has a major effect upon your results.

Humans think approximately 60,000 thoughts a day, and the quality of these thoughts is becoming increasingly important in a sport where a hundredth of a second is an eternity!

We already know many of the problems which are associated with a negative attitude, such as fear, extreme nervousness, intimidation, lack of belief, worrying about 'uncontrollables', uncharacteristic errors or unusually slow times...and so on.

If you still struggle to believe the importance of the mind in swimming, think of this; all of your swimming experience (that is, every lap you have ever swum in your lifetime) is recorded in the archives of your memory bank, and this entire 'computer file of your swimming experience' lies within your subconscious mind, right now. The subconscious happens to be the control-center of all movement, and it functions just like a computer (in fact, computers were originally modelled upon the subconscious), and this amazing mental computer is being constantly programmed by the thoughts, words, statements and emotions you choose.

Your results in the pool (which I like to think of as the computer printout) are determined by the quality of the thoughts (which is the 'data') which are programmed into your mind (the computer).

What this all means is this: Think negative thoughts before a race, and you will (generally) get a negative result. No question. 

Likewise, program your mind positively with powerful words, images and emotions (and get rid of any mental roadblocks which may have been holding you back), and you will get vastly improved results. Garbage in, garbage out, as they say. This is all now common everyday knowledge, tested many times in university experiments - this is no longer theory, it is simple truth.

The question is: are you satisfied with the results you are getting, or could they improve (a lot) ?

Simply by changing the thoughts you think before a race, may help you to change your printout (your results) for the future.

So how can we do this? One of the best ways to overcome negative thoughts before a race is to re-focus the mind onto something positive, by using an affirmation. This is an ancient and world-renowned technique, where you simply repeat a few positive, powerful words - over and over again for 5-10 minutes before a race. This does two things; it focuses the mind onto the positive, and it prevents negative thoughts being 'programmed in' before the race. An example of an affirmation could be 'power and speed', or 'perfect rhythm', but you can just as easily make up your own affirmations using your own words.

Susie O'Neill did this during her swim career, and the greatest boxer of all-time, Muhammad Ali, used "I am the greatest" to great effect on his subconscious - he became the greatest boxer who ever lived.

Please note however, that if you create your own affirmation, just ensure you keep it short, positive (no words such as 'lose'), and present-tense (eg. 'I swim like lightning', not 'I will swim like lightning' - and particularly not something like 'I won't lose').

This is important (for reasons I do not have time to go into here). Yes, some swimmers even sing a tune to themselves as they swim (very common in practice), and this can also work remarkably well if an affirmation is turned into a tune. Even better, create an affirmation which suits the exact rhythm of your strokes!

Practice this affirmation technique, it will make a difference to your results. I have seen it regularly make massive change and quantum leaps in swimmer's results and times in meets. Needless to say, also keep up your daily visualization!

"The Mind controls the body, and the mind is unlimited".

The best of success,
Craig Townsend