Encouraging More Adults to Swim
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Coaching / Training

Attitude and Self-Talk

How to improve as a coach through attitude management

Kimberly Lloyd | February 22, 2013

How we view things, including ourselves, is the critical factor in every challenge we face: in swimming, school, work, home, everywhere. A positive attitude makes success possible, while a negative view makes it unlikely.

Attitude is a skill that can be developed. It is a choice. We can choose our beliefs the way we choose our deeds. We decide to conquer fear, to commit to try something again by adjusting our attitudes. There are many techniques for doing this. One of the most effective methods is through self-talk. By replacing self-criticism with affirmation, we improve our self-esteem. Other ways to improve our attitude are through smiling, relaxing, and supporting others.

The article on S.M.A.R.T. goals published in last month’s STREAMLINES give swimmers and coaches something to shoot for. Attitude gives us something to shoot with. Attitude is what gets the tough going when the going gets tough. It is power and purpose. As coaches, not only do we need to be aware of the affect our attitudes have on ourselves, but the effect they have on our swimmers as well. We can influence the attitude of our swimmers in very positive ways just by the way we manage our workouts.

Ways to manage attitude on deck

Here are some approaches to embracing positive attitude when you’re coaching. They sound simple—maybe even too simple—but you will see results in yourself and your swimmers.

  • In warm-up: Set the tone right from the beginning. Perhaps with something like, “Let’s demonstrate our positive Masters attitudes by having a great workout and improving our skills today.” Or even something as simple as a big smile and, “I’ve got a great workout for you today!”
  • In drill sets: How we think about things, including ourselves, has immense power. Self-talk is the inner voice that shapes our attitude. Many of your swimmers may undergo this mental battle frequently in their workouts. Give them focus on the drills you’re asking them to do. Tell them why the drill is important—that gives them something to concentrate on. Praise them when you see them doing something right, improving in what they do, or just giving their best effort.
  • In the main set: Try leading off the main set with, “Let’s get it done in this set today” or, “You swimmers are tough, you can do this!” Remember, main sets are often challenging and some of your swimmers may need encouragement to make it through.
  • In cool-down: Congratulate them on a job well done and thank them for coming to the workout. Even the simple acts of smiling or giving someone a compliment are ways to adjust your attitude, and theirs as well.

USMS Wave Seperator

About the Author—Kimberly Lloyd

Kim Lloyd is head swim coach at Lebanon High, N.H. She also coaches diving and swimming at Colby-Sawyer College, where a growing Masters program is located. Lloyd has a doctorate in naprapapthy  (the study of connective tissue disorders). She was a college All-American and holds a 5th-degree black belt in taekwondo and is a taekwondo instructor.

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