It is the most wonderful time of the year; it is TAPER time! After months of hard work and pushing your body and mind to the limit, it is time to rest and enjoy some fast swimming.
There is no such thing as a perfect meet; every competition has ups and downs, highs and lows. Whether you are running on high or bouncing back from a disappointing swim, you need to refocus on your next race.
Follow Ravizza’s 7 Rs: responsibility, recognize, release, regroup, refocus, ready, and respond to win this championship season.
Are there any internal or external factors that are affecting your performance? Is your stress level high? Are you experiencing negative thoughts? Take a mindful minute and be aware of any unwanted thoughts, emotions, or sensations. You can close your eyes if that is comfortable for you. Do not judge, just be aware of them. When you are ready, open your eyes. If the emotions are high, allow yourself to feel them. Put a timer on for 3 minutes and let yourself feel whatever you are feeling and then move to the next step. Remember, your emotions are not laws.
Now it is time to ‘let go’ of anything that is disrupting your optimal performance. Here are a couple of helpful ways to release any extra tension, negative emotions, or negative self-talk. Self-talk = This is your internal dialog. It can influence your feelings and that can subsequently impact your behavior. Thought stoppage is a technique you can use to stop the negative or self-defeating talk by using a trigger (e.g., saying “stop”, clap, snap fingers). You can pair this technique with reframing your thoughts from negative to positive (e.g., “today is not my day” à “I did not have the best start to my day, but I can still turn it around”).
Do some deep belly breathing (diaphragmatic breathing). This will help calm your mind and bring you to the present moment. A helpful technique is triangle breathing (e.g., inhale for 5 seconds, hold your breath for 5 seconds, and exhale for 5 seconds). Inhale through your nose for 5 seconds. Hold your breath for 5 seconds while you hold any negative emotions, thoughts, or tightness. Then exhale through your mouth for 5 seconds and with your exhale, release and ‘let go’ of any negative emotions, thoughts, or tightness.
Regroup and Refocus
After you release everything that is disrupting your optimal performance, it is time to come back to a centered balance and regain composure. Refocus and adjust your plan if needed. Focus on the present moment, be process-oriented, and positive.
You can visualize yourself executing your ‘new’ plan successfully. You can close your eyes if that is comfortable for you. Take a few deep breaths to center yourself and calm your mind. Then imagine yourself executing your plan successfully. Try using all your senses. Make it as vivid as you can and focus on the details. When you have completed your plan successfully, open your eyes and go execute your plan.
Ready & Respond
After taking all these steps, it is time to commit. Take a breath to bring yourself to the present moment and focus on your plan. You can create a physical signal for yourself (e.g., clap, head nod, fist bump a coach or a teammate). Now you are ready! You have crafted your skill and now it is time to put trust in your execution. Clear your mind, focus,
build your confidence, remind yourself you are in control, enjoy racing, and once you are on the block, let everything go and just race. Trust that you have what you need on the given day!
Take accountability of your performance. Evaluate what you did well and what you can do better next time. Talk to your coach and get their feedback. Every swim is an opportunity to learn and grow as a swimmer. You can journal your thoughts, feelings, performances, and feedback. This will help you develop an even better race plan for the next time.
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