Advice for Coaches Getting Out of a Funk After the Olympic Trials

9 Days – a marathon of a meet. Many of you are now back home with your teams – attempting to finish out this summer season with tired and baggy eyes. I am too. I was actually in Indianapolis for 2.5 weeks before I came home. The night I got back I remember thinking to myself, “What just happened? How I digest what I just went through? Also, how do I get up in 5 hours to head back the pool?” It is really hard to shift your focus from Olympic Trials to coach the athletes you have in front of you. The experience we all went through at Olympic Trials is something other coaches who didn’t go, won’t understand. So if you’re feeling like you’re in a bit of a rut, here is some advice for getting out of a funk after Olympic Trials.

Picture of Lucas Oil Stadium for the 2024 Olympic Trials

1.) Rest:

Some of y’all will read that and roll your eyes. The immediate response from coaches is always I don’t have time. And, a lot of times that is true. You may not have time to take a day off, or even a hour nap – but during the drives between AM and PM practices, put on your favorite tune. Take some deep breaths. Allow yourself to be present with where you are and soak in all that you’ve gone through. One coach I ran into at trials told me a quote that I really enjoyed and he said, “Be where your feet are.” I think this is super profound and something that we, as humans, often struggle to do.

So maybe you’re at the pool early? Have an extra 5 minutes? Close your eyes in the car. Give yourself some quiet time to breathe and prepare for the work ahead. Plus, soak in the experience you just had before storing it away your memory.

2.) Hydrate:

It’s hot in a lot of areas of the US right now, so make sure you are properly fueling your body and mind – just like we expect our athletes to do. Always bring a water bottle or favorite (healthy) drink of choice to the pool. Personally, my favorite healthy drink is AG1. With over 70 vitamins and minerals, it’s a great all encompassing drink for your health. Get a FREE year of Vitamin D and 5 Travel Packs Here!

No food in your fridge? Yeah, me too. When I came home from Olympic Trials, my fridge was bare. I had to find time in the middle of a random Tuesday to go to the grocery store and restock. I still haven’t been able to meal prep the rest of my meals for this week, but luckily – I was proactive and ordered meals last week to be delivered over this past weekend, before I got home. Ordering meal prep has saved me from heading to fast food restaurants after practice. Convenience is definitely there for a reason, but I’ve gotten way more vegetables into my diet by doing the meal prep way. Look for ways to make your life easier. If you eat well, you will feel better. Don’t take the shortcuts.

3.) Hobbies:

This is something I chatted with Jack Bauerle about, and one thing he said was to find hobbies that you enjoy and that are outside the sport. This can include hobbies that allow your brain to stay active (like physical exercise or reading a book), but it can also include hobbies where you’re being ‘led’ – not leading. For example, you could join a team or play a doubles tennis match. This allows you to work with others, versus having to be in the front of the pack all the time.

I personally really like animals and volunteer to walk dogs at my local Humane Society to get my mind off swimming.

It’s important to be a part of a group. It’s also important to admire others for what they’re great at, versus be the person admired. So whether it’s your favorite musician, actor, painter, whatever – find ways to incorporate seeing the greatness in other people around you. This will keep you humble and with a broader mindset beyond our swimming bubble.

4.) Find Safe Zones:

This is huge. As coaches, we always have our guard up. We are almost actors on a stage when we hit the pool deck. Whatever your support system looks like for you (i.e. your family, friends, spouse, etc.) – spend time with them and allow yourself to decompress from Olympic Trials without putting on face. These zones should allow you to be totally you, without the word ‘Coach’ in front of your name.

I am very close to my niece and nephew and a lot of times that means pool days with them telling me how to swim, versus the other way around! Ha Ha

Our sport can be really hard and it often feels like ‘cancel culture’ – has made it harder. I struggle with having my guard up all the time and not allowing myself to be truly ‘seen’ by my peers. So while you don’t need to be vulnerable with every person on the street (and you definitely don’t always have the time to do so), it is important to process through your emotions with people you trust, before moving on and moving forward from Olympic Trials.

5.) Exercise:

Taking care of yourself means both mentally and physically. Look for another passion that interests you and keeps your body moving/healthy for the long days on deck and meets that run 9-days long. I immediately came home and went to my favorite reflexologist to get my feet rubbed because my legs and feet were killing me from all the walking I did over those 9-days.

Sometimes it’s hard for coaches to buy into the thought of ‘self care’ but I often find if we can figure out a justification for our behavior or a reason (i.e. If I stay fit, I will be a better coach and be more agile on deck) – it allows us to take the time to get it done, versus muddy through.

If creating a reason as to why the time you’re taking for yourself is what you need to do, do it. It’s important you do things for yourself, but if the frame of reference still needs to be for others – phrase it that way.


If you’re spouse or partner of a coach and are reading this – thank you. Thank you for caring for your partner with well intentions and looking out for what is best for them. If you can be a promoter in any of these 5 areas, you are doing right by your partner and helping them transition back into their regular coaching grind. I’ve never been to Olympics, but I can assume what we all went through is a microdose of what our athletes and staff experience post the Olympic Games. Then, I saw this post the other day on the Swim Coaches Idea Exchange and it affirmed my thoughts:

Coaches, know you’re not alone. And if you need someone to talk about it, know I am always here.

Until Next Time,

Abbie Fish

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