Swimmer Motivation Through The Ups and the Downs

For many swimmers around the world, a new season has just begun! A new season brings with it a rush of excitement, joy, and yes… motivation. It can be really easy to set high goals and expectations for ourselves as swimmers and coaches at the beginning of the season. Oftentimes school hasn’t quite started yet, and we aren’t feeling a ton of pressures. However, it’s important to remember that it’s natural for swimmer motivation to rise and fall as the season progresses. It could even change from the beginning to the middle to the end of practice. When this happens, it helps to have some tools in a swimmer’s mental strength toolbox. Here are 4 things you can do when swimmer motivation is dipping.

Let’s Get Started

1. Accept The Inevitable

Changes in swimmer motivation is natural, and honestly, not really a problem (Wait… WHAT!?). This might seem counter-intuitive, because we can get the best out of ourselves when we are highly motivated. But motivational dips and peaks happen to EVERYONE, even the highest ranking swimmers in the world. The dip is going to come, and we must accept that. What becomes a problem is when we allow ourselves to wallow in the dip in motivation, and not move on from it when it’s time. Or worse, when we refuse to accept that there has been a dip in motivation. That’s why the first thing you can do to help yourself is to accept that you WILL have dips in motivation. If we resist the feelings of lost motivation, they’ll only last longer.

If you find yourself feeling unmotivated, acknowledge that feeling in yourself. Tell yourself that it’s totally okay for you to be feeling this way. Then, cover the basics. Check in with how much food, water, and sleep you’ve been getting. Once those things are covered, take some deep breaths, and accept that the motivation WILL return. No feeling is forever.

2. Have a “Motivation Kick-Start” Routine

After you’ve covered the basics of taking care of yourself, go back to your “motivation kick-start” routine. This will be super different for everybody. To develop what will work for you, spend some time reflecting on what motivates you. Here’s a couple examples of what I’ve seen throughout the years and even tried for myself:

  1. Look at a vision board – If I’ve pasted pictures of what I want to achieve this season somewhere for me to look at, then all it takes is a quick glance and I get a rush of motivation. It reminds me why I started!
  2. Write down goal times – Swimmers who get motivated by goal times can put them EVERYWHERE. Write them on your mirror, make them the background of your phone, or put them somewhere special for you to look at when your swimmer motivation is dipping.
  3. Have a playlist ready to go. There’s nothing like great music to get you going (if you need some inspiration, just watch me jam daily in my car on Instagram stories). If you’re inspired by music, then a motivational playlist of upbeat songs has to be in your toolbox.
  4. Watch motivational speakers on Youtube. When I was a swimmer, I would watch my favorite motivational videos behind the blocks (not kidding). That helped me to turn off the nerves and turn on the excitement!

Make sure to find a “Motivation Kick-Start” Routine that fits you personally. Again, finding 1 or 2 things that work for you is far more important than doing everything right!

3. Find Your Accountability Partner

The reason that teams are so effective is that they allow for built-in accountability partners to help you when swimmer motivation is low. I used to have an accountability partner for everything – for getting me to practice, for putting myself in the hardest set group, and even for eating healthy at the dorms.

If you’re struggling with a dip in motivation, don’t struggle alone! Confide in a friend and ask them to help you stay accountable for what you’re struggling with. Keep in mind – a coach can be a great accountability partner, too!

4. Remind Yourself Why You Started

The fact of the matter is, you started this journey for a reason. Maybe it was for fun, maybe it was to spend time with friends, and maybe it was to reach a goal within the swimming world! Whatever that reason is, you’ll need to go back to it when life gets busy, stressful, and just plain tough. If you can Remember Your WHY, then you can help yourself feel motivated to keep going. Nobody wants to put themselves through a difficult situation for no reason – so keep that reason at the forefront of your mind. I promise you’ll feel better if you know exactly why you’re showing up to practice.

Swimmer Motivation Comes and Goes – But You Can Help Yourself Get It Back!

Until next time,

Abbie Fish and the Swim Like A. Fish Team

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