Performance Enhancement Sports Psychology
Dr. Patric Mattek - Performance Enhancement, Great Talk!
Swim Fast Without the Big Suits
There's no denying that last year's fast suits made for huge improvements in swimming performance. Every record board was re-written last year whether it was club, high school, college or the world's. Everyone swam fast last year but that's the point: EVERYONE SWAM FAST!
Coach David Anderson and Sports Psychologist Dr. Patric Mattek offer some ways to continue to swim fast in the era after fast suits.
Anderson observes that although the suits actually helped athletes swim faster, the suits did more than that. Anderson says, "that when an athlete put on a fast suit, they 'knew' they were going to swim fast. It was like putting on an invincibility cloak." All athletes eliminated worry, anxiety and negative thinking when they put on a fast suit last year and were only wondering, "how fast am I going to go?!"
2010 will be the year when athletes who can regain that expectation of strong performances will dominate those athletes who can't escape the doubts.
Sports Psychologist Dr. Patric Mattek has worked with numerous swimmers on honing their mental edge. He suggests that it is understandable that some swimmers might have a difficult adjustment to the ban, but that ultimately it comes down to an issue of confidence. Dr. Mattek states: “It makes sense that swimmers might be having a bit of 'separation anxiety' from their fast suits because they did help athletes swim faster.” Although Dr. Mattek admits that the suits helped athletes swim faster, he questions whether the suits helped them swim better? “The fast suits didn’t turn couch potatoes into Olympians,” says Mattek. “The swimmers that actually became better swimmers only did so through enhanced self-confidence.”
Dr. Mattek suggests that the ban will likely create a more ‘even playing field’ for swimmers, making the mental aspect of the sport an even more critical edge. He offers the following recommendations for coaches and swimmers:
Decrease anxieties by helping athletes understand that the suits did not make them comparatively better swimmers. Highlight that the change has created an ‘even playing field’ in which commitment and mental approach will provide a comparative edge over the competition.
Encourage the athletes to “trust in themselves” and develop an “internal” confidence, rather than relying on something external (e.g., a suit, specific lane, second race, etc.) to “decide their fate.” The confidence to overcome the power of the suit will likely give swimmers a competitive advantage!
Think positively and discourage negative thoughts. Catastrophic thoughts trigger anxiety, which results in increased muscle tension, heart rate, and respiration. Not beneficial for performance.
Many athletes have used visualization to help them achieve success. Using visualization to incorporate the “feel” of the fast suit swims during swims without the suit might be a useful approach. Dr. Mattek commented on the power of visualization by discussing some recent Olympic athletes who have used visualization to help them get to the Gold despite injury or daunting circumstances.
Encourage the athlete to sleep, eat well, drink plenty of water, self-soothe, relax, and look forward to their performance. Self-care is huge for not only physical, but also mental performance
Athletes and coaches who, with the help of a sports psychologist, find ways to return to that anxiety-free state of mind that the fast suits created last year will be the big winners going into this year's major meets.
David Anderson coaches club swimming at the Walter Schroeder Aquatic Center in Brown Deer, WI.
Dr. Patric Mattek is a sport psychologist at Performance Enhancement in Franklin, WI. Telephone # (414) 858-1014.
Dr. Patric Mattek - Performance Enhancement Dr. Patric Mattek is a Sport Psychologist read more about his practice