4 Tips for Beating the Mental Block in Training

Photo Courtesy: Rick Pelletier

By Grace Hoffmann, Swimming World College Intern

A few months into the swim season and Coach’s expectations of you are already through the roof. You’re being pushed more than you have ever thought possible. The pressure is building and you haven’t even had a meet yet. Thoughts of championship season are already appearing in your mind during practice. Why?

The mental aspect of swimming can be draining. Repeated practices, repeated sets, and the same races over and over. Do not let these factors dull your spirit or your love of the sport. Embrace the things that challenge you the most. Start with practice. Although it may not be your dream to wake up while the moon is still out and swim thousands of yards before your friends are awake, make the most of it.

In order to do so, remember to..

1. Show up and show well.

Photo Courtesy: Mike Comer/ProSwimVisuals.com

Photo Courtesy: Mike Comer/ProSwimVisuals.com

I don’t mean just physically! Come to practice ready to go mentally too. Get enough sleep and be rested. Eat a healthy snack before practice. Be able to focus those two hours of practice on only swimming, no distractions. Look at each practice as another opportunity for improvement. Although at some points during the season it is extremely hard to wrap your mind around a strenuous set, look at the practice as a challenge. Stay in the mindset of the present and do not worry or become anxious about a set before you swim it. Take the set one step at a time and you will conquer not only the set, but the practice too.

2. Have a great attitude.


Photo Courtesy: Kara Sekenski

Attitude is key. Even if you have had a bad day, come to practice like you didn’t. Remember to smile during practice and enjoy yourself. The tougher the practice, the harder it is to keep a positive attitude. Remember to enjoy the process of training. Focus on what you can do to improve. Have fun with the sport you love and the results will come.

3. Consider others.


Photo Courtesy: Sue Borst

Be a great teammate. Encourage your teammates during practice. Even if you are not having the greatest set, don’t let that be a reason why you aren’t supporting your teammates. Do not be afraid to tell your teammates they are rocking a set, one that you know they had struggled with in the past. Notice your teammates work ethic and make an effort to applaud them. Giving someone that little compliment will push them to work harder too.

4. Ponder the “Why?”


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Know the reasons behind your swimming career. Why are you really swimming? Is it the love of the sport that you’ve had since you were a little kid? Do you love the competition? Be truthful to yourself and find what drives you. Remind yourself of that love on the tough days. Let this reason be the repetitive mantra you say to yourself when practice starts to become challenging.

The countless hours spent at practice should be memorable. So when you start worrying or stressing, stop yourself. Focus on the positive during practice and help others to do the same. Swimmers spend more time training than competing. So, train hard and have fun during the process. Be a great teammate and help keep the attitudes high during practice. Positive attitude and drive warrants success.



  1. Julieta Alvarez

    Como yo hoy, físicamente cansada mentalmente agotada

Author: Grace Hoffmann

Grace Hoffmann is a freshman backstroker/IMer at Miami University in Ohio. She will compete in the Mid-American Conference this upcoming season. She is a business major and plans to double major in marketing and finance.

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