5 Effective Strategies to Mentor Fellow Swimmers

Caitlin Leverenz cheers her teammatesin the 400 medley relay. - mentor

5 Effective Strategies to Mentor Fellow Swimmers

Every team needs mentors. In difficult times, struggling athletes seek out teammates to lead them in the right direction. Fortunately, there are many ways for more experienced athletes to step up and take the roles necessary to offer that support. While it takes an impressive range of characteristics to excel as a sports mentor, these are things that can be learned and improved upon if there is the right level of effort and motivation. Coaches and captains are the first groups of people to look to for leadership, but they aren’t the only ones who can take the bull by the horns. Develop the right skills, and you can join them in filling the mentor role.

Lead by Example

As a leader and authority figure, your fellow team members are likely to follow you down any behavioral path you choose. For the good of the team, then, you need to be heading down the right pathway. If you’re seen with your head down, lacking maturity, or generally negatively conducting yourself, your teammates won’t see a reason why they can’t act likewise. The best mentors are not necessarily the most vocal teammates; they are the ones who lead by example. It is those who work hard, behave in a mature manner, and support their teammates that make excellent mentors, and these individuals can represent a wide variety of personality types. 

Communicate Effectively

Communication is a vital area in a team sport. If any team member needs to nail down this essential skill, it’s the team’s leaders. At the very core of outstanding mentorship is inspiring others to achieve a series of goals. To get those goals across to team members, you need to be able to communicate them effectively. It goes a long way to be willing to tell your fellow swimmers what you all want to achieve and how you intend them to contribute to achieving it. Clear, concise communication can boost your success rate as a leader.

Check Yourself

If you want to provide optimal support to your teammates, it helps to have the knowledge and ability to stand by the strength of your convictions. To be better leaders, aspiring mentors should first strive to improve themselves as athletes. Having that ability and work ethic is essential because your authority can become undermined without them. Strive to improve your skills, and not only will it leave you in a better position to lead, it will also set an example to others to improve themselves.

Awareness

Another way to be a great mentor for a younger or less experienced swimmer is to have a strong awareness of your teammates’ learning styles and personalities. Awareness comes through time spent building relationships with your teammates and peers. Recognizing how to communicate with a team member is crucial. For example, with keen awareness of the situation, you will know whether you need to be firmer with your feedback when things aren’t going in the right direction, or if your teammate just needs an arm around the shoulder to ease the situation. Some people react differently to different kinds of leadership, so it’s essential to have an accurate sense of what works most effectively for them.

Enthusiasm

Finally, one of the best ways you can help your teammates elevate their performance as a mentor is by making them excited about what they’re doing. If you show enthusiasm towards a challenging practice, your teammates will feed off of that in a much better way than if you groan in disgust. Offering encouragement to your fellow swimmers or elevating your team when they’re looking down and out is very beneficial and appreciated by any coach. Enthusiasm is infectious. Injecting some into everything you do when representing your team can increase dedication and commitment from everyone involved in your team.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.