5 Ways to Stay Motivated: A Letter to Those Who are Stuck in the Mud

Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia

Dear Struggle Bus Passenger,

You’re tired and sore all the time, you’re not getting anywhere, and all you want to do is eat a tub of Ben and Jerry’s, get into bed, and nap for the next few weeks.

If you have been swimming as long as I have, you are very aware of the fact that as many highs there may be in our sport, there are just as many lows. You may be dealing with anything from coming back from an injury, to the sophomore slump, to the mentality that you “just suck” right now.

Regardless, the plateaus of swimming can be frustrating, and make you question why exactly it is that we do what we do. Rough patches happen. To everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re an Olympic-level athlete, or your only goal is to swim through high school or college. However this is nothing to crumble over, because you will get through it and be a better athlete because of it.

It is easy to forget how to properly handle a plateau period, so here are a few reminders to help you stay motivated…

1. Get back to basics.

2015-mesa-arena-club-cup-kid-start

Photo Courtesy: Taylor Brien

Remember why you started swimming in the first place. This is a sport. It’s supposed to be fun! Don’t take yourself too seriously at practices or meets, because overthinking can be detrimental to your confidence in your own abilities. Getting hard work in is much easier when you remind yourself why you are doing it and that swimming is meant to be a release, not a source of stress. Swimming gives you a few hours a day where you can shut off your brain, take a break from the stresses of school, work, etc. and just let the endorphins pump.

2. Hone in on the process.

(140817) -- NANJING, Aug. 17, 2014 (Xinhua) -- Li Guangyuan of China swims during the Men's 100m Backstroke Semifinal at Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, August 17, 2014. (Xinhua/Ding Xu) (txt)

Photo Courtesy: Xinhua/Ding Xu

It’s good to have long-term, hefty goals for yourself, but sometimes they can seem far out of reach when you find yourself stuck in a slump. Don’t let yourself give up. It can help to set smaller goals that are necessary to eventually helping you reach your overall goal. Take it day by day, practice by practice, stroke by stroke. Progress takes time, and like anything worth pursuing, it can get ugly before it gets pretty.

3. Focus on the things you can control and accept the things you cannot.

rain-pool-flickr

Photo Courtesy: flickr

You will not always feel great in the water, the weather might be ugly and cold for your meet, or your coach might show up to the pool grumpy that day. Learn to be able to adapt to these types of situations to better your chances for success. Even if you choose one single thing to focus on for a two-hour practice, those two hours spent will bring you that much closer to your goal. You can work at a technical aspect of your training, or simply choose to abstain from any negativity on the pool deck. It’s the little things that add up to a larger success.

4. Lean on your teammates.

NCSA women team hug

Photo Courtesy: SwimmingWorld.TV

Your teammates are your family, and they are there for a reason. When you’re stuck, they are the ones that should be there to push you to get unstuck. The bond you create with your teammates is extremely rare. They are the ones in the lane next to you every day, pushing you to be better, and vice versa. I guarantee that they have been in your situation at one point or another, so there is no better source of motivation to get you back on your game. Work hard together, be goofy with each other, and don’t forget that you’re not in this alone.

5. Inspiration is everywhere.

Team USA 800 Free Relay Doha 2014 Win

Photo Courtesy: FINA Doha 2014

Especially with an Olympic year fast approaching, inspiration can be found all over the place. Read an article, watch a pump-up video, immerse yourself in one of the many swimmer autobiographies out there. Or even better, be inspired by your peers. There is always someone to look to who is working harder, going that extra mile, and making that extra sacrifice. People are constantly doing amazing things in the world of swimming. Records are being not only broken, but shattered, and athletes are pushing themselves further than any generation that has preceded them. Use this surrounding atmosphere to fire up your own motivation to improve yourself, and be part of this amazing movement.

In closing, the words “I can’t” should no longer be a part of your vocabulary. You can, and you will. It won’t be easy though, that’s why it’s called hard work. If you are going through a rough patch, remind yourself that you are going through it, and not getting stuck in it forever. Have confidence in your abilities, stay motivated, and always remember, just keep swimming.

Sincerely,

Been there

9 comments

  1. Martina Chione

    I woot and cheer between sendoffs. That’s how I stay motivated:)

  2. Tarinee Pranich

    Don’t let yourself give up:It can get ugly before it gets pretty “Just keep swimming “