5 Tips for Staying Focused On Meet Day

Photo Courtesy: Nicholas McMillan

By Kennedy Cutler, Swimming World College Intern

When it comes to meet day, focusing on the task at hand – the day’s races – can sometimes be difficult. Down on deck, it can be easy to become distracted by your surroundings. You could be at a new pool, or a higher-level meet than you’ve participated in before. Between the coaches and other swimmers, there could be hundreds of people on the deck at a time.

The atmosphere of a meet can be overwhelming if you allow it to distract you. However, there are countless things to do to help combat nerves and distraction at meets, and these are a few of them:

1. Listen to music.

Photo Courtesy: Kalina DiMarco

Photo Courtesy: Kalina DiMarco

Music can help not only block out distractions, but key you in to the right mood to race – and this can work in two ways. On the one hand, it can get you psyched up and ready to go. On the other, it can bring you down if you’re too nervous and jittery for what normally works for you going into a race. Creating a meet day playlist is a great way to approach this. Make a mix of songs that will bring you up as well as a few that can calm you down.

2. Stay Loose


Photo Courtesy: Annie Grevers

Dynamic stretching is a swimmers best friend at a swim meet. While static stretches are great when you’re sore and after a work out, it’s better to keep your body moving and the blood flowing before and during a meet. If you’re loose and feeling good, that’s one less thing you need to be worrying about when it comes time for you step up behind the blocks.

3. Get in a good warm up.

warm-ups-santa-clara-2015 (1)

Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Warming up should be pretty self-explanatory, but it is plays a key part in calming nerves and finding focus on meet day. Especially when you’re at a new pool, you need to take the time to get in the water early to get a feel of the water and the walls, and get a few starts in as well to get accustomed to the blocks. The more familiar you are with everything, the more your mind can focus on the task at hand– racing. Warming up is getting your mind and body ready for the meet so that when it’s time to get up on the blocks, all you need to do is take your mark and go.

4. Break down each race.

Jul 16, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Caitlin Leverenz of the United States (right) races Emily Overholt of Canada (left) in the women's swimming 400m individual medley final during the 2015 Pan Am Games at Pan Am Aquatics UTS Centre and Field House. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Courtesy: Erich Schlegel/USA TODAY Sports

I’ve been told this by several people on the coaching staff at school– break each race down into parts. If it’s a 50, break it into 25s. If it’s a 100, break it into 25-50-25. Breaking the distance down makes each race easier to manage, and allows you to concentrate on one piece at a time during the race itself. Having a plan is a way to liken your chances at success, and can make it easier to stay on task throughout the day by focusing on smaller things.

5. Focus on what you control.


Photo Courtesy: Taylor Brien

On a meet day, there are things that you can and cannot control. Things that you can’t control include your competitors and their performances. But what you can control is yourself and your approach to the meet. Don’t spend time worrying about everyone and everything else that is going on; all it’s going to do is divert your focus. Think about the things you can control; what you do in the present, and what you can do to prepare for your next race.

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