Motivational Monday: Getting Back on the Blocks After a Poor Performance

Blocks - Poor Performance

Motivational Monday: Getting Back on the Blocks After a Poor Performance

By Evangelia Vasilakis, Swimming World College Intern.

Every swimmer knows the excitement of a great race. The feeling of achieving a best time or placing well in a meet always seems to excite athletes. But in many cases, a swimmer will not always perform their best. Swimmers of all ages have experienced the pain of not producing the time or place they wanted. These bad races can set an athlete back mentally. They may feel discouraged or unmotivated. Here’s how you can overcome the mental blocks created by a not-so-great swim. 


One great way to help overcome the not-so-great swims is to reflect on the race. A swimmer should look back and think of all the things that could be improved. A coach can be a huge help with this. A poor performance can be easily improved by fixing the little things, and a coach will have some great input on how to fix it. It also helps to realize what you can fix on your own. A swimmer’s reflection can help discover many different things, inside or outside of the water, they can fix. Sometimes, a bad race can be something as easy as getting more sleep or fixing your technique! 

Get Back In The Pool

Although swimmers may find it hard to throw themselves back into the water after a disappointing race, it is crucial. Practice will give you the opportunity to fix anything that needs improvement. Diving back in helps you grow as an athlete and provides you with the equipment and time to improve. That first leap into the water is difficult, but it is the most important step to improving your race. The mental block may be making you feel defeated, but the practices will give you the confidence to try again. 


Having a bad race is not the end of your swimming career. An important thing to remember is that your times do not define you as an athlete. Everyone starts somewhere and everyone has bad races. By taking a deep breath after a bad race, it helps to release all the negative energy that has been building. During this deep breath, it is important to realize that one bad race does not make you a bad swimmer.  When I have a bad race, I like to take a moment to myself to breathe before talking to my team or coach. It helps me collect my thoughts and relax. I tell myself I have many more opportunities to achieve my goals. A deep breath is the perfect way to move on. 

Think About Future Races

Thinking of your next meet or race can be a great way to defeat the mental block you have developed. Getting ready to swim the next race is a crucial coping mechanism developed by many athletes. Thinking of your next race will get you excited to try again. Knowing you have another chance to attain your goals will inspire you to keep going.  Thinking of a future race will help you take that leap into the water and chase the next goal.

A poor performance can help you grow as an athlete. We learn from our failures. We have to take the lessons from a bad race and apply them to the next. Swimmers are not born perfect. Disqualifications, poor swims and not placing, are just the little things that can and will make you better. Remembering to breathe and reflect can help you get motivated for the next race. It can be hard to push forward, but remember the joys of a good race, which can help motivate you to keep going.

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

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Bruce Lawrie
Bruce Lawrie
2 years ago

Interesting read, thank you!

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