Pursley Pep Talks: Unity and Focus

Pursley's Pep Talks

Pursley Pep Talks are a collection of coaching perspectives written by Alabama head swimming coach Dennis Pursley. This is the 26th installment of a series that will be rolled out throughout the coming months.

Pursley Pep Talks: Unity and Focus

Times have changed in competitive swimming. Gone forever are the days when we could wait until a few weeks before the championship competition to focus on preparation for success.

It is now necessary to unite behind a strategy focused on success much farther in advance and to evaluate everything we do in and out of the pool in light of its impact on performance.

It is important to remind ourself that our toughest opponents are doing the same. Their planning, training and even their personal lives are all focused on achieving the desired results in championship competition.

Even more important than the approach we take to preparation is the extent to which we unite behind and support that approach. No program will succeed at the championship level unless it is fully supported. This applies to support for aspects of the program that don’t suit our personal preferences as well as for those that do. It is this unity and unconditional support that often distinguishes the successful teams from those that fail.

Those who believe that swimming is not a team sport and that the team concept is not appropriate are missing out on one of the most powerful and rewarding aspects of participation. With strong team support, most of us can more effectively overcome the many obstacles, challenges and frustrations that stand between us and success.

Team goals combined with individual goals will provide twice the incentive and rewards of individual goals alone. Most of us can more easily perform up to the best of our ability in a positive and spirited team atmosphere. This is what can set us apart from our competitors.

In the competitive world of swimming today, we are faced with the challenge to respond with a higher level of unity, support and spirit than ever before. If we meet this challenge, we will be rewarded with championship success.

About Dennis Pursley

After getting his start as a volunteer coach on Don Gambril’s first Alabama staff, current Alabama head coach Dennis Pursley has gone on to one of the most extraordinary careers in the sport of swimming, a career that led him to be named one of the 25 most influential people in the history of USA Swimming in 2003.

Pursley has helmed coaching staffs throughout the world, including stops as the first head coach of the Australian Institute of Sport, the inaugural director of the United States National Team and most recently the head coach of Great Britain’s 2012 Olympic squad. Pursley returned to the deck in 2003 as the head coach of the Brophy East Swim Team in Phoenix Ariz., before becoming the head coach of British Swimming in 2008.

Pursley and his wife Mary Jo have five children, Lisa, Brian, David, Steven and J.J. Lisa has joined him on the Alabama staff.