You cannot understand it and there seems to be no logical explanation for your poor performance. You have worked hard but the results far from meet your objectives. You are disappointed and have no way of fighting the dejection that builds up inside you. You see everything negatively and there is nothing that can cheer you up.
What I am about to tell you will no doubt seem like a tall story; you will probably think I am crazy and that all I am trying to do is cheer you up. It makes absolute sense to think that, I would too; but it truly is what I believe. Such situations are most likely just a bump in the road, a difficult obstacle to overcome; one that appears without warning and leaves you feeling helpless.
Take control, have another go and reach for your goals. You are one of the lucky ones. You are doing something you enjoy and there will be more opportunities for you to achieve what you seek.
You are a winner and you alone decide what condition you are in. Make your work a constant challenge, enjoy the unexpected and make them realize you are not ready to give up, that you want to win and will do everything necessary to do so.
I also want to give you a hand. Accept my offer and read my following suggestions carefully. They are based on experience and common sense, and they have helped both my swimmers and me through some tough situations.
- In difficult times, stay calm and work hard.
- Come to terms with the situation quickly, accept the potential defeat and analyse the reasons for your poor performance with your coach. If you know where you went wrong, it will be easier to remedy the situation.
- Feeling sorry for yourself is not the best solution. The competition is over, think positively and resist those feelings of dejection; it was just a bump in the road.
- Find new objectives for the meantime, both short- and medium-term objectives. Reaching these new objectives will help you achieve your final goal.
- Be careful! Fighting against a situation you cannot overcome will make you vulnerable. Accepting it, on the other hand, will make you stronger.
- Set yourself logical goals; more accessible to begin with and progressively harder with time, but always suited to what you can realistically achieve.
- Take the opportunity to learn new things, improve that style you never wanted to swim, compete in other distances, strengthen your weaknesses, improve your turns and starts. Forget about the stopwatch – and even competing – for a while and focus on training and finding new feelings or sensations that motivate you to improve your performance.
- Perhaps you are too tired after a busy day of study and exams. Perhaps those burdens are not letting you achieve your peak performance. Include new techniques in your recovery programme. Do what you think best, but never quit.
- Talk to your coach. He will know better than anybody how to deal with the problem properly. Work with him, exercise your right to an opinion and never forget that you form an invincible team together but will never achieve your goals on your own.
Even though the wall might seem impossible to climb, anything is possible. Regaining your self-esteem after an unexpected defeat, climbing the next step in your training and achieving your new objectives will always be more accessible if you know the reasons preventing you from moving forward, if you persevere, if you resist those feelings of desperation and manage to avoid being overwhelmed by dejection.
Fate is fickle and sometimes unfair. Sometimes it rewards your efforts when you least deserve it and at other times it prefers to do so when everything seems lost.
Written by Agustín Artiles (“Champi”). Agustín has more than 35 years of experience as the Head Coach of some of the most important Spanish swimming teams He has been the Coach of the Spanish Swimming Team from 2008 to 2012, and has trained the 50 breastroke Spanish national recordman, Hector Monteagudo Espinosa, from 2002 to 2013 Agustín has also trained several international swimmers from the Spanish National Team and from the european and world top ten, as well as paraolimpics athletes with medals and world records in all the different categories. He has also been accomplished with the award as the Best competition swimming coach in Spain 2006, as several recognition for professional merits.
Originally posted in 2015.