Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Challenges of Holding Patterns

Every now and then we find some of our swimmers get stuck in what we refer to as a “holding pattern.” We define this as a space where lots of activity occurs but the swimmer is going nowhere. It comes of course from the airplane analogy of not being allowed to land so the plane is put in a holding pattern, circling the airport, going nowhere while waiting for a chance to land.

This time of year our swimmers are particularly vulnerable to holding patterns. They have completed their high school season three weeks ago. Many have just finished finals. Some have graduated. There are endless social events to attend. There isn’t so much sleep happening…you get the picture.

The challenge is that the clock is ticking, endlessly, without regard for your personal situation. First a few days go by, then a week…10 days out of touch turns into 2 or 3 weeks. Now the long course season is in full swing and the swimmer hasn’t really trained all that much. The State Sectional meet is 5 plus weeks away; Nationals are 2 plus weeks after that. If you aren’t into training fully engaged you are running dangerously close to not being able to taper.

We find that this process is rarely intentional. It just sort of happens. One event leads to another; one dinner cannot be missed, let alone be late to…the beat goes on. The intentions are good, “I’ll start again Monday,” or, “As soon as my last final is done I’ll get back into the swing of it.”

So, how is one to avoid this dangerous trap or cycle?

Pretty simple from where we sit. Have a clear vision of what it is you want to get done; figure out which choices are most in line with that vision and then execute your plan.

Realize that you cannot make everyone happy. But you are in charge of your decisions so you must own them. Five weeks from now at the State meet all those friends that you had to see at all those parties will be nowhere near you…and of no assistance as you endeavor to swim fast.

So, have a plan; stick to it; make your choices based upon your plan; own your swimming career. Not rocket science but very effective.

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