Anguish and Perseverance!

Posted on March 5, 2011


“Coach, man, I am so sore and tired… I just can’t.”


Of course, I used to say that, too.  I think most kids do.  As a coach, I am seeing it all the time. Kids not really putting forth a maximum 100% effort when it counts, like in practice or meets.

So, one of my favorite questions to ask them is, “You mean to tell me, that if I put a convertible Ferrari at the end of your lane that will be yours if you do it, could you?”  I have never heard a NO.  Ever.

They all have said they’ve had something left, in meets and practice. I especially see it in practice, when you need to give it every last drop of your effort to get better.  Why? Confidence! Do they think they have time or other opportunities.  I have news for them!!!

The College Check

When I was growing up and finally got to college, I was blown away when I swam in my first duel meet.  I was so sore and so tired… I had trouble even getting comfortable enough to sleep!  So, what did the veterans do?  They swam so fast that I am sure they heard my jaw hit the ground!  I was such a wimp!!! Some of my best friends from Orlando (Charlie Rose and Brandon Bryant) told me they had the same thing happened to them at Florida State and Tennessee.

Well, guess what? Brandon, Charlie and I changed our attitude! We eventually ended up learning how to swim through the soreness.  It took the most tremendous gut check. The pain tolerance of a terminator robot!  Essentially it took getting to the next level with our mental, physical, and competitive abilities.  It took gaining confidence in swimming very hard in practice and surprising ourselves.

How Great Do You Want to Be?

Now, this lesson can be learned as an age-grouper and as a senior level swimmer.  This topic just begs me to ask one question, “How great do you really want to be and how much pain are you willing to put yourself through to get there?”

Can you take it to the mental and physical edge and look over only to have your coach pull you back at the last second?

I love doing that with young athletes, the ones that take that journey with me, normally surprises themselves, and sometimes brings tears to my eyes.  Lay it on the line, do it now and we (the coaches) will pull you back.

Soreness Scale

With all this being said, I occasionally ask the young swimmers in my group about their pain level.  I call it my “soreness scale.” I have them rank their level of soreness from 1-10.  In season, I always want them to work hard enough in the pool and dryland to reach a 6 or above.  Some coaches have their own level, but this is mine.  The kids seem to respond well to this.  They also know this is normal now and perform pretty well using it.  They also know what happens when taper comes… aha! They will respond and perform even better.

So what’s your excuse for not performing well?  Sore?  Tired?  Hangnail? (I’m kidding with the last one.)  The great athletes, or even the ones that want to be the best that they are capable of being, always, always find a way to get through pain, sore, and tired excuses.

Go ahead, amaze yourself. And in the words of Charlie Sheen…. “Winning!”

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